In this world so mad for ’gram-worthy moments, it’s a surprise Mauna Lahilahi (thin mountain), located north of Koolina Resort on Oahu’s wild west side, is not more popular. It is, after all, said to be the smallest mountain on the planet. Whether or not that’s true, this is a prominent geographic feature and, might we add, picture perfect.
The guides of Hawaii Forest and Trail have long set the standard for eco-minded, culturally sensitive excursions on the Big Island. Now they also explore Oahu on three new tours. Farm to Forest includes a west side uplands hike, community farm stop and lunch prepared with local produce. Birds and Wildlife on Oahu explores endangered bird habitats that range from a private forest reserve to the seaside, where Hawaiian monk seals and green sea turtles may also be spotted. Honolulu Heights features a hike up Diamond Head, a stop at Nuuanu Pali and a walk through Lyon Arboretum. $169–$200 (kids $144–$170)
Last spring saw the completion of a multimillion-dollar renovation, inspired by sinuous waves and twinkling stars, of Hoku’s, the signature restaurant of the Kahala Hotel and Resort. Oahu native Eric Oto, chef de cuisine, continues to update the “global Hawaiian” menu seasonally. Look for his Kona kampachi carpaccio with moringa, a Filipino superfood green also known as kalamunguy. 808.739.8760
At the Diamond Head end of Waikiki, Queen Kapiolani Hotel recently debuted a retro-chic renovation and a third-floor poolside restaurant and bar, Deck, which provides an all-day hangout with dazzling views. For more active types, the hotel has yoga on the beach, running tours and a Friday twilight “surf club” ($10–$15). From $179, 808.922.1941
At the other end of Waikiki (and affordability), the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach, recently opened a second tower of elegantly appointed suites, from studios to three-bedrooms. Take in the views of Fort DeRussy and the ocean from the resort’s infinity-edge pools on the seventh and eighth floors. From $495, 808.922.8111
Travel and features writer Jeanne Cooper fell in love with Marin and the Bay Area as a graduate student at Stanford University. After 20 years as an editor and writer for the Washington Post, Boston Globe and San Francisco Chronicle, she began a freelance career that has taken her from the Austral Islands to Zimbabwe, with many visits to Hawaii in between. Her stories have appeared in numerous national and regional magazines, including Hemispheres, Sunset, San Francisco and Nob Hill Gazette, as well as Marin and Local Getaways. The author of several Frommer’s guidebooks, she now lives on the Big Island, where she’s active in animal rescue. She still enjoys exploring Northern California with her husband and friends.