Just Back: Honolulu

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The cure for an extra-gloomy Seattle winter: a long weekend in Hawaii. Wheels up and six hours later you’re in Honolulu, ditching your coat, and bee-lining it to the beach. Hawaiian Airlines flies nonstop from several U.S. cities to Honolulu International Airport, including a new route from New York’s JFK Airport that features lie-back seats in the Premium Cabin. Here’s how to spend a weekend soaking up the sun and exploring Oahu:

Admire Art. Hawaii’s first international Biennial is happening in Honolulu now through May 8, further cementing the city’s status as a home for serious art. While my fiancé and I missed it by a few days, we did reap the benefits of last year’s Pow! Wow! Festival: dozens of murals that adorn the buildings of Honolulu’s Kaka’ako district. A cruise around the neighborhood is a worthy detour on the way from Waikiki to the airport or the Pearl Harbor Memorial. (There’s a mural map on the festival’s website.)

Street art in Honolulu’s Kaka’ako district. (Photo: Amy Cassell)

 Catch a Sunset. Every Waikiki Beach bar worth its weight in mai tais fills up fast at sunset. One of the most sought-after seats is at 453-room Halekulani’s House Without a Key. Nightly live music and traditional hula dancing are classic Hawaiian complements to the natural show that’s (literally) going down in the background.

 … and a Sunrise. The sunsets may get all the love around here, but my favorite moment on Waikiki Beach was an early-morning stroll before the crowds had descended for the day. Stop in to Island Vintage Coffee Company for a Mauna Kea Iced Coffee, aka dessert for breakfast. Another feel-good perk of waking up early: The complimentary yoga classes for guests at the 353-room Modern Honolulu on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings.

Road-Trip It. You can easily drive around Oahu in a day – have your Virtuoso travel advisor arrange a car rental. Our itinerary: We watched surfers conquer North Shore waves at Banzai Pipeline, stopped in for a casual lunch at Romy’s Kahuku Prawns (be patient, it’s worth the wait), had a stretch of sand to ourselves at Kahana Bay Beach Park, and gawked at Halona Cove’s classic From Here to Eternity views.

North Shore detour: Waimea Bay Beach Park. (Photo: Amy Cassell)

Grab a Cocktail or Three. My favorite spot in Honolulu was the Chinatown neighborhood, home to some of Hawaii’s most blogged-about restaurants (The Pig and The Lady, Senia), as well as an amazing homegrown craft cocktail scene … but more on that in an upcoming issue of Virtuoso Life.

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Just Back: Honolulu

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