You do not have to go far to experience luxury in Honolulu. My day of pampering began with an oceanfront breakfast at House Without a Key. While the restaurant draws tourists and locals alike every night with Hawaiian music and classic hula they also offer an amazing breakfast.
The hostess and servers were very attentive remembering my name, even though I was not a hotel guest. I was seated immediately at a lanai table overlooking the ocean. The breakfast buffet included traditional American breakfast items of sausages, bacon, eggs, pancakes, and an impressive omelet bar. It also included Japanese breakfast items like miso soup, rice, and pickles.
I indulged in smoked salmon and a custom made veggie scramble, fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee. When I returned to my table after visiting the buffet for fresh papaya, the plates on my table were covered with food nets as to not entice the birds. When I sat down, the server came over to remove the nets and asked if I was enjoying my breakfast, again using my name. It was hard to leave, since I was enjoying my seat by the water and my ever-full cup of coffee.
To continue my day of luxury I headed next door to SpaHalekulani. The healing traditions of the Pacific Islands—including Samoa, Tonga and Tahiti— inspire this spa’s authentic treatments, which use only fresh island ingredients, such as coconut, orchid, hibiscus, seaweed and papaya. In addition to traditional Swedish and shiatsu massages, Samoan-inspired nonu, Japanese amma, and Hawaiian lomi lomi, hapai and pohaku massages are offered. Therapists will customize a massage based on your needs and preferences. Facials are individually crafted for specific skin types, and the body scrubs and wraps come complete with a steam shower and a mini massage.
My spa journey began with SpaHalekulani’s signature foot pounding ritual. My feet were wrapped in fragrant, steaming towels, and gently tapped with hand-woven niau sticks made from coconut trees on the Halekulani property. The ritual finished with a light misting, the entire experience leaving my feet invigorated. I was escorted to my private treatment suite, not a large impersonal locker room that is shared with other spa guests.
The spa contains seven guest relaxation suites, including two tandem suites: one featuring a traditional Japanese Furo (bath) and the other, a deluxe shower for two. The suites are fully equipped with regular and/or steam showers, changing areas, personal storage, and luxe personal amenities. I was in one of the tandem suites with the Furo. Sitting on each of the massage tables was a bowl containing a maile (pronounced my-lee) vine, SpaHalekulani’s signature fragrance. I chose the Pohaku massage which included the incorporation of heated stones within a custom massage; the entire experience was 105 minutes.
The massage therapist incorporated lomi lomi, shiatsu, and reflexology within my massage treatment. After the soothing massage, I didn’t have to rush out of the room, but was allowed to gather myself on the table for a few moments and get ready within my own private room. I showered and got ready in the same suite. An attendant waited for me outside my door with iced tea. She led me to the spa’s private terrace surrounded by foliage and a garden courtyard, where I could see Gray’s Beach, known by the Hawaiians for its healing “Kawehewehe” waters.
I was served chocolate mocha ice cream created by the hotel’s pastry chef along with iced tea and bottled Hawaiian water. The serving tray also contained a personal note from my therapist thanking me for coming into the spa and wishing me an enjoyable afternoon tea later that day. I discussed with her briefly what I was going to be doing for the rest of the day, but I thought this was mindless chit chat while she was getting me comfortable. The note was a very nice personal touch and made me want to return very soon.
I headed a few doors down to the Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa to meet my friend Candice for high tea. Often referred to as the “First lady of Waikiki”, the legendary landmark introduced the world to Hawaiian hospitality in 1901. High tea is served complete with white-gloved service at the Veranda on the lanai overlooking Waikiki Beach, the Banyan Court, and its historic banyan tree. There is a selection of eight teas, which is then served in your own silver teapot.
I chose the Veranda’s signature blend, the Moana Royal, with hints of papaya and passion fruit, blended with the exotic Poha Berry to create a lively flavor. Candice selected her all time favorite blend, the Veranda Breeze, a soothing blend of black tea, Big Island vanilla and smooth caramel.
We were excited when we saw the gorgeous tiered display of sandwiches and desserts. Our display contained sandwiches of Westphalian ham and tomato, curried turkey salad in a croissant, and smoked salmon, warm scones with real Devonshire cream, and assorted sweets of petit fours, chocolate-glazed cream puffs and creamy fruit tarts.
All the items appeared to be made meticulously and everything was delicious. Our server consistently kept our tea pot full of hot water. Kaffir lime-lemon grass enhanced green tea sorbet was a refreshing finale to the grand experience.
My friend enjoyed her tea so much that we stopped by the hotel gift shop and picked up a few packages of her favorite tea as Christmas gifts to friends and family.
Ready to research your trip to Honolulu?
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WHEN TO VISIT HONOLULU
There is no bad time to visit any of the Hawaiian Islands as far as finding beautiful weather. The temperature typically varies from 68°F to 87°F on the island of Oahu. You’ll find days are mostly warm or hot with cooler evenings. Oahu is known for quick bursts of rain, but rarely will it ruin a day on the island. The best time to visit Oahu is from mid-April to early June or between September and mid-December. During these shoulder seasons, attractions are less crowded, festivals are plentiful and airfare and room rates are at their lowest.
If you enjoyed this article about Honolulu Luxury: Pohaku Massage and High Tea, you’ll also love Five Off-the-Beaten-Path Places on Hawaii’s Big Island.
Traveling To Honolulu Soon? Here are a few tips:
How to get there: Oahu’s major airport is in Honolulu (airport code HNL). It’s by far Hawaii’s largest airport and hub. If you aren’t arriving by cruise ship, this is how you’ll arrive to Oahu.
Where to stay: There are many places to stay in Honolulu Hawaii. There is a wide range of hotels, from budget to luxury. For a luxury hotel that won’t break the bank, I recommend The Kahala Hotel & Resort, which is currently the #1 hotel on Tripadvisor. For a mid-level hotel, I suggest the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort. Finally, for a budget hotel, try the Shoreline Hotel Waikiki. You can also check HotelsCombined for the best Honolulu Hotel Rates.
What to pack: The weather is tropical on the Hawaiian Islands with lovely northeasterly trade winds. Dress is smart-casual on Honolulu, but do bring a light sweater or wrap. Water shoes, sunscreen a sun hat and a great guide to Honolulu are a must!
Honolulu Hawaii Trip Essentials
6 Indispensable Items to Pack for a Honolulu Beach Vacation
- Read Oahu Revealed: The Ultimate Guide to Honolulu & Waikiki
- Bring a good quality mirrorless camera for getting those beautiful Honolulu beach landscape shots. I use the Sony Alpha a6000 .
- It’s hot year round in Honolulu, so make sure to bring Neutrogena Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum Spf 45
- A great cross body travel bag. Cross body bags prevent theft and are much easier to access.
- Don’t forget sunglasses for the beautiful sunny days in Honolulu. A.J. Morgan Unisex Sunglasses are a great choice and very affordable!
- Water shoes are a great item to pack for any beach vacation. They take up little room when packing and great if you end up at a beach that is rocky or with very hot sand.
Read More About Great Beach Vacations
How to Plan a Perfect Alabama Beach Vacation
25 Most Beautiful Caribbean Islands.
A Perfect Aruba Vacation on a Budget
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add va
Thinking about a trip to Hawaii? Ask your questions in the comments below!
Theresa Sigo is a New Orleans native currently living in Hawaii. She has traveled all over the world visiting such locales as Italy, Spain, Scandanavia, St Petersburg, Mexico, the Greek islands, and most recently Tokyo. Theresa enjoys traveling and experiencing new food and cultures. She has returned to Honolulu after living in on the mainland (Monterey, Chicago and Houston) for 8 years.
We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment. -Hilaire Belloc