Six miles outside the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, nestled in a secluded cove with white sand beaches, a hidden luxury resort awaits. From the minute you arrive at the Kahala and are presented with a flower lei or for the men, a hand-painted necklace you know you are in for a one of a kind experience.
Once the aroma of the lei envelops you and you walk into the open air lobby you’ll be welcomed with views of the Pacific Ocean, Diamond Head and Koko Head craters. If you had any lingering stress upon arriving it’s sure to have floated away by the time you reach the concierge for check in.
Opened in 1964, the Kahala (Hawaiian for “amberjack”, a type of fish) is not merely a hotel, but an experience. There is an attentiveness that feels nurturing with no stuffiness.
What makes the Kahala different from other hotels on Oahu is there is little reason to leave. The location and ambiance is a compelling factor in itself, but add on a friendly staff, beautiful pool, fish ponds, lush gardens and palm trees you are truly in paradise. The priceless artifacts, waterfalls and meandering footpaths as well as a dolphin lagoon, beautiful beach and full service spa complete this perfect location.
Each guest room or suite is a haven unto itself. From spacious and regal suites to rooms looking onto the dolphin lagoon, all offering a unique experience. The Imperial Suite named for the Emperor and Empress of Japan, who were the first to stay there after the recent renovation is one of the most spectacular. Rooms are a generous 550 square feet with plush beds and large spacious bathrooms. Suites all offer espresso machines, two bathrooms and numerous extras such as daily breakfast and afternoon cocktail service with light pupus.
It may surprise you that The Kahala, with all its luxurious touches is very family friendly. With a Keiki (kids) club available five days a week as well as a dolphin lagoon, swimming pool, activities from surfing, stand up paddling to canoeing and spear fishing it’s a kid’s dream vacation.
A perfect day at the Kahala starts with breakfast at the Plumeria Beach House. With views of the ocean from both the indoor and outdoor terraces, the view can’t get any better. While you can order from the menu, the buffet offers a delicious and fresh selection of island fruits with a focus on seasonal, locally grown items.
After breakfast wander the magnificent property, stop by the open air lobby and enjoy some pineapple mint water. Each floor in the main building showcases Hawaiian artifacts. Take the elevator, stopping at each floor to see items such as a priceless late 19th century quilt and 1930’s hula doll.
Next enjoy some of the warm Hawaiian sun. Relax on a lounge chair poolside or at the private beach. Whether you prefer sun or shade, there is plenty of both; including beachside cabanas. Before long the staff will stop by to offer you a variety of island drinks and when lunch rolls around you can order that poolside as well.
A visit to the Kahala wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the dolphins. Whether watching the beautiful animals play, jump and swim or meeting one of the five dolphins in the private lagoon, this is one of the many reasons the Kahala experience is truly unique. There are numerous trainer led programs that will bring you face to face with these gentle and smart animals such as the Kids’ Aquatic program, to the Trainer for a Day option.
After your dolphin encounter, if you want to extend your oceanic experience there are plenty of options including surfing and stand up paddling. If you are more adventurous try an outrigger canoe surfing excursion where you will surf the waves in a 4-person canoe.
If you are in the mood to pamper yourself, indulge in a Hula Hands Massage, a Jet Setter Rejuvenation massage or an after sun soother—a massage followed by a coconut bath.
Wherever the afternoon takes you, make sure to set aside time to watch the sunset. From your balcony or from the beach, a sunset in Hawaii is always magical. As the sun slips into the horizon, there is no reason to leave the property for dinner. If you are in the mood for a fine dining experience Hoku’s is perfect (there is a dress code and children under 12 are not allowed). For a more casual experience try The Veranda—with seating inside as well as on the terrace and live music nightly from 7:30 to 11pm—this a perfect choice for families and those looking for a more relaxed environment.
The Kahala is truly what you make of it. A romantic getaway, a family vacation or a girl’s spa retreat—the Kahala is a luxurious and one of a kind experience.
What & Where:
The Hotel & Resort (5000 Kahala Av, Honolulu; 808-739-8888)
Need more? Check out our Kahala Photo Gallery.
WHEN TO VISIT OAHU
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 The Best Free Hula Show and Where to find a Perfect Mai Tai in Oahu, you’ll also love Five Off-the-Beaten-Path Places on Hawaii’s Big Island.
Traveling To Oahu 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 Oahu 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. You can also check HotelsCombined for the best Oahu Hotel Rates.
What to pack: The weather is tropical on the Hawaiian Islands with lovely northeasterly trade winds. Dress is smart-casual on Oahu, but do bring a light sweater or wrap. Water shoes, sunscreen a sun hat and a great guide to Oahu are a must!
Oahu Hawaii Trip Essentials
6 Indispensable Items to Pack for a Oahu, Hawaii Vacation
- Get the Fodor’s Oahu: with Honolulu, Waikiki & the North Shore (Full-color Travel Guide).
- Bring a good quality mirrorless camera for getting those beautiful Oahu beach landscape shots. I use the Sony Alpha a6000 .
- Summers are hot in Oahu, so make sure to bring Neutrogena Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum Spf 45
- You will find mosquitos on Oahu, especially if you do some hiking, so bring mosquito repellent – I like the pre-moistened towelettes, which are very convenient for packing and carrying with you. They’re convenient and don’t leave a sticky or oily residue.
- Don’t forget sunglasses for the beautiful sunny days. 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 Hawaii
Five Off-the-Beaten-Path Places on Hawaii’s Big Island
Oahu’s Eco-Friendly Cruise for Dolphin Lovers
The 52 Supernatural Places of Oahu
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 value to my readers.
Alexa Meisler is the editorial director of 52 Perfect Days. Born in Paris, France she has since lived in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. She currently resides in San Diego with her husband and son where they enjoy exploring California and Mexico.
Travel has always been a part of her life; traveling to such places as Morocco, Tangiers and Spain as a young child as well as taking many road trips to Mexico with her grandparents as a young girl. Since then, she has traveled abroad to locations such as Russia, Taiwan and throughout Europe.
Prior to working at 52 Perfect Days she was a freelance travel writer; focusing on family and women’s adventure experiences.