Above: Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina

Contrasting Oahu Resorts

Hawaii is the destination of the moment for Americans. The former kingdom is at once enticingly exotic and reassuringly familiar, with a benign tropical climate, plush resorts on postcard-perfect beaches and — at the time of our visit — a low rate of COVID-19. There were many sound business reasons for a trip, including several new and reimagined resorts that needed reviewing, but personally, I was just thrilled to return.

As my previous visit to the Hawaiian archipelago had included stops on the Big Island, Maui, Lanai and Molokai as part of a cruise itinerary, I decided to start this trip with a visit to Oahu. Aside from Honolulu, it is a place of much historical interest, not least because of Pearl Harbor and the Iolani Palace, the only royal residence in the United States. It is also an island of great beauty, crossed by two mountain ridges and ringed with beaches. The most famous of these, Waikiki, is the location of our longtime recommendation, Halekulani, and its new sister hotel, Halepuna, set just behind it. Unfortunately, both properties were closed for renovations during our trip. Another notable Waikiki hotel, the nine-suite Espacio, has garnered a great deal of laudatory coverage in the travel press. However, since we were traveling as a couple, I couldn’t justify paying upward of $5,000 a night for an accommodation with a minimum of two bedrooms. And to be honest, overtouristed Waikiki no longer ranks among my favorite Honolulu neighborhoods.

Instead, we tried two resorts in quieter areas on opposite sides of the city’s metro area. First, we drove from the airport around Pearl Harbor to Ko Olina on Oahu’s west coast, the drier side of the island. In addition to reliable weather, the location has the advantage of being away from the congestion of the city but within easy reach of hikes, beaches and golf courses. Nor is it difficult to reach the sights and restaurants of Honolulu.

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Above: Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina

Read More from Our Trip:

Hawaiian Restaurant Discoveries Delving Into Hawaiian History Big Island Resorts Reconsidered Hiking Hawaii Four Seasons Sensei Lanai: A Superb New Wellness Resort