Hawaii is the perfect destination for a girls trips.
No long-haul flight, minimal time difference and all the things an island paradise should offer with a sprinkling of city glamour over the top.
All of the Hawaiian Islands are beautiful in their own way but Oahu is my pick for a girls vacay because it offers a little of everything. Chilled out surf vibes on the North Shore and shopping, food and fun in Honolulu.
I’m just back from a week on Oahu with one of my best friends Jo (what a luxury that was!) – here’s our eat, play, stay guide for your ultimate girls trip.
Where To Stay.
I’ve visited the island of O’ahu lots of times and traditionally I’ve chosen hotels in the heart of Waikiki.
This time (mainly because I was child-free) I stayed at The Modern Honolulu, an uber-cool boutique property that sits on the marina.
And I fell in love with it.
This is the perfect place to stay on a girls trip. There’s a distinct adultness to the common areas of the property which offer a glamourous respite from the typical family style hotel.
It’s very downtown LA with lots of clean lines, polished concrete and white, modern furniture. There are two pools. One is completely child-free and more of an adult wading pool with a bar while the central pool is surrounded by sun lounges and day beds (you can and should book them – they’re totally worth it).
Jo and I stayed in a corner suite with an adjoining hotel room which combined to make a great apartment with separate sleeping and bathrooms. My tip: book a higher floor (ten and up) and toward the corner of the building to get the view of both the boats and beach.
One of the reasons The Modern Honolulu is so good for a girls trip is that you don’t need to leave it at night (or actually at all).
We found ourselves going out for dinner and then coming back for a nightcap at the hotel.
Things You Need To Do At The Modern.
Have a Coconut Mojito by the pool. Not enough adjectives for how good it is. Just trust me and go there.
This wall moves away at 6pm to reveal a cool bar called The Study.
Jack Black and Nick Jonas were there on a couple of the nights we went and then if you want to get your Rihanna on you can go to the Addiction nightclub (which is like proper super club) just next door.
Guests get to do the full Beyonce queue jump which is handy.
Visit the Lather Spa.
I had a beautiful Hawaiin Lomi massage which is all hot stones and scented oils. You can drift down in your hotel robe and then drift right back.
And Then You Need To Do These Things.
On this trip, I was shooting a campaign with Hawaiian Tourism which meant I had the opportunity to meet local blogger Lindsey (she’s cool and you can follow her here) who gave us some of the best local tips for off-the-tourist trail spots.
There really is so much to do on this island – you can read my North Shore Guide here – but here are some Honolulu must-do’s that will make your trip amazing.
On The Water.
You have to get out on the water – this is Hawaii.
It’s amazing that you can sim with turtles just off the coast of one of the worlds most popular beaches but swim with them you can.
The reef of Waikiki is a turtle nursery and you’re guaranteed a swim with these beautiful creatures. This trip I went on the Makani Turtle Canyon Snorkeling Lunch Sail. There was only 20 people on the boat so it was perfect (I always like to ask and choose a day when the tour is not over booked).
The other tour I highly recommend is on the west coast of the island (about an hour drive from Waikiki). Wildside Hawaii only takes eight passengers at a time and you are literally swimming with wild dolphin pods.
Be aware: this tour is for people who are confident in open ocean but it’s Bucket List stuff.
Surf you must.
Hans Hedemann one of the islands best surf schools run private and group lessons off the break at Waikiki.
Jo and I walked up the beach from our hotel (half an hour) ahead of our lesson and this is a great thing to do early morning.
You’ll need to wear reef shoes and a rash vest because the rock and coral can cut but get ready to be up and surfing in no time.
File this one under never did ever… because never did I ever imagine I would try Stand-Up Paddle Board Yoga.
It’s a THING.
Kelsey is the most gorgeous instructor and runs classes daily very close to The Modern Honolulu at Ala Moana park. I
It’s a really challenging workout but FUN.
And also rainbows.
In The City.
Obviously you’re going to shop. I mean naturally.
I don’t have to tell you much beyond the fact that there’s literally everything on the main strip. From Prada and Saint Laurent to Urban Outfitters and Victoria Secret – it’s all there.
My big recommendation after an afternoon of retail therapy is to wind up on the roof of Tommy Bahama’s. It’s set up as a beach with fire pits and they do awesome coconut shrimp and cocktails.
The other epic place for sunset drinks is Sky Bar which looks down on the pink palace. The sun sets fast but get there around 5.30pm for an hour of champagne and golden light.
I had never been to Chinatown in Honolulu until this trip.
Didn’t even know there was one but it’s UNREAL.
The Brooklyn of Hawaii this area of O’ahu combines with downtown as the hip, cool and happening end of town.
The shopping is fantastic but for me the absolute jewel is Barrio Vintage.
I could have bought everything. Vintage kimonos. feather jackets, disco dresses and fabulous jewellery.
I bought twelve pairs of earring for $US10 a pair!
Get a cab to this store and then just wander – all the best stores are a stones throw from this treasure trove.
Chinatown delivers bar-hopping heaven with each one cooler than the next.
Voted in the Top Ten Bars In America – it’s hard to find – inside an office building – but you’ll find some of the best cocktails you’ve ever had.
Like this margarita. Uh-mazing.
And then there is the The Pig & The Lady.
Hands down one of the best meals of my life. Fusion Vietnamese and the hottest restaurant in Honolulu.
You have to try: Loatian Fried Chicken (no words), Ahi Taki on Toast and The Balinese Fish Special
We ate ourselves into a food coma. Happily so. And then went back the next night. Book, book, book.
My beloved Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding is now thirteen hours closer than NYC.
Make sure you buy a tub from the new Magnolia Bakery at Ala Moana Centre.
Good shopping fuel.
Tuna poke is my life.
I would eat it everyday if I could.
You do not need to do the fancy resturant version you just need to know where to go.
Look no further than Paina Cafe. It’s a joint but the fish is super fresh and this bowl was $8.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village does a firework display every Friday night and it’s excellent.
Stand on your balcony (this was the view from mine) or the beach and enjoy.
I sincerely love Hawaii.
For Australians it just makes so much sense.
Close, safe, fun, delicious and something new every time.
Watch The Movie.