With temperatures still well below freezing, a summer wedding can feel like it’s a million years away. And in these conditions—polar vortexes, black ice, unbelievable wind chill—no one can blame you for spending more time planning a tropical escape than your actual wedding. Luckily, brides-to-be have the perfect excuse for a warm weather getaway: the bachelorette party!
Sure, there are the obvious warm weather destinations: Las Vegas, Palm Springs, and Miami. But if you’re going to escape, why not go the extra mile? This winter, the hottest place to be is Hawaii’s trendy capital city, Honolulu.
I get it—Hawaii is a long way to travel for a party. So if you’re going to fly to the middle of the Pacific Ocean for a bachelorette, it better be epic. Thankfully, Honolulu is the destination where you can have it all—lazy days at the beach, nights out on the town, and just about everything in between. (And if the saying, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” is true, just imagine what they say about the most remote chain of islands in the world…)
Here’s what you need to know for an epic bachelorette weekend in Honolulu, Hawaii:
WHERE TO STAY:
The Royal Hawaiian Resort
You can’t go wrong with a stay at the Royal Hawaiian. The historic luxury hotel has an ideal location, right on Hawaii’s iconic Waikiki Beach and across from Kalakaua Avenue, the store-lined street known as Luxury Row. This is the type of place that’ll make you and your girl gang feel like a million dollars. Just make sure to ask for a room in the original building (versus the newly constructed towers) for maximum glamour. With the resort’s signature pink walls and striped beach umbrellas, you’re guaranteed to snap more than a few insta-worthy pictures over the course of your stay.
More casual brides may prefer The Laylow one block over on Kuhio Avenue. What this hotel lacks in ocean views, it makes up in pure and simple charm. You’ll notice it from the moment you check-in: a collection of hula girls at the front desk, a ukulele in your room, and more mid-century modern touches than an episode of Mad Men. While you can always book a traditional suite, you might prefer a series of cabana rooms with easy access to the hotel pool. When you’re all settled in, head downstairs to the Hideaway, the hotel’s trendy take on the tiki bar, for pre-dinner drinks before hitting the town.
WHERE TO EAT:
House Without A Key
Ease into your first night on the island with a sunset dinner at House Without A Key (there will be plenty of time for carousing later, promise). The restaurant, memorialized in the 1925 Charlie Chan novel of the same name, offers a taste of Old Hawaii—a time before mega-resorts, commercialized luaus, and other touristy clichés that too often plague the islands these days. Here you’ll eat dinner under a century-old Kiawe tree while former Miss Hawaii winners perform hula to live music.
As an added bonus, the restaurant shares its famous mai tai recipe online. You may have to go home eventually, but one sip of this incredible mai tai will be enough to instantly take you back.
Herringbone recently opened its newest restaurant in Waikiki’s International Market Place. Like all Herringbone restaurants, the open air venue is beautifully decorated with a coastal theme, making it the perfect backdrop for party pictures. Plus, the new spot not only serves up a decadent brunch, it also offers bottomless rosé and mimosas—complete with tropical juice options—from 1030 AM to 2PM. Need we say more?
If Hawaii had culinary royalty, Peter Merriman would be king. He is, after all, the force behind several wildly successful restaurants on multiple islands. But when it comes to lunch, there’s no better place than his most casual endeavor Moku Kitchen. Moku, located in the mural lined neighborhood of Kaka’ako, serves modern American fare created with locally sourced ingredients. You’ll want to order truffle fries for the table, but keep the haupia (coconut) pie to yourself.
Buho Cocina Y Cantina
For a town with remarkably good weather, Honolulu has surprisingly few rooftop bars and restaurants. Luckily, you only need one: Buho Cocina Y Cantina. The open air bar offers a modern take on Mexican cuisine with a fully stocked (and potentially lethal) bar. Since the restaurant is always busy in the evening make sure to snag a reservation for a larger party, preferably ocean-side.
WHERE TO DRINK:
All of your drinking, besides guava mimosas at brunch, should really be done in Honolulu’s historic Chinatown. You’ll find the majority of the best bars on N. Hotel Street, including crowd favorites Bar 35 and Manifest. If you’re looking for something a little quieter, The Tchin Tchin! wine bar is a literal hidden gem (Pro tip: take the unmarked staircase next to Bar 35). If you’re looking for something a little louder, walk a few blocks over to Scarlet, a club with a giant dance floor (a rarity in Honolulu) and the best drag show you’ll ever see.
HOMA (the Honolulu Museum of Art)
There is one hard exception to the Chinatown drinking rule: if you’re in Honolulu on the last Friday of the month, start your night at the Honolulu Museum of Art for its Art After Dark celebration, otherwise known as Honolulu’s biggest pre-game. From six to nine the art museum transforms into the trendiest bar in town, complete with live music and a cash bar.
WHAT TO DO:
No Hawaiian hen party is complete without a catamaran sail around Waikiki. If your tribe is more than a handful of ladies, skip the public booze cruises in favor of a private charter with a BYOC (C for champagne) option. While the latter is more expensive, you’ll love the ability to jump in the water or lounge on the deck uninterrupted.
For the ultimate indulgence, look no further than Sea Spa Hawaii, Honolulu’s first floating spa. Once aboard the luxury vessel, guests receive robe service, two premium spa services, bottle service, and a selection of pupus (appetizers) to nibble on over the course of two and half hours. Groups that opt for the additional cruise sail along the coast of Oahu’s southern shore, taking in gorgeous views of famous landmarks like Diamond Head Crater.
Is there anything more iconic than surfing on Waikiki Beach? With a plethora of surf instructors and discounted group packages, there really isn’t a better location to learn the ancient Hawaiian art. And as one of the easiest surf breaks in Oahu, there’s a good chance you’ll be riding some waves even if it’s your first lesson.
Remember that bit about Honolulu being a destinations for all types of brides? Well that includes the adventurous types too! If you’re looking to get your heart pumping—and for the BEST view of the island—you’ve got to Sky Dive Hawaii. While technically located outside the city limits, the company offers a free shuttle ride from Waikiki to Oahu’s North Shore with any reservation.
While you’re up there, you and your bridesmaids can also bond over other adrenaline racing activities like zip-lining, swimming with sharks, and hiking waterfalls. Like we said—something for everyone!