Vacationing on Oahu makes it easy to unwind and relax. The Aloha State continues to rank as one of the healthiest and the most outdoorsy states. If you’re looking for ways to keep active and destress, there are several activities to achieve a state of blissfulness. Whether it’s exploring the island’s natural beauty with a hike or visiting a botanical garden, doing sun salutations or getting pampered at a spa, here’s our guide to health and wellness on the island.
Paddle Core Fitness
Stand-up paddling is a must-do activity while visiting the Islands. Why not make a fun exercise? Reid Inouye started Paddle Core Fitness in 2007 as a way to incorporate stand-up paddleboards into energizing workouts. Today, the organization offers three classes at Ala Moana Beach Park from beginner paddling to advanced. His one-hour classes are low-impact, but provide cardio and core strengthening, all while enjoying one of Oahu’s most popular beach parks.
HorSea Yoga at Turtle Bay Resort
This may very well be one of the most creative yoga classes out there. Dubbed HorSea Yoga, participants ditch the yoga mat and instead practice their warrior pose atop a gentle horse. It’s a treat for both horse lovers and yoga enthusiasts. A trained yoga teacher takes participants through straightforward stretches and poses, as their horses stand steady below them. This unique class is located oceanside at the sprawling, scenic Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore and is offered daily from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. (Reservations are required; private lessons are available by request).
Going on a hike in Oahu electrifies your senses. It’s a great way to experience the island’s natural beauty and there are great hikes no matter where you on the island. Trails such as the iconic Diamond Head State Monument offer stunning, panoramic views of the cobalt ocean. The Aiea Loop Trail in Central Oahu meanders through Norfolk pines and lemon eucalyptus trees, giving the air a pleasant fragrance. At the end of nearly one-mile Manoa Falls trail, you’ll hear the cascading 150-foot waterfall before the falls, and its surrounding pool, come into view.
Valley of the Temples: Byodo-In Temple
Tranquility can be found in Kahaluu, in east Oahu. That’s where the Byodo-In Temple is located. The Byodo-In Temple, part of the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, is an intricately crafted, full-size replica of a 900-year-old temple in Uji, Japan. In addition to the red temple, the grounds feature a five-foot high, three-ton brass bon-sho, or sacred bell, cast in Osaka, Japan, and a nine-foot tall, gold-lacquered Buddha atop a lotus. There are several, secluded areas in the manicured grounds to relax or meditate, including the koi pond and the meditation pavilion.
Still and Moving Center
There’s something for everyone at the Still & Moving Center in Honolulu’s Kakaako neighborhood. It’s all in the name. If you’re looking for peace and quiet, the center offers twice weekly meditation classes. But if you want to move and groove, there’s hula, belly dancing, Bollywood and more. And if you want to learn a new skill, take the AIReal yoga, an aerial yoga class, in which participants hang from silk hammocks. (Live Japanese translation is offered at the Monday and Wednesday aerial yoga classes.) The center also offers traditional yoga.
Master Sha Tao Center
In today’s stressful world, Master Sha Tao Center exists to “let the noise melt away, fill up on peace and recharge your inner batteries.” The center comprises two meditation rooms: Maluhia and Lokahi, in which participants relax in softly-lit rooms surrounded by Himalayan salt lamps. The center also offers Tao calligraphy classes. Tao calligraphy, also called oneness writing, is a unique form created by Master Zhi Gang Sha that builds on the tradition of Chinese calligraphy by writing in a single stroke. The classes, taught for all skill levels, create gentle flowing movements and encourage relaxation.
The Kahala Spa
Sometimes the best way to relax is to get pampered. The professional staff at the Kahala Spa can help you unwind and feel better. Located in the luxurious Kahala Hotel and Resort in east Honolulu, the Kahala Spa features nine personal and spacious spa suites, each equipped with its own relaxation area, glass-enclosed shower, deep-soak tub, changing area and wardrobe closet. The spa’s signature treatments include the Oli Oli Lomilomi, a Hawaiian-style massage in which warm pohaku, or stones are placed on the abdomen, heart and back. The massage also features a Mamaki mud wrap and scalp massage.
Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens
In Hawaiian, hoomaluhia means “a peaceful refuge.” One visit to the lush Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens in Kaneohe and you’ll likely agree. This 400-acre Windward Oahu botanical garden was designed and built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1982 to provide flood protection for the area. Today, it has plants from the Americas, India, Africa, Melanesia, Polynesia, as well as endemic flora from Hawaii. The garden’s best feature though, is a 32-acre lake, from which you can do catch-and-release fishing. Framed by the rugged Koolau mountains, it’s the perfect place for peaceful strolls, quiet picnics or afternoon naps.