A Fashion Editor's Guide to Waikiki: Where to Stay, What to Wear, and More

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(Image credit: @fitzpatrickerin at The Ritz-Carlton Waikiki Beach)

Growing up, I was lucky enough to travel to Hawaii nearly every summer. I like to joke that the tradition was basically my dad's surf trip masquerading as a family vacation, but how can I possibly complain? We always went to Maui, so I know that island inside and out, but I never got to explore other islands until this year. So when I got an offer for a press trip to visit Waikiki, you can bet I jumped at the chance. It was the perfect opportunity to experience Hawaii as a solo adult traveler for the first time and not as a kid tagging along on family excursions. 

The only downside to my trip to Oahu? The fact that I missed Prince Harry, who was also visiting Honolulu the very same month. Here's to hoping we can coordinate our trips next time. Scroll down to read my fashion editor's guide to Waikiki. 

Where to Stay

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(Image credit: @fitzpatrickerin)

The Ritz-Carlton Waikiki Beach

When I got an email about staying at the Ritz-Carlton Waikiki Beach, I nearly fainted. I've loved Hawaii since I was a kid, and now, I actually get to travel there for work. What a dream. Luckily, the experience exceeded my expectations, and yes, I would be honest if it didn't! I'm not sure whether my deep soaking tub with Diptyque products or the in-room washer and dryer were more luxurious, but both of them tickled my fancy.

Although I could have stayed in the spacious room with a view all day, I did venture out every now and then—most frequently to the hotel's restaurants: La Vie, serving fine French cuisine, the Italian restaurant Quiora, and the hard-to-nab-a-reservation-at landmark Sushi Sho. Although I am a notoriously late sleeper, I never miss a hotel breakfast, and I'm sure glad I didn't on this trip. Highlights include the lemon buttermilk pancakes, custard French toast, and the farmer's omelet. 

I'd be remiss not to include a review of The Ritz-Carlton Waikiki Beach's fantastic spa. "Using native elements, including volcanic stones, rainforest leaves, lehua blossoms, and lomilomi massage techniques, treatments seek to both heal and revive," the hotel explains on its website. For instance, the Huki Huki massage utilizes fresh kī leaves, which symbolize good luck and are considered sacred to the Hawaiian god Lono, as well as māmaki leaves, which are native to Hawaii and aren't found anywhere else in the world. Antioxidant-packed māmaki plants have been used for centuries for medicinal and ceremonial purposes in Hawaii and are thought to help with stress and insomnia among many other benefits. Hot tip: You can also buy māmaki in tea form

Where to Eat

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(Image credit: Fig & Ginger Honolulu)

Fig & Ginger Honolulu

Fig & Ginger Honolulu started as "the first chef-crafted bespoke grazing board company on the island of Oahu," and now, it also has its very own café serving breakfast and lunch. The café menu includes cinnamon fig waffles, açai bowls, lychee iced tea, Hawaiian banana cake, POG juice (passion, orange, and guava), passion fruit crème brülée, and more. Is your mouth watering yet?

Here's my recommendation: Stop by the café for breakfast and then take home one of Fig & Ginger's specialty cheese, charcuterie, or fruit boards for a sunset picnic on the beach. How can you beat that? Note that grazing boards and platters must be ordered 24 to 48 hours in advance. You can also place an order through the Ritz-Carlton Waikiki Beach, and the board will be waiting in your hotel room refrigerator upon arrival. 

What to Do

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(Image credit: Honolulu Museum of Art)

Honolulu Museum of Art

On display from now until July 27, 2023, is an exhibition titled Moemoeā, which roughly translates to "dream" or "fantasy." Maui-based artist Noah Harders has created surrealist, couture-like pieces of wearable art made from flowers, leaves, lobster shells, fish bones, and other found materials. 

Plus, don't miss two spectacular floral exhibitions that reflect Hawaii's one-of-a-kind ecosystem: Rebecca Louise Law: Awakening, which is viewable until September 10, 2023, and Cross Pollination: Flowers Across the Collection, which is on display until June 4, 2023. 

Where to Shop 

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(Image credit: @harborsvintagewaikiki)

Harbors Vintage Waikiki

If you want to know where the cool kids of Honolulu shop, it's Harbors Vintage Waikiki. Specializing in vintage tees, aloha shirts, sneakers, and hats, the shop has garnered a cult following on Oahu. When I browsed, the selection included a '90s Waikiki Surf Club sweatshirt, an '80s University of Hawaii tee, a '70s Lee denim jacket, and lots of other gems. Plus, the shop ships to the mainland if you see something online that catches your eye. 

What to Wear 

My trip was in November, and the weather was near perfect. Waikiki has a tropical climate year-round that calls for dresses, denim shorts, flip-flops, beach totes, swimsuits, and other resort-ready pieces. Who wants to put on socks and sneakers after a swim at the beach? Not me. Keep scrolling for some of my recommendations on what to wear to Waikiki. 

Next: These Impeccably Designed Hotels Look 5-Star But Are Less Than $250 Per Night

Associate Director, Fashion News

Erin got her start as a Who What Wear intern over 13 years ago—back when the site only published a single story per day. (Who What Wear has since increased that number twentyfold.) She graduated magna cum laude from USC, which is how she ended up moving to Los Angeles from her hometown of San Diego. In college, she also interned at Refinery29, where she was promoted to editorial assistant and then assistant editor. After nearly three years at R29, she came back to WWW in 2016, where she currently holds the title of Associate Director of Fashion News (as well as the unofficial title of resident royal expert—in case you haven't noticed her numerous Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton stories). She spends her days trying to incorporate her idols, Anna Wintour and Roger Federer, into as many stories as possible. Outside of work, she loves tennis, classic rock, traveling, and smothering her dog with affection.