Rediscovering Oahu

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We drive up to Punchbowl National Memorial, the Arlington National Cemetery of the Pacific, where thousands of the fallen find their resting place in idyllic serenity. We then go up Tantalus Drive, high into the mountains above Honolulu for the spectacle of jungle and hidden mansions.

Upon descending, we drop by Leonard’s Bakery and buy a box of its famous malasadas — doughnuts without holes.

Dinner on our last evening is at Chef Mavro, an exquisite multicourse affair from the man who is reshaping the face of pan-Pacific cuisine. Chef George Mavrothalassitis has established himself as one of Oahu’s premier chefs by using local ingredients in brilliant combinations. Ahi with Sumida Farms watercress is exceptional, beignets of oyster with a white gazpacho explodes with taste, and foie gras wrapped in nori is amazing.

The courses keep coming, paired with wines that complement each dish, opakapaka (pink snapper) and hamachi, Sonoma duckling and Keohole lobster, perfect-size proportions, exceptional ingredients. Kobe beef filet with Kobe short ribs stops the show, while loin of lamb with chickpea puree is a sweet and juicy delight. The service is exquisite and precise, thanks to a brilliant, young and energetic staff. A melange of deserts is capped with a lilikoi (a fruit) malasada that is perfection.

With all that we have done, there is much left unexplored. Oahu beckons with a depth of wonder and attraction found nowhere else in the Hawaiian Islands. An active city life set in paradise gives way to unspoiled countryside in minutes.

The history of the islands is written here. The vibrancy of a restored downtown and a gleaming redeveloped Waikiki gives way to the warmth and tranquil lifestyle of Haleiwa or a North Shore surf scene unchanged in 40 years.

Oahu is a treasure box of the Hawaiian Islands waiting to be explored. Before jetting off to Maui or Kauai, discover — or visit again — Oahu and find paradise where it always has been.

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Delta Air Lines and other carriers have connecting service from Washington to Honolulu. We found Delta’s first-class service very comfortable and roomy, with a choice of many films and excellent food. Delta Air Lines: visit www.delta.com or phone 800/221-1212.

Royal Hawaiian Hotel, www.royal-hawaiian.com; 808/923-7311 or 866/716-8109

Turtle Bay Resort, www.turtlebayresort.com; 808/293-6000 or 800/203-3650

Halekulani Hotel, www.halekulani.com, 808/923-2311 or 800/367-2343

Heli USA, www.heliusahawaii.com; 808/826-6591 or 866/936-1234

Alan Wong’s Restaurant, www.alanwongs.com; 808/949-2526

Hoku‘s, www.kahalaresort.com/dining/hoku.cfm; 808/739-8780

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