You may arrive by car, but the Outrigger reminds you—with the 100-year-old koa wood canoe suspended in the longhouse entryway—that long ago, the Polynesians came to Hawaii by boat, navigating their way only by the stars. The Hawaii-based Outrigger chain has a handful of hotels on Oahu, and this one is its most striking, with lovely Hawaiian cultural touches. You’ll find the outrigger theme throughout the hotel, such as in the collection of Polynesian canoe art by Herb Kane, who some call the “father of the Hawaiian Renaissance.” (Most notably, he built the double-hulled voyaging canoe the Hokulea in 1975, which revived ancient celestial navigation methods. From 2014-2017, the Hokulea sailed around the world—without a compass, GPS, or any other modern-day navigational equipment.) But don’t worry, at Outrigger Reef, you can have your historical culture and modern amenities too, such as free Wi-Fi, a large pool, and three restaurants, including the new, beachside Reef Bar and Market Grill with grill-your-own steaks. Decked out in tasteful Hawaiian decor, rooms are spacious.
Note that Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach (www.outriggerwaikikihotel.com) has a similar feel and price point to Outrigger Reef on the Beach, but its location in the center of Waikiki and its resident bar—Duke’s Waikiki, the area’s most happening bar—means it’s a little more bustling and noisy.