OAHU'S BESTfrom Matt Buckman
BEST STORE TO BUY SURF SHORTS: (Birdwells, exclusively): Island Paddler in Honolulu, 808-737-4854.
BEST SPOT TO GET SQUID LUAU: (a Hawaiian stew made with spinachy taro leaves) Ruger Market in Kapahulu, 808-737-4531.
BEST PLACE TO TAKE HIS TWO-YEAR OLD TO THE BEACH: Lanikai, on the eastern shore.
BEST SHOP TO BUY A LEI: Flowers by Jr., Lou & T in Honolulu, 808-941-2022.
BEST BAR TO DRINK A BEER WITH SOME "LAGOONATICS": La Mariana Sailing Club, 808-848-2800.
OTHER THAN SURFERS chasing down the legendary North Shore bombs, athletic travelers tend to think of Oahu as just an urban way station en route to the wilder neighbor islands. But Honolulu is just a bike ride away from a mountain trail, an uncrowded beach, or a bustling coral reef.
WHERE TO STAY: Make the scene at Oahu's hippest hotel, the W Honolulu, with 48 contempo-Asian designer rooms and suites. Doubles, $375; 888-528-9465, www.starwood.com/whotels. The Hawaii Polo Inn Beach Cottage sits on deserted Mokuleia Beach with views of the North Shore's famous surf. $125 per night; 800-669-7719, www.hawaiipolo.com.
WHERE TO INDULGE: See and be seen at Indigo, serving creative Eurasian fare in old Chinatown. 808-521-2900. Honolulu's Ono Hawaiian Food dishes out traditional fare like poke (spiced raw seafood) and heapings of poi (mashed taro root); 808-737-2275. Locals head to Matsumoto's for the island's best shaved ice. 808-637-4827, www.matsumotoshaveice.com.
CANOE SAIL: Matt Buckman's company, Aloha Spirit Hawaii, offers canoe cruises off Diamond Head and arranges custom itineraries. $25 per passenger per hour; 808-306-6012, www.alohaspirit.com.
KITEBOARD: Fly on Kailua Beach with Naish (yes, as in Robbie) Hawaii. A two-hour lesson costs $100; 800-767-6068, www.naish.com.
SURF: The Hans Hedemann Surf School teaches novices to read winds, currents, and swellsand, of course, to surf. From $50; 808-924-7778, www.hhsurf.com.
SCUBA DIVE: Swim out with Haleiwa's Surf & Sea to the marine conservation area at Shark's Cove on the North Shore, a diverse reef of coral canyons and challenging caves. $65 per dive; 800-899-7873, www.surfnsea.com.
HIKE: Explore rocky coves and tide pools on the 2.5-mile coastal trail in Kaena Point Natural Reserve on the island's northwest tip. Or try the Kuli'ou'ou Valley and Ridge Trail in East Honolulu, a six-mile forest loop through the Ko'olau mountains. Contact the state trails program, 808-973-9782, www.hawaiitrails.org.
MOUNTAIN BIKE: Pedal with Bike Hawaii Tours through the dense tropical foliage of the Ka'a'awa Valley. $85; 877-682-7433, www.bikehawaii.com.