How can one describe their trip to Hawaii to those who weren’t with them—TLDR: it’s difficult.
So when we put together our hit list, we wanted to take you all around the island for a perfect mix of hyper local and lavishly tourist. When booking your trip, try local and dash in the tourist—make your trip the most memorable possible. Now go enjoy and aloha.
Helena’s Hawaiian Food
When we tell you their Hawaiian-style ribs are to die for, we mean it. We would take a bullet for these delicious, fall-off-the-bone ribs. Of course, sporting a list of acclaimed accolades from locals and travellers alike, In 1946, Helen Chock opened the doors to Helena’s Hawaiian Food, a humble eatery on North King St. in Honolulu, Hawaii. Over the past 64 years Helena’s Hawaiian Food has been serving the local community quality Hawaiian cuisine. In 2000, the James Beard Foundation awarded Helena’s Hawaiian Food the Regional Classic Award. Who’s hungry? // 1240 N School St, Honolulu, HI 96817, cash only; helenashawaiianfood.com
Oliver Men’s Shop
Whilst island roaming, we made it our mission to find authentic boutiques that support local and aren’t the effervescently cheesy Hawaiian dad shirts lined in airports or Waikiki. Founded by husband-and-wife team, Ali McMahon and Parker Moosman, the Olive & Oliver brand is inspired by classic coastal lifestyle and translated to curated boutiques and an online retail platform. Oliver Men’s Shop opened in 2012, featuring a curated mix of Hawaiiana-inspired artifacts, vintage pieces and clothing inspired by iconic surf culture. Clothing offerings range from the in-house Oliver label to specially-selected men’s lines, some of which aren’t available anywhere else on Oahu. // 49 Kihapai St, Kailua, HI 96734; oliveandoliverhawaii.com/oliver-mens-shop
A dream beach that makes for a perfect afternoon, Kailua is it. Picture waters that are so turquoise it’s something out of a 1991 American history book. Though parking can sometimes be scarce, we recommend getting their as early as you can to score a perfect parking spot, beach spot, and while you’re at it, fresh wind sailing equipment from the variety of activity stands. // Google map: Kailua State Beach Park.
SHOP TRAVEL ESSENTIALS
A beach that’s on the farther west side of Oahu—but making the hour and 20 minute drive west is so worth the incredible weather, waves, and nature surrounding you 360. We don’t mean to make a Jurassic Park reference but it’s like being straight out of the movie. Where the puffiest clouds come to play, the waves break much harder, and with little foot traffic—it makes for an amazing island getaway. // Google map: Yokohama Beach
Kona Brewing Company
Listen, for our islander reader’s who are not privy to tourist stops, hear us out. Kona Brewing Company offers a premium selection of their Kona branded beers. If you’re seated bar, you’re given a pretty sizable sample of their mainstay Hanalei Island IPA to try. And with a pretty generous happy hour, you can bet we were pretty happy walking out onto the pier that the brewery faces. // 7192 Kalanianole Highway, Honolulu, HI 96825; konabrewingco.com
Hideout at the Laylow Waikiki
Back in the land of hyper-tourist Waikiki, one hotel rooftop bar really brought us to that Aloha state of mind. Hideout at the Laylow offered plush seating, ample views of the street fever, and strong Mai Tai’s that’ll have you curling next to the many fireplaces. Serving Modern Hapa Hawaiian cuisine morning, noon and night in a relaxed, open lanai setting. // 2299 Kūhiō Ave., Honolulu, HI 96815; hideoutwaikiki.com
Conveniently located next door to Oliver Men’s Shop, Chadlou’s Cafe is a perfect little pit stop in between. Grabbing yourself a cold Matcha with macadamia is excellent when temps are getting into the high 90’s. The cafe also roasts their own beans on their ranch in Maunawili Valley. // 45 Kihapai St, Kailua, HI 96734, instagram.com/chadlouscoffee
Offering some serious chic, Here. in Kaka’ako supports women-based businesses in Hawaii and all over the globe. And we mean serious chic, their store is lined perfectly and elegantly with some of the world’s coolest womenswear brands, accessories, home goods, and more. Keep your credit card on hand. // 685 Auahi St #2-115, Honolulu, HI 96813; here-shop-here.com
Koko Head Cafe
A brunch for the books, Koko Head Cafe is a popping cafe and brunch spot serving up delicious Hawaiian versions of some of your favorites. Founded by Lee Anne Wong, she traded her burgeoning fashion career for the culinary world.Chef Lee Anne Wong has been bringing her modern-global fusion cuisine to the people. Born and raised in Troy, New York, Lee Anne, a 2nd generation Chinese-American, was not drawn to the kitchen, favoring sports–softball and ice hockey–instead. Though her mother encouraged her to eat unique cuisine, Lee Anne’s tastes were intrinsically tied to American favorites such as pizza, jalapeno poppers, and burgers. Lee Anne’s passion for cuisine ignited during her first year studying Fashion Design at FIT when she started cooking for friends. Once she donned her chef whites she never looked back. // 1145 12th Ave C, Honolulu, HI 96816; kokoheadcafe.com
The malasada to end all malasadas—the mom and popness of Leonards has dazzled fans and casual goers of the all pink joint since 1952. For those unfamiliar, a malasada is a Portugese doughnut without a hole. Leonards fries the generously-sized balls of dough until they’re golden brown on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. Leonards started making malasadas as part of the Portugese tradition for Shrove Tuesday back in 1953. Now, they make them continuously everyday—coined as Hawaii’s original malasada bakery. You can also enjoy the variety plain, with chocolate, or strawberry filling. // 933 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816; leonardshawaii.com
// Feature photography of Kailua State Beach Park by Michael Olsen. Did we miss your favorite spot on Oahu? Write in and tell us.