Well, Hawai'i is opening up for visitors again and many of us are feeling better about flying (finally!) and we all know what that means. Those of you that aren't yet here are coming here... and fast!
I'll start by saying - Hawai'i is thrilled to have you back, but we do ask for some mutual respect. Please treat our land and locals with respect and care. Our ecosystem is our 'ohana and we are happy to share it with you - please treat it as you treat a family member or friend. For example, if you are hiking please be respectful to the land. This includes, staying on the designated trails and please don't remove rocks or plants from their original habitat. Also, you may notice cleaning stations at many trailheads. Please use them to clean shoes off before leaving and heading to another trail. This avoids spreading plant diseases that may linger in one area but not another. These diseases kill our native trees. And April is Native Hawaiian Plant Month so let's start it off right.
Please share some of your favorites below as well.
Hawai'i has some of the best hiking in the world, ok, maybe THE best if you ask us (which you are, obviously).
Choosing a trail can be as hard as deciding which beautiful beach to settle on for the day, but no need to stress. We've got you.
Here are a few of our favorites:
HO'OMALUHIA BOTANICAL GARDEN
Nestled against the vast wilderness and seclusion of the majestic Ko'olau Mountain Range is Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden.
This short trail is family friendly, provides plenty of shade, and gives a nice contrast to the more intentional designs of the garden.
As you stroll (or drive) through these 400 acres, you'll come to understand why Ho'omaluhia is named "a peaceful refuge." The botanical garden opened to the public in 1982 and features flora from major tropical regions around the world, including, Philippines, Malaysia, Tropical America, India & Sri Lanka, Melanesia, Hawaii, Polynesia, and Africa
WA'AHILA STATE RIDGE
Hiking the Wa'ahila State Ridge trail is truly an experience like no other. While this mountain trail is a true hidden treasure, the climb isn't for the faint of heart. It is better suited to intermediate and advanced hikers. This is one to leave the little ones at home and pack water and a lunch (but remember to pack it in and pack it out).
AEIA LOOP TRAIL
If you're into Hawaiian flora & fauna, then this is the trail for you. The trail is easy enough for all ages, but has some challenging aspects so it won't be too boring for avid hikers. It's a wonderful way to spend a few unforgettable hours on one of the prettier trails on the island. The loop is about 4.9 miles and takes ~3 hours or so to complete.
As a reminder, please always take care of the land - stay on trails and clean off shoes before entering and again when leaving. This keeps our areas pristine and pure. And always ALWAYS bring your trash with you. There may be trash cans but often these can get knocked over by wind so we really request that you bring it with you and dispose of it at your home or hotel to ensure it makes it to the landfill and not into the trail or water.
FOOD - FRESH, HAWAIIAN, FUSION AND MORE
Hawai'i may appear to be all about sand, surf and sun but this tropical paradise also provides some pretty cool dining options that you won't find in the local guidebooks.
For starters, fresh poke is excellent from the local grocery stores - Island Naturals, Foodland, etc. This is a perfectly excellent and affordable place to get excellent poke - they often have 3+ varieties.
What happens when you take a blend of regional flavors, add fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, elevate them a notch or two, all while staying authentic? The Mud Hen Water is a must-try eatery that never disappoints.
Keeping things simple, that's the vibe at Moku Kitchen. Trust us when we say this is the place to eat that locals want to keep on the DL. Fresh salads, hand-cut garlic truffle oil fries and delicious flatbread are just a few things on the menu at this eatery in Kaka'ako.
A hip karaoke bar that also serves a mellow Brunch? Yes please. This meeting place is filled with multiple restaurants, cafes and neighborhood services to make visiting Kaka'ako not only fun, but also tasty.
With locations in Kaka'ako and Waipahu, Highway Inn is a great place to pick up lau lau (chicken, pork AND squid!), Kālua pig and even 'uala (sweet potato!). It's also affordable - a family meal for four will run you ~$35. And if you are so inclined, you can watch the magic happen (i.e. lau lau making) at the Kaka'ako location every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday between 9:00 am – 1:00 pm.
In 1946, Helen Chock opened the doors to Helena's Hawaiian Food, a modest eatery in Honolulu, Hawaii. In 2000, the James Beard Foundation awarded Helena's Hawaiian Food the Regional Classic Award. Helena's remains the simple and unpretentious eatery it was when it launched over 6 decades ago. The restaurant is now run by Helen's grandson, Craig Katsuyoshi and is located at 1240 N. School Street.
Huge menu with local plates, poke and more! Something for everyone, not just fish.
Currently only available for takeout, Fresh Catch Kapahulu has a great mix of gourmet-style local lunch plates with several varieties of ahi and salmon poke, available by the pound or on a plate.
Looking for ramen during your trip to paradise? Ramen Nakamura is traditional and delicious. No shame in sharing a bowl of ramen and some dumplings, unless you can fit all that soup into your belly yourself. It’s a tiny place and most of the time, you order by pointing to a picture on the wall of what food you want. You can't go wrong, promise.
With locations on the north and south shore, you can get your fix at Uncle Bo's where they have a wide range including poke, steak, sliders, soups, salads, fish, pasta and more. Literally. Something for everyone.
A trip to Hawaii is not complete without a shave ice (or 10). They have loads of flavors and toppings to choose from so you can try a different flavor every day.
Craft brews, delicious food and cocktails make for a great afternoon stop at Waikiki Brewing Co. Honua founder Kapua Browning is a huge fan of the Skinny Jeans IPA and Jalapeño Mouth brews.
Are farmers' markets your thing? If so, we have a few for you. Both support local agriculture and often you can find raw/fresh produce there and lots of local vendors serve different dishes, some crafts and gifts etc.
Kapiolani Community College (KCC) Farmer’s Market
Saturdays 7:30 – 11:00am
Kapiolani Community College
Honolulu Farmer’s Market
Wednesdays 4:00 – 7:00pm
Location: Neal S. Blaisdell Center
PRO SURF SCHOOL HAWAII
Take a surf lesson on the quieter side of Waikiki at Pro Surf School Hawaii … a Hawaiian, family owned company ran by pro surfer And friend of Kapua, Kai Sallas https://www.prosurfschoolhawaii.com/
FIT, FUN AND FABULOUS IN HAWAII
Looking to do something a little different? Head over to Hawaii climb to test your skills on their climbing wall. They have something for every level and it's a nice and different option for some fun.
SHOPPING WITH A SIDE OF EVERYTHING
SALT AT OUR KAKA'AKO
This is where urban island culture, buzzworthy food, one stop shopping and innovative events come together. SALT covers an entire city block and is made of 85,000 square feet of space with an eclectic collection of craft restaurants, coffee shops, and trendy eateries run by local artists.