(does not includes Kailua)
BAKERIES, COFFEE, ICE CREAM, JUICE & TEA
●Kamehameha Bakery – 1284 Salani Street (Kalihi); 808-845-5831; facebook.com/kamehamehabakeryinc; long-running, no-frills operation known for specialty poi-glazed donuts (poi is paste made from baked & pounded fermented taro root) & ensemadas (sweet, brioche-like bun dusted with powdered sugar); also try malasada (Portuguese doughnut); opens at 2 a.m. so get there early.
●Manifest – 32 North Hotel Street (Downtown); 808-523-7575; manifesthawaii.com; glass-ceilinged, exposed brick, loft space; bar by night, coffee-shop by day.
●Otto Cake – 1127 12th Avenue (Kaimukī); 808-834-6886; ottocake.com; punk-rock bakery; try cheesecake; also good are brownies & milkshakes.
●Shimazu Store – 330 North School Street (Kalihi); 808-371-8899; facebook.com/Shimazu-Store-Official-Shave-ice-halo-halo-popcorn-t-shirts-235456323206641/info/?tab=overview; notable for shave ice but general dessert stop.
●Waiola Shave Ice & Dessert Store – 2135 Waiola Street (Mo’ili’ili); 808-949-2269; waiolashaveice.com; try rainbow-condensed milk shave ice.
BARS & NIGHTCLUBS
●Dragon Upstairs – 1038 Nuuanu Avenue (Chinatown, upstairs from Hank’s Cafe Honolulu); 808-526-1411; thedragonupstairs.com; live, Japanese-infused jazz in former tattoo parlor (hence dragon mural); classic cocktails along with loungy jazz performances most weeknights.
●Duke’s Restaurant & Barefoot Bar – 2335 Kalakaua Avenue (Waikīkī, at Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort); 808-922-2268; dukeswaikiki.com; live, Hawaiian music; casual.
●Halekulani’s House Without Key – 2199 Kalia Road (Waikīkī, at Halekulani Hotel); 808-923-2311; halekulani.com/dining/house-without-a-key; 1940s-postcard-like setting (century old, backlit kiawe tree); “heroic” mai tais; great views; hula dancing.
●Hank’s Cafe Honolulu – 1038 Nuuanu Avenue (Chinatown); 808-526-1410; hankscafehawaii.com; relaxed, no-frills bar offering drinks & live musicians in casual setting with art-covered walls.
●Kona Brewing Co. – 7192 Kalanianaole Highway (Hawaii Kai, at Koko Marina Center); 808-396-5662; konabrewingco.com/ourpubs; local lagers.
●Manifest – 32 North Hotel Street (Downtown); 808-523-7575; manifesthawaii.com; glass-ceilinged, exposed brick, loft space.
●La Mariana Sailing Club – 50 Sand Island Access Road (Keehi Lagoon, hidden in industrial park); 808-848-2800; lamarianasailingclub.com; for tiki bar time warp, complete with rum punches; go on Thursday evenings when legendary blind pianist Ron Miyashiro takes stage.
●Sunrise Pool Bar – 1775 Ala Moana Boulevard (at Modern Hotel); 808-943-5800; themodernhonolulu.com; best view.
●Ehukai Waimea (North Shore); home of Banzai Pipeline.
●Sandy Beach – Hawaiʻi Kai (Honolulu’s southside, between Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve Park on west & Makapuʻu Point on east); among Obama’s favorite beaches; make sure to see Hanauma Bay, Oahu’s best snorkeling.
●Sunset – Pūpūkea (North Shore).
●Waimea Bay – Kawailoa (North Shore).
●Horseshoe Reef – South Shore; whitetips snooze under ledges here.
●Mānoa – near Waikīkī; giant World War II aircraft-carrying submarine.
●Puako Cleaning Station – Kohala Coast; watch turtles getting cleaned by damsels, wrasses, and yellow tangs.
●San Pedro – mile off shore from Diamond Head crater.
●Sea Tiger – off Waikīkī.
●Ulua Cave – Kaena Point; home to Spanish Dancer nudibranches and their egg sacks, as well as supremely camouflaged frogfish.
●YO-257 – South Shore.
●Halekulani – 2199 Kalia Road (Waikīkī); 808-923-2311 or 800-367-2343; halekulani.com; oceanfront luxury hotel located on Waikiki Beachfront; 453 rooms in 5 buildings on 5 acres; attention to detail & impeccable service wrap you in privilege (private registration in guest room, complimentary tickets to Honolulu Museum of Art); spacious guest rooms, artfully appointed in marble & wood, have ocean views & extra large lanai; fine dining options at Orchids (popular Sunday brunch) & La Mer, as well as bars (Belle Epoque Bar LʻAperitif & live jazz at Lewerʻs Lounge); Spa Halekulani; freshwater, heated pool has orchid design created from more than 1½M glass mosaic tiles; small & intimate Gray's Beach fronts hotel just beyond pool.
●Hotel Renew – 129 Paoakalani Avenue (Waikīkī); 808-687-7700 or 844-485-7639; hotelrenew.com; modern, inexpensive & quietly sophisticated, 72-room boutique; Japanese-influenced & New Age, but without attitude or pretension; friendly staff; no spa, fitness room or pool.
●Kahala Hotel & Resort – 5000 Kahala Avenue (Kahala, 6 minutes from Waialae Beach Par); 808-739-8888 or 800-367-2525; kahalaresort.com; minutes from Waikiki but far enough for privacy; Richard Burton & Elizabeth Taylor honeymooned here in 1964; rooms feature teak parquet floors, mahogany furnishings & grass-cloth covered walls; deep-soaking tubs & private balconies or patios; Kahala Spa; 800' white sand beach; grounds encompass 26K'-square lagoon where guests can swim with bottlenose dolphins.
●Modern Hotel – 1775 Ala Moana Boulevard (Waikīkī); 808-943-5800 or 855-970-4161; themodernhonolulu.com; best room is 911 (Ocean Front Suite on eastern, sea-facing corner), with 2 balconies (1 above pool, another looking out to sea); marina-facing Sunrise Pool is surrounded by teak decking & sunloungers, with giant squashy day-beds in tropical garden with picnic tables & cocktail bar, while oceanfront Sunset Pool is lantern-lit, adults-only plunge with adjacent cocktail bar.
●Outrigger Reef on Beach – 2169 Kalia Road (Waikīkī); 808-923-3111 or 866-956-4262; outriggerreef-onthebeach.com; multimillion-dollar renovations have drastically updated this beachfront property: expanded guest rooms, larger and more contemporary bathrooms & new signature restaurant (poolside Kani Ka Pila Grille); worthwhile to go for ocean view or oceanfront accommodation in Ocean Tower (other rooms have less enchanting views); hotel announces $100M revitalization project to create 34K'-square open recreation space including enhanced swimming pools, landscaped lounging areas & open-air dining options (construction starts in 2017, with project expected to be completed in 2019).
●Royal Hawaiian – 2259 Kalakaua Avenue (Waikīkī); 808-923-7311 or 800-831-5541; royal-hawaiian.com; legendary “Pink Palace of Pacific”; 2009 $85M face-lift; on 14 acres; 2nd-oldest hotel in Waikiki behind (Moana Surfrider), now outfitted with modern comfort amid historic elegance; modern tower added, but aim for architectural detailing & romance of historic wing, with canopy beds, Queen Anne–style desks & color motifs that range from soft mauve to soothing sea foam (if you want lanai for sunset viewing, though, rooms in oceanfront tower are best bet); garden view rooms are largest in historic wing & less expensive.
●AGU Ramen – 925 Isenberg Street (Mo’ili’ili); 808-492-1637; aguramen.com; petite Japanese eatery specializing in bowls of jidori broth with housemate noodles or tonkotsu.
●Chai’s Island Bistro – 1 Aloha Tower Drive (Kaka’ako); 808-585-0011; chaisislandbistro.com; Chef Chai Chaowasaree’s famous Pac Rim fare served while “who’s who of Hawaiian musicians” perform live at this Aloha Tower Marketplace mecca; indoor/outdoor seating; prix fixe option; expensive & loud.
●Chef Mavro – 1969 South King Street (Mo’ili’ili); 808-944-4714; chefmavro.com; Hawaii’s gastronomic temple; Hawaii Regional–French meals served in nondescript building where chef’s wife greets you at door; plan to take your time – pricey set menu (à la carte available upon request).
●Hasr Bistro – 31 North Pauahi Street (Chinatown); 808-533-4277; hasrbistro.com; French- & Italian-inspired cuisine; comforting American & Euro-inspired menu pairs with boutique wine list; patio seating & full schedule live music.
●Hau Tree Lanai – 2863 Kalakaua Avenue (at New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel, on Sans Souci Beach next to Kapiolani Park, 2.1 miles from Diamond Head crater); 808-921-7066; kaimana.com/hautreelanai.htm; in this otherwise somewhat tatty hotel is wonderful find: Hau Tree Lanai restaurant on beach; viselike has tree is ideal for sitting under & one that spreads itself over this beachside courtyard once shaded Robert Louis Stevenson as he mused & wrote about Hawaii; great beach view at this romantic known for rich, classic eggs Benedict for breakfast, papaya chicken salad at lunch & workmanlike fresh catch of day or steak at dinner.
●Koko Head Cafe – 1145 12th Avenue (Kaimuki); 808-732-8920; kokoheadcafe.com; comfort food, brunch-only spot; worth 10-minute Uber ride to check out Top Chef Season 1 finalist Chef Lee Ann Wong’s signature restaurant; gluten-free options.
●Lucky Belly – 50 North Hotel Street (Chinatown); 808-531-1888; luckybelly.com; earthy-industrial, sleek interior; delicious Ramen with, for example, smoky pork belly & gingery, rich broth; also, salads & modern twists on Asian sides like dumplings & steamed buns.
●Mana Bu’s – 1618 South King Street (Mo’ili’ili); 808-358-0287; hawaiimusubi.com; best source for musubi (in Japanese, onigiri, rice ball topped or filled with various flavors & foods; in Hawaii, Spam is popular filling.
●La Mariana Sailing Club – 50 Sand Island Access Road (Keehi Lagoon, hidden in industrial park); 808-848-2800; lamarianasailingclub.com; for tiki bar time warp, complete with coconut shrimp; go on Thursday evenings when legendary blind pianist Ron Miyashiro takes stage.
●Morimoto Waikiki – 1775 Ala Moana Boulevard (Waikīkī, at Modern Hotel); 808-943-5900; morimotowaikiki.com; run by former Iron Chef star; shares pool & lounge area; sleek, high concept restaurant offering water views, indoor-outdoor dining, fire pit, sushi bar, and bar; excellent food with emphasis on raw dishes.
●MW Restaurant – 1538 Kapiolani Boulevard (Ala Moana); 808-955-6505; mwrestaurant.com; seafood with Asian inflection (try mochi-encrusted opakapaka); serves modern variation on shave ice for dessert.
●Pavilion Cafe – 900 South Beretania Street (Downtown, at Contemporary Museum & Honolulu Academy of Arts); 808-532-8734; honolulumuseum.org/394-museum_cafe; Mediterranean food next to waterfall & Jun Kaneko sculptures.
●Pig & Lady – 83 North King Street (Chinatown); 808-585-8255; thepigandthelady.com; Vietnamese food; excellent & worth special trip.
●Prima – 108 Hekili Street (Kailua); 808-888-8933; primahawaii.com; American-Hawaiian-Italian; when you pull up to this highly regarded restaurant in sprawling suburban strip mall, bizarrely sandwiched in plaza between Foodland grocery store & Baskin-Robbins; but doubts disappear upon viewing restaurant’s pizza oven (Stefano Ferrara made by hand, brick by brick, in Naples by 3rd-generation oven builder); menu divided into “Pizza” & “Not Pizza” categories; best pizza is pork belly (main ingredient brined for 3 days, then braised & loaded on pizza with garlic oil, rosemary, mozzarella, Parmesan & radicchio); “Not Pizza” highlights include penne di cream (prosciutto, mushrooms and truffle oil) maitake mushroom-cauliflower purée appetizer.
●Rainbow Drive-In – 3308 Kanaina Avenue (Kaimuki); 808-737-0177; rainbowdrivein.com; try “ono grindz”; Obama eats here; “mix plate” (BBQ beef, chicken & mahi mahi).
●Saigon – 164 North King Street (Chinatown); 808-599-1866; Vietnamese food.
●Sushi Sasabune – 1417 South King Street (Makiki); 808-9473800; sasabunehawaii.com; among top restaurants in Honolulu; perfectly prepared, fresh sushi; spartan Japanese favorite is must-visit for purists; expensive.
●Town Restaurant – 3435 Waianae Avenue (Kaimuki); 808-735-5900; townkaimuki.com; motto is “local first, organic whenever possible, with aloha always”; neighborhood spot where people can drop in any time & eat well; can sit outside with dog owners & eat breakfast of gently poached eggs served with braised greens, raisins, pine nuts & pancetta over golden fried polenta slab or famous burger with shoestring-style french fries for lunch; stop by for dinner of pillow soft gnocchi (only 12 orders per night) & slow-cooked pork shoulder; favorite time to visit is late afternoon to sit at bar, have beer, fries & house-made grapefruit-Campari sorbet; wine list exudes character (small, boutique vineyards are featured with many options available by glass), fresh local fruit & grapes in sangria & lavender from chef’s garden.
●Vintage Cave – 1450 Ala Moana Boulevard (Ala Moana); 808-441-1744; vintagecave.com; restaurant in wine cave-museum (castle-like); actually very good & worth special trip.
●Obama Tour – 955 Waimanu Street (Kaka’ako); 808-690-9050; discoverhawaiitours.com or hawaiiobamatour.com; takes you past his childhood homes a& family cemeteries, etc.
●Bailey’s Antiques & Aloha Shirts – 517 Kapahulu Avenue (Kaimuki); 808-734-7628; alohashirts.com; Hawaiana; tiki-god mugs, hula girl lamps, battered ukuleles & vintage shirts.
●Blank Canvas – 1145 Bethel Street (Chinatown); 808-780-4720; facebook.com/blankcanvashi; accessories & men’s clothing.
●Contemporary Museum & Honolulu Academy of Arts – 900 South Beretania Street (Downtown); 808-532-8700; honoluluacademy.org; boutique-gift shop is among island’s better shopping venues for gifts & souvenirs.
●Fighting Eel – 1133 Bethel Street (Downtown); 808-738-9300; fightingeel.com; clothing.
●Fighting Eel – 629 Kailua Road (Kailua); 808-738-9301; fightingeel.com; clothing.
●Fighting Eel – 2233 Kalakaua Avenue (Waikīkī, at Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center); 808-738-9295; fightingeel.com; clothing.
●Fighting Eel – 4211 Waianae Avenue (Kahala, at Kahala Mall); 808-738-4912; fightingeel.com; clothing.
●Hawaii Fish Co. – 1149 Bethel Street (Chinatown); 808-725-7551; hawaiifishco.com; best fish supplier on island.
●Homecoming – 12 South King Street (Downtown); 808-536-6000; shophomecominghonolulu.com; women’s clothing.
●Kapiolani Community College Farmers’ Market – 4303 Diamond Head Road (Kaimuki); 808-848-2074; hfbf.org/markets/markets/kcc; worth trip for breakfast; locavore, foodie destination; Tuesdays & Saturdays.
●La Muse – 1156 Nuuanu Avenue (Chinatown); 808-536-0818; lamusehawaiicom; sophisticated island items.
●Tin Can Mailman – 1026 Nuuanu Avenue (Downtown); 808-524-3009; tincanmailman.net; vintage Hawaiiana, including mid-century Bakelite bracelets and rare books and documents.
SIGHTS & SITES
●Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum – 1525 Bernice Street (Kalihi); 808-847-3511; bishopmuseum.org; ethnic Hawaiian museum; world’s largest collection of Polynesian cultural artifacts & natural history specimens.
●Chinatown 1st Fridays – 808-739-9797; firstfridayhawaii.com; monthly gallery walk.
●Contemporary Museum & Honolulu Academy of Arts – 900 South Beretania Street (Downtown); 808-532-8700; honoluluacademy.org; make sure to take Shangri-La tour, Doris Day’s one-time private estate now Islamic museum.
●Diamond Head Crater (Le’ahi) – off Diamond Head Road (between Makapu’u Avenue & 18th Avenue); 808-587-0300; hawaiistateparks.org; near Waikiki’s eastern edge; encompasses over 475 acres, including crater’s interior & outer slopes; .8 mile trail to summit is steep & strenuous, gaining 560'; many switchbacks traversing up steep slope, through lighted 225' tunnel to enter Fire Control Station, built on summit; at summit, bunkers & huge navigational lighthouse; postcard shoreline view from Koko Head to Wai’anae (during winter, may include passing humpback whales); on Saturdays, across street from crater, Kapiolani Community College Farmers’ Market makes convenient pit-stop.
●Foster Botanical Garden – 180 North Vineyard Boulevard (Chinatown); 808-522-7060; honolulu.gov/cms-dpr-menu/site-dpr-sitearticles/568-foster-botanical-garden.html; 1 of 3 botanical gardens located on North Vineyard Boulevard; in highly urban area with strip malls, schools & both Buddhist & Methodist religious facilities nearby; oldest botanical garden in Hawaii & listed on National Register of Historic Places; in 1853, Queen Kalama leased 4.6 acres to William Hillebrand, German physician & botanist who built home & planted trees on site; during his stay, he introduced numerous plants to Hawaii, as well as deer & mynah birds; in 1884 property sold to Thomas R. Foster & wife, who continued to develop garden; widow bequeathed land & home to city & county of Honolulu; famous orchid collection; garden consists of Upper Terrace (oldest part), Middle Terraces (palms, aroids, heliconias & gingers), Economic Garden (herbs, spices, dyes & poisons), Prehistoric Glen (primitive plants planted in 1965), Lyon Orchid Garden & Hybrid Orchid Display; also contains exceptional trees, including Sacred Fig that is clone descendant of Bodhi tree that Buddha sat under for inspiration.
●Hālona Blowhole – 8699 State Highway 72 (East Oahu); roadsideamerica.com/story/18020; where Obama scattered his mom’s ashes.
●Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden – 45-680 Luluku Road (Kaneohe); 808-233-7323; honolulu.gov/cms-dpr-menu/site-dpr-sitearticles/569-ho`omaluhia-botanical-garden.html; garden established in 1982; designed & built by US Army Corps of Engineers for flood protection; rainforest garden, with plantings from major tropical regions around world, grouped into distinct collections that focus on Africa, Hawaii, India & Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Melanesia, Philippines, Polynesia, & tropical New World; special emphasis placed on conserving plants native to Hawaii & Polynesia, as well as arecaceae, aroids, and heliconias; includes lake (32 acres) & walking trails.
●James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge – 56-795 Kamehameha Highway (Haleiwa); 808-637-6330; fws.gov/refuge/james_campbell/; critical habitat for Hawaii’s 4 endangered waterbirds, ’alas kea (Hawaiian coot), koloa mail (Hawaiian duck), ʻalae ʻula (Hawaiian gallinule) & āeʻo (Hawaiian stilt), as well as many migratory seabirds, endangered & native plant species & endangered Hawaiian monk seal & green sea turtle.
●Kamehamea Highway – scenic drive along north shore.
●Kapiolani Medical Center – 1319 Punahou Street (Maliki); 808-983-6000; kapiolani.org; where Obama was born.
●Kapiolani Park – Kalakaua Avenue & Monserrat Avenue (Kapiolani Park); 808-971-2510; 300 acres at Diamond Head’s foot; largest & oldest public park in Hawaiʻi; named after Queen Kapiʻolani, queen consort of King David Kalākaua; home to Waikiki Shell & Honolulu Zoo.
●Lili’uokalani Botanical Garden – 123 North Kuakini Street (Downtown); 808-522-7066; honolulu.gov/cms-dpr-menu/site-dpr-sitearticles/6411-new-liliuokalani-botanical-garden.html; given to city & county by Queen Liliʻuokalani, Hawaiʻiʻs last reigning monarch; contains Nuʻuanu Stream & Waikahalulu waterfall; under development to feature native Hawaiian plants exclusively.
●Makapuʻu Point Lighthouse Trail – Kalanlanaole Highway (at Ka Iwi State Scenic Shoreline); 808-587-0300 (State Parks main number); lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=141; 2 mile, 500’ ascent trail culminating at lighthouse; worth special trip.
●National Memorial Cemetery of Pacific – 2177 Puowaina Drive (Downtown, Punchbowl); 808-532-3720; cem.va.gov; where Obama’s grandfather is buried.
●Nuʻuanu Pali Lookout – Nuuanu Pali Drive (5-mile drive northeast of Downtown); gohawaii.com/en/oahu/regions-neighborhoods/windward-oahu/nuuanu-pali-lookout/; spectacular (windy) lookout.
●Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument – 600 miles northwest of Honolulu (main office, 6600 Kalaniana’ole Highway, #300, Honolulu; Hilo office, 308 Kamehameha Avenue, #203); 808-397-2660 (Honolulu) or 808-933-8180 (Hilo); papahanaumokuakea.gov; site of Captain George Pollard, Jr.’s 2nd sunk ship (1st – whaling ship, Two Brothers – rammed by sperm whale & sunk, inspiring Moby Dick).
●Polynesian Cultural Center – 55-370 Kamehameha Highway (Laie); 808-293-3333; polynesia.com; Polynesian-themed theme park & living museum.
●USS Arizona Memorial – 1 Arizona Memorial Place (Pearl Harbor); 808-422-0561; nps.gov.vair or ussarizona.org; located at Pearl Harbor, marks resting place of 1,102 of 1,177 sailors & Marines killed during Japanese surprise attack on 7 December 1941; commemorates events of that day; built in 1962, visited by more than 2M people annually; accessible only by boat.
●Waimea Falls Park – 59-864 Kamehameha Highway (Haleiwa, North Shore Waimea); 808-638-7766 or 808-638-8511; best-of-oahu.com/waimea-falls-park.html
; swim in pool below 45 foot waterfall; less strenuous Ala Ki hike takes you through forest (exotic and native plants), up switchbacks, to Kalahee Ridge top.