Drew's Exploring Oahu beyond Waikiki

I am often amazed that so many people want to crowd in Waikiki. I sometimes like to go to peoplewatch or enjoy the ocean, but you will find a very different scene if you leave that crowded strip of land. If you don't have a car, I suggest an afternoon of gallery-hopping in and cafe-lounging in Kaimuki, or making full-day trips to Haleiwa and Kaimuki. (See below).


With a 15-minute bus (or 10-minute car) trip from Waikiki you can get to the Honolulu neighborhood of KAIMUKI. It looks like an old Hawaiian neighborhood with many small shops (complete with awnings). It is home to the MOVIE MUSEUM (a room with lazyboy chairs showing classic / foreign films each night, and a great selection of videos.) There also is a nice independent cafe called COFFEE TALK which has free wireless net. Nearby is a good Japanese restaurant called MAGURO-YA. There also are many other options (Mexican, Italian, American Diner, etc) within walking distance. The Kaimuki Trolley used to go between here and Waikiki, but has been replaced by the Bus Route 303, Kaimuki-Kapahulu-Waikiki [PDF Schedule].


The next two spots are worth renting a car for, or planning a day trip by bus.

[TIP: The Island of Oahu has a good bus system. You can put your bike on the front of every bus. I really encourage you to consider it if you have time.
Gas is always expensive here, and parking is very limited and costly in Honolulu.]


Further out, you can drive (or bus) over the PALI Highway (drivers should be sure to stop at the PALI LOOKOUT for a beautiful look around), then drive to KAILUA. The town is not so exciting to me, but has a nice beach. Lanikai Beach is even nicer, just a few more miles out of town. Kailua has a nice used/new bookstore called BOOKENDS (600 Kailua Rd.): 261-1996. There also is a fun Moroccan restaurant there called CASABLANCA (9 Ho'olai St.) for dinners. I suggest a reservation at 262-8196, BYO wine). It is prix fix around $30 and was very enjoyable. Paprika ("Inspired Mediterranean Cuisine") is also in town at 35 Kainehe St. KAILUA also has a big comfortable STARBUCKS and another independent cafe in the same mall as Bookends. It is independent, but not as parisian. Kailua also has some galleries, which sponsor a Second Sunday Art Gallery Walk (between 2.oo and 5.oo pm). You can call the best gallery, the Balcony (438 Uluniu St.) in Kailua (96734) at 263-4434 for information.

WAIKELE or WAIPAHU (Central Oahu) / HALEIWA (North Shore)

Going in the other direction, you could go to the Waikele Outlet Mall (Nine West, Bass Shoes, Banana Republic, Coach, etc.; and Border's on the other side) or Hawaii's Plantation Village, and then head north to HALEIWA (on the North Shore). The town is our surfer's Mecca, but also has many "art galleries." Personally, I would not go for the art, although there was one OK gallery. The drive is beautiful. Enjoy the stunning red soil, valleys, and trees along the way. Once you get there you can enjoy eating at Cholo's Homestyle Mexican, 66-250 Kamehameha Hwy. : 637-3059, or HALEIWA JOE'S SEAFOOD GRILL 66-011 Kamehameha Hwy: 637-8005 . There also is a great cafe in town (next to Cholo's, with free wireless net, and open until 8 PM) called COFFEE GALLERY 66-250 Kamehameha Hwy. : 637-9206. I really think it is the coolest cafe on our island. You can order good coffee from them too. Now, if you are Japanese or just like shaved ice (we say "shave ice" here), you should be sure to go to Matsumoto's Shave Ice (established 1951) (66-087 Kamehameha Hwy.). Drew likes strawberry-flavor with zenzai (azuki red beans) and ice cream. You could become very popular if you brought condensed milk, which they don't have for some reason. I think they close around 5 PM. Junie told me about another institution you might otherwise miss, which is Giovanni's "Shrimp Shack." It is an old graffiti covered delivery-truck parked across from the McDonalds as you enter town. It has amazing shrimp sauteed in lots of butter and garlic. I think it closes around 3 PM. There are many other trucks, but they seem like poor copies. This is my favorite side trip. Why not make a relaxed day of it.

Just be sure to avoid rush hour on the H-1 (from about 2:30-6:30). Without traffic it will take you maybe 45 min to an hour. In traffic it could take 2 hours. The beach and waves are something to behold.

The current airfare war means that you can get to another island more affordably these days. I love Lanai and the Big Island, but am told the other islands are also wonderful. Enjoy!

Last updated 11 June 2007.