What to do while visiting Oahu
December 19, 2007 5:01 PM   Subscribe

What's interesting and new on Oahu that's non-touristy?

My friends have asked me (I grew up on Oahu) what non-touristy things they should do on their last minute trip to Oahu. But it's been years since I've been back so I have no idea beyond telling them they have to of course, eat some malasadas and to do some touristy stuff cause it's fun. Any ideas they won't find in a travel book? My friends are in their 30's, like the indie rock and dancing, biking, kayaking, and the arts. You know, people sort of like you. Thanks.
posted by nerdpita to Travel & Transportation around Oahu, HI (8 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Does it count as non-touristy if it's a touristic site that few if any tourists go to? Because there were some out-of-the-way heiaus that I visited that were cool, but nobody was there. Half the reason to go is to have an excuse to get there, passing through country you'd otherwise not see.
posted by mumkin at 7:15 PM on December 19, 2007

Not 'new', but - My girlfriend and I were in Oahu in October, and on a native's suggestion we had a fantastic and relatively tourist-free day spent at Shark's Cove. A beautiful cove, great swimming, great snorkeling ... there's a nice food trailer there (freah ahi sandwiches, vegetarian fare, breakfast, yummy) as well as a snorkel gear rental shop if you need it. And that's about it.

We intended to only stay there for a couple hours before moving on but we were enjoying it so much we stayed put for the entire day.

The drive to this spot is really nice, as well.

(actually - I just read deeper into the site linked above and it says the waves make this spot too dangerous in the winter time ... so this might not work for your friends ... )
posted by General Zubon at 8:11 PM on December 19, 2007

If you're telling them to go up to Sharks Cove anyway, perhaps they can stop by a shrimp truck driving up past Hale'iwa. My favorite is Giovanni's, but there are a bunch up there now. Beware that Japanese tour buses do go up there now, but only because the shrimp scampi is THAT good. The North shore is generally really picturesque, though General Zubon is right, not really suitable for water excursions during winter. There could be a few surf competitions going on to watch though, depending on the waves.

There are a lot of great hikes on Oahu, I'm partial to Kaena Point which is not a very touristy hike, if they can get out there.

I have a bunch more food suggestions for my own local favorites, just let me know if you're interested.
posted by harrumph at 9:15 PM on December 19, 2007

The best views of Diamondhead, in my opinion, can be found driving up Tantalus in Makiki. Its also a lush, lovely area. Let me ponder. I bet I can come up with a bunch.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:39 AM on December 20, 2007

Seconding Tantalus. While you're there, the Contemporary Art Museum is worth checking out and is a nice place to have a picnic lunch.

The hike up Diamond Head is touristy, but still worth it imo. The trip to the Pearl Harbor Memorial is also touristy but worth it.

If they have a car, an around the island (or at least around the Koolaus) drive is nice. From town go east to Hanauma Bay, around to Waimanalo, through Kailua to La'ie, up around Waimea to Haleiwa, then down H2. A convertible is especially nice for this.
posted by Andrew Brinton at 9:53 AM on December 20, 2007

Some other ideas off the top of my head:

Iolani Palace and the nearby Kawaiahao church and the missionary houses have worthwhile tours. Foster Botanical Garden is also downtown and worth checking out.

Glider flights can be had at Dillingham field on the north shore relatively cheaply. Lots and lots of fun.
posted by Andrew Brinton at 10:05 AM on December 20, 2007

After some thought, here are some ideas. Mostly food related.

Leonard's Bakery on Kapahulu is the place for Malasadas. They can get a box and should eat them while they're hot. There is no shame in standing outside of Leonard's and eating the whole box.

Green Door Cafe, now by Kahala Mall, is this fantastic Malaysian food place. Seriously, if they've never had Malaysian food before, it is something they must do.

As far as Thai food goes, most people do Keo's, which is excellent, but you could also hit Mekong on Beretania or Mekong II on King Street. Both are owned by the same folks who own Keos, so the menu is similar, but it is a less expensive.

India House on South King street is probably the best Indian food on Oahu - and that is saying something because there are some fantastic Indian restaurants out here.

If they want to get the real "local plate lunch" experience (which is the typical lunch around these parts) there are dozens of places they can go. I like Manoa Bar-B-Que and Island Manapua Factory (mostly Chinese food, but some great Manapua) in Manoa Marketplace, but you'll get a pretty similar experience at most plate lunch places.

Speaking of Chinese food, I like Little Village (which is located downtown, though I can't recall the street) for dinner and Hee Hing on Kapahulu for Dim Sum. There are better places, but I am partial to those.

And, of course, there's Zippy's, which is a local chain that is a little like Denny's, but is probably the most popular chain in Hawaii. Not that the food is so awesome (though it is very satisfying) but because it is cheap, convenient and everywhere.

If they like burger's, Kua Aina Burger (there's one on the North shore, but the one I go to is by Ward Center) is great. Their burger with avacado is a favorite.

Depending on when they visit, they should look at the Honolulu Weekly and see if there's any small clubs or bars featuring live contemporary Hawaiian music.

Kumu Kahua theatre does plays by and about the people of Hawaii. All original work. Much of it is excellent, though you run into a stinker or two there (just like at any theatre). Not a whole lot of tourists visit there, but if they have a play running, its worth a peek.

Museum listings here and a whole site called alternative hawaii right here.

Good luck! They can write me at sadclownrep at hotmail dot com if they need more information or ideas.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:03 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! I'm sure all the links and info will help enjoy their visit. Man, there's good Indian food in Hawaii now? I really have been gone a long time.
posted by nerdpita at 12:26 PM on December 21, 2007

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