Who said you needed to drive for miles to find excitement on O‘ahu? The island’s south shore is in fact a little mecca, home to many little-known shopping nooks and delicious behind-the-scenes dining crannies that locals love to frequent. With everything so close to your room, a short stroll or brief drive allows you to pack your day with fun-filled activities that will shed some new light onto this O‘ahu neighborhood.
If you're here on a Saturday you can get a taste for Hawai‘i's local flavor at the (1) KCC (Kapiolani Community College) Farmer's Market - considered by many as the best and largest farmer's market on O‘ahu. Arrive early to beat the crowds and get your pick of their unique selection of locally grown and prepared foods, from fresh fruits and vegetables (Mangoes and lychee? Yes, please!) to mind-blowing banh mi and melt-in-your-mouth mochi.
After eating your fill, work it off with a two-mile hike at the (2) Makapuu Lighthouse Trail along the Ka Iwi (ee-vee) State Scenic Shoreline. The roughly two-hour trail will sweep hikers off their feet with views of Koko Head, Molokai, Lanai and the historic Makapu‘u Lighthouse. Schedule an early morning visit (the trail opens at 7 a.m.) because parking for this trail is scarce, so you'll want to get there early to snag street parking and avoid the blistering Hawaiian afternoon sun.
After working up a sweat, cool off with a dip at Cromwell's, a lesser-known beach off the beaten path along East O‘ahu's shores. Just east of Diamond Head Beach, you'll want to chart your visit here for low tide when there is more sand to stretch out on and tons of tide pools to explore.
Dry off and grab lunch at (3) Ono Seafood. Don't blink or you'll miss this little shop situated on the ground level of a blue apartment building along Kapahulu Avenue. We regularly crave Ono Seafood's mouthwatering $7 poke bowls (seasoned cubed raw fish over a bowl or rice), which makes for a perfect snack or light meal any time of day.
Before heading back to your room to wash up, take one more splash at (4) Kaimana Beach, between the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel and the War Memorial Natatorium. Popular amongst beachgoers who call O‘ahu home, Kaimana Beach is the perfect part of Waikiki to float away the day building sandcastles with the kids, snorkeling in the shallow reef or sunbathing along the beach's wide and sandy shores.
Put the icing on a perfect day with a slice of coconut cake and sunset cocktails at (5) House Without a Key, before heading out for dinner at Shirokiya. Breaking the preconception that mall dining can be pricey, Shirokiya's Yataimura festive beer garden pours out pitchers on special from 5:30 - 10 p.m. We all cheer for $1 draft beer! For those looking for something a little more substantial for lunch or dinner Shirokiya's rotating round of ramen vendors features new noodles every two weeks. We recommend going with a group of friends and dining "family style."
If you still have the energy for drinks and dancing, take a few steps over to the Mai Tai Bar, just a short stroll away from Shirokiya, where the pitchers of beer are always flowing and the bar's lanai (patio area) will be pulsing with shorts, tank top and slipper clad residents looking to let loose.
Late night ice cream craving? Make your last stop of the day Bubbies, where they are always whipping up a frenzy of creamy concoctions with unforgettable names and unthinkable decadence (take for instance, their Total Insanity - a vanilla ice cream sandwich, sandwiched between two fudge brownies and dipped in chocolate -- twice). And if you're moo-ved by mochi you need to try Bubbies' mochi ice cream, which comes in more than 20 flavors including azuki bean, chocolate espresso, raspberry white chocolate, pistachio, passion fruit and more.