South Shore Excursion

Who said you needed to drive for miles to find excitement on Oahu? 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 Oahu 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.

 

1) KCC Farmer's Market

Get a taste for Hawai‘i's local flavor at the KCC (Kapiolani Community College) Farmer's Market - considered by many as the best and largest farmer's market on O‘ahu. Branch out and check out a 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.

Held every Saturday from 7:30 a.m. - 11 a.m., this farmer's market gives visitors a bite-sized sample of Hawai‘i's foodie fare. Bring your reusable tote to hold your haul of Kahuku papaya, piping hot lumpia, grilled abalone, one-of-a-kind snacks, baked goods, seasonings and more -- perfect to munch for breakfast or lunch, or to stow away in your luggage for friends and family back home. If you keep a pound (or three) of the local coffee for yourself we promise not to judge you.

Beat the crowds and blistering sun and get there early (we typically try to arrive around 8 a.m.) to snatch up farmer's market favorites like The Pig and The Lady's savory soups and Ono Pops' fresh popsicles made with all local and organic ingredients with flavors like guava chiffon, mango habanero-lime or pineapple li hing.

 

 

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2) Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail

If you're going to take a hike, the two-mile Makapu‘u Lighthouse Trail along the Ka Iwi State Scenic Shoreline offers a picturesque window into O‘ahu's southeastern coastline. The roughly two-hour Makapu‘u Lighthouse trail will sweep hikers off their feet with views of Koko Head, Molokai, Lana‘i and the historic Makapu‘u Lighthouse.

If you're working a walk up Makapu‘u Lighthouse into your itinerary, 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. We recommend bringing a hat, lots of sunscreen and water. And with no lua (loo-ah or bathroom) along the trail, make sure to take a bathroom break before heading out for the day.

For those visiting during the humpback whales' annual mating season (which runs each year between November and May) bring a pair of binoculars. You may sneak a sighting of Hawai‘i's most loyal return guest swimming and splashing off shore.

 

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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. Few eateries in Hawai‘i live up to their name quite like Ono Seafood - a manini (mah-nee-nee or small) mom and pop store slicing up some of the most ono (delicious) cubes of poke (poh-keh) and fresh-from-the-sea delicacies around O‘ahu.

For a quick bite on the run, nothing hits the spot and is as quintessentially "Hawai‘i" as poke - or fresh, raw, cubed fish, seasoned with either Hawaiian salt, soy sauce or other type of seasoning. 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. The only downside of Ono Seafood is the lack of seating - there is just one bench in front of the shop, which is typically packed if you stop by mid-day.

At Ono Seafood, the poke is made to order (unlike other places which prepare the dish in advance) and invites customers to select from their choice of fresh ingredients including white and green onion, ogo (seaweed), chili pepper, Hawaiian salt, shoyu (soy sauce), sesame oil or kukui nut. Though the price (market price typically ranges around $12 a pound) may cause sticker shock to some, this is one Hawai‘i seafood dish worth every penny.

 

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4) Kaimana Beach

Washing up on the shores of Waikiki, Kaimana Beach is splashed out 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.

In 1902 Kaimana Beach was the historic site for the state's first submarine cable providing a telegraphic link between Hawai‘i and the U.S. mainland. Today, the remnants of that cable still rest on the ocean floor along Kaimana Beach's channel.

For those who aren't strong swimmers, keep your wits (and fins) about you since the current here can be particularly strong, especially after high tide. Make sure to check in with the lifeguard before getting into the water and if you're a weak swimmer or with young children make sure to keep close to shore.

 

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5) House Without a Key

Drink in the beach-chic ambiance of House Without a Key, a popular restaurant at the Halekulani, the Waikiki Parc's sister hotel. Perched at the edge of Waikiki Beach, House Without a Key's ambiance transforms like the colors of a chameleon from a quiet breakfast nook to catch the softly, lapping waves, to a hot and stylish hot spot at sunset.

Arrive early to keep from getting locked out of this popular pau hana place. Get decked out and skip across the street to partake in one of the Halekulani's prized traditions, mai tais and Hawaiian music under the Kiawe tree. While "mai tai" means good in Tahitian, Halekulani's special spin on this exotic drink takes this beverage to a whole new level. What's Tahitian for unbelievable?

Between sipping and savoring (House Without a Key also has an exceptional menu of mouthwatering appetizers) you can drink in the sunset, paired with Hawaiian music and the graceful dancing of former Miss Hawai‘i's Kanoe Miller, Debbie Nakanelua and Lauren Cheape. And make sure to save room for House Without a Key's signature coconut cake - it's the icing on a perfect day.

 

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