Every year thousands of travelers from Asia, mainland USA and beyond land at Honolulu International Airport ready to begin their holiday in paradise. Soon after landing, most guests hop in a cab or bus sent from the hotel and begin the journey past downtown Honolulu.
The appeal of Waikiki is paramount. The jammed streets, sounds of the beach, and fascinating histories call to the traveler who soon hits the streets. Venturing out in Waikiki can be quite exciting. The streets are filled with different languages, throngs of tourists are clothed in their beach best, and the inception of surf history can be seen at the end of the street. Waikiki can be so exciting that many visitors never escape its imaginary borders.
About 6 million of these visitors miss the very sites that locals find so endearing, remaining within the two square miles of Waikiki.
For those adventurers interested in seeing Oahu through its residents’ eyes, please read ahead:
Magic Island Beach Park – This attractive park is located just west of Waikiki, across the street from the Ala Moana Shopping Center. The park comprises of two beaches, a three-mile jogging path, tennis courts, and more. A walk around the park will present the center of Hawaiian culture – the family. Large extended families meet around hibachis, spending the day together with good food and plenty of sunlight. The beaches are significantly less congested, so for a great day, grab a roaster and head down to the beach at Magic Island!
The Contemporary Museum Honolulu – This humble museum is inhabited high on a ridge at Makiki Heights Drive. The trip up the ridge offers astonishing vistas that would otherwise be missed by most Oahu visitors. The relatively small museum offers five galleries. After crossing the galleries, visitors can roam out onto the sculpture gardens. This is where the true glory of the museum is revealed. The 3.5 acres of sculpture and meditative fields are open to the public and offer some of the most astonishing views of Honolulu.
Leong’s Cafe – Many visitors look to a lu’au for more than entertainment; they are after some great Hawaiian food. However, if you’re interested in real local style Hawaiian food, you can’t beat Leong’s Cafe settled at 2343 North King Street. As a favorite for plate lunches, kalua pig, lu’au stew, Lomilomi, and more, locals have been hitting this cafe for over 50 years!
Champion Malasadas – The local feast called Malasadas are so popular that Fat Tuesday has been re-christened Malasada Day throughout the Hawaiian Islands. One of the best and most popular bakeries is Champion Malasadas located in 1926 South Beretania Street. These light Portuguese hole-less donuts come with and without filling and are deserving the effort in getting them!
Honolulu Chinatown – A walk through the alleys of Chinatown in like a walk into another time and place. Whether you are looking for dim sum, fresh food, handmade leis, or the new hip lounge, you are sure to find it in Chinatown. The roads and shops are exotic, serving items not found in a typical American grocery. Guided walking tours are possible for this historic district, but often the best way is to solely meander through the streets, stopping whenever your curiosity has been piqued.
If you are interested in seeing Oahu through a local’s eyes, be sure to give some time outside of Waikiki. Stop by some or all of the spots posted above and see some of what truly makes Hawaii unforgettable.