News, Updates and Aloha from O‘ahu
News, Updates and Aloha from O‘ahu
O‘AHU — E komo mai! Make your way to Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi’s “gathering place,” where you can bask in the beauty of authentic Hawaiian hula, mele (music) and culture while enjoying ʻono (delicious) foods from some of the most uniquely innovative and authentic restaurants and eateries in the Pacific.
Oʻahu is a bustling island with plenty of exciting news and events to share. Keep reading to discover its newest attractions, events and offerings sure to elevate your next visit and create unforgettable memories!
Experience Authentic Hawaiian Hula, Mele and Culture in Historic Waikīkī
As the historical birthplace of tourism in Hawaiʻi, the Oʻahu neighborhood of Waikīkī is extremely privileged to share space with many practitioners of mele and hula who make the area such a special place to visit. Here a just a few examples of cultural activities in Waikīkī.
Aʻo Cultural Center at Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort
- The Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort’s new A‘o Cultural Center offers visitors an opportunity to learn about the rich culture and history of the Hawaiian people. Resident Ambassador of Aloha Aunty Luana Maitland is one of the center’s featured cultural experts, offering a variety of interactive experiences helping visitors understand Hawaiian culture and values. From lei making to hula, Aunty Luana’s lessons are a fun and educational way to learn about the history and traditions of Hawai‘i. Outrigger.com
Hoʻokela Hawaiian Heritage and Culture Center at Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa
- The Hawaiian Music Perpetuation Society is presenting Mahina Nā Mana Wāhine: A Women’s Empowerment Month Kani Ka Pila and Special Guests Presentation Series at the Hoʻokela Hawaiian Heritage and Culture Center at Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa. With events in the series being held over several Fridays in March, the public is invited to join award-winning Hawaiian musician Ku‘uipo Kumukahi and other special guests to sing, talk story and celebrate prominent women contributing to the Hawaiian community and its history. Seats are limited and reservations are required. Admission is free. HawaiianMusicPerpetuationSociety.com
International Market Place
- The public is invited to visit the International Market Place every first Thursday of the month for musical performances by Hawai‘i’s world-renowned Royal Hawaiian Band. Founded in 1836 by King Kamehameha III, the Royal Hawaiian Band holds a unique distinction as the only band in the United States with a royal legacy. In the modern era, the band operates as an agency of the City and County of Honolulu, serving as cultural ambassadors for the people of Hawaiʻi. ShopInternationalMarketplace.com
Kūhiō Beach Hula Mound
- Come enjoy authentic live hula performances on Waikīkī Beach at the Kūhiō Beach Hula Mound on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Performances showcase both ancient and modern hula traditions and offer audiences an entertaining immersion in Hawaiian culture. The Kūhiō Beach Hula Mound shows are proudly supported by the Oʻahu Visitors Bureau, Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, City and County of Honolulu, and Waikīkī Improvement Association. KBHulaShow.com
Royal Hawaiian Center
- As a sacred and storied place of Hawaiian culture, Royal Hawaiian at Helumoa honors its heritage by offering visitors and residents complimentary cultural classes, including lei making, lau hala (pandanus leaf) weaving, ʻukulele lessons and beginner hula classes. Performances by local hula and mele practitioners are also hosted throughout the week. RoyalHawaiianCenter.com
Waikiki Beach Walk
- Waikiki Beach Walk’s Ka Lei Hula offers complimentary hula practice Sunday mornings at 9 a.m. for residents and visitors. Pre-registration is available at EventBrite.com.
- Additionally, complimentary lessons are offered at 11:15 a.m. daily at the Ukulele Store at Waikiki Beach Walk with instruction from Nā Hokū Hanohano Hawai‘i music award nominee Tyler Gilman. Reservations are required. UkuleleStoreHawaii.com
Visit One of Oʻahu’s Many Farm Tours and Markets
Oʻahu is not only famous for its stunning beaches but also for its abundance of agro-tourism options. With lush tropical fruit farms, working cattle ranches and traditional loʻi kalo (irrigated taro patch), visitors have the opportunity to experience the island's agricultural heritage first-hand. With the growing interest in sustainable and locally sourced food, agro-tourism has become an essential aspect of Oʻahu's tourism industry.
Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau Oʻahu Farmers’ Markets
- With weekly Farmers’ markets at Mililani High School (Sundays, 8 – 11 a.m.), Neal S. Blaisdell Center (Wednesdays, 4 – 7 p.m.), Kailua Town Center (Thursdays, 4 – 7 p.m.) and Kapiʻolani Community College (Saturdays, 7:30 – 11 a.m.), Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau’s Oʻahu farmers’ markets give visitors and kamaʻāina (residents) a place to mingle and enjoy the harvests and creations of Oʻahu farmers and businesses HFBF.org.
Kaka‘ako Farmers Market at Ward Village
- The Kakaʻako Farmers Market at Ward Village, situated in the center of Honolulu, opens on Saturdays from 8 am to 12 pm. The market brings the rural abundance to the city center, with local vendors offering fresh fruits and vegetables grown on Oʻahu, as well as a variety of delectable treats and eats from the many food stalls available. WardVillage.com
- Kahuku Farm Tours offers a unique and immersive agricultural experience on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaiʻi. Visitors can explore the 4,000-acre Kahuku Farms, a family-owned operation that has been cultivating the land for over 100 years. The farm offers guided tours that take guests through fields of crops such as bananas, papayas, and coffee, as well as exotic fruits like dragonfruit and lychee. Along the way, guests can learn about sustainable farming practices and the history of the land. In addition to the farm tour, Kahuku Farms also offers a delicious farm-to-table lunch made with fresh ingredients straight from the farm. Visitors can enjoy dishes such as their famous banana bread or a farm salad topped with grilled chicken and mango dressing. The on-site farm stand also sells a variety of fresh produce, jams, and other Hawaiian treats. KahukuFarms.com
- Turtle Bay Resort’s Kuilima Farm, located mauka (inland) of the North Shore O‘ahu oceanside resort, provides fresh produce served at all restaurants on the resort property. Guests of Turtle Bay Resort are invited to take a walking tour of the farm and learn about the Hawaiian ahupua’a land division system and farming techniques; explore the native Hawaiian garden at the farm’s center and complete a native Hawaiian plant scavenger hunt; plant native Hawaiian flora, including ‘ilima, kalo (taro) and kī (ti leaf); sample farm-fresh goodies and tropical fruits; and cool off with shave ice at several farm stands at the tour’s end. KuilimaFarm.com
Kamakana Aliʻi Farmers’ Market
- Looking for fresh, locally grown produce and handmade goods on Oʻahu’s West Side? Look no further than the Ka Makana Aliʻi Farmers' Market! This weekly market brings together farmers and vendors from all over Oahu to offer a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and other agricultural products. From the sweetest pineapples to the crispiest lettuce, you'll find everything you need to stock your pantry with healthy and delicious foods. But it's not just about the produce - the market also features handmade crafts and artisanal products, including jewelry, pottery, and textiles. KaMakanaAlii.com
Mahiku Farmers Market at International Market Place
- Mahiku Farmers Market invites visitors to experience a diversity of fresh and unique products from local farmers, growers, artisans and food purveyors each Thursday, from 4 to 8 p.m., at the International Market Place’s Level 1, Banyan Court. MahikuFarmersMarket.com
Enrich Your Time on Oʻahu with the Mālama Hawaiʻi Program
You can experience the essence of O‘ahu’s town and country lifestyle within the island’s ecologically-diverse backyard through experiences in the Mālama Hawaiʻi Program, in which participating visitors and residents do their part to mālama (care for) the island’s natural environment while learning what it means to view it from an indigenous mindset.
International Market Place
- International Market Place has partnered with Sustainable Coastlines Hawai‘i to encourage visitors to Mālama Oʻahu’s natural resources through the shopping, dining and entertainment center’s DIY Beach Cleanup Program. Now through June 30, program particpants who present a full cleanup kit receive a $20 gift card. Visit International Market Place’s customer service desk on Level 1, Mauka Court for more information. ShopInternationalMarketplace.com
Kualoa Ranch Private Nature Reserve
- Kualoa Ranch Private Nature Reserve recently launched its Koa Tree Planting experience in which visitors help mālama the ʻāina (land) through reforestation efforts planting native koa trees on the ranch’s property. Through their reforestation efforts, visitors help increase the reserve’s biodiversity of native species and positively influence its entire ecosystem for years to come. Kualoa.com
North Shore Stables
- Volunteer opportunities at North Shore Stables include planting and farming work restoring native Hawai‘i shoreline plants to a mile of beach-fronting coastline. Volunteers weed and clear coastal areas of invasive species and replant native plants that build sand dunes, prevent erosion and protect against sea-level rise. NorthShoreStables.com
Support Local and Indigenous Artisans Across Oʻahu
Supporting local and indigenous artisans across Oʻahu is a powerful way to promote sustainability and cultural preservation while also enriching your own life with unique and meaningful creations. From traditional Hawaiian crafts like weaving and carving to modern art forms like jewelry-making and fashion, Oʻahu is home to a rich and diverse community of talented artisans who are passionate about their work.
Aloha Home Market
- Aloha Home Market offers Hawai‘i artisans, jewelry makers, clothing designers and food vendors a fun pop-up market to showcase their unique products. With markets in Kailua and Ala Moana Center in Honolulu, Aloha Home Market is a family- and pet-friendly gathering place bringing together Oʻahu’s resident communities and visitors. AlohaHomeMarket.com
House of Mana Up at Royal Hawaiian Center
- The House of Mana Up at Royal Hawaiian Center is an exceptional retail space that showcases the best of Hawaiʻi's local brands and products. From fashion to food, beauty to home goods, each item in the House of Mana Up has been carefully curated to reflect the unique spirit and culture of the islands. With a focus on locally sourced and sustainably made products, the House of Mana Up provides a platform for small businesses and entrepreneurs to share their stories and their craft with a wider audience. The retail space itself is a beautiful and inviting space, with modern and minimalist design that lets the products shine. Whether you're a visitor looking for an authentic souvenir or a local looking to support small businesses, the House of Mana Up is a must-visit destination in Waikīkī. HouseofManaUp.com
Mālama Hawaiʻi Makers Market at Royal Hawaiian Center
- Shop a curated collection of unique works from Hawai‘i makers, artists and designers at Mālama Hawaiʻi Makers Market. From beautiful resin artwork on native wood by Christian Bendo Art and hand-crafted personalized jewelry by Miriam Quijano Designs to other local works, including hand-painted, island-inspired ornaments by Izett Studio. The market is open to the public and free to attend. RoyalHawaiianCenter.com
Noʻeau Designers at Ala Moana Center
- Noʻeau Designers is a unique boutique located in the renowned Ala Moana Center, offering a carefully curated collection of high-quality Hawaiian-made products. Founded by a group of talented and passionate local designers, Noʻeau Designers prides itself on showcasing the finest craftsmanship and creativity of Hawaiʻi's artisans. With stylish options like clothing from Living Hula, home decor and accessories by Noho Home, and handmade pāpale (hats) from the Lauhala Lady, each piece embodies the spirit of aloha and reflects the beauty of the islands. The store provides an exceptional shopping experience that celebrates Hawaiʻi's culture and supports the local economy. Whether you're a resident or a visitor, Noʻeau Designers is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking authentic and timeless Hawaiian-inspired gifts and souvenirs. NoeauDesigners.com
Waikiki Beach Walk
- SoHa Living is a locally owned island boutique known for its wide selection of Hawaiʻi lifestyle gifts, apparel and home accessories. In April, SoHa Keiki will open at Waikiki Beach Walk. SoHaLiving.com
- Waikiki Beach Walk Open Market, happening every Monday, from 4 to 8 p.m., offers residents and visitors an eco-friendly way of supporting local businesses and discovering one-of-a-kind souvenirs, handmade art and snacks to take home or gift someone special. WaikikiBeackwalk.com
- The Art of Wellbeing series is designed to empower participants to achieve optimal health and overall wellbeing. Discussions are held the second Saturday of each month at 11 a.m. in the Halekulani Veranda. Visit Halekulani.com for more information, or call 808-931-5322 to reserve a seat.
- Executive Chef Christian Testa has expanded and enhanced the Sunday Brunch offering at Orchids at Halekulani to include additional carving station items, new dessert items and a new Bubble Bar featuring selected Prosecco. Visit Halekulani.comfor more information, or call 808-518-2019 to make a reservation.
- Halekulani Bakery at Halepuna Waikiki recently reopened its doors to the public. The bakery’s creations include Executive Pastry Chef Pauline Lam’s Everything Croissant — her twist on the everything bagel — and Mango Blueberry Muffin, which took her 13 years to perfect. Halekulani Bakery is open Thursday through Sunday, from 6:30 to 11:30 a.m. Halepuna.com
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort
- Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort is inviting travelers to stay another night in paradise with a fourth night free. Guests at Hilton Hawaiian Village can select from accommodations in five towers on its 22-acre oceanfront property and enjoy five swimming pools and a unique saltwater lagoon ideal for stand-up paddling, kayaking and other water activities. With multiple resort dining options, guests can taste a range of Hawaiʻi cuisine at venues including the beachfront Tropics Bar and Grill and signature restaurant Bali Oceanfront. The resort’s Waikiki Starlight Luau offers a lū‘au experience under the stars on the property’s Great Lawn treating guests to the song, dance and cuisine of the Pacific. HiltonHawaiianVillage.com
Hilton Waikiki Beach
- Hilton Waikiki Beach recently welcomed Mauro Gramuglia as its new executive chef overseeing the property’s M.A.C. 24/7 Restaurant + Bar and in-room dining. Hailing from Milan, Italy, Gramuglia has lived and worked in Hawaiʻi since 1991 and served as a chef at Starwood, Marriott, Fairmont and Four Seasons properties. On March 13, Chef Gramuglia will debut a refreshed M.A.C. 24/7 menu featuring an array of new breakfast, lunch and dinner items spotlighting local products and ingredients from a dozen local farms across the Islands. HiltonWaikikiBeach.com
The Twin Fin
- The Twin Fin is a revitalized surf-inspired hotel set along the legendary shoreline of Waikīkī. The hotel — named after a surfboard with two fins — features updated guestrooms, ocean-inspired design, guest experiences rooted in Hawaiian culture, and views overlooking Waikīkī Beach. The Twin Fin also celebrates Hawai‘i through its design, partnerships with local artists and sustainability efforts. Surfline, the world’s leading wave-forecasting and surf reports company, installed three high-definition cameras streaming real-time surf conditions on a large-scale video wall in the lobby and other locations throughout the hotel. TwinFinWaikiki.com
- Set to officially open in April, Wayfinder Waikiki is the second Wayfinder-branded hotel from hotel, bar and restaurant owner and creator Dovetail + Co. With Wayfinder Waikiki, the company has created what it calls “a uniquely hidden oasis with thoughtfully transformative design, public spaces, authentic food and beverage programming, and guest experiences steeped in culture distinctive to Hawaiʻi and the Waikīkī region.” Designed by O‘ahu-based interior design firm The Vanguard Theory, the property offers a hospitality space merging the building’s Brutalist architecture with tropical touches, intriguing colors and patterns, and foliage specific to the island. The hotel features 228 guest rooms “inspired by the sites, stories and heritage of Hawaiʻi by utilizing color tones that represent the land, sky and water, geometric and floral prints, and natural fiber furniture with decorative art and design elements incorporated throughout by local artisans.” WayfinderHotels.com
Agaru Isakaya and Bar
- Opened this past December in Waikīkī, Agaru aims to be a modern take on the traditional Japanese izakaya, featuring Chef Chris Kajioka bringing his perspective to traditional Japanese ingredients. Its name meaning “to rise,” Agaru offers prix fixe and a la carte menus at its sushi counter and in its dining room. ExploreTock.com
James Beard Foundation
- On January 25, the James Beard Foundation announced its 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalists for its James Beard Awards® presented by Capital One. As an island community with cherished indigenous and immigrant culinary traditions, Oʻahu is beyond thrilled to have so many island representatives listed among the world’s elite chefs and kitchens. Check out the Oʻahu nominees listed below or visit JamesBeard.org.
- Outstanding Chef
- Chef Andrew Le, The Pig and The Lady; ThePigandtheLady.com
- Best New Restaurant
- Nami Kaze; NamiKazeRestaurant.com
- Outstanding Bakery
- Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker
- Michelle Karr-Ueoka, MW Restaurant; MWRestaurant.com
- Outstanding Bar
- Bar Leather Apron; BarLeatherApron.com
- Best Chef in the Northwest and Pacific region
Kani Ka Pila Grille
- Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort’s Kani Ka Pila Grille is celebrating 15 years of nightly live Hawaiian music with nightly giveaways, March 13 through 16. Named in honor of the famed backyard jam sessions hosted by Hawai‘i musician Cyril Pahinui and his family, Kani Ka Pila Grille gives its live stage each night to up-and-coming musicians and Grammy and Nā Hōkū Hanohano award-winning talent. The Hawaiian language term kani ka pila means “play music.” Outrigger.com
The Lei Stand
- The Lei Stand, a new gathering spot in downtown Honolulu’s Chinatown district, honors the beloved lei stalls and shops of the historic neighborhood. The sweet fragrance and vibrant beauty of fresh-made lei on display sets the scene for island-inspired craft cocktails, and pūpū (small plates) from The Lei Stand’s kitchen, run by James Beard Foundation Award nominated chef Ricky Goings. GetLeid.co
Pint + Jigger
- Nestled within the Ala Moana Hotel's lobby, Pint + Jigger eatery and bar boasts a nationally acclaimed menu of cocktails and whiskeys guided by co-owner and master bartender Dave Newman. A leader in the bartending world, Dave introduced groundbreaking sous vide and barrel-aged cocktail programs to both Pint + Jigger’s menu and the Islands. His imaginative creations are inspired by his global travels and passion for culinary exploration. PintandJigger.co
- One of Honolulu’s most popular spots for made-to-order poke creations, Redfish’s newest location is readying to open at the new Wayfinder Waikiki hotel this summer. The restaurant and bar’s new Waikīkī location will feature popular Redfish-favorite fish selections — such as ‘ahi, hamachi and salmon — and unique offerings exclusive to Wayfinder, including a tableside poke preparation experience. The restaurant will offer all-day service from breakfast to late night, with its extensive poke bowl menu complemented by an array of tasty dishes inspired by the multicultural influences that have contributed to modern Hawai‘i cuisine. RedfishPoke.com
- Opened in January, Stix Asia is a new gourmet food hall in the lower level of the Waikiki Shopping Plaza offering Asian cuisine from Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore and other countries. Its 23,500-square-foot space is home to 17 food vendors, featuring dining options such as noodle soups, sushi, tempura, dumplings and more. Stix Asia is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. STIXASIA.com
- ‘Olili Waikiki
- The new ‘Olili Waikiki restaurant will celebrate Hawaiʻi’s food culture through authentic, modern interpretations of the “mixed plate” of flavors that make up the state’s rich culinary heritage. ‘Olili Waikiki’s relaxed yet modern space will include several dining areas and large floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Kūhiō Avenue. The restaurant’s opening date, hours, menu and more will be announced soon. WaikikiMarketHawaii.com
- Piko Kitchen + Bar
- Piko Kitchen + Bar is a local-style hangout for residents and visitors. The Hawaiian language word piko loosely means “the center where life begins.” The kitchen and bar named Piko offers a laid-back, welcoming atmosphere for enjoying inventive yet familiar Hawaiʻi comfort food and cocktails. Led by restaurant Chef de Cuisine Adam Kamahele, who most recently served as head chef at Kalapawai Cafe in Kailua on O‘ahu, Piko Kitchen + Bar aims to combine ‘ono eats and cocktails with a spirit of aloha and a relaxed vibe. Piko Kitchen + Bar is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday. PikoWaikikiHawaii.com.
Activities and Attractions
- Bishop Museum, in partnership with the Paʻi Foundation’s Maoli Arts Movement (MAMo) initiative, is readying to present the exhibition Ola Ka Noʻeau: Excellence in Hawaiian Artistry, which will open in the museum’s J.M. Long Gallery on March 11. The new exhibition will explore the genealogy of Hawaiian artistry, especially through generational transmission of knowledge. Featuring artworks from 13 noted Hawaiian artists, the exhibition’s goals include reaffirming practice and artwork from a Native Hawaiian perspective; supporting and promoting Native Hawaiian visual artists; providing arts inspiration and education to audiences of all ages; and encouraging support for ongoing indigenous arts initiatives. BishopMuseum.org
- E Noa Corporation, operators of the Waikiki Trolley and E Noa Tours, recently launched its newest offering, the Haleiwa and North Shore Tour. Created for adventure seekers and traveling families, the six-hour afternoon tour explores the sweeping beauty of Oʻahu’s Haleʻiwa town, North Shore and Windward Coast. Guest on the tour experience many local food favorites on the journey, including garlic-butter shrimp, refreshing shave ice, Dole Whip pineapple frozen drinks, fresh-roasted macadamia nuts, coffee and more. Enoa.com
Pacific Historic Parks
- Pearl Harbor National Memorial’s audio tour recently received a comprehensive high-tech upgrade to fully narrated multimedia technology. Still narrated by actor Jamie Lee Curtis, the memorial’s new multimedia tours (MMTs) are now custom designed with three variants — the Chief’s Tour (30-45 minutes with 15 stops), the Commander’s Tour (60-90 minutes with 22 stops) and the Captain’s Tour (60-240 minutes with 28 stops). The new technology allows visitors to actually see real-world survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack, WWII veterans and National Park Service rangers share their stories and also view actual documents, maps, photos and stories from the Library of Congress. PacificHistoricParks.org
- One of Hawaiʻi’s newest and most advanced virtual reality centers will soon be located just inside the main entrance at Pearl Harbor National Memorial and seat up to 25 visitors simultaneously. Once inside the new center, visitors can experience one of four virtual-reality tours, including “Air Raid Pearl Harbor,” “Skies Over Pearl,” “Walk the Deck” and “Explore the USS Arizona Memorial Today.” PacificHistoricParks.org
Rooftop Stargazing at Royal Hawaiian Center
- All are welcome to experience an up-close and personal look at the moon and all the stars in Hawai‘i’s night sky at Royal Hawaiian Center’s monthly Rooftop Stargazing event. The evening viewing, held on Building A’s Level 4, is free and open to the public to attend on a first-come, first-served basis. RoyalHawaiianCenter.com
USS Battleship Missouri
- Tour the famed Mighty Mo on two new Battleship Missouri Memorial experiences — the Captain's Tour and Chief Engineer's Tour. The upgraded tour experiences offer guests exclusive access to rarely seen ship spaces to experience first-hand what life was like onboard one of the U.S. Navy’s most historic battleships. USSMissouri.org
- The Captain’s Tour showcases authority and command operations as the battleship’s captain would have experienced them during the vessel’s time of service. Guests walk in the footsteps of the battleship’s 20 commanding officers, entering the captain’s in-port cabin — the vessel’s most luxurious onboard space — whose distinguished visitors included President Harry S. Truman, Bob Hope and Marilyn Monroe. The tour continues with a stop in the ship’s Combat Engagement Center — home to its modern weapons system — before heading to the navigation bridge where the captain would command the ship’s movement. The Captain’s Tour ends inside Gun Turret No. 1, where guests see the inner workings of the Mighty Mo’s big guns.
- The Chief Engineer’s Tour showcases the power and mechanics behind the USS Missouri that made her one of the biggest and fastest battleships in history. Guests venture down Broadway — the ship’s longest and widest passage — and learn about the chief engineer and the 500-plus sailors under his command. The tour stops in Fire Room No. 4, where guests get an intimate look at the vessel’s three-story Babcock and Wilcox boiler, then heads into Engine Room No. 4 to see the machinery responsible for propelling the 887-foot battleship at top speeds of more than 30 knots. A stop in the aft plotting room offers guests a chance to fire the Mighty Mo’s big guns and exit the ship with an appreciation for the men who worked below the water line in the heart of the USS Missouri.
- Wai Kai, Oʻahu’s new surf-centric entertainment destination, is set to open in April within the Hoakalei resort area in ‘Ewa. Wai Kai’s amenities include Hawaiʻi’s first deep-water standing surf wave, Wai Kai Wave; a 52-acre Wai Kai Lagoon for water sports; three restaurants, including a dual-concept restaurant presented by Michelin-awarded chef Todd Humphries of Kitchen Door Napa; a sprawling event lawn; and a waterman’s club and retail shop. Powered by citywave® technology, the Wai Kai Wave creates authentic surfing conditions with perfect endless and adjustable waves ranging from 2- to 6-feet for all skill levels. The Wai Kai development is the first of its kind in Hawaiʻi and will open as an active year-round destination. WaiKai.com
- At Waimea Valley, visitors experience Hawaiʻi culture, art and history in the heart of a traditional ahupuaʻa (uplands-to-sea land division) and learn the arts of lei making, lauhala weaving, poi pounding and other practices from Hawai‘i artisans and cultural practitioners. Participants in Waimea Valley’s new Kaʻapuni o Waimea program tour multiple valley sites, learning new perspectives on Hawaiian culture and the concept of ho‘okipa (hospitality). Through a combination of signage and presentation styles, the new program offers valley visitors opportunities for cultural learning. Participants completing the activity earn a hoʻokipa ambassador pin. WaimeaValley.net
Wild Side Specialty Tours
- Wild Side Specialty Tours recently launched its Conservation Photography Tours aimed at teaching visitors how to utilize wildlife photography to help protect and spread awareness on Hawaiʻi’s native species and coastal ecosystems. The tour company’s Conservation Photography Tour is a half-day boat tour with local naturalists and accomplished photographers, and is limited to six passengers. SailHawaii.com.
Festivals and Events
Kawaii Kon: March 31-April 2, 2023
- Kawaii Kon is a two-day convention celebrating Japanese anime (cartoons), manga (comics) and all facets of Japanese culture. Offering a variety of events and activities throughout the weekend, Kawaii Kon 2022 is set for March 31 to April 2 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center. KawaiiKon.com
The Hapalua: April 16, 2023
- Hawai‘i’s largest half marathon, The Hapalua, is returning for in-person competition in 2023. The 13.1-mile race begins and ends in Waikīkī, with runners enjoying scenic views as they take a loop course through Honolulu and up and around the slopes of Lē‘ahi (Diamond Head State Monument) before ending at a Kapi‘olani Park finish line. Runners completing The Hapalua receive a medal and shirt. Also at the finish line, participants can relax, recover and celebrate their success with fresh, hot malasadas and cold, refreshing shave ice. TheHapalua.com
The Joy of Sake: April 22, 2023
- The Joy of Sake returns to the Hawai‘i Convention Center for two events celebrating the history of sake and its unique connection to Hawai‘i. With events in April and November this year, The Joy of Sake will feature over 570 different sake selections at peak taste paired with traditional and contemporary appetizers from some of Hawaiʻi’s leading chefs. Tickets are on sale now for the year’s first Joy of Sake event, happening April 22 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Attendees must be age 21 or older. joyofsake.com.
Waikiki SPAM JAM® Festival: April 29, 2023
- For the first time in three years, the annual Waikiki SPAM JAM® Festival will be back on its home turf of Kalākaua Avenue for 2023. On April 29, from 4 to 10 p.m., SPAM® fans are invited to gather once again to enjoy delicious and creative SPAM® dishes from some of Waikīkī’s top restaurants while enjoying entertainment on three live stages from local musicians and hula halau (hula groups). Also set for the SPAM JAM® event menu are food and retail booths, arts and crafts, keiki (kids) activities and appearances by SPAMMY ™ characters and friends. From April 30 through May 14, as part of the festival, creative SPAM® dishes will also be featured at several O‘ahu restaurants. Participating restaurants will be announced soon. SpamJamHawaii.com
Lei Day Celebration: May 1, 2023
- As one of Hawai‘i’s most emblematic symbols of aloha, lei — and the crafting of lei — have been celebrated in the Hawaiian Islands on Lei Day, May 1, since 1927. This year, the City and County of Honolulu’s official Lei Day Celebration event will be held, in accordance with tradition, on May 1 at Kapi‘olani Park in Waikīkī, honoring lei and the traditions surrounding it with festivities, including pageants and competitions for lei queen and the crafting of colorful and fragrant flower lei. HonoluluParks.com
The Hawaiʻi Adaptive Surfing Championships: May 8 – 14, 2023
- Following its successful 2022 inaugural event, the Association of Adaptive Surfing Professionals World Championship Tour will return to Queen’s Surf Beach in Waikīkī for its second-annual Hawai’i Adaptive Surfing Championships. Event participants will gather May 8 through 14 in Waikīkī under the banner of friendly competition and inclusion to compete with fellow adaptive surfers of the highest level. AdaptiveSurfingProfessionals.com
Honolulu Triathlon: May 21, 2023
- The Honolulu Triathlon is an Olympic-distance triathlon beginning and ending at Ala Moana Beach Park, encompassing a 1.5K shoreline swim, a 40K bike course along O‘ahu’s south shore and a 10K double-loop run ending at the park’s Magic Island recreation area. HonoluluTriathlon.com
Shinnyo Latern Floating Hawaiʻi: May 29, 2023
- After three years of alternative observances, Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawai‘i is returning to Honolulu’s Ala Moana Beach Park this Memorial Day for its powerful community connecting oceanside ceremony offering residents and visitors a physical and emotional space to experience a sense of comfort and healing. Candlelit lanterns bearing remembrances, prayers and affirmations perpetuating the goodness of loved ones that have passed away will be set afloat at sunset by the community at Ala Moana Beach. The free event is officiated by Shinnyo-en, an international Buddhist denomination with Japanese roots. The now once-again annual Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawai‘i ceremony draws people from a diversity of ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds for a gathering creating a moment of collective remembrance, harmony and international friendship. LanternFloatingHawaii.com
King Kamehameha Celebration Floral Parade: June 11, 2023
- Celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2023, the colorful King Kamehameha Celebration Floral Parade honors the reign of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i’s first monarch, who united the Hawaiian Islands under his rule. The parade spotlights brightly decorated floats, energetic marching bands and traditional horseback pā‘ū riders representing the Hawaiian royal court. A ho‘olaule‘a (celebration) follows the parade. Hawaii.gov
National Park Service to Implement Parking Fee at Pearl Harbor National Memorial
- Starting April 15, Pearl Harbor National Memorial will charge a $7/day parking fee to support maintenance and upkeep of the park's sites, including the USS Arizona, USS Utah and USS Oklahoma Memorials, and historic Chief Petty Officer Bungalows. The fee will also fund parking lot operations and improve visitor services. Entrance to the park and the USS Arizona Memorial program will remain free.
New TSA Checkpoint at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport
- On February 17, the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation (DOT) opened its recently completed four-lane checkpoint in Terminal 1, helping mitigate foot traffic in Hawaiʻi’s busiest airport. Hawaiian Airlines, the air carrier serviced by Terminal 1, spent nearly $14 million dollars on the project, which is an addition to the airport’s $270 million Mauka Concourse. The Mauka Concourse opened in 2022 and expanded Terminal 1 by some 230,000 square feet. HawaiianAirlines.com
New and Returning Hawaiian Airlines Routes
- Starting May 21, Hawaiian Airlines will ramp up its services between Austin (AUS), Texas, and Honolulu (HNL) from three weekly flights to four, flying on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. In September, flights between AUS and HNL will return to three weekly flights on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Hawaiian Airlines announced it will restart three-times-weekly service between Honolulu (HNL) and Fukuoka (FUK), Japan, beginning April 28.
An Introduction to the Maʻemaʻe Hawaiʻi Style and Resource Toolkit
Throughout 2022, the O‘ahu Visitors Bureau’s (OVB) quarterly e-newsletters highlighted sections of the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority’s (HTA) Maʻemaʻe Toolkit as a resource for readers and media to educate themselves on the proper general representation of Oʻahu and the state of Hawaiʻi.
On February 23, HTA released an updated edition of the Maʻemaʻe Toolkit. And as it did last year, OVB will continue highlighting sections of the Maʻemaʻe Toolkit in its quarterly e-newsletters throughout 2023. For this edition of the e-newsletter, OVB selected excerpts from the Nā Hana Kuluma: Custom and Traditions section of the Ma‘ema‘e Toolkit.
Nā Hana Kuluma: Customs and Traditions
In 1959, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the Hawai‘i Legislature during a special session saying this about the Hawaiian Islands: “We look to you [Hawai‘i] for inspiration and as a noble example, where you have already accomplished in the area of racial harmony and racial justice, what we are struggling to accomplish in other sections of the country.”
Native Hawaiian traditions mixed with immigrant practices have evolved over generations to become local customs. Hawai‘i is often referred to as a “melting pot” of cultures.
This section of Ma‘ema‘e includes some of these local customs and traditions — some not considered native and some that have Native Hawaiian roots. These are noted accordingly.
- The English translation is, “love of the land.” Some kama‘āina practice aloha ‘āina by properly disposing of ‘ōpala (trash), recycling when possible, and conserving water and energy. Others practice aloha ‘āina through stewardship of wahi pana (sacred, significant and/or culturally sensitive sites), taking care not to upset native animals or ecosystems, or through activism. Visitors are encouraged to practice aloha ‘āina.
- Hula is the traditional dance of Hawai‘i. The chants and songs of hula preserve Hawai‘i’s history and culture. Dances often depict things such as Hawaiian legends, the achievements and deeds of royalty, and the beauty of nature or love. Hula kahiko is often referred to as traditional hula, and hula ‘auana is often referred to as modern hula. This distinction, however, incorrectly minimizes the differences between the two and overlooks other important distinctions. Hula kahiko is performed as part of or as an extension of a ceremony.
- Hula kahiko is performed to oli (chants) accompanied by percussion instruments like the ipu (a gourd drum) and/or pahu (a drum carved out of a hollowed log and traditionally shark skin for the drumhead). While many of the oli we hear along with hula kahiko are compositions from generations ago, there are new oli being composed in the style of older ones. The hula to these contemporary oli are characteristically hula kahiko.
- Hula ‘auana is less formal hula performed without ceremony. Around the turn of the 20th century, traditional hula began to evolve into this less formal style. In hula ‘auana, dancers often interact more closely with the audience. A story is told with the accompaniment of singing, sometimes in falsetto, and the playing of stringed instruments such as the guitar, bass, steel guitar and ‘ukulele.
- Kama‘āina is a term often used by locals to mean “resident.” Its literal meaning is “child of the land,” and was originally a term for those of Native Hawaiian descent. In today’s usage, this term refers to a resident born in Hawai‘i or a longtime resident of Hawai‘i — an “adopted” child of the land. In some usages, it also acknowledges ties to a more specific place: a kama‘āina of Waikīkī, or a kama‘āina of Maui.
- A flower lei is the appropriate and customary greeting for anyone arriving in Hawai‘i, as well as a farewell when leaving. These garlands are recognized worldwide as fragrant symbols of Hawai‘i. They are typically made of fresh Hawai‘i-grown flowers or foliage and are worn around the neck and on the head. In Hawai‘i, lei are part of everyday life and are frequently given at celebrations, graduations, weddings, parties and a wide variety of other occasions. Lei are considered symbols of status when used in traditional ceremonies. In one tradition, it is inappropriate for a pregnant woman to wear a lei in a closed circle — it is one of the rare occasions that someone presenting a lei may be stopped. When gifted with a lei, it is important to treat the lei respectfully. If you are in a situation where you must remove the lei, you should find a place to display and enjoy the lei versus throwing the lei into the trash or onto the floor.
- Hawai‘i has a very rich musical culture and heritage. The global influences on music in Hawai‘i are evident both in traditional Hawaiian music and local music, and stems from the arrival of immigrants who brought their different cultures and customs along with them. Many stories are passed down through elaborate songs, chants and dance and are part of Hawai‘i’s strong oral traditions. Native Hawaiians were known to write songs about their home, loved ones, gods and people of significant rank including ali‘i (chiefs/royalty). In fact, Hawai‘i’s ali‘i were some of the most prolific composers of music. In modern day Hawai‘i, local people, especially Native Hawaiians, are very musically talented and are known to get up and sing or dance at gatherings. It is not uncommon to end the day with everyone singing together in unity. Uniquely special, there are also radio stations in Hawai‘i dedicated to playing and featuring Hawaiian music.