Waikiki and Beyond
A couple from Rumney, N.H., is planning a celebratory trip to Oahu and wants our help.
"Where can we get Hawaiian food?" For Hawaiian dishes like laulau (pork wrapped in taro leaves and steamed), and lomilomi salmon (a salad of cured salmon, tomato, and onion), go to Ono Hawaiian Food, on Waikiki's outskirts (808/737-2275, 726 Kapahulu Ave., $11). You'll also come across poi, mashed and strained taro root, at various spots; it's a decidedly acquired taste. "Local food," meanwhile, includes elements of Hawaiian food, but it also has influences from Japanese, Filipino, Korean, Chinese, and mainland American cuisines. A "plate lunch" includes a meat such as beef teriyaki or chicken katsu (fried chicken), two scoops of rice, and a scoop of macaroni salad. Police and surfers line up at Rainbow Drive-In for barbecued pork sandwiches or hamburger steak (3308 Kanaina Ave., 808/737-0177, from $3).
"We want to have one special dinner." In the early 1990s, a dozen Hawaii-based chefs pioneered Hawaii Regional Cuisine, a movement emphasizing fresh, local ingredients. Roy Yamaguchi, a founder of the movement, isn't exactly a secret--he has 34 restaurants in the U.S. and Japan--but he remains an island favorite. Roy's at Waikiki Beach Walk is the latest outpost of his empire (226 Lewers St., 808/923-7697, roysrestaurant.com, entrées from $21). Fusion fans adore Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas. Chef Hiroshi Fukui brings an Eastern touch to local fare (500 Ala Moana Blvd., 808/533-4476, hiroshihawaii.com, tapas from $7).
"We love cultural history, and Ann is interested in religious history. Do you have any recommendations for us?" Bishop Museum, seven miles from Waikiki, showcases Polynesian history (1525 Bernice St., 808/847-3511, bishopmuseum.org, $16). Stop on your way to the North Shore. As for religious history, ancient Hawaiians constructed heiau, temples made of lava stones. Some still exist, in varying states of ruin. Oahu's largest, Pu'u O Mahuka Heiau, overlooks Waimea Bay, on the North Shore. From Kamehameha Highway, turn onto Pupukea Road, drive three quarters of a mile, and look for the sign.
"What else is there to do on the North Shore? And where should we stay?" The point of the North Shore is that there isn't much to do but relax. It's small-town Oahu the way it used to be. The main town, Haleiwa, is mostly shrimp trucks (just what they sound like), surf shops, and shave-ice stands. (Aoki's Shave Ice, at 66-117 Kamehameha Highway, is better than the rest, without the lines.) In winter, people come from all over to watch surfers on the monster waves at Banzai Pipeline, Waimea Bay, and Sunset Beach. In summer, the calmer waters attract swimmers and snorkelers. Ke Iki Beach Bungalows rents cottages with kitchens (keikibeach.com, from $135).
"I'm 60, but I'm thinking about taking a surfing lesson." Go for it! The waves at Waikiki Beach are small and gentle--perfect for beginners--but they're also crowded all the time. You're better off learning on the North Shore. Surf N Sea, a shop in Haleiwa, offers lessons for all levels (800/899-7873, surfnsea.com, two-hour lessons from $85).