The most exceptional pleasures in life are often the simplest, like the distinct quality of sand on our favorite beach or the familiar way a beloved eatery slathers mustard on a sandwich. In this section, we celebrate the simple, day-to-day joys of life on Oahu.
Best reason to brave the tourists and hit Waikiki:
The broken-record doom-and-gloom about Hawaii’s tourism industry has been, for too long now, that people just aren’t flocking to the Islands like they used to. And even the ones who do come are spending less than ever. All of that may be true, but anyone who’s been in Waikiki recently knows that it’s no ghost town, and the tourists that still wander Oahu are as diverse as ever. We’ve got families, honeymooners, backpackers, retirees, corporate conference-goers, just to name a few. As far as people-watching goes, there are plenty of interesting locals strolling around Waikiki, too. Knock it if you want, but Waikiki is easily our most culturally diverse neighborhood–even if much of it is the culture of money.
It’s true that Duke’s has a reputation for being so crowded that it’s impossible to get a table, but when’s the last time you tried? There’s a reason the place is so popular. Live music, ocean view, plenty of food and–for better or worse–plenty of people. But remember, we’re talking about the fun-loving, smiling, laughing, buy-you-a-drink kind of people. Duke’s celebrates not just the social part of life, but the good life in general. Besides, if you think the best thing about tourists is the possibility that they might put out, a bar full of people (many of whom are in vacation mode and don’t have to get to work the next morning) is a good place to start. Cheers to that.
You said: “To f– them.”
Best North Shore beach:
Who can blame the lifeguards at Waimea for the annoyance that creeps into their bullhorn-projected voices during the winter months? You’d be exasperated too if you had to spend your days warning then rescuing swimmer after unflippered, underexperienced swimmer. Rule number one: When a lifeguard tells you to stay out of the water, stay out of the water. Rule number two: If you want to swim Waimea, now is the time, before those big winter swells come back (which is sooner than it seems, really). And if that’s not adventurous enough for you, a thrill is just a rock jump away.
You said: “If I told you, I’d have to kill you.”
Best beach in town:
It’s not just hard to believe. It’s actually ridiculous how long the people of this island have been fighting over what to do about the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial. The what, you ask? That’s right: If you’re 30 or younger, you’ve never even been inside the gate of this gorgeous monstrosity, which also happens to be the largest salt-water swimming pool in the world. But whatever its fate, we can all agree that we’re thankful it got built in the first place–if only because its placement led to the deposit of sand that eventually created Kaimana Beach–also known as Sans Souci–right next to it. And as so many of our readers who voted for Kaimana know, this beach is more than just a favorite spot. Some of us swim there every morning. We meet friends there on long Sundays. We sit on the benches to read. We ride our bicycles there. We throw birthday parties in the lawn that stretches in front of the beach. We sip from red cups and watch the sun crawl down the sky. We cannot help but love this beach. We may have created it by accident, but Kaimana is most definitely a part of us.
Best place, other than the beach, to beat the summer heat without getting naked:
Some people swear by the morning beer. Others smoke a fat joint. There’s always Excedrin. And we’re not sure if anyone has actually tried those over-the-counter hangover prevention pills but we can tell you for sure what works: A dark movie theater, a summer blockbuster and a giant soda. You might want to smoke that joint, too.
You said: “The library.”
Best place for a moonlight swim:
A moon at its fullest is beautiful over any landscape, but when the moon is lighting up the dome of the sky above a warm ocean on hoku, you have night-swimming conditions at their best. So whichever Waikiki beach you choose–from the waters off of the crowded Kalakaua strip to those little neighborhood beaches (some of which are only technically beaches at low tide) that we dare not draw more attention to, wait until the sun goes down, then take a dip with the moon.
Best neighborhood for a garage sale:
There are legends about the loot that’s up for grabs in the garage sales of Hawaii Kai: Veritable treasure troves, things that could be hawked for five times what you paid–and they’re practically giving it away! OK, now read that first part to whoever’s grumbling about getting up in the wee hours on Saturday morning to go rifling with you and you just may sell them. Never hurts to throw in an offer of lunch at Kona Brewing Company afterward. Hawaii Kai really is a great neighborhood to find second-hand goods. And we really have heard the stories of crazy finds–giant 200-pound headboards, fancy TVs, expensive chairs and so on. Here’s a tip: Make sure to get all the way back to Mariner’s Cove by Kamiloiki Park for the good stuff. Happy hunting!
You said: “Manoa at graduation time.”
Best Saturday sandwich:
Lox of Bagels
We have to admit that for an editorial department that’s been known to grumble about the local lack of truly mouthwatering chewy-on-inside-crispy-on-the-outside bagels and the relative absence of fresh, inventive, made-how-you-like-’em sandwiches on this island–we were pleasantly surprised to see that for our “best Saturday sandwich” category, the clear winner was an eatery that sells both in one. But then, that’s why we asked in the first place–we knew you guys would have the answer. And the question that Lox of Bagels satisfies is: Where can I get some solid, affordable grub that I can eat without utensils? Be it the veggie, the BLT, the club or any number of gooey bagel melts, Lox has it covered. And like any true sandwich enthusiast, Lox of Bagels understands the importance of the create-your-own. They offer up salami, ham, roast beef, smoked turkey, tuna, pastrami and chicken salad along with all kinds of veggies and cream cheese spreads. We promise to stop before we list every item on the menu (they have salads, too!), but it must be noted that Lox of Bagels touts itself as the exclusive seller of “bagel dogs”–picture a hot dog encased in the chewy goodness of a fresh bagel. We could go on, but it’s gotta be lunchtime by now, right?
Editor’s Pick: The best place to beat the summer heat without getting naked
UH Outreach College
Pop quiz: Does listening to Alice Cooper wailing about school being out for the summer make you:
A) scream along, head-banging and fist-pumping
B) want to watch Dazed and Confused
C) feel a little sad
If you picked C, it’s probably because to those of us who are a little more Lisa Simpson than we are Bart, the scenario that Cooper celebrates in the 1972 classic rock anthem–no more pencils, no more books, school being out forever, school literally being blown to pieces–sounds like torture. Enter: University of Hawaii’s Outreach college. We can tell you firsthand that once-a-week Hawaiian language classes are enough to keep those maybe-I’ll-take-out-a-loan-and-get-a-degree-in-some-crazy-newfangled-subject deliriums at bay. And the classrooms are chillier than the popsicle aisle at Safeway. Oh, and did we mention that it’s just $55 for a class that you can repeat as many times as you want?
If language classes aren’t for you, the course catalog has offerings that will school you on everything from hip-hop dance and bronze casting to retirement planning and graphic design. And there’s plenty to learn outside of Manoa. Kapiolani Community College offers a wide range of cooking classes (one with the title, “Tea, anyone?”) and courses that will prepare you to give cultural walking tours across Oahu.
There are plenty of ways to beat the heat, but taking the time to learn something–anything!–that you can share with others or use to improve your life will keep you cool long after school’s out.