We all need a little something to look forward to. How about something awesome, like a Supernatural convention in Honolulu? Aurite! Creation Entertainment is bringing the Supernatural Convention to Hawaiʻi for the first time November 17–19, 2017. Maybe the Winchesters can’t save everyone, but you can still save yourself some good seats for #SPNHon. While in beautiful Hawaiʻi it’s a good time to act like it’s your last night on earth and “eat, drink, and, you know, make merry.”
Whether you’re a witch, nerd, or angel, you’re sure to have a blast attending the convention and exploring the Aloha State. This 4-part series will help in planning for your trip with what to know before SPNHon, things to do on Oahu, and Hawaiʻi travel tips. You only get so much vacation time, so let’s ensure you make the best use of it. Here we explore ways you can enjoy your time in Hawaiʻi through shopping, dining, listening to music, and experiencing the Waikīkī nightlife.
Attending a Supernatural convention means spending money on a flight, hotel, and pricey convention tickets, but the spending doesn’t stop there. It’s also fun to get some trinkets to remember your trip. It’s even better to buy some gifts for those back home, lest they forget you’ve just been on a fabulous Hawaiian vacation. In Japan it’s called omiyage (お土産), but in the US it’s called rubbing it in. Tans fade, but guava jelly can last for months. Bring some Kona coffee to share at work and you can reminisce with co-workers endlessly about how amazing breakfast was at your hotel in Hawaiʻi, at least until everyone starts avoiding you in the break room.
ABC stores are everywhere in Waikīkī, and they have everything a visitor could need, like a quick bottle of water, sandwiches, toiletries, hats, lotion, souvenirs, beach towels, macadamia nuts, and much more. You might expect them to be expensive, but their prices are pretty good. The Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center right in Waikīkī has a variety of shops and boutiques.
Ala Moana Shopping Center is adjacent to Waikīkī and easy walking distance from the Hilton Hawaiian Village. It’s a behemoth and continues to grow every year. Ala Moana Shopping Center has a bunch of restaurants, as well as a big food court so you can re-energize and get back to your shopping. Just past Ala Moana Shopping Center is Ward Center, which has shops, restaurants, and movie theaters.
Walmart is a block mauka (towards the mountains) of Ala Moana Shopping Center, and it’s always packed with unhappy people in a hurry. If you want to try an inexpensive, one-stop everything store with a Japanese flair, try nearby Don Quijote instead. Sure, it’s kinda run-down, but here you can get your supplies, plus maybe some Hawaiʻi souvenirs and Japanese novelties, then and grab some Chinese, Japanese, or Korean fast food from one of the eateries outside.
If you’re looking for something with more local flavor, visit historic Chinatown in downtown Honolulu. This 200-year-old community hosts a colorful variety of shops, galleries, and eateries. Outside of Honolulu you can shop for deals at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, or you can go high-end at Waikele Premium Outlets.
Food and Dining in Hawaiʻi
Food is very important in Hawai‘i and reflects the cultural traditions of the islands. Hawai‘i is known for its diverse food culture. ‘Ono means delicious and you will love the ‘ono grinds in Hawai‘i. Native Hawaiian food is based on Polynesian traditions, so it includes a lot of taro, pork, and seafood. The advent of plantations in the 19th century brought migrants from Japan, China, Portugal, and later the Philippines, to Hawai’i. Though plantations no longer exist, the traditions and foods of all these different cultures continue to be a part of Hawai‘i.
Kau kau (pronounced “cow cow”) refers to food or to eat; and people love to go kau kau in Hawai’i. A few of the local foods that Hawai‘i is known for include poi, poke, mochi, manapua, malasadas, saimin, shave ice, and SPAM musubi. People in Hawai‘i consume more SPAM per person than any other place in the world.
Hawai‘i’s most famous contribution to food culture may be the plate lunch. A traditional plate lunch includes “two-scoops rice,” macaroni salad, and a choice of a local meat entrée such as laulau, chicken katsu, or kalua pig. If you want two entrées on your plate lunch, well, that’s a mixed plate. The diverse choice of plate lunch entrées reflects the melting pot that is Hawaiʻi. You can pick up a cheap plate lunch at any L&L Drive-In, or try the Rainbow Drive-In on Kapahulu Street. If you’re out on the windward side of the island, grab a plate lunch from the He‘eia Pier General Store and Deli. If you want a healthier version of the plate lunch, we say, whatevas. Seriously though, try Diamond Head Market & Grill.
Love trying local foods? There’s a tour for that. Try Hawai‘i Food Tours or Aloha Food Tours if you want to join other foodies for a taste of Hawai‘i. If you’re looking for something inexpensive that gives you a variety of both local and non-local dishes, try Zippy’s. Think of it as the Denny’s of Hawaiʻi.
Our Regular Haunts
Looking to eat local, organic, and ‘onoliscious? Try our favorite— Town in Kaimukī. If you want to stay in Waikīkī, Town’s Chef Kenny has opened Mahina & Sons at the Surfjack Hotel on Lewers Street. Several other restaurants we love just outside of Waikīkī include the artesian cafe and Pinot wine bar Bread & Butter, and the Scandinavian-inspired Tango Contemporary Café. We’re also fans of Bernini Honolulu, a contemporary Italian restaurant next to Ala Moana Shopping Center, even though they can be a little snooty if you don’t have a reservation. If you want to remain in Waikīkī, try Búho Cantina for a modern take on Mexican cuisine. Teddy’s Bigger Burger, located near the Honolulu Zoo, is a beloved Hawaiʻi institution if you’re looking for a great post-beach burger. Teddy’s has a delicious veggie burger that even Dean Winchester would love. Their secret sauce makes everything taste ʻono, so be sure to order extra to dip your fries.
Looking for vegetarian options? Well, you’ve come to the wrong state. Nah, there’s some good choices out there. The Hare Krishna temple offers a delicious vegetarian buffet every weekday at Govinda’s. And no, it’s not weird at all; it’s actually pretty cool. Ruffage Natural Foods is a health food store that serves vegan and vegetarian dishes right in Waikīkī. The überhip Downbeat Diner and Lounge, located downtown, offers vegan or vegetarian options for all of their menu items. Their lounge has live music most nights that you can listen to while enjoying a meal from the dinner menu. If the Downbeat Diner is packed and pizza is more your speed, walk over to their affiliate Proof Public House. Don’t be freaked out that it’s in an alley, and make sure you get the vegetarian version of their pies. If you’re looking for a vegan restaurant, try the Peace Café in nearby Mōʻiliʻili, close to the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.
Looking for great Asian food? You’ve definitely come to the right place. Morimoto Waikiki was created by the Iron Chef himself and is located at The Modern Honolulu, only a few doors down from the convention hotel. Morimoto’s was one of President Obama’s regular stops when visiting. Shirokiya Japan Village Walk, in Ala Moana Shopping Center, hosts 14 specialty Japanese bistros and entertains with cooking demonstrations and events. If you want to add some flavor to your food, in Hawaiʻi we use the Japanese name for soy sauce—shoyu (醤油).
Where better to find Chinese food than in Chinatown at Little Village Noodle Shop? If ramen is your thing, Lucky Belly is a hip Chinatown restaurant that takes a modern twist on Asian cuisine. Chinatown isn’t limited to Chinese food—be sure to try The Pig & the Lady if you’re craving Vietnamese. If you’re looking Chinese food in Waikīkī, try Yauatcha for high-end dim sum.
Since everything Korean is all the rage you might want to try 678 Hawaii, a yakiniku restaurant just outside of Waikīkī. Phuket Thai serves great Thai food, and the Kamake‘e location is close to Waikīkī. The Himalayan Kitchen in Kaimukī offers Nepalese food. If want to try Burmese food, check out Dagon in the University neighborhood of Mōʻiliʻili.
Though you might not have Rowena with you to hex the waitstaff into providing free food, you could still venture out to one of Honolulu’s more upscale restaurants. Roy’s Waikiki, founded by renowned chef Roy Yamaguchi, offers Hawaiian fusion cuisine that combines classic techniques with Pacific Rim flavors. Watch this adorable review of Roy’s by The Menehunes. If you want to enjoy the food of Chef Yamaguchi at a more moderate price, try the recently opened the Public House 1849 at the International Market Place.
Top of Waikiki is an upscale revolving restaurant that offers beautiful 360-degree views of Waikīkī. The restaurant does one full rotation every hour or so. At the Hyatt Regency Park you’ll find Japengo, which draws on Southeast Asian, Japanese and Chinese cuisines. If you go, be sure to try the guava sorbet with Pop Rocks and tell us what you think. A newer Waikīkī spot with a lot of buzz is the BLT Market at the Ritz-Carlton Residences.
On the west side of the Hilton Hawaiian Village is the Ilikai Hotel, home of the rooftop restaurant Sarento’s. The restaurant has beautiful views of the marina, sunset, and Friday night fireworks—and you get to ride up in a cool glass elevator. If you don’t want to pay a hefty dinner bill, you might just want to go to enjoy some small plates during Happy Hour at Sarento’s Wine & Tapas Bar.
Nightlife and Entertainment
You can enjoy the beauty of the many other resort-quality hotels in Waikīkī through their bars and lounges. If you want to see some of old Hawaiʻi, be sure to check out one of the oldest and most elegant hotels in Waikīkī—the Moana Surfrider. Sit outside under the giant Banyan tree and listen to music at The Beach Bar. From the lobby take the stairs up to the second level where there is a collection of historic photos and artifacts of Waikīkī on display. Then you can sit in a lanai rocking chair and watch the evening unfold on Kalākaua Avenue.
Another great resort to enjoy live Hawaiian music is the five-star hotel Halekulani. It’s easy walking distance from the Hilton Hawaiian Village and is known for its fine dining and outstanding service. If you’re looking for a high-end dining experience, try Halekulani’s French restaurant Le Mer, but if you want to enjoy music while having cocktails or dinner, visit the moderately-priced House Without a Key.
If you’re looking for an oceanview location that offers food, live music, and a happening nightly bar scene, there are several good options in Waikīkī. Check out Rumfire at the Sheraton Waikiki, Duke’s Waikiki at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, Tiki’s Grill and Bar at the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, and the classic, nautical-themed Chart House Waikiki overlooking the Ala Wai Yacht Club.
Happy hour in Hawaiʻi is known as Pau Hana (pow HAH-nah). The phrase refers to the end of the workday. In Hawaiian pau means done and hana is the word for work.
You can enjoy some more moderately priced food at some of the nicer restaurants by showing up to Pau Hana. If you download the Pau Hana Time app, it will provide you with a list of nearby happy hours, including the location, time, and specials.
Eat the Street is a monthly event that features over 40 food vendors on the last Friday night of the month. It’s traditionally been a well-attended local event, but since the Eat the Street venue has moved closer to Waikīkī many more visitors are appreciating the opportunity to enjoy the best of Honolulu’s street food. Another monthly Friday night fave among locals is First Friday in downtown Honolulu. Don’t be fooled by their terrible website. First Friday is actually a festive street event where you can browse art galleries, listen to music, and enjoy food or cocktails at some of the hippest restaurants and bars in Honolulu.
Bars and clubs
If you’re looking for an inexpensive tiki bar that you could actually imagine being used as a set on Supernatural, check out Arnold’s Beach Bar or Wailana Cocktail Lounge, both close to the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
If you love the nightlife and like to boogie, youʻll be able to get your groove on. Hula’s Bar and Lei Stand has been in Waikīkī for over 40 years because of its true aloha spirit of welcoming all, including those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered. Sky Waikiki also offers rooftop dining, drinks, and dancing, all with an amazing view.
If you’re looking for a club, Above Ultra Lounge at the Hawaiian Monarch Hotel is open until 4am—a rarity in Honolulu. Addiction Nightclub is just a few doors from the Hilton Hawaiian Village at The Modern Honolulu. If you want to venture outside of Waikīkī, try The M Nightlife and The Safehouse.
Hawaiʻi folks love karaoke. It’s like a whole community of Friday people. Lucky we live Hawaiʻi. There’s plenty places both in and out of Waikīkī where you can sing your heart out. They may even have “Carry on Wayward Son” available, but if not, try Don Ho’s Tiny Bubbles.
Waikīkī shows and local events
If you like Vegas-like stage shows, Waikīkī has John Hirokawa’s Magic of Polynesia, the Beatles tribute show Fourever Fab, Rock-A-Hula, and various luau dinner shows. For local events and concerts outside of Waikīkī there’s The Republik. A listing of what’s happening in and around Oahu is available on Honolulu Magazine’s Calendar of Events and HNLnow.com. For family-friendly activities, check out Honolulu Family.
For Tomorrow We Shall Fry
Rather than getting fried in the sun (sunscreen, peeps—see Part 4), we hope you’ll take the time to enjoy some fried food during your trip, whether it’s tempura, egg rolls, or calamari. If you have the same passion for food and drink that Dean Winchester does, Hawaiʻi will be like a dream, but one that doesn’t involve a djinn.
In the first part of this series, “5 Things to Know Before HonCon 2017,” we discussed the basics of planning your trip. “7 Spooky and Mundane Things to Do on Oahu” provided ideas about what to see in Oʻahu when you’re not at the Hawaiʻi convention, both in Waikīkī and around the island. We also explored Hawaiian culture and travel information in “Hawaii Travel Tips.” We hope some of this has helped in the planning of your upcoming trip to Hawai’i, or at least distracted you from your anxiety about it.
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