As one of CrossFit’s first proponents on the island, Bryant Powers was just happy to find some friends to work out with. After discovering fellow CrossFit buffs online, Bryant began hosting group workouts in Kapiolani Park with his friends Craig and Hollis. Although only two people attended that first class, the trio kept hosting classes, shuttling between the park and Bryant’s garage, until they had a large enough following to open their own gym. Several years later, CrossFit Oahu now operates five locations spread across the island and cultivates a community devoted to results-oriented fitness. Incoming students work their way up to intense WODs with instruction in Olympic lifts and proper form. Passionate instructors help busy working professionals burn fat and build muscle, or ramp up workouts in preparation for CrossFit competitions. Members also cross-train in MMA striking, mountain climbing, or extreme rolodexing.
When a canoe enters the lagoon at Polynesian Cultural Center, its passengers transcend time, distance, and the need for a passport. The boat drifts to the shores of different exhibits, each of which represents a unique Polynesian region. At the Samoa section, for instance, visitors learn how to spark a fire and cook native cuisine. Nearby, the sounds of the haka?a lively war dance?ring through the Aotearoa area, while rhythmic drumming permeates the Fiji and Tonga exhibits. Those who stop by the miniature Tahiti can learn a traditional dance, and guests of the Hawaiian village observe skilled artists weaving leis.
For a cultural cap on an exploratory day, patrons can upgrade their general admission ticket and attend the nightly Ali'i Luau. A celebratory feast is laid out, including authentic Hawaiian cuisine and a whole pig roasted in an underground oven. Alternatively, guest can upgrade to even more evening entertainment, Ha: Breath of Life. During this show, more than 100 Polynesian performers dance, play music, and toss fire to tell an epic story. Dinner is not included with Ha: Breath of Life.
After falling in love with Wahiawa upon his first visit, master coffee-brewer Mike Richards quickly plotted a way to join the community’s eclectic crowd on a more permanent basis. The fruition of this aim, Perk-A-Lot Coffee & Sandwich Shop, marries Wahiawa’s uplifting spirit with a low-key ambiance and delicious coffeehouse fare. Since opening its doors in 2011, this up-and-coming spot has evolved into a cherished hangout for locals and coffee connoisseurs on pilgrimages from nearby islands. Mike and his friendly staff of baristas prepare café beverages behind simple wooden counters, pairing iced or steaming drinks with handmade wraps and sandwiches. When they aren’t sitting down to enjoy pastries such as lemon scones and fudge brownies, visitors can walk across the café’s checkerboard floor to view the local art that adorns the walls. On Friday nights, local poets and musicians stage performances for crowds, who signal their approval by snapping and pelting the stage with packets of sugar.
In a mini mall off Farrington Highway, shoppers passing Futaba Restaurant’s modest façade might never guess the culinary gem they’ll discover inside. Co-owner and executive chef Tadao Nezu––who once cooked for the Imperial family of Japan, according to the Honolulu Advertiser––has spent more than three decades at Futaba Restaurant treating Hawaiian taste buds like royalty with Japanese cooking wizardry and golden scepters that double as chopsticks. Noodle dishes dominate the menu, which includes six varieties of udon and soba noodles mixed with shrimp tempura and egg, and saimin noodles made from scratch and tossed in in homemade broth. Diners can also sample more indulgent dishes, such as the manalta mori, a mix of fresh ahi, jumbo-shrimp tempura, beef teriyaki, and grilled saba.
Ton Ton Ramen’s soup broth—completed with a bouquet of top-secret herbs and spices—bubbles to fruition after hours of simmering local produce and traditional Japanese ingredients such as pork bones, lending it its signature robustness. The cooks then add tasty morsels of oxtail, chicken katsu, tofu, noodles, and soft-boiled eggs to create piquant and hearty meals. Beyond ramen, they also create their own gyoza dumplings in house and crown curried rice with beef, squid, and tiaras crafted from kimchi.
Aloha Crepes serves dessert all day. Of course, it's in the form of a crepe, so the light treat seems somehow appropriate for breakfast, even if you order the Aloha crepe?loaded with Nutella, a sauce of sour cream and brown sugar, strawberries, whipped cream, and powdered sugar. For something more savory, crepes can be stuffed with portobello mushrooms or grilled chicken or made into pizza-like envelopes that, with the correct postage, the US Postal Service will deliver. For a lighter dessert option, Aloha Snowflakes promise a treat that's part ice cream, part shaved ice with the consistency of frozen cotton candy. Snow ice comes in a variety of flavors made from fresh fruits, juices, and extracts with added milk.