Hawaii is the quintessential summer vacation destination, but it’s so much more than just sun and sand. With an incredibly rich cultural history and natural wonders in profusion, there’s a lot to take advantage of on Oahu, in particular, that doesn’t involve a beach chair and a carved-out pineapple filled with rum- although that never hurts once in a while, either.
One of the most interesting places in Honolulu is the family-owned Kamaka Ukulele Factory, which has been cranking out supreme-quality instruments since 1916. Because these ukuleles are carefully constructed by well-trained artisans out of locally sourced, resonant koa wood, they’ve gained a reputation for being some of the finest in the world and have fallen into the hands of George Harrison, Ziggy Marley, and more.
For something a little less musical and a lot more physically demanding, take a chance at climbing the steps of Koko Crater. What used to be a WWII railway leading up to bunkers is now a 1050-step staircase that isn’t for the faint of heart, but promises gorgeous panoramas and a massive sense of accomplishment at the summit.
Nobody can spend a day hiking without working up an appetite, so to round off the day, stop by the Hiro Japan food truck on the shores of Waikiki. They’re known for their Hiroshima-style okonomikyaki — a scallion-cabbage pancake layered with a variety of toppings — but everything else they offer is just as great, especially when enjoyed under a palm tree on a beautiful day.
Going from the factory to the craters requires an adaptable bag, so carry our Leather Backpack- there’s even room for a ukulele in there.
All photos © David Silvia.