Thank you for stopping by!  I hope to feature both real estate and lifestyle information regarding living on this wonderful island, and particularly on the Windward Side.  

The towns of Kailua, Kaneohe and Waimanalo all have their own personalities.  Hopefully, you get a chance immerse yourself in all they have to offer! 

There is so much to do, see and experience!  My hope to to give you a little taste here.  Please read on...

Thank you ~ Jill

May 1, 2019

Relax, Renew, Refresh with Holisitc Spas which Specialize in the Hawaiian Practice of Lomi Lomi

Has life been hectic and you feel the need for a spa day?  Do you have an ailment that needs to be addressed?  Whether you are looking for relaxation or rehabilitation, the services provided at our local spas may be just what you need. 

Honu You

In traditional Hawaiian and Samoan culture, a massage was more than just an enjoyable sojourn and a stress reliever.

The ancient custom of lomi lomi massage is still practiced today. Rooted in huna (a Hawaiian philosophy centered on achieving harmony in mind, body, and spirit,) lomi lomi massage aims to promote relaxation, improve circulation, address physical ailments, and provide spiritual benefits, including the relief of negative emotions.

With this lovely custom originating in the Hawaiian islands, it’s not surprising that there are spas on the Windward side that offer lomi lomi. Whether you are looking for a lomi lomi massage, a traditional massage, or another spa service, the Windward side has quite a few choices. Here are two choices in Kailua:


Honu You Hawaiian Spa

Honu You, which opened 15 years ago in December, offers lomi lomi massages, waxing and facials and carries professional skincare lines including Eminence, Jan Marini, Epicuren and Jan Iredale cosmetics.

Honu You owner, Jennifer Mehau, takes a holistic approach to each client, and they appreciate the individualized attention.

“When people make an appointment, we always do a thorough consultation, taking into account any medication, topical applications and any other treatments,” says Mehau, who is a trained aesthetician and massage therapist. “It always ends up being a discussion about a client’s overall health.”

“I want to meet your needs and what you’re looking for,” she adds.

Mehau’s newest treatment is a Sauna/Facia Blaster Treatment. A facia blaster is a medical device that is designed to release facia adhesions. Facia is a band of connective tissue, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs. Warming up in the sauna beforehand helps renders the device more effective for maximum benefits, she says.



Spa Products


Lomilomi Hana Lima Kailua Spa and Boutique

Lomilomi Hana Lima’s goal is to “provide a bridge between the Hawaiian elders’ voices of wisdom and those who want to benefit from the beliefs that lead to self-empowerment in order to raise their consciousness and return to their daily lives awakened, strengthened and refreshed.”

It’s menu of massages include classic lomilomi and specialty massages including an Aromatherapy Experience Lomilomi, Deep Tissue Lomilomi, Hapai (prenatal) Lomilomi, Ola tropical Lomilomi, and a facelift lomilomi. It also provides body scrubs, a variety of facials, waxing and eyebrow and eyelash tinting.

Clients are treated to fresh orchid adorned rooms and offered Hawaiian tea, adding to the restful and pampering experience.  Owner Eri Mehealani Sakai-Virden uses her listening skills to tap into her intuition and compassion.


Photos: Bamboo ceilings & warm light add to the restful atmosphere at Honu You. Honu You carries professional skincare lines including Eminence.

April 24, 2019

“Paws”-itively Fabulous Things to Do with Your Dog on O’ahu - Part II

HK dog park

Off-Leash Dog Parks and Dog-friendly Beaches

Oahu has six off-leash dog parks to take your four-legged friends for play dates and some exercise.  This allows you to choose by location and amenities, such as nearby recreation facilities for humans and separate areas for large and small dogs. There are also dozens of dog-friendly beaches.

Whether you are on the beach or at a dog park, be sure to follow doggie etiquette and safety rules!  

·        Take your dog home at the first sign of unfriendly behavior

·         Be sure to provide plenty of water for your doggie

·        Closely supervise your dog

·        Your dog should be vaccinated and healthy before you bring him/her to a beach or doggie park

·        When at the beach, swimming is great exercise for your dog, but don’t let them overdo it!

·        Be careful as dogs can get heat stroke, too.

And of course, bring plenty of bags and CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR DOG!  (I always tie a few right on the leash.)



Moanalua Dog Park

The Moanalua Dog Park has easy parking and is centrally located near tennis and basketball courts, so your whole family can play. The thoughtful set-up includes a clean water bowl, communal poop bags (bring some to donate) and a small patch of fenced in forest for running. Wood chips help control the ground moisture although it can still get muddy when the weather’s been wet. And, flies can be a problem; however, management has placed fly traps on trees around the park in an effort to control the problem.

There is also plentiful shade and places to sit. The park management asks that you NOT bring any human food to distract the doggies. The Moanalua Dog Park is open daily during daylight hours except Tuesday mornings when it is closed for maintenance.

2900 Moanalua Road in Honolulu


Hawaii Kai Dog Park

The Hawaii Kai Dog Park has separate areas for large (over 18 pounds) and small (under 18 pounds) dogs, ample parking, water fountains, lots of healthy green grass and donated poop bags.

220 Keahole Street in Honolulu


Mililani Dog Park

Mililani Dog Park is open during daylight hours every day (except Wed. morning when it’s closed for maintenance). There is a hose with fresh water, trees, benches and plenty of parking. There are no separate areas for small and large dogs here. There are many dirt patches so be prepared for a dirty (but, oh so happy) doggie at the end of the play day.

94-245 Kaloapau Street in Mililani


A’ala Dog Park

A’ala Dog Park, which features separate areas for small and large dogs, is open the same hours as the surrounding A’ala Park, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

280 N. King Street in Honolulu


Ala Wai Dog Park

Ala Wai Dog Park is located near Ala Wai Elementary School. It is open during daylight hours every day. The Ala Wai Dog Park is divided into two areas: one for small dogs and the other for big dogs.

The park, which opened about five years ago, is the result of a public-private partnership between the City and the Ala Wai K-9 Playground Association.

2444 Hihiwai Street in Honolulu



Oahu has dozens of beaches to choose from when it comes to sandy playgrounds for your dog. Here is a small sampling of some favorites.

Kahala Beach

“I love coming here because it’s practically a dog park on the beach – there are calm waves and plenty of dogs throughout the day for my pup to play with,” said Teresa Daniels of Kaimuki.

4999 Kahala avenue in Honolulu


Kaiwi Shoreline Trail to Alan Davis Beach

“I enjoy this beach because it’s a mild hike down to it, and therefore doesn’t always get as busy,” said Lori Davis, who lives on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickham. “It also has a nice protected area for dogs to run and swim. It has the feeling of being a little more secluded than some of the other public beaches on the island.”

Access via a detour from Makapuu Lighthouse Trail in Waimanalo


Kalama Beach Park

This is my personal favorite and closest to home! There are always plenty of friendly dogs, calm waters, and a shower if you need to give your doggie a quick rinse before he gets in the car. Early morning is the best time to go if you want your dog to have his best chance to socialize with other canines.

248 N. Kalaheo Avenue

Photo: Dogs take a water break after a joyful romp at Hawaii Kai Dog Park. Photo courtesy of Tommy Halmos.

April 21, 2019

“Paws”-itively Fabulous Things to Do with Your Dog on O’ahu - Part I

We all adore our furry babies and there are many good reasons to try new activities with your dog. Including your dog in activities can help prevent boredom (which can lead to behavior problems) and helps strengthen your bond with your most loyal companion. Fortunately, there is no shortage of dog-friendly activities here on Oahu.

 doggie thru hoop

Doggie Classes in Waimanalo

In addition to boarding and obedience training, A to Z Dog Training in Waimanalo offers “Agility for Fun” and “Hounds on the Town.” In agility training, you work with your dog to complete an obstacle course that can involve jumping over barriers, going through tunnels and balancing. Agility training is recognized as a great way to work off a dog’s excess energy as well as strengthen his or her muscles, and increase endurance and confidence. And, it’s good for you, too!

Each “Hounds on the Town” class takes a group of dogs and owners to locations around the island to help foster good doggie manners.  This is a great opportunity for owners who wish to bring their doggie along more often – it’s a chance for your companion to refine his behaviors in a real-life setting with a trainer present to help address problem behaviors as they occur.

How fun does that look????

A to Z Dog Training (Waimanalo)


Chill in Haleiwa

In addition to a locally inspired menu, creative cocktails, board games, shuffle boards, live music and karaoke, Kawailoa Tavern now has entertainment for your furry companion.  A new off-leash area provides your dog with a place to play and socialize with other canines while you relax with an adult beverage.

Kawailoa Tavern (Haleiwa)


Dine al Fresco in Kailua  

The al fresco seating area in the Kalapawai Cafe welcomes well-behaved doggies to join their humans for a meal. Wait staff is always willing to provide a head pat and a water bowl for guests. Just remember to come along with another human so someone can stay outside with the dog while the other person goes in to order (at breakfast and lunch when it’s counter service) or to go inside and request a table (at dinner when it’s table service).


Frosty Treats in Haleiwa and Waialua 

Scoops of Paradise two locations in Haleiwa and Waialua are both dog-friendly. As long as your dog is trained and well-behaved, you are welcome to bring him in with you for a frosty treat.  Dogs receive a free scoop of vanilla ice cream as long as their accompanying human is also purchasing ice cream. 

Scoops of Paradise (Haleiwa and Waialua)

(*Disclaimer: Feeding ice cream to your dog is an independent decision.  In small amounts, it can be harmless; but, dairy and sugar can cause digestive issues for dogs.)

doggie ice cream


Doggie Theme Park in Waipahu

Kama’aina K9 Adventures has a 2.5 acre facility in the Kunia mountainside with six individual adventure parks, including a jungle park with pools, a miniature city, a puppy surf and socialization park, a tiny tot park, an agility park, and miniature livestock park. The facility is mainly for doggie day care and boarding, but it can also be rented out for private play dates or doggie birthday parties.


A good resource for dog lovers is to discover dog-friendly establishments wherever you roam. 

Next week, come back to read about off-leash dog parks and the best local beaches for dogs.



Holly Collier and her dog, Harriet, enjoy a vanilla ice cream at Scoops of Paradise.
Credit: Holly Collier 

Milo jumps through a hoop as part of his agility training at A to Z Dog Training. 

April 10, 2019

Entertaining with Less Stress and More Aloha – Part II

Last week, we touched on getting started and what are the “must haves” of party planning.  This week, Natasha provides us with some great ways to save money and keep your guests engaged. 



 “Wowing” your guests on a budget

Much of entertaining is visual, according to Freitas. Fortunately, you don’t have to break the bank to create a stunning display.

For example, instead of buying white table linens, you can purchase white sheets. Sometimes you can even find these at thrift stores for a fraction of the cost of table linens.

Rather than china, purchase hard white plastic (melamine) and add a charger made of burlap or another fabric under each plate. If you must use plastic utensils, choose gold or silver which is not much more expensive than plain plastic but creates a more elegant table.

And most importantly, says Freitas, use greenery from your own yard. This is where living in Hawaii is a huge advantage!

“I’m spoiled, I can walk outside and make you a bouquet,” said Freitas.

Freitas favors selecting a variety of greenery, such as ti plants, avocado leaves or areca palms (which can last up to three days out of water), zip tying them together, and placing them in a glass cup. For a dramatic centerpiece, gather bottles, zip tie them together and place a mixture of greenery in each bottle. If your foliage is long enough to cascade over the zip tie, you won’t even need to cover it up!

“Greenery is an important thing because it looks so beautiful and lush,” says Freitas.

Star fruit is visually stunning and has multiple uses. Freitas has used it in water in lieu of lemons or cucumber, and she’s put a slice on top of an orchid on each plate before dinner starts.

Freitas advises clients to look around their homes and see what accessories they already own that can be of use.

"Maybe you have a beautiful vase that you can use for a lemonade pitcher instead of a vase or glass jars that are perfect for olives during a cocktail hour," she said.


Keep them entertained

The most important rule when it comes to entertaining is to keep your guests busy from the time they arrive to the time they leave, said Freitas. Music is always welcome, as is providing your guests with a conversational topic.  A program or a thank you letter for each guest is one way to do that.

Favors create conversation as well. Freitas has used painted rocks with an explanation for where each rock came from, or even different types of salt, such as Himalayan and Hawaiian salt. Guests then had an to opportunity read about where each salt originated from and why it has taken on a certain color and mix different types to take with them.

Now that you have additional tips from a pro as to how to up your entertaining game, it’s time to plan your next party!  


Natasha Freitas can be found on Instagram at @islandlivinghawaii and on Facebook at Angels of Aloha.

Photos are courtesy of Freitas: Beach-themed wedding favors and decorations created by Natasa using simple objects such as wine bottles, sand, shells and raffia; and, starfruit is a lovely way to decorate a water glass. 

April 4, 2019

Entertaining with Less Stress and More Aloha – Part I

No matter the size - whether it be a small dinner party of six or a wedding reception with 100 or more guests – entertaining can be stressful! Kailua-based event planner Natasha Freitas shared some tips for how to how to make a memorable and enjoyable event. She also offered some tips for how to use our abundant natural treasures to make gorgeous but low-cost centerpieces.

wedding table


Celebrations are Called For...

In Hawaiian tradition, there are three major life events that call for celebration, according to Freitas. The first, a baby luau, celebrates a baby’s first birthday. This tradition began hundreds of years ago when missionaries came to Hawaii, bringing with them germs for which the native Hawaiians were unaccustomed. Sadly, that meant, many babies didn’t live to see their first birthday. So, these joyous events were created to celebrate a child surviving his or her first year of life.

The other two milestone celebrations are high school graduation and marriage. Freitas coordinates parties for all of these life events, as well as small intimate gatherings and even more somber occasions such as memorials.

However, we all know that a good celebration can be declared for a good reason or no reason at all!!  Even a quiet dinner for two...

dinner for two

Getting Started...

No matter the type of event, you’ll need to start with some basics, according to Freitas.  That starts with identifying a venue, even if that’s your own home, and creating invitations. From there, create a timeline of how you would like the event to proceed. That timeline often begins with cocktails and pupus, then segues to the meal, dessert and a gathering time at the conclusion.

Once you have created the event timeline, you’ll need to plan where you will obtain your food, whether it be a home cooked meal or a caterer.

“I definitely suggest the host not take on the whole responsibility,” Freitas said. “Also, try not to ask family members or close friends (to prepare food) because you want them to relax, not worry about bringing the cookies to the party!”

From there, create a list of everything you need to purchase and set up for each portion of the event.  For example, for the cocktail hour, you might want to include background music and sitting areas to create conversation. Standing bar tables are particularly popular because it’s hot and people tend to stand and mingle, but they also want a place to put their drink, said Freitas.

Must Haves...

In addition to the list you will create using your timeline as a guide, Freitas suggests every host/hostess fill a large Tupperware container with the following:  duct tape, large clear tape, clear zip ties of multiple sizes, two pairs of scissors, two sharpies, a few regular writing pens, painters tape, and a stack of white towels for the kitchen. Once you have these tools assembled, you won’t need to go search in your home or run to the store to obtain them in the course of planning and setup.

Some of Freitas ideas for using these tools are inventive and surprising.

Clear tape is always useful if you’re trying to hide something, she said. A simple store-bought shelf and duct tape can create a makeshift mini bar. Face the shelf backward, place a white table cloth over the top so that it hangs low and covers the whole shelf, and use duct tape to secure the cloth in the back. The clear zip ties are an excellent way to secure greenery and flowers and create a bouquet.

Please come back next week to read Part II - Wowing Guests on a Budget and Keeping Them Entertained.


Natasha Freitas can be found on Instagram at islandlivinghawaii and on Facebook at Angels of Aloha.

Photos are courtesy of Freitas: An adorned wedding table is simple yet impact, and a fresh flower adorned table for two. 




March 24, 2019

Retirees and Vacation Homes: The Perfect Combination

You’ve had a nice, long, profitable career, and now it’s time to call it quits. You’re looking forward to sleeping in, much less responsibility, and lots of time to relax with your family. The only question now is where are you going to spend that time? As you consider buying a vacation home, keep the following tips in mind.

Ka Malani

Pick the Right Location

What you have to figure out when you are looking for a vacation home is what features are must-haves for you. Location is usually primary among these considerations: do you want to be near the beach, on a golf course, or near the mountains? Do you want to be in a neighborhood or in a quieter spot? Would you rather vacation in the city like Waikiki or in a more beach town location like Kailua?

You should also consider how easy it is for you to get there from your primary residence, and if it is feasible to maintain the travel long term


Pick the Right Home

Once you have settled on the general location, it’s time to drill down to identify the specific house or condo you want to buy. Start by doing research on what homes are available in the area you want. Once you have a found a few options, take a trip to visit them. Working with a local real estate agent will give you firsthand local knowledge. It’s also a good idea to spend some time in the area you’re interested in to make sure it fits your lifestyle and interests. Spend a couple of weeks in the area, or even come back a couple of times to visit.

Think about what features the house will need as you get older as well. In most cases, you’ll want a single-story dwelling so you can avoid stairs. Look for aging-in-place features such as wide doors and hallways, large bathrooms, and non-carpeted floors.


Determine Costs

Remember that along with what you’ll be paying for the house, you’ll have costs above the mortgage even when you’re not there. Property taxes, electric, gas, trash pickup, landscaping, and other maintenance services still need to be paid even if you are offsite. You also may need to pay a management company to look after the house while you’re not there, especially if you are planning to rent the house out (long-term, 30 days or more, of course) when you’re away. This is one cost that’s worth paying. You don’t want to show up for a nice, relaxing weekend away and find that a burst pipe has ruined your floors.

Please note Transient Vacation Units (TVUs) have been prohibited outside of resort zones since 1986 in the City and County of Honolulu.  TVU’s are not permitted for less than 30 days.  It is critical to do your research to see if the condominium association allows for subleasing if you plan on purchasing a condo.  And, if buying a home, you must consider the neighbors and neighborhood.  (Please see DPP FAQ's and for more information.) 

One last cost you’ll want to keep low is insurance. Second homes are generally viewed as more risky than primary homes, so you may find insurance costs to be steeper than you expected. If your new vacation home has a security system installed, that may save you a few dollars on your policy. You should also check to see if you can get a cheaper rate by bundling this new insurance policy with other policies you have with the same company.

You can also make some of your money back to pay for these costs, especially the mortgage, by using your vacation home as a rental property when you’re not there. Just be aware that if you go this route, you’ll need to make sure the home has plenty of amenities to attract renters, such as a full kitchen, cable TV, internet access, and a washer and dryer. For modifications that you can’t do yourself, you’ll need a contractor. Ask around for recommendations, then communicate every detail of your plan with the contractor you decide hire.

A vacation home can be a tremendous idea for retirees to consider. Following the tips above will give you a good start on finding your dream home. You have worked hard, and it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labors.


** Article guest written by Jim McKinley, Jim is a retired banker, and loves helping people make the most of their hard-earned money.  

Photo credit: Erin Evans with C21 Island Homes of Ka Malani in Kailua, HI

March 20, 2019

Our Local Farmers Markets Offer Fresh Produce, Tasty Meals and Artisan Creations

The year-round growing season and diverse culture of Oahu means those of us who are fortunate enough to live here can enjoy fresh produce and locally-inspired culinary creations any day of the week. And our Windward markets are the perfect place to do some grocery shopping and keep your kitchen clean for an evening!

Below is a sampling of Windward markets with a huge variety of local produce, delectable prepared food, and handmade goods.


Kailua Farmers’ Market

Thursdays 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

609 Kailua Road

Kailua Town Center


If your family is one of those that can never decide where to go for dinner because everyone wants something different, the Kailua Farmers’ Market is an excellent Thursday night meal alternative! And you can pick up some fresh produce and homemade goodies while you’re at it.

For meals, choose from Turkish fare, burgers made of grass-fed beef, Thai and many more vendors. The food lines can be long: stop by Pacifikool for a drink made with their signature Hawaiian ginger syrup, fruit and herbs to sip while you wait. Customers can stand at a few cocktail tables, and there area a few sitting tables for Pig and the Lady customers only. If you want to ensure you can sit and eat, bring a mat or blanket from home.

For produce shopping, HS Farm sells a variety of vegetables, cucumber, papaya, pineapple and melon and Otsuji Farm of Hawaii Kai brings lettuces, green onion, cilantro and papaya soft serve ice cream that is to die for! There are several other farm vendors to choose from as well.

The Kailua Farmers’ Market is run by the Hawai’i Farm Bureau, whose mission it is to protect, advocate and advance the social, economic and educational interest of the state’s diverse agricultural community.


Kailua Town Farmers Market

Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

315 Kuulei Road

Kailua elementary school


The Kailua Town Farmers Market offers an exceptional variety of food and locally- made goods. On a recent sunny Sunday morning, the venue was bustling with families, tourists and fitness buffs enjoying a post-workout snack.

Vendor Nadia Fairlamb Art sells wood framed mirrors. Fairlamb, who works out of her studio in Waimanalo, specializes in wood sculpture using a jigsaw and select woodworking tools. On a recent visit, she showcased wood framed mirrors, some natural wood colored and some painted ombre blue to resemble the colors of our local beaches. Many featured wave patterns.

Stroll down the aisles and grab a coffee from Nic’s Island Cafe. Nic’s menu includes cups of hot or iced Kona coffee, traditional hot and cold lattes, a smattering of chai varieties, milks, hot chocolate and Bullet Coffee. Bullet Coffee is favored by those who follow a high-fat, low-carb diet and consisting of brewed coffee, grass-fed unsalted butter and coconut oil.

Breakfast and brunch choices abound. Arnaud Jager of Chef Arnaud LLC flips savory omelets and berry topped French toast.

Baker Dudes’ offers sweet and savory breads, stuffed croissants and other pastries. At the end of the day on a recent Sunday, they were offering three items for $10. I nabbed a sour dough, rosemary olive loaf, a fragrant coconut sweet bread and three large, soft snickerdoodle cookies to share with my boys.

There is always plenty of fresh produce, handmade jewelry and clothing and more food choices. There are tables for which you can sit down and eat, but they are often busy and full, so bring a picnic blanket and be prepared to sit on the grass or on the pavement outside of Kailua Elementary.

The Kailua Town farmers market is run by Farmlovers Farmers’ Markets, whose vision and mission is to “create a business incubator for small farmers, food manufacturers and artisans, by creating a supportive and nurturing environment, which will cultivate economic growth, community health, and cultural awareness.”


Kailua Night Market

Third Friday of every month from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Public parking at Goodwill

41 Kihapai Street

This newer offering includes musicians, about 40-50 vendors such as clothing, handmade jewelry, local food trucks, and even pet adoption. The Night Market is located inside a renovated warehouse called the “Secret Zone” and outside behind the Olive Boutique and Calhau Building.

Kailua Night Market stands out for its local entertainment. A light show is projected on the walls inside the Secret Zone, and on any given night you might see a fashion show, aerial performers, yoga practitioners or belly dancers.

This independent market’s mission is to create “diverse cultural and food offerings and welcome visitors to the Kailua District.”


The Farmers Market at Windward Mall by Nalo Farms

Wednesdays 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays 9:45 a.m. to 2 p.m.

46-056 Kamehameha Hwy
Windward Mall - center court, lower level

This market includes about 60 vendors peddling a diverse array of foods (both prepared and fresh) fish, local beef, artisan bread, local fruits and jams, prepared food, flowers, gourmet balsamic vinegar.

This market is the perfect place to go when you need to restock your refrigerator or get your staples. And, the indoor mall location means there is always plenty of parking and no rain!

So, it's time to go check out a Farmer's Market you have not tried before, or venture out and try a new product!

March 13, 2019

Adventure Awaits: Choose a Path that Leads to Breathtaking Views

Ideas for Hikes and Walks on the East Side

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt,” said John Muir, father of the National Park System and founder of the Sierra Club.

Fortunately, the east side of Oahu is home to many picturesque hikes and walks, so you can take Muir’s advice.

Choose from greenery and waterfalls, sweeping views of the coast, or a leisurely stroll. Please read on for a few favorites along with some information about their historical significance. 


Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Lookout Trail –Waimanalo

Makapu’u is a 2.5-mile roundtrip paved hike. A recently revamped parking area provides access to the trailhead.

The best time to hike the Lighthouse Lookout Trail is very early in the morning. The lack of shade on the trail means daylight hours can yield a sweaty, sweltering hike. But, begin in the before-dawn hours and you’ll enjoy a cool, breezy walk. Bring a flashlight and maybe even a jacket or sweatshirt as it can get very windy as you reach higher elevations.  (Official parking lot hours begin at 7am.)

A view of the sunrise from the top of the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Lookout Trail is bound to be one of the most memorable sights of your life. Time your walk so that you reach the top before the sun peaks over the horizon and you’ll be rewarded with a tiny orange glow that resembles a candle flame before it expands into the sun’s full, fiery glow.

When you reach the top, you will find the Makapu’u Point Light Station. It was established in 1909 as a light for vessels bound from the United States. The tower is built on concrete with an iron lantern with glass storm panes to protect the lens and illuminating apparatus. 

I was fortunate enough to get a tour inside the lighthouse about 10 years ago. The giant window panes are gorgeous and the light bulb room was something from a movie set.

On the way down, the daylight hours provide sweeping views of Oahu’s southeastern coastline and views of the Windward coast. Additionally, if you’re on the trail between December and May, you might be fortunate enough to spot some whales frolicking in the water.

Makapuu Lighthouse

Kaiwa Ridge (Lanikai Pillbox trail) – Kailua

The Kaiwa Ridge Trail or Lanikai Pillbox Trail is a 1.8-mile roundtrip, steep, rocky hike. The trailhead is located on a paved private driveway along Kaelepulu Drive. The driveway is opposite the Mid Pacific Country Club & Golf Course.

There is very little shade on this hike, so to avoid the heat (and crowds) visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Wear shoes with grip, as the scrubby plants and loose rocks can make this hike challenging in some spots. Though this hike is short, it gains 500 feet in elevation.

In recent years, the trail’s popularity caused the first of the two “pillboxes” along the hike to fall into disrepair and become structurally unsound. The Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources closed the trail and its structures for two months starting in March of last year to replace concrete and remove and replace rusted steel roof supports.

According to military historians, the two famed “pillboxes” are not actually pillboxes. In military terms, a pillbox is a concrete or dug-in guard post equipped with holes through which to fire weapons. The Kaiwa Ridge Trail structures were constructed in 1943 and included high-powered telescopes to determine position of enemy ships.

This is where I insert my opinion on two issues.  First, many dogs have become dehydrated and very ill on this trail.  I’d advise against bringing your four-legged best friend, but if you do, go early and bring plenty of water.  Second, be considerate of the neighbors when you park, and do not park illegally.  Your safest and best bet is to park at Kailua Beach Park and walk over.   

Nevertheless, this is a gorgeous scenic hike with views of the Mokulua Islands, Kailua and Lanikai beaches, Waimanalo and the entire Windward coast.

 Lanikai Pillboxes

Byodo-in Temple  - Kaneohe

The Byodo-in Temple is an easy .5 mile stroll in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park at the foot of the Koolau Mountain Range. There is a modest admission fee of $3 per person and the operating hours are 9 am to 5 pm.

Stroll on the Temple’s abundantly landscaped grounds to view wild peacocks, koi, turtles, frogs and black swans. Charming foot bridges cross the small streams. There is also a reflecting pond, small waterfalls and even use a wooden log to strike the Sacred Bell. The meditation pavilion provides visitors with a spot for quiet contemplation.

The Temple itself is a non-practicing Buddhist temple which welcomes all religions. It is a smaller-scale replica of the over 950-year-old Byodo-in Temple, a United Nations World Heritage Site in Uji, Japan. Established in 1968, the Byodo-in Temple was built to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii.


Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens – Kaneohe  

Hours are 9 am to 4pm and admission is free.

Hoomaluhia means “peaceful refuge” and this rainforest garden undoubtedly lives up to its name. There are numerous trails to choose for your stroll in this 200-acre wonderland of tropical plants. The greenery and flora is grouped by geographic region; Philippines, Malaysia, Tropical America, India and Sri Lanka, Melanesia, Hawaii, Polynesia, and Africa.

The grounds are also home to a visitor center with a lecture room, an exhibition hall, a workshop and a botanical library.

Flanked by the towering Koolau mountain range, the garden was designed and built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide flood protection for Kaneohe. It was open to the public in 1982.


Maunawili Falls Trail – Kailua

This is a 2.4-mile roundtrip hike. Once again, you may opt to park on the residential streets in the Maunawili Estates subdivision. (Please be courteous of the people who live there.)

As you walk through a canopy of trees to the Maunawili Falls Trail, you are instantly transported to a tropical rain forest with abundant vegetation.

This hike can be quite challenging, as it features many exposed roots that can be trip hazards and several points at which you will be hopping rocks to cross the stream. Depending on how much it has rained recently, you could be wading through calf-high water.  If you’re bothered by hiking with soggy socks and wet feet, include water shoes in your backpack! 

In the winter or after heavy rains, expect LOTS of mud which can make the hike very slippery. Be sure your shoes have enough traction to keep you safe. And don’t forget insect repellent as the wet, humid weather here attracts mosquitoes.

The Maunawili Falls trail will provide you with sweeping views of the Windward side of Oahu, including Olomana, the Koolau range and the Koolaupoko watershed. But the real treasure is the hike’s finale – a spectacular waterfall with a swimming hole below. You’ll know you’ve almost reached the end when you arrive at the small set of stairs. Once at the water, there are signs that advise against jumping in the stream, but many people choose to throw caution to the wind and take the plunge.

The Maunawili Trail’s accessible stream and gradation once made this an ideal place for crop cultivation. Researchers have determined the Hawaiians grew taro in the area as early as 1100 A.D. In the 1800s, farmers began cattle ranching and cultivated coffee, nuts, fruits, rice, and sugar. Some of the coffee plants are still visible along the trail. 


So, grab your hiking shoes, get outside and enjoy the many breathtaking Windward sights.  And, always remember to be considerate of the neighbors and leave the land better than you found it. 


Photo credits:

Photo 1: Sunrise from the top of the Lighthouse Trail

Photo 2: Lanikai Pillbox Trail by Gregory Zammell

Photo 3: Byodo-In Temple

Photo 4:  Ho'omaluhia by Wild & Away via Upstream

Photo 5: Waterfall at the end of the Maunawili Falls Trail 

March 6, 2019

Sunny Side Up on the Windward Side: Breakfast Eggspresions in Kailua & Kaneohe

Over EasyOn the Windward side, we don’t have a shortage of sparkling, turquoise water, warm breezes and...breakfast restaurants - there are LOTS of breakfast restaurants! And the choices run the gamut from traditional bacon and eggs, to Hawaiian specialties such as Kalua pork, or healthier options such as fresh squeezed juice and acai bowls. You will also note that pancakes a theme: mac nut sauce, lilikoi sauce or red velvet pancakes.  Read on for some great breakfast ideas here on the Windward side.

*Please note that the restaurants are featured in no particular order and it is no reflection on those who did not receive a full write up…just a function of time!


Boots & Kimo’s, 151 Hekili Street, Kailua   

Boots & Kimo’s menu includes an array of omelets such as the Huelo Paniolo Omelette with corned beef, kula onion, tomatoes, and melted Haleakala swiss cheese. The Homestyle Onolicious is two eggs, a choice of toast, hash browns or steamed rice and a meat of your choice. My boys devour the spam and Portuguese sausage.  They are likely best known for their Banana pancakes with Mac Nut Sauce.  (Oh, and if you’re here around lunchtime, try the kalbi!)


Moke’s Bread & Breakfast, 27 Hoolai Street, Kailua

If you try one thing at Moke’s Bread & Breakfast, be sure to order the Liliko’i Pancakes, Moke’s fluffy handmade pancakes with passion fruit sauce. In addition to the traditional eggs and bacons, Moke’s specializes in its signature baked goods made fresh every day. Try a honey butter biscuit, the coffee cake or the muffin of the day. These delectable pastries are also available to take home. (My personal fave is the Moke Nui omlette.)


Over Easy, 418 Kuulei Road #103, Kailua

One of Kailua’s newer offerings, the diminutive 1,000 square foot restaurant which opened in July 2016, serves breakfast with a twist. The dishes are creatively, reimagined morning fare such as the Brunch Bowl, with avocado, soft-boiled egg, chilled house-made yogurt, spinach, tomato jam, candied bacon, sourdough toast, and De La Mesa Farms micro greens. 

To satisfy a sweets craving, try the Custard French Toast crusted with crushed Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, and stuffed with orange creme fraiche.


Cinnamon’s Restaurant, 315 Uluniu Street, Kailua  

Cinnamon’s Restaurant, which has been a Kailua institution since 1985, has a wide-ranging menu of your usual breakfast favorites such as eggs and bacons, and more distinctive fare such as a large selection of Eggs Benedict variations including versions with kalua pork or smoked salmon.

A favorite among the children in my home are the homemade cinnamon rolls and the decadent Signature Red Velvet Pancakes.


Crepes No Ka ‘Oi, 143 Hekili Street in Kailua

Opened in 2008, Crepes No Ka ‘Oi serves “the best” crepes in Kailua. On the sweet list, the Sinfully Ono includes a choice of dark, milk or white chocolate, crushed graham crackers and marshmallows and topped with powdered chocolate or the lighter Berry Heavenly with melted butter, raw cane sugar, and fresh lemon juice topped with fresh blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and powdered sugar.

Being a savory girl, there are breakfast options in addition to those with or without meat. The Haole Boy includes melted colby jack cheese, black forest ham and chunks of fresh Maui Gold sweet pineapple.


Lanikai Juice, 600 Kailua Road in Kailua  

As its name suggests, Lanikai Juice’s specialty is fresh-squeezed and cold-pressed juices as well as fresh smoothies, and fruit bowls. There are 10 varieties of Acai bowls. Among the more unexpected offerings are the Monkey Bowl with banana, peanut butter, organic almond milk, vegan or whey protein (chocolate or vanilla) and topped with granola, banana, and chocolate chips.

I love the green juice, but will run in for an acai juice when I feel a cold coming on.


Egghead Espresso Bar, 25 Maluniu Avenue in Kailua

Another recently opened restaurant, the Egghead Espresso Bar, has every variety of hot, iced and blended coffee drink as well as a few innovative breakfast entrees and four varieties of Mochi waffles. Did someone say mochi??? For an Asian-inspired choice, try the Green Tea Mochi Waffle with ice cream and azuki beans and served with condensed milk.

You’ll find them on the parking lot side of Kailua Square.


Haleiwa Joe’s Haiku Gardens, 46-336 Haiku Road in Kaneohe   

In need of Sunday brunch with a killer view? The view of the tropical gardens and Koolau Mountains is the real standout at Haleiwa Joe’s Haiku Gardens in Kaneohe. This local institution serves an extravagant brunch on Sundays from 9 to 2. Offerings include Eggs Benedict, Kalua pork, prime rib, coconut shrimp, Belgian waffles, and an assortment of deserts. Try one of the restaurant’s specialty cocktails such as sparkling mango sangria or a lychee martini.

Haleiwa Joes

Other breakfast choices on the Windward side:

Times Coffee Shop has two locations: 47-388 Hui Iwa Street, Kaneohe and 153 Hamakua Drive, Suite A, Kailua

Kaneohe Pancake House, 46-126 Kahuhipa Street, Kaneohe

Morning Brew, 600 Kailua Road, Kailua

Chad Lou’s Coffeehouse, 45 Kihapai Street, Kailua

Big City Diner, 108 Hekili #101, Kailua

Nalu Health Bar and Café, 131 Hekili #109 in Kailua

And, of course, there’s always Zippy’s!!

Feb. 27, 2019

Bright ideas: What’s New and Now in Interior Lighting


Changing lighting fixtures has the power to transform a room. If you’re thinking of making a change but still feel like you’re in the dark, read up on the latest interior lighting trends and some advice from Tom Ogawa, owner of Lighting Concepts and Design in Honolulu.

  • Natural textures and materials are still very much on-trend for 2019. Try to think beyond the more common natural fibers such as wicker, rattan and woven grass to less commonly seen materials such as wood, cork and clay.
  • Marble bases in darker colors rather than the usual grey and white are very of the moment. For example, consider a black or dark green marble or marble-like finish.
  • Industrial minimalism in lighting will continue its popularity surge into 2019 but with a more refined look. Instead to the warehouse lighting styles that have been popular in recent years, expect to see more refined looks with coated metals and brass. The resurgence of Edison bulbs will continue.
  • For ceiling fixtures, rather than dropping down into a space, a more modern option is for the lighting to stay closer to the ceiling and spread across the width of a space.
  • Instead of track lighting or a series of small pendant lights over an island, consider a centerpiece-like large pendant light.

Ogawa said he is seeing many of the looks mentioned above, but a diverse clientele means he tends to outfit homes in a broad array of styles. Many of Ogawa’s clients prefer practical, timeless designs, and/or choose designs that fit their lifestyles and personal aesthetic rather than those dictated by trends, he said.

For example, residents of newer, modern condominiums will choose contemporary designs and clean lines.  On the other end of the spectrum, clients who have relocated from the mainland or who live on the mainland and have a second home here on Oahu favor more organic, warmer designs that have an island feel.

“Hawaii is such a unique market due to our melting pot of cultures, it’s difficult to pinpoint any one design trend,” he said. “We are blessed with so many different clients from all parts of the world.”

As LED performance improves as they become more affordable, most of Ogawa’s clients request those rather than incandescent lights, he said.

 “Fixtures are either offered with a built-in LED, or it has regular sockets which can be changed from an incandescent lamp to an LED.”

Some clients, however, are wary of fixtures with built-in LED because they don’t like the fact that they won’t be able to change the bulb. But LEDs are designed to last over 20 years, so by the time it stops working it will be well overdue to replace it anyway, Ogawa noted.

The one instance where Ogawa would recommend incandescent over LED is when you want the option to dim a light source to a very low light.

“With an incandescent, you can dim it down to the point where it's barely on and LED still has a way to go in that category,” he said.

For those who would like to make a dramatic change on a limited budget, Ogawa recommends switching from incandescent to LED. He cautions, however, that all LEDs are not the same and you will want to note the lumen output (brightness) and the kelvin temperature (higher kelvin temps = cooler colored lights and lower kelvin temps = warmer colored lights).

“Both will play a big part in the ambiance of the room,” Ogawa noted. “There is no rule of thumb that can be applied here, because everyone is different. A quick online search of cool white vs. warm white would be a good start to see what you prefer.”

Some Local Interior Lighting Sources:

  • Lighting Concepts and Design
  • City Mill
  • Lowe's Home Improvement
  • Home Depot

* Photo Courtesy of Lighting Concepts and Design