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Three Perfect Days in Kailua

Kailua’s unique local businesses, scenic beauty, soft-sand beaches and friendly faces make it a place where residents and visitors alike can experience some of the most perfect days on Oahu.


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Whole Foods Market, opening April 18.

photo: courtesy whole foods

If you’re craving something a little more exotic, forego the local-style fare and try a savory Latin American dish from new Kailua Road bistro, Cactus. Hale Aina Award-winning head chef and owner John Memering says his new bistro is filling a flavorful spot that’s been missing from the Oahu restaurant scene. Using bright, tropical flavors of lime, mango, coconut and chili, Cactus takes advantage of all indigenous ingredients that Hawaii has to offer. Memering says he is focused on using local meat and produce from the Islands, such as Shinsato Farms pork, and Kuahiwi beef, veal and wild boar from the Big Island. “It’s food from another region, but 70 to 80 percent of what we’re using is grown here,” says Memering. Cactus also features a well-stocked bar of premium tequilas and Peruvian rum. “People can come in from the beach during our lunch hours and have a couple of tacos and a cold beer. Then for dinner the lighting takes on a whole dramatic look, but it’s still casual. We want folks to go out and have a good meal without all the formality,” he says.

Another Kailua-town newcomer is Whole Foods Market. Opening this month on Wednesday the 18th, the new store will be the second Whole Foods location on Oahu, and third in the state. Providing the Windward side with a wide selection of locally grown produce, organic foods and products, and an always fresh, self-serve poke bar, this store is specially tailored for the Kailuan. “Whole Foods’ mission and lifestyle really suits the Kailua community well,” says Dabney Gough, Marketing Supervisor for the Whole Foods Market Kailua. “We are always seeking out new local vendors to feature on our shelves. And we are excited to work with and support our new community.” The store has already dedicated its first Community Support Day, a national Whole Foods’ program, to local non-profit Paepae o Heeia to help restore the crumbling wall of the ancient Heeia fishpond.  This April 25th,  five percent of that day’s net sales will be donated to Paepae o Heeia.

Although Kailua residents will enjoy Whole Foods everyday, its assortment of exclusive items—both from the Islands and afar—make it the go-to place to pick up something special.  Enthusiastic cooks seeking out those hard to find ingredients, and foodies searching for a unique ale to pair with their meal will find what they’re looking for at Whole Foods Market Kailua.

Whether you’re headed out for a night with friends, or spending an enjoyable evening at home, Tamura’s Fine Wines and Liquors is a convenient place stop to pick up a bottle of wine and pupus. For the past 11 years, Tamura’s has provided Oahu customers with a vast selection of beers, wines and liquors from around the world.  The store also carries delicious gourmet foods, such as their made-fresh-daily poke and smoked Ahi spread.

Kailua Verde owner Lillian McDonnell

photo: david croxford

And what special occasion would be complete without a few “new” things? A refreshing addition to Kailua’s new shops and boutiques is a store filled with not-so-new things. Kailua Verde, Kailua’s only high-end consignment shop, is filled with stylish clothes, gently used designer finds, and so many more reusable treasures. Owner Lilian McDonnell’s always found new life in old things, and she endears shoppers with her sustainable passion for fashion on a daily basis. “Why demand more items when we have so much already?” asks McDonnell. “We live on an island; we can’t keep bringing more stuff here. It’s actually a lot more fun to use what you have and make something new out of something old.”

Kailua Verde boasts beautiful items that are still good, and would be very difficult to find anywhere else. Niihau shells, vintage Jade bracelets, antique Rolexes, Hermes handbags, Chanel earrings, and the store even has designer wedding dresses and diamond engagement rings. McDonnell has helped many young women find their prom dress, or a designer outfit for a special occasion. “It’s such fun, it’s like treasure hunting,” McDonnell says.


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Honolulu Magazine July 2020
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