Too often, the trip from Honolulu to Kahuku is a well-beaten path from downtown to the comforts of a single resort.
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Too often, the trip from Honolulu to Kahuku is a well-beaten path from downtown to the comforts of a single resort. But if you’re willing to venture off that route, you’ll find a diverse community where the country is kept country, no bumper stickers necessary. Along with its close neighbor Laie, this is a place where artists and farmers, the religious and secular blend into one very tight community. Lucky for us, it’s easy to step inside and get a taste of the true Kahuku.
They’re called Eco Cabins and, despite looking like brand-new duplexes, they’re made from recycled shipping containers. You can rent one at Friends of Malaekahana, which is just a little west of the state park that shares the same name. All of the rentals are right on the beach, on 40 acres of land that’s gated for campers. The adventurous can get a grass shack—basically four walls and a ceiling—or, for a group, rent Tutu’s Hale, which includes several places to sleep, cook and gather. It’s still camping, and some of the places are dusty and rough around the edges. But if it were perfect, it wouldn’t be camping, now would it? malaekahana.net
Nozawa Farms is the place for Kahuku’s famous sweet corn. “We call it candy corn,” says owner Clarita Nozawa, who’s been farming her entire life. “People eat it right off the cob. We think that’s the best way to eat it.” Corn sold at the stand is always harvested the same day, which means the stand isn’t always open, so if you see it, stop and grab a bag for $5. For a more expensive twist, make reservations at Alan Wong’s—the restaurant is one of Nozawa’s buyers. Across from the shrimp farms, on Kamehameha Highway.
It’s not always open, but Nui Watene’s not-so-mobile truck full of his handmade bone carvings is worth a stop. Parked in the same lot as Giovanni’s, Watene uses the space as a workshop, too, fashioning bone, wood and tusk into elaborate shapes like the spiral koru—a symbol of new beginnings—and ake tonu atu, a twist that symbolizes infinity. “My inspiration comes from my Maori culture. I pass that on through my pieces. For example, if I’m carving a piece and I blow onto it, I pass my mana into that piece when that goes to you.” A self-taught carver, his first piece was inspired by a family heirloom. He reproduced it, humbly, out of pipe. “I didn’t even know how to get bone at that point,” he says. Now he’s making pendants, taking custom orders, creating two-dimensional Polynesian paintings and musical instruments. If you can’t make it to Kahuku for a peek, his next series will soon be available at Na Mea native books. 688-6618, facebook.com/nuicarvings.