Kaneohe is no small town, but it is home to some classic mom-and-pop places. Here are five spots not to be missed.
By Jenny de Jesús
1. Kaneohe Bakery
Take one step through the bakery's doors, and you'll know it makes everything on site. If the delightful aroma leaves you with any doubt, peer over the glass cases full of freshly glazed doughnuts, cream puffs, sprinkled sugar cookies, thick slices of cinnamon toast and its famous custard pie (oh, my!) to see what the bakers, like Clem Virtudes, are whipping up next. You'll feel like a kid in a candy store—only better. 45-1026 Kamehameha Hwy., 247-0474.
Photography by David Croxford
2. El MariachiKaneohe offers slim pickings in the Mexican food department, but all a town really needs is one good place to satisfy those south-of-the-border cravings. Here, that is El Mariachi. This strip mall hole-in-the-wall serves up the real deal: tacos, burritos, enchiladas and more with your choice of carne asada, barbacoa (spicy shredded pork), adobada (vinegar-marinated pork), shredded beef or chicken, homemade salsas, fresh seafood dishes, Mexican sodas and its own extra-hot hot sauce. The staff, including Iliana Arreola (left), speaks Spanish, too. 45-1151 Kamehameha Hwy., 234-5893
3. Cheung Fhot Grocery
Kaneohe has its very own Chinatown in the form of this old-fashioned Asian foods market. Hand-labeled bins of hard-to-find specialty items, spices, herbs and seeds from all over Asia makes for the most multicultural of meals. The healthy offering of local produce is too fresh to resist. 45-512 Kea'ahala Rd. #101, 247-9376.
4. Nanko Fishing Supply
Nanko's, as it's commonly called, is Kaneohe's go-to source for everything fishing and diving related. The store carries local brands such as Sea Sports, Izuo Brothers and Ibi Suzuki, as well as international brands such as Penn and Shimano. Even if you're just along for the boat ride, it sells enough beer and salty snacks to keep your taste buds occupied on daylong trips. 46-003 Alaloa St., 247-0938.
5. Keolalaulani Halau 'Olapa O Laka
While there are many halau in Kaneohe, few carry the lineage of Keolalaulani Halau. Kumu Hula Aloha Dalire was honored as the first Miss Aloha Hula, the top female soloist in the Merrie Monarch competition, almost 40 years ago.
"My three daughters have each held the title since then, two of them consecutively," Dalire says. Her daughter Keolalaulani is the eighth generation of kumu hula in the family and shares leadership of the halau, which has outposts in both California and Japan. The school offers hula and Polynesian dance classes of all levels to ages 3 and up. 46-003D Alaloa St., 864-5549.
Did you know?
The Abner Paki Hale Courthouse, at the intersection of Pookela Street and Keaahala Road, is one of three state buildings to earn the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star rating in 2007. According to the state, the total energy cost savings from Energy Star buildings is $22 million per year, ranking Hawaii fifth in the nation in total energy cost savings.