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HONOLULU Magazine’s Fall 2019 Bucket List: The 66 Best Things to Do on O‘ahu

We rounded up your must-do list for the season so you can plan the best fall ever.


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Monday, Sept. 23 is the first day of fall. Not only does that mean the historically hottest month of the year in Hawai‘i is behind us (tradewinds please!), pumpkin spice is everywhere, the craft fair scene is about to get crazy and we’re revving up for a nice round of holidays. Here is our bucket list for the best autumn ever in the islands. 

 


1–5. Cheer at a homecoming game

St. Louis versus Kahuku in the 2016 championship game.

Photo: Gregory Yamamoto

 

The Warriors scored over Central Arkansas Saturday at UH’s homecoming at Aloha Stadium. But it’s also a good time to sit in the bleachers of your high school alma mater. Nānākuli, Waialua, Pearl City, Moanalua and Mililani high schools’ homecoming games are coming up. Wear your school colors and make sure to stop by the concession stand for those old-school Okahara saimin cups and neon yellow nachos as you recall your freshman fashion mistakes (Aqua Net bangs anyone?). For bonus points, watch marching bands and homecoming kings and queens roll past in the back of pickup trucks in the neighborhood parades. Here’s a short list from the city’s street usage filings.

  • Nānākuli: Sept. 25, 4 to 5 p.m. on Nānākuli Avenue.
     

  • Waialua: Sept. 26, 4 to 5:30 p.m. through Hale‘iwa
     

  • Pearl City: Sept. 27, 2:30 to 3:45 p.m. from the high school down to Waimano Home Road
     

  • Moanalua: Sept. 27, 3 to 4 p.m. down Ala Ilima to Ala Napuani streets
     

  • Mililani: Oct. 4, 1 to 2:15 p.m. down Meheula Parkway past Kīpapa Drive to the school stadium

 

6. Watch Pā‘u Riders

Floral Parade Pau Rider

PHOTO: Courtesy of Aloha festivals

 

If you feel like watching a bigger procession, the Aloha Festivals Floral Parade is Saturday, Sept. 28. It starts at 9 a.m. with the route starting at Ala Moana Park and ending at the Waikīkī Shell.  Click here to find out what it is like to be a pā‘u rider in the 73rd annual tradition.  

 

7—22. Watch a curtain rise at a local theater

August and September are the start of the local theater season. And there are more than 15 reasons to go see a show. Diamond Head Theatre opens with Oscar-winning musical Kinky Boots about a family-run shoe factory that finds financial salvation with stilettos and drag queens;  Kumu Kahua Theatre’s plays cover everything from the conversion of Queen Ka‘ahumanu to Christianity to the challenges of queer relationships in Samoan families; Mānoa Valley Theatre just opened its season with a story of a man, his wife and a dog in Sylvia; not to mention premiere productions at Kennedy Theatre, Palikū Theatre, The Actors Group and Honolulu Theatre for Youth.

 

23. Hit up a street festival

Festa Italiana wine pouring

Photo: COurtesy of Festa Italiana Hawai‘i

 

The Aloha Festivals Ho‘olaule‘a is one of the biggest street fests in Waikīkī this season. Four stages of entertainment along with dozens of booths with food, cultural arts and crafts and other vendors will line Kalākaua Avenue. Sept. 21, 6 to 9:30 p.m. alohafestivals.com

 

If pasta and pizza are more your thing, Festa Italiana will shut down Cooke Street in Kaka‘ako on Sept. 28. If you’re expecting a little vino with your specialità, you will have to buy a VIP ticket. See our Ultimate Guide to Festa Italiana

 

24. Harvest a Star

Mark Noguchi's Star fruit apple banana bread

Chef mark noguchi’s star fruit apple banana bread
Photo: Karen DB Photography

 

Take a moment to mourn the end of endless amounts of lychee and mango. OK? Over it? Those aren’t the only local fruits to celebrate. September marks the start of local starfruit and avocado season. Tangerines, guava, kumquat and, we have to say it, durian, follow in October. All stay in bloom throughout December. Give some love to one of the lesser heralded fruits, starfruit, with chef Mark Noguchi’s recipes for starfruit lemonade, starfruit salsa and starfruit apple banana bread. And see exactly what’s in season when in our Ultimate Guide to Local Fruit.

 

25—30. Run, walk, bike, or do all three

Honolulu Century Ride

PHOTO: COURTESY OF Hawai‘i bicycling league

 

Cooler (we hope) weather makes distance races a little less painful. The Honolulu Century Bike Ride on Sept. 29 takes athletes on a 100-mile route from Kalākaua Avenue around the windward side and back to Kapi‘olani Park. If just the idea of the distance makes you lie on the couch, there are also 75-, 50-, 25-, 18-, 9- and 5-mile paths. hbl.org/honolulucenturyride 

 

If that ride feels too tame, the Hawai‘i Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation Triathlon sends people into the waters of Ala Moana Beach Park for a 1,500-meter swim, followed by a 27-mile bike ride over the H3 before a 10K run on Kāne‘ohe Marine Corps Base Hawai‘i. The triathlon is Nov. 2. Remember to have someone pick you up at the finish. You and your bike won’t end up at the starting line. racetothebaseh3t.com 

 

For those who prefer to stay on two feet, we counted eight run/walks on Honolulu streets. Distances vary from HMSA’s 30K (Oct. 20) to 5K walks for various groups including Kailua High School (Nov. 3) and Homeward Bound (Nov. 28). The Susan G. Komen Hawai‘i Race for the Cure always brings in big groups. This year, it is Oct. 13 through Waikīkī. See all the races registered with the city by month at honolulu.gov

 

31—35. Yell prost and drink beer (or cider)

Paradise Ciders Tasting Flight

Paradise ciders will be just one local company pouring at 12th ave grill’s oktoberfest dinner. 
PHOTO: courtesy of paradise ciders

 

Oktoberfest isn’t really in October. The beer gardens opened in Munich on Saturday, Sept. 21 and close on Oct. 6 and most schnitzel-loaded events on O‘ahu are the last week in September. Here’s our list of special Oktoberfest menus here.

 

 

36. Stock up on canned goods

Hurricane season is a good excuse to indulge your inner child. Yes, there’s Spam, but feel free to stock up on SpaghettiOs, alphabet soup, mandarin oranges and other small-kid-time favorites that you usually feel too guilty to grab. Hey, it’s emergency preparation. Just don’t try to return any bottled water. Shame.

 

37. Build elaborate canned goods structures, or just go see one

Canstruction Stitch Sculptures

PHOTO: COURTESY OF HAWAI‘I FOODBANK/AIA HONOLULU

 

Architects just do it better. Canstruction is at Kāhala Mall this October

 

38—41. Pick a pumpkin. 

Aloun Farms Pumpkin Farms

Photo: Courtesy of Aloun Farms

 

Whether you’re planning an elaborate jack-o’-lantern or are waiting to carve out your pumpkin kegthree places will offer fields full of local (and precut) pumpkins to select. While you’re there, feel no shame for hopping on a hayride with little kids, picking corn or taking multiple selfies with bales of hay and other farm props. Aloun Farms 19th Annual Pumpkin Festival in Kapolei is Oct. 12 through Oct. 27. alounfarms.com. Fall Harvest Festival at Waimānalo Farms starts Oct. 5 and includes a sunflower field. waimanalocountryfarms.com. Holy Nativity School’s pumpkin patch opens for its Great Pumpkin Festival on Oct. 19, holynativityschool.org.

 

42. Go Night Reef Walking 

Night Reef Walk Honolulu family

photo: Jennifer Carlile Dalgamouni for honolulu family

 

The summer south swell is fading, making for safer conditions for a reef walk close to town. The Waikīkī Aquarium is offering three expeditions in 2019 starting on Oct. 25. Bring a flashlight (waterproof, it goes without saying), tabis or other water shoes with grip to walk on the wet and uneven terrain, and search for eels, crabs, parrotfish, octopuses and other sea creatures that like to come out after dark. Oct. 25, 7 to 9 p.m.; Nov. 23, Dec. 9 and Jan. 8, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. $20 for adults, $15 for kids. waikikiaquarium.org

 

43 & 44. Try to Find a Meteor 

Two meteor showers occur in the fall. The Bishop Museum says the moon will likely interfere with both the Orionid and the Leonid showers, but you can still look for those streaks in the sky. The peak for the Orionids, which is one of two showers created by debris from Halley’s comet, is Oct. 21 and 22 (with a waning crescent moon) while the Leonids are best in Hawai‘i Nov. 17 and 18. Full moons are Oct. 13 and Nov. 12. 

 

45—49. Cheer for the Bows, Sharks, Silverswords or Seasiders

2019 UH Womens Volleyball Game

PHOTO: Josh Martin courtesy of hawaiiathletics.com

 

There’s a reason to wear your green and white almost every weekend in the fall. Sure, coach Rolovich and the Warriors get most of the press but UH volleyball, soccer, basketball, even cross country, golf, tennis, swimming and diving are going right now. The Wahine Volleyball team started the season ranked 20th in the nation and under coach, and former Rainbow Wahine, Robyn Ah Mow the team has climbed to No. 13 after upsets against San Diego and Washington. Fans can join fundraisers for both basketball teams—the men celebrate the team’s 100th season with the Tipoff event on Oct. 24 while the women’s Hoopla Fundraiser is Nov. 1. hawaiiathletics.edu. If you’re a shark fan, Hawai‘i Pacific University’s basketball season begins in November, hpusharks.com. Silversword fans can find all the Chaminade University action at goswords.com while BYU-Hawai‘i Seasiders athletic calendar is at byuhawaiisports.com.

 

50 & 51. Celebrate Makahiki

The rising of the constellation Makali‘i (Pleiades) marks the start of makahiki, the Hawaiian New Year. During the celebration of the harvest and Lono, the god of agriculture, war is banned (just so you know) and families rested and played traditional games. Festivals on the south and north shores will both feature games such as ‘ulu maika (stone bowling), moa pahe‘e (dart sliding) and, for the less physical competitors, kōnane (checkers).

  • Waikīkī Aquarium’s Makahiki: Nov. 2, 9 a.m. to noon. A procession begins at 9 a.m. followed by games. $8 for kama‘āina and military, $5 for kids 4 to 12 years. waikikiaquarium.org
     

  • Waimea Valley’s Makahiki Festival and Heiwa Tu‘aro Competition: Nov. 9, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The coconut tree race begins at 10 a.m. followed by foot races, a rock-lifting competition, arm wrestling and hula. $5 for kama‘āina and military. waimeavalley.net

 

52. Get a Free Tree

Yes, our Arbor Day is in November. You can pick up free trees, shrubs and plants at five locations around O‘ahu on Nov. 2.

  • Foster Botanical Garden, 180 N. Vineyard Blvd.
     

  • Waimea Valley, 59-864 Kamehameha Highway, Hale‘iwa
     

  • O‘ahu Urban Garden Center, 955 Kamehameha Highway, Pearl City
     

  • Wahiawā Botanical Garden, 1396 California Ave.
     

  • Kailua United Methodist Church, 1110 Kailua Road

 

53—66. Yell Hana Hou!

 

 

 

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