Along Beretania

A fascinating road lives in the shadow of King Street.

Many famous streets in this town have their shadows—parallel roads, less celebrated, if not less traveled. Moanalua Road courses along roughly parallel to Kamehameha Highway, just as Dillingham Boulevard shadows Nimitz Highway, Kapiolani Boulevard mirrors Ala Moana Boulevard and Kuhio Avenue lives literally in the shadows of the high-rises lining Kalakaua Avenue.

And then there’s King Street and its shadow, Beretania Street. For thousands of people, these two arteries are the way to work, and the way back home. Unfortunately for Beretania, it’s the road that takes people to their jobs, a one-way street to the cube farm. Those of us who make this drive do so half-asleep, one eye on the traffic, the other on our coffee. No time to stop and do some shopping, or pull over for a bite to eat.

That’s a shame, because Beretania Street has much to offer. In the course of researching this month’s feature on the street, our writers, designers and photographers walked every inch of Beretania’s 3.3 miles to uncover its charms. These include that weirdly cantilevered Occidental Life Insurance building (you’ll know it the moment you see the photo). A Mormon tabernacle and a Mexican food market. The city’s biggest police station and one of its oldest cathedrals. Beloved businesses, such as Hawaiian Rent-All, famous for the funny sayings on its storefront sign, and Champion Bakery, famous for ridiculously delicious malassadas.

There’s a lot of great stuff here, if you just stop and wander around, take a closer look. For instance, while driving by in a hurry, you might assume—as I did for years—that the Dew Drop Inn was a bar. It’s not. It’s a family restaurant, serving up terrific Chinese food, and has been since 1988. Writing the entire feature was like this for our team, uncovering one treasure after another. To see what else we found, go here.

We also head to Kahala this month, to check in with Dorie-Ann Kahale. You may remember that this past spring Kahale and her daughters were one of three needy families to move into mansions provided rent-free by quixotic Japanese billionaire Genshiro Kawamoto. If you’ve lived here long enough, you’ll also remember that Kawamoto first made a name for himself in the Islands by snapping up prime Honolulu properties in the 1980s, embodying the Japanese real estate investment bubble. Senior editor Ronna Bolante spent time with the Kahales, to see how life has changed for them on Kahala Avenue, a world away from their former tent on the beach in Nanakuli (story here).

Freelance writer Dennis Hollier takes us to Kaneohe, to explore the lives of people who make their living on the bay. This includes the predominantly Okinawan crew of the Nisei, one of the Islands’ last aku fishing boats. Visiting them is like traveling to another world and time. How much so? When we sent photographer Karin Kovalsky to shoot the crew, they refused to let her on the boat. Bad luck, they said, to permit a woman aboard. In 2007.

Beretania, Kahala, Kaneohe. These are stories about places we think we know well, but, taking a closer look, find they have more going on than we ever imagined.


Send letters to the editor at