Best of Honolulu 2015: Fun and Fitness

The 31 editorial and reader picks for the hottest entertainment and best fitness favorites from our Best of Honolulu 2015 issue.

Editor's Pick 

Best LGBT Nights Out, Women

Photo: Courtesy of Christa Wittmier


Because we all need a place to call our own, The Safehouse at The Republik hands over every first Thursday of the month to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang—a program for women by women, with DJs that include DJ SuperCW and DJ Ace. 

1349 Kapi‘olani Blvd., 10 p.m.–2 a.m., 941-7469, 


Best LGBT Nights Out, Men

It’s easy to start an evening at Hula’s Bar and Lei Stand, then move over to Wang Chung’s for the no-holds-barred karaoke. But Fusion Waikīkī is where you want to be when the other clubs close. Party people roll in from 1 a.m. until the 4 a.m. closing, already warmed up and ready to dance. 

2260 Kūhiō St., 924-2422,


Best Spot for Downtown Meetings

Photo: David Croxford 


Finding a quiet spot to meet in Downtown Honolulu can sometimes feel like an impossible mission, so imagine our joy when we discovered the tiny refuge that is Brue Bar. It’s a coffee shop owned by the people behind Honblue, a print and design shop, and it’s obvious the place was designed with working and meeting in mind. Thoughtful touches abound, like the side of sparkling water that comes with your espresso, the beautiful little spoons with which to stir your latte and the wide selection of loose teas for those not looking to get jacked on java. It’s such a hospitable nook, we find ourselves drawing out our meetings, even the business ones, to make the experience last longer. There are other Brue Bar locations, including a new one opening up on Bishop Street, but the original is still our favorite.

119 Merchant St., 441-4470, 



Best Live Music by Night

With live music like this happening all over town, why are you limiting your nights out to the weekends? Get a life! No more excuses!


Jazz Mondays at The Veranda Lounge at The Kāhala Hotel & Resort rotates groups such as the Honolulu Jazz Quartet (first Mondays); elegant, affordable (no cover, good pūpū), al fresco.

7:30 to 10 p.m. 5000 Kāhala Ave., 739-8888, 



Hot Latin Tuesday at Rumours Nightclub, making feet happy for over a decade, taps Eddie Ortiz & Son Caribe plus DJ Da Lion of Judah. 

8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Ala Moana Hotel, 410 Atkinson Drive, 955-4811, 



Photos: Courtesy of Outrigger hotels and resorts


Cyril Pahinui at Kani Ka Pila Grille is a no-cover, local-friendly Hawaiian music institution at the Outrigger Reef Waikīkī Beach.

5:30 p.m. on. 2169 Kālia Road, 923-3111, 



Jazz/Fusion/Soul at Jazz Minds Honolulu, rotating lineup for those who like it edgy.

1661 Kapi‘olani Blvd., 945-0800



Jazz & Blues at Medici’s at the Mānoa School of Art has top performers, plus a salad bar and pizza by the slice, free parking, $10 cover.

Mānoa Marketplace, 2754 Woodlawn Drive, 351-0901,



O‘ahu Song Writers Group at Hank’s Café, hosted by Barefoot Bob or Ev Fox, is the closest thing to Nashville’s famous Bluebird Café. Come hear songwriters from Nashville, Australia, Texas and home.

1038 Nu‘uanu Ave., 526-1410,





Henry Kapono at Duke’s Waikīkī.

4 to 6 p.m. Outrigger Waikīkī, 2335 Kalākaua Ave., 922-2268, 


Best Classes to Make Your Own…


Photo: Thinkstock 

Madre Chocolate’s classes are not just pour-and-go. Every week, you can learn about the history of chocolate, taste it in three different forms (the cacao fruit, roasted bean and final, silky product) and customize your own chocolate bar with a range of ingredients. Chocolate masters go more in-depth with bean-to-bar classes, chocolate farm tours, whiskey and chocolate pairings and other special events that cover everything you could want to know about local chocolate.

20A Kainehe St., Kailua, 377-6440,



There’s no experience required to take Hana Lima ‘Ia’s 10-week ‘ukulele-building course, where you’ll make a four-string tenor ‘ukulele from scratch. Every step is done by hand with the assistance of instructor Michael Chock and his son Asa, who runs the business side. Since classes are limited to six people, you can expect to get a lot of one-on-one attention.

718 Pu‘uhale Road, 847-1541,



If you’re looking for a quick project, The Bead Gallery offers dozens of rotating classes, as well as custom sessions, that range from wire basics to shell earrings to wrap bracelets. Classes may be a few hours or span multiple days, depending on what you’re making. Some even come with downloadable tutorials so you can craft on your own time.

1287 Kalani St., Suite 103, 589-2600,



You might not expect a former sous chef and legal secretary to be soap-making pros, but husband-and-wife team Steve Cromwell and JoAnn Takushi of Soap Box Hawai‘i have been making soap for the past two decades. Learn about saponification while making your own block, or take an advanced class to make colorful, swirled or goat’s milk soap. While they no longer sell soap, the couple continues to teach workshops at Club 100, which is open to the public for these events.

100th Infantry Battalion Veterans Education Center, 520 Kamoku St., 284-6170,



While you don’t stomp the grapes yourself, at Oeno Winemaking, you choose what wine you’d like based on a tasting, and then it’s fermented onsite. When it’s ready a month or two later, you come back to bottle, cork and label the all-natural wine with a custom design.

26 Ho‘olai St., Suite 900, Kailua, 263-6366,





Best Cycle Repair/Education

Cycle Mānoa, a registered independent organization through University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa that focuses on empowering cyclists with mechanical knowledge, offers a sustainable way to upcycle garage clutter while building the skills and mobility independence of the community. The plan is elegantly simple: Using bicycles donated by the community, volunteers donate their time toward building working bikes from the cannibalized parts, while learning about the inner workings of bikes and how to fix their own machines’ problems. Cycle Mānoa then sells the refurbished bikes back to the UH community to encourage bike usage, with money from the sale going into buying more necessary tools and parts. At Open Shop times, volunteers have access to tools, spare parts and advice to repair their own bicycles, plus first pick of the franken-builds they put together.

UH Press Building H, 2840 Kolowalu St. 


Best News for Cyclists

Photo: Courtesy of Hawai’i Bicycling League


Honolulu is warm and breezy and mostly flat—it should, in theory, be a bicycling mecca. But, for years, to venture out onto the city streets on two wheels has felt like taking one’s life into one’s hands. Hawai‘i drivers are short on aloha when it comes to sharing the road, and concessions to cyclists—sharrows and the occasional stretch of bike lane—are  few and far between. The new South King Street cycle track changes all that. It’s amazing how well designed it is—well-marked, strongly separated from car traffic, wide enough to accommodate two-way traffic, and long enough to become a de facto bike thoroughfare through town. With its arrival, biking instantly became safer, easier and more pleasant. Bravo, City and County of Honolulu, you done good on this one, and we’re looking forward to more bike-friendly improvements in the future. 


Best Retail/ Therapy

Photo: Terri Inefuku


Zen meets trends at Noelani Studios, where retail therapy takes on a whole new meaning. The intimate North Shore space is home to both a cozy yoga studio and mini boutique, where peace-seekers can find enlightenment for their minds and bodies, as well as their style instinct. Owner and yogi extraordinaire Noelani Love merges her passion for wellness and her eye for design with a studio program that features a full array of regular yoga classes and workshops for topics such as stress relief, meditation and motherhood. A step outside this om-zone finds you in the middle of a well-stocked shop of goodies that range from the sustainable to the locally made, including all-natural sunblock, printed activewear and Noelani’s own line of graceful, boho jewelry.

66-437 Kamehameha Highway, Hale‘iwa, 389-3709, 


Best Budget North Shore Staycation

Photo: Courtesy of Camp Mokulē‘ia


Want to get away to the country and not empty your purse? Call Camp Mokulē‘ia and see if the newly refurnished Episcopal retreat has a room. Ignore any flashbacks to a sixth-grade sleepaway: For just $85 a night, the beach and setting more than make up for the occasional swarm of schoolchildren and their whistle-toting camp counselors. Check out the sustainable farm, too.

68-729 Farrington Highway, Waialua, 637-6241, 


Best Spot to Drink Kava

On Friday and Saturday nights, Smokey’s Pipe and Coffee turns into an all-you-can-drink kava lounge for just $12. And while it is a head shop, Smokey’s is just around the corner from Bubbies in Puck’s Alley. University students come by to study or grab some local coffee and a waffle topped with gelato, banishing any stigma that this is a place for stoners only. Kava nights run from 7 to midnight, so, if you’re in the mood to relax with some friends, skip the alcohol, grab a comfy chair and chill.

1010 University Ave., Suite 101, 955-2837, 


Best Seat in The House

Picking up tickets for the big game or new play? Not all seats are created equal, so choose the ones coveted by sports buffs and art aficionados in the know. Here’s the low-down:


Aloha Stadium

The makai side, blue section L and K, row 40. These are on the 50-yard line, in the shade, with easy access to the parking lot. And it’s where the half-time show faces.

For game tickets, call 486-9300.


Les Murakami Stadium

Section A (blue), Rows 6, 7 and 8. These seats are right behind the home plate, have a good view of the pitcher and the field and are covered, so you’re protected from the sun and Mānoa rains. (Worst seat: the governor’s box. It’s below ground level, so you get a great view of the players’ feet, but not much else.)



Rainbow Wāhine Softball Stadium

The best seats in the house can be found in Section AA, Rows 1 through 4. Not only are they right behind home plate, but they have seat backs, unlike most of the stadium seats, which are bench seating. The section is also protected by a roof, a big plus in rainy Mānoa. Admission is free, and all seats are general admission, so go early for a premium spot.



Stan Sheriff Center

To watch players dribble from half court, try Lower Level Section B or GG. For volleyball action, the service line is near Section F, DD and BB. Autograph hunters, try the aisle seats nearest the railing in BB, Row 8 Seat A, and DD, Row 8 Seats 1, 2 and 3. Be warned: These seats are mainly in season ticket packages.



Neal S. Blaisdell Center Concert Hall

Front rows are for those who want to be seen and don’t necessarily want to see. A little farther back try Orchestra Rows H, J, K and L. Up in the balcony, Rows H, J and K give you a dead-on view of the stage. These prime seats are highly sought after, and all afford clear, full-stage views. Remember seats are numbered from seat 1 in the center. The odd-number seats stretch to stage right, even-numbers to stage left. Lower numbers are better. Two adjacent seats will be either odd (7, 9) or even (8, 10).



Neal S. Blaisdell Center Arena

For most events, Rows AA, BB and CC are up close and center, but the seats aren’t tiered, so sit behind short people. A better strategy may be to go back a few rows. Rows 7, 8, 9 and 10 have unobstructed views.



Palikū Theatre at Windward Community College

Stadium seating ensures that everyone gets a good view of the stage, but the sweet spots are the center seats in Rows A, B and C. Each row is numbered 101 to 115 (the next row is 201 to 215, then 301 to 315, etc.), so seats 7 through 10 put you right in the middle.



Reader’s Pick 

Best Sports Bar

Photo: Rae Huo 

HONOLULU Magazine readers chose Home Bar and Grill as the city’s best sports bar, and it’s easy to see why: the tater-tot nachos—piled high with bacon, cheese, sour cream, green onions and salsa. Wait, no, it’s gotta be the kalbi fried noodles, which come with some of the best short ribs you’ve ever tasted. Or maybe it’s the garlic fried chicken, which is simultaneously crispy and tender and full of flavor. Or the rib-eye steak, which comes out still sizzling, topped with grilled onions and mushrooms. Whatever you end up choosing from the superstar menu, and whatever game you happen to be watching on Home Bar’s numerous large-screen TVs, it’s bound to be a happy experience.

1683 Kalākaua Ave., 942-2237 


Best Surf Shop

Despite its growth and success, Town & Country still feels as local as the day it was founded in 1971 by Craig Sugihara in Pearl City. Surfers know they can find a nicely tweaked lineup of short- and longboards at any T&C store in the Kāhala, Ala Moana, Ward Village, Windward or Pearlridge malls; they also can custom order and even visit the Wahiawā factory at 401 N. Cane St. to watch the longtime shapers at work. All that was lacking was a store actually in the country—until last December, when a long-awaited Hale‘iwa branch opened next to Matsumoto Shave Ice. With new brand ambassadors like Wai‘anae surf photographer Ha‘a Keaulana (daughter of Brian and granddaughter of Buffalo), T&C’s roots just keeping growing deeper.

Various locations,


Best Bike Shop

McCully Bicycle & Sporting Goods


2124 S. King St., 955-6329,


Best Day Spa

Moana Lani Spa

2365 Kalākaua Ave., 237-2535,


Best Golf Course

Ko Olina Golf Club

92-1220 Ali‘inui Drive, Kapolei, 676-5300,


Best Gym

24 Hour Fitness

Multiple locations,


Best Outdoor Exercise Class

HI Life Athletics

1200 Ala Moana Blvd., 285-0012,


Best Place for a Massage

Ho‘ala Salon and Spa

1450 Ala Moana Blvd., Third Floor, 947-6141


Best Place to Karaoke

Krazy Karaoke

1308 Young St., 591-8843


Best Place to Pau Hana

Side Street Inn

Multiple locations,


Best Sports Bar

Home Bar & Grill

1683 Kalākaua Ave., 942-2237


Best Surf Shop

Town & Country Surf

Multiple locations, 


Best Yoga Studio

Core Power Yoga

4211 Wai‘alae Ave., Suite B-11, 738-9642,



Best Family Attraction

Wet ’n’ Wild

400 Farrington Highway, Kapolei, 674-9283,


Best Hotel for a Staycation

Disney Aulani Resort

92-1185 Ali‘inui Drive, Kapolei, 674-6200


Best Place to Celebrate an Anniversary

Alan Wong’s

1857 S. King St., #208, 949-2526,


Best Place to Hold a Party

Dave & Buster’s

1030 Auahi St., 589-2215,


Best Wedding Venue

Kāhala Hotel & Resort

5000 Kāhala Ave., 739-8888,