Best of Honolulu 2018: Services

The 9 editorial and reader picks for the places in Honolulu that make our lives just a bit easier.

Flower Shop

Watanabe Flower Shop
Photo: Courtesy of Watanabe Floral Inc.

There is a reason TV news crews go live from Watanabe Floral Inc. every Valentine’s Day. The 72-year-old company says its Nimitz location is one of the largest flower showrooms in the nation. The small rose company soldier Ernest Watanabe started after World War II has turned into a local landmark that general manager and sales and marketing director Monty Pereira estimates sells more than 1 million roses every year. Rose-and-lily arrangements are a best seller, but we also love the less traditional ones by the company’s 12-person design team, including an adorable carnation doggie.


Multiple locations,


Day Spa

Heaven on Earth Salon and Day Spa
Photo: Thinkstock

With a spa menu that includes a 15-minute massage just a 10-minute walk from most Downtown offices, Heaven on Earth Salon and Day Spa has been a favorite oasis for busy office workers since 1998. The Alakea Street spa—a mere 800 square feet when it opened—is now more than 5,000 square feet and offers massages, mani-pedis, facials, hair, makeup and even fitness classes. Stop in for a brow treatment or brief massage during a lunch break or book a spa party with bubbly for your besties. Owner Lora Nakai leads a team of 60 employees at Heaven on Earth’s Downtown and Hale Koa Hotel locations and soon she’ll add one more. Her oldest of three daughters, Marielle, who was a baby when Nakai started her business, is about to earn her business degree from the University of Oregon and her cosmetology license. She plans to join the salon and spa after graduation. 


1050 Alakea St., (808) 599-5501,


Tool Rental Place

HNL Tool Library
Photo: Thinkstock

We used to love the wacky-tacky messages on the sign at Hawaiian Rent-All on Beretania, but the equipment was pricey and tended to be underloved; now under new ownership, even the sign’s double entendres aren’t as funny. Home Depot’s offerings theoretically can’t be beat, but good luck navigating the crowds and the oxymoronic customer service. So we’re recommending HNL Tool Library, where for a reasonable membership fee you get the use of free tools. The tool scene needed a wake-up call; at HNL Tool Library, the people alone make it a fun experience (and who’s ever said that about tool rentals?). 


200 Keawe St.,


Immediate Screen Repair/Replacement

Screens in Hawai‘i aren’t just there to allow air to circulate; lose integrity in just one and bugs and rats may haunt your dreams. That’s why we stress immediate in this category. Who wants to wait for someone who takes measurements and vanishes for weeks? Alex and James of Nakama Screen Door LLC will come to you and do the job on-site if at all possible. They have a rep for suggesting practical fixes instead of upselling, and they work with wood frames and irregular sizes, as well as jalousies. And when they do need to get a screen or window made, they bring it back as scheduled. Their website points out Nakama means “group of friends”—seems they’ve made quite a few.  


(808) 227-2009,


Gel Nail Art

Naoko’s Nails
Photo: Courtesy of Naoko’s Nails

Few things make us more upset than our nails chipping only a couple of days after getting them professionally done (first-world problems, we know). Enter Naoko’s Nails: The one-woman show aims to ensure our nails are on fleek at all times. Ever gotten your nails done at the same salon by two different techs with wildly different results? Not a problem with Naoko Kandori—she’s the only one there. Ever requested a color they didn’t have? She will mix it for you. Whether you want to go simple with one color, super kawaii with all the charms you can fit on your nails, pick one of her ready-made designs or vaguely describe one you saw on Pinterest, Kandori gives you exactly what you ask for. And, most importantly, the nail art actually lasts. With credits under her belt including a fashion spread in Vanity Fair Italia and Hawai‘i-based films Snatched and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, you know your nails are in good hands.


1540 Makaloa St., Suite 421, (808) 223-6704,


Independent Neighborhood Bookstore

Looking for a book published by a local author 20 years ago, a birthday gift for a voracious reader of any age and maybe a new travel book for your next Tokyo getaway? BookEnds has you covered until 8 most nights. Owner/manager Pat Banning is celebrating 20 years as an independent bookseller. “In this particular case, small is beautiful,” Banning says, noting that the small business provides personal service and attention to detail that is often lost in a big chain store. She credits the shop’s success to the mix of “really, really good” staffers, a good selection of used books and a focus on paying attention to what people are reading. While many stores stock the best-sellers, she says, “we have the stuff that you don’t expect to find—the things you remember from when you were a kid.”


600 Kailua Road, Suite 126, Kailua, (808) 261-1996.


Long-term Dog Kennel

Furever Friends Play and Stay
Photo: Courtesy of Furever Friends Play and Stay

Some kennels farm out boarded pets to individual homes. But Furever Friends Play and Stay keeps all the dogs together on the premises and includes a real outdoor play area. Owner Wendy Trinh sets up your pet to succeed—and protects them—with a mandatory four-hour assessment with all vaccination certificates in hand. You supply the food, and a two-day preflight check-in is required unless you’re a day care regular. While strict, the rules increase the chance of a good experience; the loving staff’s daily photo updates ease the conscience.


619 Māpunapuna St., (808) 845-7297,


Dog Trainer

Training a dog is rough. You can try to D.I.Y. by following guidelines from the Hawaiian Humane Society, then code-switch to wannabe dog whisperers and still end up having unresolved issues with Lil’ Bow-Wow. We know all about it. So does Erica McRell at Off Leash K9 Training LLC, who says, “We don’t turn any dog away.” Think about that. McRell, like most OLK9T trainers, is a former military dog trainer and handler (she did two combat tours). As head trainer with five trainers under her, “I give them a little guidance and a lot of love.” We usually go local over franchises, but dogs deserve the best and OLK9T has a good record here, hiring former K-9 and military security specialists.


46-178 Kahuhipa St., Space P, Kāne‘ohe, (808) 495-0000,


Letterpress Designed Cards

Bradley & Lily
Photo: Courtesy of Bradley & Lily

A turtle in a party hat urges us to “Shellabrate!” A spaceship trailing hearts declares, “I love you to the moon and back,” while graceful leaves and flowers spring from other cards. Ian and Stacey Nomura created Bradley & Lily in 2005, inspired by Stacey’s flair for design and named after their children. They bought a letterpress in 2007. “My wife hand-draws animals and creatures and flowers,” Ian says. Together, they design and print stationery, including cards that come in cute mini sizes to full-size greeting cards and some 8-by-10 designs suitable for framing. The handcrafted impressions gained in popularity over the years and make up more than half of their stock now, Ian says., also available at South Shore Paperie, 1016 Kapahulu Ave., (808) 744-8746.