Editor's Page: Things to Do

Pick your favorite restaurants, preserve historic buildings, take a lazy, mountain drive.

Photo: Linny Morris

As longtime readers know, our Hale Aina Awards are Hawaii’s oldest, most prestigious local dining award. Sticking with something for 28 years will do that! But really, it’s been our readers, who, since 1984, have voted for the best restaurants in town, and it’s their discernment that makes the awards so desirable.

This year, we’re trying something new with the voting process. Instead of a single, fill-in-the-blanks ballot in August, we’re starting by accepting nominations from readers now—now, as in this is the time. Until May 31, you can go to the Hale Aina Nominations page to name your favorite restaurants in 35 categories.

Then, Oscars-style, the top nominees will go on a final ballot for your votes. You’ll find that in our August 2011 issue, or, online. The awards will be given in November, and celebrated in our January 2012 issue.

Speaking of celebrations, watch the website of the Historic Hawaii Foundation to learn who will win Historic Preservation Honor Awards this month. I had the pleasure of being on the jury again this year, which involves meetings and site visits to review the projects. I can’t say anything more specific here—the winners will be announced April 19—but it’s safe for me to say the number of submissions was up this year, the projects impressive. Visit historichawaii.org for more.

While doing the site visits, I wandered into an unexpected experience. Had time to kill in the Pearl Harbor area, so I checked out the new USS Arizona Memorial visitor center. It’s always disorienting to visit a building that almost entirely replaces one I’ve known. For more on that, I contributed a guest Afterthoughts, page 96.

We didn’t have room for every idea we came up with for “43 Things Every Local Must Do,” page 56. A personal favorite of mine that didn’t make it in: Don’t just visit the lookout at Tantalus, drive the whole length of Round Top Drive then head back to town on Tantalus Drive. Closed for two years following the 2006 mudslides, these century-old roads (built in 1917 and 1902, respectively) are a living piece of Honolulu history, complete with their original hairpin turns through primeval forest, punctuated with stunning views.

The roads have been repaved, and are well worth a visit if you’ve forgotten what that feels like.

Which brings me to “Car Crazy,” by Howard Dashefsky, page 72. Here you’ll meet some perfectly normal Honolulu people with unusually intense relationships to their cars. I’ve met very few people who were totally indifferent to their cars. A lot of drivers have a car they dream about, if they don’t already drive it, falling for the cuteness of a Mini Cooper, say, or the muscularity of the new Camaro.

My first car as a teenager was the family 1970 Chevy Monte Carlo, a car that was nearly as old as I was at the time. It instilled in me what I thought was a lifelong devotion to big American cars. That is, until I met my first small convertible, the Toyota MR2 Spyder. Someday, I’ll have to try a fusion of the two—does Chrysler make a convertible 300C?

In any case, Round Top Drive is more fun with the top down.

 Slideshow coming soon.