Explore These 5 Hidden Gems in Makiki

Take a trip in Makiki with these fun micro-adventures.

Sometimes your’e sure you’ve reached your city limits. Maybe it’s the traffic. The air and noise pollution. Or just some plain old inner-city pressure. Whatever the reason, you need a great escape.

Hang on, townie. No need to resort to urban flight to mitigate your metropolitan woes. Here are a few of our favorite ways to “get away” in central Honolulu’s Makiki neighborhood, from concrete jungle to tropical rainforest—without having to shell out on gas.


1. Take a hike up to Punchbowl Lookout

Historians say that Puowaina crater, or “consecrated hill” or “hill of sacrifice,” was a place of human sacrifice for the early Hawaiians. The hill of sacrifice took on a new meaning when the gorgeous National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific was created 65 years ago. Now, you can walk through hilly Makiki for a mini hike up to the crater’s near-360-degree view, from the mountains to Diamond Head to Pearl Harbor.
Tip: Pay homage to World War I veteran and Pulitzer Prize-winning WWII war correspondent Ernie Pyle and astronaut Ellison Onizuka—both are buried here.
2177 Puowaina Drive, open daily, 8 a.m.–5:30 p.m.


2. Have a picnic at the Spalding House

This 1920s-style jewel of a contemporary museum boasts a lush, botanical fairy-tale garden at its rear. The Spalding House Café offers a picnic basket stuffed with delish soups, salads or sandwiches for $35. Picnicking is free, but you’ll definitely want to check out the cool, contemporary exhibits—including David Hockney’s L’Enfant et les sortileges, a surreal, whimsical exhibit based on a children’s book.
Tip: Take advantage of the BYOB option and tote along a bottle of vino.
2411 Makiki Drive, Tuesdays–Saturdays, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., and Sundays, noon–4 p.m.


3. Grab take-out sushi for lunch in the park

You’re about to be let in on a huge secret: Sushi Man is actually delicious. No, really. Try the dynamite maki, a shrimp tempura roll topped with spicy ahi. (But avoid the shop during from 2 to 5 p.m., when it’s bustling with Roosevelt High School students.) The Makiki District Park is right down the street, so just find a spot under the trees.
Tip: Call in your order for a fast pickup, but make sure you’re on time. The last thing you want is soggy tempura.
1249 Wilder Ave., open daily, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.


4. Get some work done at Sure Shot Café

This café is a hidden hole in the wall—so hidden, in fact, that you’re likely to walk right past it. It has a sweet, quiet and homely charm that feels totally grassroots. The coffee is smooth and delicious, and its convenient central location is perfect if you’re looking for a quaint escape to get some work done, catch up with a friend or read a good book.
Tip: We’re nuts for the coconut Americano and Cherry Garcia scones.
1249 Wilder Ave., Mondays–Saturdays, 6 a.m.–6 p.m., and Sundays, 7 a.m.–6 p.m.


5. Watch the sunset at Puu Ualakaa

The windy Tantalus drive may gulp up your car’s gas, but it’ll be well worth it for an escape—you can just feel the change in climate as you ascend up the mountain. Tourists like to stop at the lookout by the side of the road, but Puu Ualakaa State Park (which translates to “hill of the rolling sweet potato”) is just around the corner and offers one of the best sunset views in town.
Tip: If you’re feeling adventurous, take a hike along the Ualakaa Trail because you just might find a legendary secret swing.
2760 Round Top Drive, open daily, 7 a.m.–7 p.m.