Field Guide: Waimanalo

Learn to ride a horse, paint honu or prune a bonsai in Oahu’s agriculture town.

Photo: David Croxford


Keneke’s Plate Lunch & BBQ

You can’t miss the bright red-and-white painted Keneke’s Plate Lunch and BBQ on Kalanianaole Highway, and the eating area inside is just as distinctive. Owner Keith Ward, who also started the Fear God power lifting team, has decorated the walls with Bible verses and a huge cross. Keneke’s has been a Waimanalo mainstay since 1987, thanks to its ono kalua pig plate lunches and bountiful selection of shave ice flavors. 41-857 Kalanianaole Highway, 259-9811. 

Hawaii Bonsai Cultural Center

Photo: David Croxford

For Walter Leiw, it’s all about art, not gardening, at his nursery. For 57 years, he’s been practicing the diligent art of penjing. “Penjing combines floral arranging, landscaping and pottery,” says Leiw. “It’s more than bonsai, which just means potted tree.” He and his wife, Ann, run the Hawaii Bonsai Cultural Center, 16 acres of more than 5,000 bonsai in training, rare handmade pots from China and Liew’s personal collection of hundreds of bonsai he’s been grooming for decades. “Penjing is very peaceful, it’s a healing art,” he says. 41-909 Mahailua St., 373-9296, appointment only.

Photo: David Croxford


Maluolu Ranch

At Maluolu Ranch, you can learn to ride one of 22 horses, and show them, too. “We offer lessons and training in English and Western riding for beginners to [those who] show horses,” says Judy Woods, a trainer and instructor. In one of the two arenas, you can learn to balance, canter and, for advanced students, jump with the horse in one-hour lessons. The ranch also puts on four to five competition shows a year. “We usually have 45 riders compete and a lot of people watching,” she adds. 41426A Hihimanu St., 256-3839.


 Did You Know?

America captured its first prisoner of war in World War II at Waimanalo Beach—Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki. His midget sub had been damaged while attacking Pearl Harbor and drifted to Waimanalo, where Sakamaki tried to scuttle the sub, unsuccessfully, before he was captured. 




Photo: David Croxford


Naturally Hawaiian

You’ve probably driven past the painted horse that lives in front of art gallery Naturally Hawaiian, but did you know the horse’s name is Kimo? Gallery owner and artist Patrick Ching and his students paint the plastic steed with a new outfit for each new season and holiday. Kimo didn’t always lead such an artful life—Ching says he originally got the horse from a feed store. 41-1025 Kalanianaole Highway, 259-5354.



Point Break Surf Shop

After eating at Keneke’s, walk next door to Point Break Surf Shop where Toni Blanchard sells everything from wax to surf boards and shorts. “I call Point Break the emergency board-short place,” says Blanchard, who was raised in Waimanalo. “People drive by the sea on the way here and think it’s so beautiful they want to go in it but don’t have swimsuits.” She also carries new and used surfboards. 41-849 Kalanianaole Highway, 259-9946.