Your Guide to the Perfect Weekend in Honolulu: January 20–26, 2021

One hidden Italian restaurant and two popular attractions reopen, a special evening with an award-winning chef, a couple of charity events and an exclusive short story round out the end of a rainy week in Honolulu.


Honolulu Magazine Hale Aina Pai Honolulu

Photo: Steve Czerniak



An Exclusive Dinner with Pai Honolulu

Sunday, Jan. 24, seating times at 5 and 7:30 p.m.

HONOLULU Magazine has expanded the way we celebrate the 2020 Hale ‘Aina Awards to give diners a new, intimate way to experience their favorite award-winning restaurants. The Hale ‘Aina Dinner Series highlights past and current winners through one-night-only special menus or collab dinners. Next up, you’re invited to an exclusive evening with Pai Honolulu, the 2020 Bronze winner for Best Tasting Menu. Chef Kevin Lee brings his innovative mind and signature culinary touch to a four-course tasting menu—including chilled lobster and scallops, truffle basmati congee, black bean braised short rib —and optional wine pairing on Jan. 24, with seating times at 5 and 7:30 p.m. Tables are available for parties of two or four people.


$170–$500. Seating for this event is very limited. Click here to buy your tickets to the Hale ‘Aina Dinner Series featuring Pai Honolulu.


SEE ALSO: 35th Hale ‘Aina Awards: Pai Honolulu Wins Best New Restaurant, Service and Tasting Menu 



Tavana Live at HB Social Club

Saturday, Jan. 23, 7–10 p.m.

Release a new studio album, Sway: check. Release an EP, Just Be You: check. Collaborate on a music video with Surfrider and Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation for the song “Plastic Island” featuring Paul Izak: check. Local musician Tavana is rocking it right now. Catch him live this weekend at HB Social Club with Pamela Flores opening the show. Get your tickets via Eventbrite, here.


$40–$100. Hawaiian Brian’s, 1680 Kapi‘olani Blvd., Second Floor, (808) 946-1343,, @hbsocialclub


SEE ALSO: Tavana’s Newest Release, Sway, Showcases Collaboration in a Time When We Crave It Most 



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Charity Market by Aloha Home Market

Sunday, Jan. 24, 9 a.m.–2 p.m.

The popular pop-up market in Kailua is starting the new year on the right note: A portion of the proceeds from this Sunday’s market will go to Joys of Living Assistance Dogs (@joydogs), a nonprofit that provides assistance dogs to people with disabilities. Last time I visited this market I was Christmas shopping, so you can bet your stimulus check that this time I will be buying gifts for myself (guilt-free since there’s charity involved). I’m most looking forward to snatching up a Surf Shack Puzzle that, when all 1,000 pieces come together, showcases prints by female artists (like this one by Kim Sielbeck); a new aloha shirt from Black Point Co.; a desk calendar from Bradley & Lily; a beach cover-up from Vermilli; a couple of prints from Aloha de Mele; and crafting my own local charcuterie board with ingredients from Fig & Ginger. I’ll fuel my over-the-top shopping experience with Makua Banana Bread Co. and coffee from Creature Coffee Shop.


Free to attend. 340 Uluniu St., Kailua,, @alohahomemarket



The Polynesian Cultural Center Reopens

Lā‘ie’s interactive cultural attraction partially reopened on Jan. 18 and we’re thinking this might be the time to go if you haven’t been (ever or in a long while). Since the park needs to remain at 50% capacity, we can imagine more time for a (sanitized) hands-on experience of Samoan fire knife twirling lessons and coconut weaving. Plus, the Polynesian Cultural Center has introduced a new canoe ride through the various villages and reformatted the lūʻau from buffet-style to a sit-down experience. The staff even added the presentation of taking the kālua pork out of the imu and more stories about the lūʻau tradition. The only section of the park open for visitors to visit (at their own leisure as opposed to attending via the new canoe experience) at the moment is the Samoan Village but the fantastic nightly show, HA: Breath of Life (which I watched and really enjoyed in January 2019), will continue as usual. Definitely check out the PCC’s ‘Ohana Club membership for kama‘āina deals, changes to opening hours and updates on the park’s reopening plan. Oh, and book online or via the phone in advance.


$98.36–$242.95. Polynesian Cultural Center, 55-370 Kamehameha Highway, Lā‘ie, (808) 367-7060,, @polynesianculturalctr


SEE ALSO: O‘ahu in 1967: The Polynesian Cultural Center Was Once Considered Outlandish


Other Ideas

Hanauma Bay 2020 Covid Closed Katie Kenny Web

A view of Hanauma Bay, before it reopened. Photo: Katie Kenny



SNORKEL at Hanauma Bay

Everyone is going to tell you that there’s no point in trying. I was that person a month ago. But post-holiday season there’s a very good chance you’ll steal a coveted spot at the now bustling-with-wildlife nature preserve—if you plan accordingly. When I went on Sunday (that’s right, a weekend!), my group of three began our carpool journey at 7:30 a.m. and went straight to the park. As soon as we turned and went through the gate, we were instructed to keep our masks on, waited 10-15 minutes and then received our check-in time (about an hour and a half later). From here you can leave to grab coffee and breakfast from Koko Marina before coming back to queue 15 minutes prior to your check-in time. After watching the mandatory instructional video and listening to the new safety precautions, you’re given the option to either walk or take the now free trolley down to the beach. Bring your own snacks, water and snorkeling gear, and enjoy the abundance of space at this typically overpacked-with-tourists spot.


$12 for adults (free for residents and children under 12) and $3 for parking. Open Wednesday–Sunday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m., Hanauma Bay State Park, 7455 Kalanianaʻole Highway,


La Cucina Reopens 2021 Kakaako Honolulu Italian Food Lamb Pasta Pappardelle Agnello Katie Kenny Web

Pappardelle agnello (braised leg of lamb and fresh pasta topped with ricotta cheese). Photo: Katie Kenny



DINE IN at La Cucina

Kaka‘ako’s hidden little Italian spot reopened last Thursday for dine-in after months of being closed. You can bet we missed this place: the truffle gnocchi, the bone marrow, the pappardelle with braised beef cheeks … we could go on. Considering how tiny this place is, we strongly recommend making a reservation over the phone or via email and then filling out its COVID-19 contract tracing form online within 24 hours of your booking. The service will be following strict safety precautions and the restaurant will not allow bandannas or mesh face masks inside.


Open Tuesday–Saturday, 5:30–9:30 p.m. La Cucina, 725 Kapi‘olani Blvd., C112, (808) 593-2626,,, @lacucinahonolulu


SEE ALSO: Hale ‘Aina Happenings: What’s New with Hawai‘i Restaurants in January 2021 


Chambers Escape Games Honolulu Escape Room Katie Kenny

The HONOLULU team (from left), top row: Stacey Makiya, Christine Labrador, Robbie Dingeman; middle: Shelley Shiroma, Jayna Omaye, Katrina Valcourt; front: Katie Kenny. Photo: Chambers Escape Games



ESCAPE from an ancient Egyptian tomb

Our team here at HONOLULU HQ are big fans of social activities and games. We’ve shared our thoughts while throwing axes, while watching locally filmed TV shows and standup specials, during Netflix watch parties and now Indiana Jones-ing our way out of creepy dark rooms within 60 minutes. That’s right Honolulu, Chambers Escape Games in Kaka‘ako is open to groups of five with one live game called The Temple (the one we did) and three virtual reality games called Space Station Tiberia, Dragon Tower and Depths of Osiris. If you complete all four games, you and your team of Chambers Escape Masters will unlock an exclusive Time Travel Paradox VR game.


$25–$42 per person, Chambers Escape Games, 550 Halekauwila St., Unit #201, (808) 215-9170, Check the website for the current opening hours.


SEE ALSO: 88 Thoughts We Had While Trying Honolulu’s Newest Escape Room 



Illustration: James Nakamura



READ Haleola’s Tears by Alan Brennert

In the time of coronavirus or not, it’s always good to round out your weekend with a bit of much needed quiet time. Our chosen way this weekend? Staying in to read historical novelist Alan Brennert’s new short story, Haleola’s Tears. Our very own Don Wallace writes: “In the brand-new prequel to his bestselling novel Moloka‘i, Alan Brennert takes us back to the subject about which he’s written so movingly—the exiles of Kalaupapa. Their heart-rending confinement adds unexpected resonance to events of today.”


Read it in full here, exclusively on


And don’t forget to …


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REGISTER for The Great Aloha Run

The discounted early entry registration deadline for the 2021 Great Aloha Run is Jan. 31 so hop to, runners. Hawai‘i Pacific Health’s annual 8.15 mile run is going virtual for its 37th year, with an eight-day-long window between Feb. 8 and 15 to walk, jog or run the distance typically covered between Aloha Tower and Aloha Stadium. Every year the race supports local charities but this year it will be dedicating a portion of the proceeds to those affected by the pandemic.


$0–$45 (after discount period price increase $20),, @greataloharun