Walk da Walk

By Kyle Tastumoto, published in the June 7-13, 2007, edition of the Nichi Bei Times.

If you goin’ go Honolulu dis summah, make sure you walk da walk. The Waikiki Beach Walk, that is. With the first phase just completed earlier this year, there’s a good chance that even your kama’aina friends and family haven’t visited it yet.

Located at the Ala Moana end of Kalakaua Avenue, Outrigger Enterprises has invested more than $500 million on this project, the most extensive development in the history of Waikiki. While other areas of Waikiki, most notably Kuhio Beach, had received facelifts over the past few years, the Ewa end of Waikiki was starting to look pretty run down.

Many of the older structures in the eight-acre strip along Beach Walk and Lewers Street have been torn down and replaced with a shining new complex that includes new and renovated hotels, an outdoor entertainment plaza for live Hawaiian music performances and an open-air arcade featuring many new shops and restaurants. More than a destination for tourists, the Waikiki Beach Walk hopes to draw the locals back to Waikiki, as well.

Weah fo’ Shop

The arcade includes a few well-known shops such as Crazy Shirts, Wyland Gallery, Honolulu Cookie Company and Quiksilver, but the Waikiki Beach Walk also debuts a number of new retailers that you may not be as familiar with.

We especially like the Malibu Shirts & Surf Museum. In addition to a very cool selection of high-quality t-shirts with vintage designs such as Primo Beer, Wing Coffee and Waikiki Surf Club, there’s a great collection of surf memorabilia on display, some donated by surf legends like Uncle Clarence Maki.

Another interesting new store is Mana Hawai’i – Spirit of Hawai’i Nei. Like it’s sister store, Native Books, Mana Hawai’i is not only a great place for Hawaiian gifts and crafts, but is also an outstanding resource for learning about the rich culture and history of Hawai’i.

Oh yeah, an’ get one ABC Store, too.

Weah fo’ Grind

There are a lot of food and drink choices at the Waikiki Beach Walk, including old favorites, as well as newcomers to Hawai’i. The complex includes Coconut Willy’s Bar & Grill, a Tokyo-based teppan fusion restaurant called Kai-Wa Waikiki, Mondo Gelato, the casual and fun Holokai Grill and a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

Get one Roy’s Waikiki, so now, no need fight da pau hana traffic fo’ go dinnah at da Roy’s in Hawai’i Kai. Dis new one even stay mo’ nice den da Hawai’i Kai one. If you stay thirsty, Yard House get da world’s mos’ biggest selection of beers, with 130 on tap. Ho, goin’ take one hour jus’ fo’ pick one beer.

Waikiki Beach Walk even get one Beard Papa’s, you know, da kine Japanee Krispy Kreme of cream puffs. By da way, if you nevah try one Beard Papa cream puff yet, check ’em out at their two San Francisco locations, at 99 Yerba Buena Lane and at the Westfield San Francisco Centre.

The star of the Beach Walk is undoubtedly Nobu Waikiki, in the Waikiki Parc Hotel. Ho, you nevah imagine Japanee food could be so brok’ da mout ono. If you evah wen try one of celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s 13 other restaurants, you know wot we stay talkin’ about.

Weah fo’ Stay

Until the new $350 million, 38-story Trump International Hotel & Tower opens in 2009, you have a choice of accommodations right at the Beach Walk, with rates to suit a range of budgets. At the high end is the venerable Halekulani Hotel (2199 Kalia Road). Consistently rated among the world’s finest hotels, room rates start at $400 per night, but the hotel and grounds are exquisite and the service is incomparable.

If you can’t afford a room at the Halekulani, we highly recommend that you at least treat yourself to dinner at their “casually elegant” Orchids restaurant. In terms of overall Waikiki experience, dinner at this open-air, ocean-side restaurant is unmatched, from the fabulous cuisine, to the outstanding service, to the sounds of the ocean and the sunset and view of Diamond Head.

Across the street from the Halekulani is the new Embassy Suites – Waikiki Beach Walk (201 Beach Walk). It’s definitely upscale, and at $350 per night, a bit pricier than the standard Embassy Suites hotels. However, as with other Embassy Suites, this is an all-suite hotel and includes complimentary full breakfast, making it ideal for families. Check out the history of Hawaiian music exhibit in the lobby.

Our favorite is the Outrigger Regency on Beach Walk (255 Beach Walk), located next to the Embassy Suites. The rooms, at $250 per night, are furnished in a very contemporary style, much more like a stylish urban condo rather than a typical Hawai’i hotel room. Whether you stay there or not, check out Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin, on the ground floor. This is the Waikiki branch of the Ginza restaurant that has been famous for its tonkatsu and sauce for 80 years in Tokyo.

So, if you nevah wen make your vacation plans yet, wot you stay waiting fo’? Meet us at da Waikiki Beach Walk.

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