You definitely don't need an EXTRA excuse to take a trip to Hawaii. After all, it has beautiful beaches, awesome weather, and a tropical vibe for days. But what you might not have known is that it has some pretty great street art as well. So, when you are done hiking up Diamond Head for some spectacular views of the coastline or sipping on a Mai Tai poolside (with the obligatory tiny umbrella), you can also explore some of the urban beauty on offer.
View from Diamond Head, overlooking Waikiki
POW! WOW! HAWAII
Following a powerful start in Hong Kong in 2010, the wildly popular POW! WOW! Mural Festival took to the beaches of Hawaii in 2011 to beautify the hometown walls of POW! WOW!'s founder Jasper Wong in Honolulu, on the island of Oahu. Since that first festival in Hawaii, they haven't looked back, continuing their presence every year since.
The beautifully playful work of Telmo Miel for POW! WOW! Hawaii (painted 2017)
Based largely in the Kaka'ako neighborhood, in Downtown Honolulu, northwest of Waikiki, there are masterpieces to be discovered around every corner. (Most of the walls are located in a quadrant between Keawe and Ward Avenue, and Kawaiahao and Ala Moana.)
If you don't have a car, don't worry. You can make swift work of the walls by cruising around on a bike. The equivalent of NYC's Citi Bike program (and others across the country), Biki has bicycles available for rent at terminals all over town as single use, for an allotted time or as a renewable monthly subscription. I opted for a 300-minute unlimited use package so that I didn't have to swap the bike every thirty minutes (as with the other subscriptions). And in just about 100 minutes of pedaling around town, I was able to see a majority of the walls I was hoping to check out.
To make things easier for you as you cruise around town, there is an interactive map of all the walls that have been painted, provided by POW! WOW! Hawaii.
There is an incredible showing of work by artists from around the world who have painted for POW! WOW! Hawaii. Here are just some of the beauties to be discovered on this tropical paradise:
Hawaii has it all. Of course there are amazing beaches to soak up the sun while enjoying an ocean breeze, but if you are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki Beach, consider taking a hike on one of the many beautiful trails in the surrounding mountains. Aside from the Diamond Head Trail (pics at the top of this story), you might want to consider the Manoa Falls Trail, which takes you through lush forest and ends in a cascading 150-foot waterfall. Plan to go at first light to avoid the crowds. It is busy for a reason.
Manoa Falls: A beautiful 1.6 mile trail, ending in a waterfall
Either before or after making the trek to Manoa Falls, be sure to pop by Leonard's Bakery for some delicious treats that locals have been enjoying for years.
Leonard's, located at 933 Kapahulu Avenue, has been around since 1952, serving up delicious Portuguese malasadas (think doughnuts without a hole and served piping hot, filled with gooey custard and coated in sugar). You have 3 coatings to choose from: original (plain sugar), cinnamon sugar, or li hing (salty dried plum powder). You can also choose your own filling: custard, dobash (chocolate), and haupia (coconut). This month, there is also a special flavor: lilikoi (passionfruit). You really can't go wrong with any combo. Believe me, I sampled them all.
Some of the malasadas on offer
THE ISLANDS ARE CALLING
Whether you are looking to chill on the beach with a refreshing drink in hand or hit the trails to explore the tropical landscape, Hawaii has something for everyone. And on top of all that, they also have an amazing urban art scene. A tropical escape may be just what you need to feel refreshed and revived before returning to reality. It's doing wonders for me.
So, what are you waiting for? Honolulu is calling.