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City Guides

Honolulu

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stylist and creative director Taylor okata shares his top Hawaiian Recreational SPOTS.

New Yorker, Taylor Okata proudly hails from Honolulu, Hawaii. A stylist for up-and-comers like Mette Towley (yes the insanely talented dancer from the “Lemon” video who gets her head shaved by Rihanna) and Evan Mock (Frank Ocean & Tom Sachs’ favorite skater), Okata loves showcasing new brands and designers who represent a fresh perspective on fashion.

And when he needs a break from it all? He catches a flight across the country, across the Pacific to the island that he calls home, enjoys Mother Earth and all that she has to offer, which seem especially easy to do in O’ahu.

Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House

This hidden gem houses a permanent installation by David Hockney, a chic little cafe and the gardens are filled with sculptures that overlook the city. I appreciate that this museum includes internationally renowned as well as Hawaii-based artists, raising awareness to Hawaii’s importance in the contemporary art community throughout the world. 

Pro-Tip: If you plan to dine or picnic with the cafe, BYOB. There is no corkage fee. Parking is also free so please don’t park in residential areas.

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Spalding House back garden

Lanikai, Waimea Bay & Chun’s

O’ahu has so many incredible beach spots – Lanikai is great for a swim because of its calm waters, Waimea Bay is more than worth a visit to jump off its infamous rock into the clearest water you’ve seen and Chun’s is ideal for a North Shore surf spot (as long as you respect the locals and recognize you’re on their territory).

Pro-Tip: Read and listen to the signs on the beach! Do not disturb the wildlife on our shores. Waves are at its highest from November to February. Beware of strong currents. Also, avoid the water eight days after a full moon if you’re afraid of getting stung by jellyfish.

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Chun’s Reef Beach in North Shore

Mānoa Falls

Tucked back in Mānoa Valley, this hike leads to a 150-foot waterfall. This is one of the first places I hiked while growing up on the island, because of its convenient location in the city. You don’t have to be an expert to hike this trail, but I’d advise being experienced if you plan to jump off the waterfall! You’ll want to set aside a couple of hours for this trip.

Pro-Tip: All freshwater streams and waterfalls in Hawaii may have bacteria present in the water, so don’t drink the water or jump in with open wounds.

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Manoa Falls waterfall

Kualoa Ranch

Most people would not know there is a cowboy culture throughout the islands that dates back to the late 1700s, known as “Paniolo” culture. There are a number of great riding spots on O’ahu, but Kualoa Ranch provides quintessential, cinematic views of both the mountain range and the ocean, I’ve never seen anything like it.

Pro-Tip: My favorite horse at Kualoa is named Kakkoii. Avoid weekends. For a less tourist populated option, Gunstock Ranch is perfect. To ride closer to the shore, you can visit the horseback trail at Turtle Bay.

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Kualoa Ranch

Okata Bento

If you’re looking for OG, local kine grinds to accompany any of the above spots, please visit my pop’s (take-out) restaurant, specializing in local food. He’s the chef and has been running this shop for almost two decades. It truly amazes me how he’s managed to keep his craft alive, especially as a one-man show. I grew up working the register here.

Pro-Tip: Call-in your order ahead, bring cash and try to ride with someone because street parking is limited.

Mahalo & Mālama Da ‘Āina!

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Okata Bento takeout window

Written & Photographed by Taylor Okata

You can’t go wrong in any city in Hawaii, but any other favorite spots worth checking out? Let us know below.

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