Yves's Guide to Hawaii

Posted on April 27, 2017


For the next installment of SK City guides, jump on a plane from LA and explore the best poke and beaches of Honolulu and Oahu—gorgeous fixtures of Hawaii, where Yves is from!


A  N O T E  F R O M  Y V E S 
I grew up in Hawaii and lived there until I was 18. My parents still live there and cut hair everyday at Bottega Antoine, the beauty salon they opened in 1978. Stop by to say hello if you find yourself there!!
The island is a bit of a paradox—some spots haven’t changed since the '60s, and some places seem to have changed each year I go back. I grew up right in Waikiki so I was a “town” boy. My guide might be a little heavy on that side of the island as a result of that.
Everyone who visits Hawaii will have a favorite island, and usually it’s not Oahu. I always felt it was the most diverse island with country, city, beaches, farm, polo fields, etc. But I might just be biased. 
E A T — A S I A N

Sushi Murayama – Chef Ryuji has a good relationship with a lot of suppliers so he always has very fresh fish.

Yanagi Sushi – Longtime favorite. Great late-night spot with a late happy hour menu after 10:30.

Sushi Sasabune – Some consider this the best sushi on the island. I won’t disagree, but be prepared to spend a lot of money and be sure to make reservations.

Izakaya Torae Torae – Great local favorite with a good happy hour.

Tsukuneya Robata Grill – Local spot for robata near the University.

Agu ramen – Go to the one on Isenberg. Great place for lunch.

Kyung’s – Super local and low-key. Korean and izakaya and ice cold pitchers of beer.

Tamashiro Fish Market – This is my favorite poke on the island. Super fresh, and a great place to pick up fish if you are grilling.

Foodland – All of the Foodland markets are great for poke. The Foodland Farms in Ala Moana is new and amazing.

Star Markets – Another local favorite with excellent Poke

 W A I K I K I  B A R S

House Without a Key at Halekulani Hotel – Come here at sunset to have a Mai Tai  and listen to Hawaiian music and watch the beautiful hula dancers. This is a must.

Cuckoo Coconuts – Fun dive bar in Waikiki with live music and cheap drinks in a pineapple. Good place to get your tourist on.

Lewers Lounge – Also in the Halekulani Hotel. Amazing live jazz any night of the week and great drinks.

Duke’s – Yeah, it’s a tourist trap. But it’s fun and right on the beach. Kind of a guilty pleasure.

Moana Hotel bar – Sip Blue Hawaiians out by the banyan tree overlooking the beach.


Historic downtown Honolulu has been having a revival for the last decade. There are some great restaurants and bars down here… and you’ll find Chinatown, too. 

Senia – Considered one of the best new restaurants in Hawaii.

Brick Fire Tavern – Great pizza!!

The Pig and The Lady – hugely popular, and great for lunch.

Little Village Noodle House – fun old-school Chinatown spot for lunch.

Pho to Chau – Longtime local favorite in Chinatown for Pho. Very crowded sometimes, but the service is fast.

Murphy’s Irish Pub – kind of funny to find in Honolulu, but fun local crowd if you’re down here around happy hour.

MW Restaurant – Near Ala Moana Shopping Center. Great local fusion, also opened by one of my classmates from grade school!

Alan Wong’s – Along with Roy’s, this is a Hawaii fusion institution. Atmosphere can be a little stuffy, but food is always fresh and great.

Mariposa at Neiman Marcus – this is a great place for lunch. Food is good, and if you can sit on the balcony it’s very nice.

The Wailana – if you’re craving diner food, island style. This place literally hasn’t changed since 1971.

The Pancake House – another 70s institution. Right next to my parents salon, Bottega Antoine.

B E A C H E S 

Papailoa beach - Go down access and take left walk 50-100 yards and that's where turtles feed!

Changes Beach – 68-265 Au Street Wailua 96715

Kailua beach – Super mellow and beautiful family beach

Sunset beach – North Shore. Park at Foodland, get some poke and beer and chill. Shark’s Cove is nearby and a great spot for snorkeling.

Waimea Bay – Kind of a must-see. If you’re there in the summer, jump off the rock. If you’re there in the winter, you’ll see surfers on 20-30 foot waves but be prepared to get caught in serious traffic.

Hanauma Bay – Amazing spot to snorkel, but VERY crowded with tourists.

Makaha Beach Park – beautiful white sand beach by Waianae. Water gets deep very quickly.

Kahala Beach – super mellow and quiet. A little bougie… but still nice. At the back of The Kahala hotel. Great place for kids.


Manoa Falls – a beautiful hike at the back of Manoa Valley. Check out the Lyon Arboredum, too. But bring a lot of mosquito repellent!!

Diamond Head crater – really worth it. You’ll hike to the top where there are hidden WWII gun turrets. A great workout.

S C E N I C  T O U R S

If you have a car, driving around Oahu is pretty amazing. Start in Waikiki and wrap around Diamond Head or go out past the airport toward Haleiwa. You can wrap your way around the island in about 3 hours and find some killer secluded beaches.

Drive out through old-town Haleiwa on the North Shore and drive through Kahuku. There are some shrimp trucks alongside the road that are fun

Chinaman’s Hat – not so PC, but nice drive to a different side of the island.

Valley of the Temples

Drive over the Pali highway and go to Pali lookout – amazing view and SERIOUS wind

Tantalus park – nice city views on your way up

If you’re feeling adventurous, go sky diving on the North Shore. It’s pretty incredible. I wasn’t able to gather the courage, but I went with a friend and it looked and sounded stunning.

 R E C O R D  S T O R E S

There are only two now… sadly. But they are both worth checking out if you like shopping for vinyl!!

Yves working at Idea's, when it was Jelly's

Idea’s – this used to be Jelly’s. If you grew up on Oahu and liked music, books, or comics, you went to Jelly’s. And I worked there when I was 14! Owner Norm sold to Cindy, who carries the legend onward.

Hungry Ear – the oldest used record store still stands. And it’s as cool as it ever was. Now across the street from Idea’s in the new SALT complex.

S T A Y 

The Modern is the boutique hotel of Waikiki. Sometimes you can get good rates.

The Ilikai is an old-school Waikiki institution. It’s been redone about 100 times and each room is like a studio apartment with big balcony and full kitchen. It's easy to get killer rates.

Halekulani is the nicest hotel in Waikiki. 5 stars and quite pricey, but beautiful.

Outrigger Reef is pretty old school, but it’s right next to Hale Kulani and in a perfect location.

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