Hoot Blog

Hidden Hawaii: What the tourist guides don't tell you

There's nothing quite like living like a local when you venture to a new place, as it helps you experience the sights, sounds and tastes of a destination in a whole new way. Say goodbye to the tourist traps and commercial attractions the require queuing up for hours - this is a whole new way of travelling.

When you're packing your bags for your big Hawaiian getaway, be sure to include your sense of adventure so you can explore the state's hidden gems and best-kept secrets.

Kahumana

Kahumana is more than just a destination - it is a community. Consisting of four campuses spread across 50 acres on Oahu's west side, Kahumana is an alternative farm-based community that embraces Hawaii's environment fully. It has been operating since 1974 and offers transitional housing programs for families, along with disability programs and various pre- and after-school programs.

To help fund these community-based initiatives, Kahumana operates social ventures such as retreat programs and a commercial kitchen. During your visit you should take the time to explore the organic farm and on-site cafe, which sees organic fruit and vegetables grown on the farm being put to good use.  Expect dishes such as freshly caught Talapia with a garlic and ginger crust, and local grass-fed beef pies.

Mu-Ryang-Sa Temple

Another enchanting attraction in Hawaii is the Mu-Ryang-Sa Temple, a Korean Buddhist temple. The temple's top ridge is broken after initial construction of the building exceeded height limitations, and so the roof was lowered to its present level. This shattering and breaking through of the physical temple construction ties in with Buddhist teachings about shattering through ignorance with wisdom.

The temple is visually spectacular, adorned with brilliantly bright colours and designs. You can find it located in the mountainside up Honolulu's Palolo Valley, and your trip here will be rewarded with stunning views of the sparkling Pacific Ocean.

Bamboo Forest

Lace up your hiking boots and head to Maui's mountains for a snipped of the Old Hawaii, complete with serene, untouched beauty free from crowds and commercialism. Start your trip with a walk through a bamboo view, then find yourself smack bang in the middle of a jungle complete with swimming holes and waterfalls. Pack your togs and towel to best experience this, and don't worry if you haven't got much hiking experience - you can take on as little or as much of this walk as you like. The first few waterfalls on the hike are easily accessed by most fitness levels

Eating like a local

After you've taken on all those new adventures, it's time to refuel with a bite or two of authentic Hawaiian cuisine. Oahu is an idea place to gorge yourself silly, particularly if you head to the neighbourhood of Kapahulu. You know you're in the right place when you come across a restaurant or eatery and see locals chowing down, and this is exactly what you'll find here. Be sure to find a plate lunch, which consists of rice, macaroni salad and a range of meats such as kalua pork, chicken katsu and beef teriyaki.

When your appetite is more like a lion's than a giraffe's, try a loco moco, consisting of steak and egg served over rice and covered in gravy. As for the perfect dish to cool you down under the hot Hawaiian sun, opt for a shave ice complete with island-style flavours.