The legendary Rainbow Drive-In at Ewa Beach is just 20 minutes from Ko Olina Beach Villas and is considered the best place to experience a classic Hawaiian meal, the plate lunch.
When former President Barack Obama landed on his first vacation home after taking office, he famously announced, “I’m going to get a plate lunch.” The plate lunch features a protein, two scoops of rice, and a scoop of macaroni salad. It is considered a staple of the local food culture.
The Rainbow Drive-In serves up a fast, hearty, and affordable meal. Shoyu chicken, barbecue beef, or pork cutlet plates tend to be the most popular. For those who can’t decide, a mixed plate is the perfect option.
For location and menu information, visit https://rainbowdrivein.com/.
50 minutes from Ko Olina Beach Villas, Lyon Arboretum is part of the University of Hawaiʻi and considered Oahu’s best public botanical garden. It has walking trails, native plants, tropical trees, a waterfall, and a walking Buddha statue (symbolizing inner peace and grace).
It is nestled in the back of Mānoa Valley, just five miles from the bustle of Waikiki. Lyon Arboretum has over seven miles of hiking trails and is home to more than 6,000 groups of tropical and sub-tropical plants on nearly 200 acres.
The university-affiliated arboretum seeks to increase knowledge and awareness of tropical plant species, preserve endangered specimens, and bring to the public new, ornamental plants it cultivates. Established paths through the grounds allow visitors to wander among the plantings and appreciate the birds that make their home there.
Lyon Arboretum is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 3 PM. It is closed on weekends and state & federal holidays. Reservations are required and visits must be limited to two hours.
For more information and to book your reservation, visit https://manoa.hawaii.edu/lyon/.
Only 10 minutes from Ko Olina Beach Villas, Kapolei City Lights will be spreading holiday cheer with decorations inside and outside the hale/civic center. The festivities kick off with a block party and holiday parade on Saturday, December 10, from 5 PM to 9 PM.
The block party will include a variety of food, vendors, live music, and activities for all ages. Visitors will get the first look at the 45-foot Christmas tree and colorful ocean-inspired decorations on display inside and outside of Kapolei Hale through the holiday season. Lights will be on display through Tuesday, January 3.
For more information, visit https://www.honolulu.gov/cms-dpr-menu/site-dpr-sitearticles/45058-kapolei-city-lights.html?utm_source=kapolei,+city+lights,+kapolei+city+lights,+parks+and+rec,+oahu,+hawaii.
Photo: Looks Can Be Deceiving, 2022, Courtesy of Noah Harders
About 30 minutes from Ko Olina Beach Villas, Honolulu Museum of Art is debuting Maui-based Native Hawaiian artist Noah Harders’ wearable art. Moemoeā means “to dream” or “fantasy” and unveils Harders’ technical skill in creating surrealist, haute-couture creations out of found organic and discarded materials (flowers, leaves, lobster shells, fish bones, beach glass, and more). This exhibit displays his artistry expressed through self-portraits shot in his home studio along with several of his signature mask sculptures and will run until July 23, 2023.
For more information, visit https://honolulumuseum.org/.
About 30 minutes from Ko Olina Beach Villas, Honolulu Museum of Art is featuring acclaimed British artist Rebecca Louise Law. Her debut exhibit, Awakening, is an immersive floral fantasy experience across two galleries. Her retrospective showcases and celebrates pua – both native and imported flowers. This exhibit will run until September 2023.
For more information, visit https://honolulumuseum.org/.
About 30 minutes from Ko Olina Beach Villas, visitors to Waialua’s Sweet Land Farm can learn about modern farming while feeding the friendliest goats on the island and enjoying the freshest gelato around. The farm was established by Emma Bello who was on her way to being a pastry chef when she fell in love with goats. Her family laid the groundwork for Sweet Land Farm while she completed her culinary degree. Emma also wanted to become a part of Oahu’s local sustainable agriculture movement.
On the farm, there is a store where guests can enjoy goat milk caramel and gelato, purchase lotions and soaps, and take home some of her handmade farmstead goat cheese (called chèvre), aged feta, award-winning tomme, and gouda.
Sweet Land Farm welcomes visitors on Fridays and Saturdays, with two tours Saturday mornings. Tours run about one hour long. Sign up at the farm store fifteen minutes before the tour. Guests can shop and feed the goats without signing up for the farm tour.
For more information, visit https://www.sweetlandfarmhawaii.com/.
About 40 minutes from Ko Olina Beach Villas, all are welcome to celebrate Pa’ina Po’alima (Friday Party) at the Hawaii State Art Museum on August 26, 2022. In partnership with the Mayor’s Office on Culture and the Arts, the free, family-friendly evening of art and music will run from 6 PM to 9 PM. All museum galleries and the Sculpture Garden will also be open. Guests are invited to visit the exhibits and enjoy performances in the garden. Admission is free and all ages are welcome.
For more information, visit https://hisam.hawaii.gov/event/paina-poalima-august-2022/?instance_id=13112.
About 20 minutes from Ko Olina Beach Villas, visit Pearlridge Center’s Interactive Butterfly Exhibit at Wai Makai Center Court. The exhibit features hundreds of locally-raised monarch butterflies fluttering about island flora. Docents will explain the life cycle of these delightful insects and visitors can enjoy them – as a butterfly, chrysalis or even an egg – first-hand through a self-guided tour. All guests will have the opportunity to feed a butterfly. And if you stand very still, one may land on your head or shoulder.
The exhibit runs from July 1 to August 14, 2022. Admission is $6.25 per person and children under 2 are free with a paying adult. The exhibit is open 11 AM to 7 PM Monday through Saturday and 11 AM to 5 PM on Sunday.
About fifty minutes from Ko Olina Beach Villas, the Friendship Garden is a privately owned historic hidden gem that welcomes the public during daylight hours. The 10-acre park was developed in 1927 as part of a multiethnic neighborhood dedicated to harmonious living called Kokokahi, which translates to one blood.
Parking is limited to four off road spaces fronting the garden. Car tires must be off the road pavement to avoid being ticketed by the police, If the parking area is full, please park at the bottom of the hill and walk up, or come back another day. Week days are less busy. Please respect the residential nature of the neighborhood. You are a guest near their homes. The hourlong loop trail trail includes a stunning view of the bay, a bamboo grove and a shady stone amphitheater where you can pause to picnic.
Visit http://friendshipgarden.org/ for more information.
Chef Robynne Maii of Fête in Honolulu, about 30 minutes from Ko Olina Beach Villas, is a nominee for the prestigious 2022 James Beard Awards. She made the cut in the category of Best Chef: Northwest and Pacific (AK, HI, OR, WA).
A win would put Chef Maii in the limited company of chefs Roy Yamaguchi, Alan Wong, and George Mavrothalassitis. The last chef from Hawaii to claim a James Beard trophy was Mavrothalassitis, in 2003.
According to the James Beard Foundation, the Best Chefs category is for those who set high standards in their culinary skills and leadership abilities, and who are making efforts to help create a sustainable work culture in their respective regions. The winners will be named and celebrated at the awards ceremony on June 13, 2022.
To view Fete’s menu and book a reservation, visit https://www.fetehawaii.com/.