Paepae o He'eia
Heeia, HI 96744, USA
Photo by LuxePaths Kurt Winner
Three Oahu Culinary Stops Worth DoingThe Island of O'ahu is home to most of the residents of the Hawaiian Islands. At under one million on an island that is just under 30 miles wide and 44 miles long, you might wonder where to get away to for a unique experience? We have some ideas that will inspire you, grow your appreciation for the land and the ocean, the Hawaiian culture, and perhaps motivate you to "kokua" or help by volunteering at one incredible Hawaiian place.
Over on the windward side Paepae o He'eia offers an educational eco-program to pre-preschoolers up to kupuna (elders) teaching traditional Hawaiian food systems. Created and managed by natve Hawaiians( kanaka maoli), it’s not a commercial venture.Their main project is continuing the Hawaiian agricultural system via the He’eia Fishpond restoration and turning it into a viable food source, and an eco-cultural educational resource facility for the Hawaiian community and for educators. It is a visual delight taking one back centuries ago, which also touches the soul when you begin to understand this incredible place in Ko’olaupoko on Kaneohe Bay at He’eia. At harvest time they share the fish with all who volunteer and the local families; and they offer that nourishment to body and soul through the connection to traditional foods. It takes hard work, dedication and aloha. You must make reservations, and while you are at it see if they need your volunteer help. There is no better way to appreciate the Hawaiian culture than to be immersed in the real culture and meet " real" Hawaiians. This place is unparalleled for the opportunity to learn about Hawaii and Hawaiian values.
No-doubt you have seen much of the valley at Kualoa Ranch as the background of various block-buster movies but if you visit Kualoa Private Nature Reserve and go on their “Taste of Kualoa Farm Tour” you will see so much more of this special O'ahu location. You’ll learn about one of the most well-preserved ancient Hawaiian fishing ponds which could be as old as 1000 years. Knowledgeable guides (mostly local residents) will explain the Hawaiian fishpond and it’s importance as part of the ahupua’a system to the Hawaiians. You’ll drive through tropical fruit and flower gardens, learn which plants were endemic, the history of plantation plants and canoe plants, and Kualoa’s take on modern agriculture and aquaculture. The land, wildlife, and bay views are exquisite here at Kualoa.
You’ll have to get up before the fish do to get to the Honolulu Fish Auction Tour at the Honolulu Harbor Piers. It’s the only fresh tuna auction in the United States and only open to chefs and wholesalers but you can go on an informative tour with advance reservation (some restrictions). Learn about quality, bidding, safety and strict fisheries management rules. Find out how long the boats are at sea, how market price is determined, what a quality fish is, sustainability and why you should only buy fish from the USA. And even better buy only Hawaii Seafood to support this market and fishermen who “follow the rules". If you are lucky John Kaneko, MS, DVM Program Manager, will be your guide. After you have developed an appreciation for the superb local fish, there is no better place to have that top grade Big-Eye Tuna or other fish of the day than Bali Steak and Seafood at Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort for dinner. This is high-end dining but be assured they get the absolute best fish and top cuts of beef for the restaurant. Reserve an ocean front table for sunset, sip your favorite cocktail and when your fish arrives, you will genuinely appreciate what it takes "behind the scenes" to get this quality fish from ocean to boat, to auction, to chef, and finally on to your plate.
I encourage you to seek these special O'ahu places out and make reservations. Do some research to learn more and plan before you visit O'ahu to make your stay extraordinary.