The sun’s already climbed and crested Diamond Head, as I sit on the lanai of my oceanfront room at Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach
. Voices of squealing kids and surf instructors float up to my eighth-floor perch. In less than a day, the sound of ocean surf ebbing and flowing has already become white noise, comforting me on a subconscious level that I hardly notice it anymore. Amazing how quickly we tune in to our surroundings, isn’t it?
Yesterday, I did a little shopping in search of a few perfect gifts for the holidays. Because even though I have taken up the tradition of giving gifts that do good, I still like to give—and, ahem, receive—the perfect gift.
Here are a few items that caught my eye. What I like about these is that they are locally made and unique. Gifts that you probably won’t find at Hawaii’s ubiquitous ABC stores;-)
1. Martin & MacArthur: I went in this store, located at Outrigger Reef on the Beach, thinking I would find something made of koa. I had purchased a limited edition koa watch for my husband here before. I knew they also sold koa cases for iPhone and iPads and sunglasses with koa trim. Martin & MacArthur provides a home for the hand-crafted work of 200+ Hawaii-based woodworkers. But the thing that caught my eye on this visit wasn’t something made of prized koa—a hardwood tree endemic to Hawaii. It was a bowl made from Norfolk Pine, a tree that was introduced to Hawaii by Captain Cook some 250 years ago. The artist, Michael Patrick Smith, designs his bowls by burning them. It’s an artistic technique called pyrography. This part of the process of turning, sanding and designing requires 80% of the time required to make his bowls.
2. Sacred Jewels of Mu:
There are a couple reasons why Hawaii is not known as the seashell collecting capitol of the
world, as a quick walk on the beach will reveal. One, Hawaii’s warm tropical waters are not conducive to critters who live inside shells, so, you won’t find mussels and oysters here. That’s not to say there aren’t any marine mollusks in Hawaii, but, two, Hawaii’s famous big winter waves crashing on shore can be hazardous to the discovery or unbroken shells. However, if your luck is good, you might find the prized sunrise shell, which supposedly got its name because it’s easiest to find in early morning light. That and the colors also resemble a sunrise. Stories say these shells were considered sacred to ancient Hawaiians and only worn by royalty. At Sacred Jewels of Mu at Waikiki Beach Walk
, jewelers set these exquisite shells in original, hand-engraved designs of white and yellow gold, often off-set with a string of diamonds. Because each shell is a different size and shape, each setting is unique. No molds are used here and no two designs are alike. I particularly loved their honu, turtle, design, which featured the shell as the turtle’s carapace.
3. Honolulu Cookie Co:
No holiday is complete without cookies. This year’s holiday collection from Honolulu Cookie Co. at Waikiki Beach Walk features the pineapple motif in the cookies’ mold, as well as, its gift box design, all in a nod to the heritage of Hawaiian quilting. And this year’s limited edition flavor is ginger spice, only available during the holidays. I liked the ginger spice tin with a silver pineapple topping the lid.
4. Under the Koa Tree:
How could you not buy a gift to go under the Christmas tree from an art gallery with a name like this one:
Under the Koa Tree? What caught my eye at this Outrigger Beach Walk gallery were platters made of fused glass, inspired by the undulating flows of lava on Hawaii Island, where the artist lives. She combines glass threads, color shards and fine glass powders with layers of dichroic glass that she stacks and fires. Each piece is striated with 22 karat gold accents. The effect is reminiscent of molten lava itself and “moves” as the light changes. It’s like the artist has captured a moment in time of flowing lava.
5. Island Treasures:
This art gallery, located at Outrigger Reef on the Beach, is jam-packed with originals and prints of 35+ local Oahu artists, including Patrice Federspiel, Edgardo Garcia, Leatrice Miyashiro, and Akima Tsurugi. The gallery is an ode to Hawaii with turtles, mermaids, landscapes, seascapes, Hawaiian flowers, surfers, hula girls in a variety of mediums—watercolor, oil, pastel, acrylic and photography. I’m sure it was the fact that Rebecca Snow was painting yesterday when I stopped in—it’s always fun to meet the artists themselves—and so I particularly liked her bright acrylics of surfer girls. Probably because I also like to see women breaking barriers and taking on unconventional roles. (Speaking of which, watch for an upcoming blog post on Kaiulani Murphy, one of the up-and-coming navigators of Hokulea.)
6. Pele Signatures:
I’ve walked by this sliver of a shop at Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach probably a dozen times.
Now, I cannot believe I’ve never stopped in before. And based on the gift bag with which I walked out, I am sure my first won’t be my last visit. Back in 2008, when the housing market dropped, Geoff Amezcua had an inspiration. He told his wife Crystal it was time to convert their home-building skills into making high-quality, wood-crafted pens. From homes to pens. That’s right. Geoff starts the process by cutting and inlaying the wood into colorful combinations. Crystal takes over from there, hand turning, sanding and finishing each pen. They only use woods in their natural color. No stains, dyes or acrylics are used. The Hawaii collection features wood found here—koa, milo, mango, lychee and monkeypod, for example. But the really colorful stuff comes from the exotic woods sourced from around the world—paduak, vera, yellow heart, and ebony. They use over 65 different woods to make their hand-inlaid pens. Do you have a writer on your gift list? You can’t go wrong with one of these pens. Trust me. Hint. Hint.
7. Eddie Would Go T-shirt:
Every year, the waiting period for the Quiksilver in Honor of Eddie Aikau opens on December 1st. During the next three months, the surf event runs only if waves at Waimea Bay on Oahu’s North Shore reach the minimum requirement of 20 feet, the size that Eddie loved. Eddie was the first lifeguard at Waimea Bay in the late 1960s. He saved thousands of people from drowning throughout his life, giving his when he set off on a surfboard in the middle of the night—in treacherous seas, far off-shore—in an attempt to seek help for his fellow sailors stranded on an upside-down Hokulea south of Molokai. Quiksilver’s collection of “Eddie” t-shirts at Waikiki Beach Walk memorializes the man who is considered a modern day Hawaiian hero. #eddiewouldgo
As I write this, my eyes drift from my computer screen to the beach scene below me. There are paddlers on surfboards, stand-up boards and kayaks. Kids on colorful green and pink inflatables bobbing around. A heron skimming the coastline. I can hear the sound of conch shell being blown on a sailing catamaran off-shore. It’s 79 degrees and sunny. This is classic Waikiki. Your typical Waikiki day. But what I love and what never fails to impress me in Waikiki is the color of the water, thanks to the predominantly sandy ocean substrate here. It’s a light turquoise? Pale jade? Celadon? Azure? Cerulean? I can never quite put my finger on the color. Maybe that’s why I am always enamored by it. For me, it’s the pull that draws me to Waikiki--what I look forward to the most when returning. What about you? What amazes you and draws you back to Waikiki—or some other special place in Hawaii?