My Backyard: Exploring Wahiawā

Welcome to a series highlighting neighborhoods and communities on O‘ahu!

The town of Wahiawā, centrally located in O‘ahu’s piko, or belly button in Hawaiian, is referred to as the “Gateway to the North Shore.” It’s a place to stop for gas or grab a quick bite, but if you’ve heard the phrase, “The joy is in the journey, not the destination,” then Wahiawā is part of that journey.

Right: A gravel pathway meanders through a portion of the Wahiawa Botanical Garden.
Left: The unusual and unique jade plant.
A gravel path meanders through part of the Wahiawa Botanical Garden.

The unusual and unique jade plant.

Wahiawa Botanical Garden
One of the popular places to explore is the 27-acre Wahiawa Botanical Garden. Stretch your legs on paved paths down to a forested ravine for an hour or so before hopping back in your car. Bring mosquito repellent! 1396 California Ave., (808) 621-7321, open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.

One of Sunnyside's most popular pies—the luscious Blueberry Cream!
One of the most popular pies at Sunnyside, luscious Blueberry Cream!

When it comes to food, Wahiawā won’t disappoint. Sunnyside is a favorite childhood memory filled with delicious pies. Locals hear the name, and blueberry cream and chocolate cream pies, as well as the pear and peach combo fruit pie immediately come to mind. Guaranteed! Stop in for breakfast—the fried rice special with an egg and a protein guarantees you’ll be back! 1017 Kilani Ave., (808) 621-7188, open 6 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Sun.


A family business, Dot’s is a landmark dating back to 1946. Over the years, the place has undergone many changes, but continues to serve the local community and nearby military folk from Schofield Barracks. The signature dish is the Sizzling Hamburger Steak with Onions and Gravy, a comfort dish if there ever was one, and oh-so delicious. The menu features other specialties, seafood and steak, Japanese entrees, sandwiches, noodle dishes and more. 130 Mango St., (808) 622-4115, restaurant and lounge open daily.

A favorite local combo at Shige's Saimin Stand, the Fried Saimin and BBQ Burger.
A popular combo at Shige's Saimin Stand is the Fried Saimin and BBQ Burger

Shige’s Saimin Stand
A mom and pop eatery, Shige’s Saimin Stand has been serving customers with a smile for more than 20 years. The homemade noodles is the big draw. Try it in the Fried Saimin or Won Ton Min accompanied by either a hamburger, teri burger, cheeseburger or BBQ sticks. Prices are really reasonable! 70 Kukui St., (808) 621-3621, opens 10 a.m. Mon.-Sat.

Kemo‘o Farms Bar & Grill
Another longtime establishment is located just outside of town. Kemo‘o Farms Bar & Grill was established in 1934, preceded by Old Kemo‘o Farms. Once known for its signature Happy Cake, the place now serves up classic and tasty bar food with local flair for lunch and dinner. Breakfast is available on weekends only. Catch live entertainment and seasonal sports too. 1718 Wilikina Dr., (808) 621-1835, open daily.

Inside the Green World Coffee Farm store.

Green World Coffee Farm
Heading just outside of Wahiawā on the way to the North Shore, Green World Coffee Farm sits in a triangular piece of land between Kamehameha Hwy., Kamananui Rd. and Kaukonahua Rd. Stop for a self-guided tour and coffee samplings. 71-101 N. Kamehameha Hwy., Map G:G6, open daily.

Dole Plantation
Wahiawā’s original moniker was “Land of a Million Pines,” in reference to the acres of pineapple that once grew here. This was where James Drummond Dole (1877-1958) built his empire and founded the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, which later became Dole Food Company. Dole Plantation, located past Green World Coffee, is a regular visitor stop, popular for its Pineapple Garden Maze, Pineapple Express Train Tour, Plantation Garden Tour and exclusive cool treat, the Dole Whip. 64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy., Map G:H5, (808) 621-8408, open daily. 

Home of the Dole pineapple complete with gift shop, restaurant, a garden tour, maze and more!Home of the Dole pineapple complete with gift shop, restaurant, a garden tour, maze and more!

Thanks for stopping by my hometown—Happy Travels!

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