Makiki Highlight: Hidden Gems of Your Oahu Neighborhood (Part 1)

The neighborhood of Makiki, stretching east to west from Punahou Street to Pensacola Street and north to south from Round Top Drive/Makiki Heights Drive to Lunalilo Freeway, is a desirable Honolulu community to live in.


Makiki's night sky is beautiful and there are many things to do here

Located near schools, world-class shopping, recreation, and the central business district downtown, with easy access to major roadways, far enough from the tourist hustle of Waikiki (but in actuality only 2 miles away), Makiki is a diverse and varied place with residents from all walks of life. Here you’ll find homes of all shapes and sizes, from historical homes to modest yet comfortable condominiums and walk-ups.

Here are some free or low-cost hidden gems nestled in the neighborhood, ready for enjoyment by residents and visitors alike:

  1. Makiki Farmer’s Market
  2. Makiki Community Library
  3. Spalding House – The Contemporary Museum
  4. Auntie Pasto’s Restaurant
  5. Hawaii Nature Center

1. Makiki Farmer’s Market

Every Thursday evening from 4:30-7:30 pm, to the Makiki Farmer’s Market is held at the parking lof of St. Clements Church on the corner of Wilder Avenue and Makiki Street.  You’ll usually find a decent selection of fresh local produce items – fruits and veggies – as well as a half-dozen prepared food vendors such as crepes, Thai, dessert and plate lunches, and condiments and sauces.

Makiki Farmers Market

Makiki Farmer's Market is great for getting dinner after work and fresh vegetables

Restricted street parking on Wilder pens up at 5:30pm, but why not take it in the old-fashioned way and walk there? Take your food to Makiki District park next door and have yourself a sunset picnic.

2. Makiki Community Library (MCL)

Makiki must be a literate place because libraries are booming here! The community is fortunate to be served by several public libraries in the Hawaii State Public Library System, such as the Manoa and McCully public libraries, but members of the community wanted to create a library that served Makiki. In 2009 this dream became a reality.

Funded by donors in the community and staffed by volunteers from the Friends of Makiki Library with donated books, the Makiki Community Library, located on 1527 Ke’eaumoku Street, just mauka of Lunalilo Freeway in the Makiki District Park, is a stand-alone, independent library that currently has a sizable book collection as well as internet-enabled computers for public use.

Truly a hidden gem, the library has a good selection of nonfiction, Hawaiiana, adult fiction, as well as a nice Children’s book section complete with a separate reading area with seating for keiki. AV materials and CDs are also available for loan.

Anyone can sign up for a card – one need not be a Makiki resident to apply – and books are loaned on an honor system. The hours are 12-4 pm Saturdays and Sundays and 2-6pm on Wednesdays.

3. Spalding House (Formerly The Contemporary Museum)

Located a mile up on Makiki Heights Drive, the Spalding House houses a fine collection of over 3,000 pieces of contemporary and modern sculpture, painting, photography, and other works, with exhibitions that change regularly. Formerly an independent museum, it was merged with the Honolulu Museum of Art in 2011.


Spalding House was donated to the Contemporary Art Museum now part of the Honolulu Museum

The lushly landscaped grounds with a terraced garden and tennis courts below showcase the building, which were originally a gorgeous 1920’s style home owned by benefactor and art collector Anna Rice Cooke. Also featured is a permanent exhibit created by the late David Hockney, a set for the opera L’enfant et les sortilèges.

The Spalding House café on the grounds, serving beverages and light lunch fare, offers a nice respite from touring the grounds and galleries. Admission includes a same-day pass to the Honolulu Museum of Art; free reciprocal admission is available for members of select museums in the continental U.S.

4. Auntie Pasto’s

On the corner of Beretania and Pensacola Street in lower Makiki is the beloved Italian hole-in-the-wall, Auntie Pasto’s. Founded 27 years ago, the eatery is a popular no-frills neighborhood choice for a low-key dinner, first date, or after-movie snack (featuring a robust late night happy hour 8:00-10:00pm/closing).

Nothing fancy, just solid American-style Italian food. Often-recommended dishes include the Margherita pizza, stuffed mushrooms, and spinach and cream fettucine. Thursdays you can indulge in the ½ off a bottle of wine special, and kids eat free Mondays. Open for lunch.

5. The Hawaii Nature Center

Looking for a weekend activity that’s family friendly and in your neighborhood? The Hawaii Nature Center offers environmental and outdoor educational programs for keiki (children) in their facilities located at 2131 Makiki Heights Drive within the Makiki Valley State Recreation Area.

Nature Center

Check out the Hawaii Nature Center

Programs are primarily hands-on and conducted outdoors in the field, exposing children to a range of ecosystems in watershed, coastal, marsh, and forest environments with the habitats of Makiki valley as the laboratory! Programs and workshops vary but are generally for kids 3 years and up.

Examples include:

Intersession programs are also offered for kids on school break. HNC also coordinates more challenging guided trail hikes for adults. Membership fees for families are tax deductible; weekend workshops are open to non-members for a small fee.

Bonus Tip – The Nature Center is also about a hundred yards fro the trailhead for the Kanealole and Maunalaha trails, which are excellent, easy to moderate hikes that connect to others in the Makiki-Tantalus trail system.

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