Truth from Dare: Rediscovering Waikiki

Jan. 9, 2013 | 3 Comments

BY DERIN DEREGO / Special to the Star-Advertiser

In the spirit of the New Year, I’ve been starting off 2013 by doing things that are out of my comfort zone. I figure now’s the time to ride the momentum of being open to new experiences as it’s inevitable that I’ll return to my usual routine soon enough. I am, like most, a creature of habit after all.

This past weekend I had a staycation in an attempt to rediscover Waikiki.

<em>Waikiki — it's not just for tourists. (Star-Advertiser File)</em>

Waikiki — it's not just for tourists. (Star-Advertiser File)

Like many locals, I don’t spend a lot of time in the area because of the parking madness and overwhelming foot traffic. I posted up in the Seaside Hotel, a boutique hotel going through renovations and is in the midst of being rebranded as the Shoreline Waikiki. You probably have never noticed it, as for a long time is was the private lodgings for United Airlines’ employees.

The renovations look great so far, but the best part of the hotel is the location, directly across the brand new Ross store and above Cha Cha Cha Mexican restaurant. The latter was very convenient for grabbing a bite and drink before a night out.

Because I was in Waikiki for the weekend, I opted not to stray out of the area and check out some of the places within walking distance that I don’t frequent enough.

If you’re a fan of all things fashion and beauty, you have to check out Beauty After Dark at DFS Waikiki. Most of you have probably never set foot in the store thinking it was for international travelers only, but that’s not the case. The first floor boutiques and the impressive second floor cosmetics area — the largest in the state — are both open to the public for shopping. Every Saturday night from 8 to 10 p.m., they offer beauty consultations over the backdrop of free champagne and DJs.

<em>Bacchus Waikiki. (Courtesy photo)</em>

Bacchus Waikiki. (Courtesy photo)

Later that night I checked out Bacchus, the predominantly gay bar that has taken over the space formerly occupied by Pane Vino. Selfishly, I must admit that I miss having the option of Pane Vino as a go-to for an intimate wine gathering with friends. However, the laid-back atmosphere of Bacchus provides a nice change of scenery to the usual haunts frequented by the gay community.

My next stop was Genius Lounge, located just makai of Kuhio Ave. on Lewers St. Genius is another spot many people may have never been inside. Its located on the third floor of a townhome structure that’s been converted into a clothing boutique. Take the side stairway up to the third floor and you’ll discover a hidden gem with delicious tapas, great lounge spaces and relaxing downtempo music.

My gameplan for Sunday was simple. First, Sunday brunch at Michel’s at the Colony Surf with a few of my closest friends. It was a great way to kick of the year as we feasted on oysters, French toast, eggs benedict, ribeye steak and salmon selections off their popular monthly menu. Of course, the main draw for Michel’s is the amazing view, but the morning cocktail selections were a close second, bringing a nice close to a much needed post-holiday getaway.

Going back to my interest in fashion, I wouldn’t say it’s a passion of mine, but I do appreciate the many points of view it can convey. Two people can be wearing the same garment in totally different ways and be illustrating two completely different takes on it. My admiration for this duality is what will take me to “Abstract Noir” on Friday, Jan. 11. Produced by local designer Caleb Shinobi, the event takes place at the CoXist Studio on Keawe St. in Kakaako.

<em>Ludacris. (Courtesy photo)</em>

Ludacris. (Courtesy photo)

In keeping with trying new things, on Saturday, Jan. 12, I’m also attending the latest edition of “Discover Kakaako” at Ward Centers. The event takes place on the massive street level lot fronting the Ward Theaters and will include workshops by various Ward Warehouse merchants, food truck vendors, and even a free concert by local music favorites, Kapena.

Its looking like I’ll mainly be posted up in the Ward area all weekend as after I rediscover Kakaako, I’ll be heading to the Ludacris show at Blaisdell Arena. The hip-hop superstar, whose career has spanned more than a decade, takes the stage Saturday with his live band. Ludacris is one of the few artists from my hip-hoppin’ hey day who I’ve never seen live, so I’m eagerly anticipating the show.

There’s a lot more going on this weekend, so try and do something out of the ordinary — because before you know it, it’ll be spring and we’ll all be falling back into the same routines.
When he’s not out and about at the hottest parties and other events in Honolulu, Derin “Dare” Derego works as an account executive at a local radio station group. Reach him via email at or follow him on Twitter.

  • Kevin S. Oshiro

    DFS Galleria during Halloween is so much fun. I went in 2011 – I checked out the what the Japanese tourists were wearing. They are very creative. The Ward Warehouse thing should be great ! (I missed the last one, which had some fashion show). The Luda(cris) concert should be off the chain/hook !!!

  • Kevin S. Oshiro

    it’s great to re-discover Waikiki – go to places where the tourists rarely go to.. which is always fun, a hidden gem like a small secluded beach or a small posh bar (Hang 10) where the locals hardly go to (like the small one in the Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio Hotel, where the infamous Mac 24/7 restaurant is (Man vs. Food with Adam Richman) or the Paris Ultralounge at the Hawaiian Monarch Honolulu (444 Niu Street), not to be confused with Pearl, the one in the Ala Moana Shopping Center).

  • Applied Visual

    Thanks for this great info. I love being a tourist in my own city. Paris Ultralounge sounds like something worth checking out. At the risk of sounding odd, it’s a challenge to find “really “entertaining things to do in Hawaii. Then again, I’m originally from New Orleans where there’s always something happening. I still have yet to find the spot that plays the right music form my taste, but I live here now so I have time to explore. Aloha.