Oahu: Wahiawa

A jaunt through Wahiawa, O‘ahu’s metaphorical and literal center

Nestled between the Wai'anae and Ko'olau mountains en route to the North Shore, Wahiawa occupies O'ahu's metaphorical and literal center. Once home to Dole's original 1901 pineapple cannery, this tenacious plantation town conjures Hawai'i's agricultural past and its enduring military bases-century-old Schofield Barracks and historic Wheeler Army Airfield are nearby. But Wahiawa's modern-day charms might be one of its best-kept secrets.

DO

Visit the unassuming 5-acre field that embraces one of O'ahu's most important cultural sites, the ancient Kukaniloko Birthstones—broad, flat obsidian stones where Hawaiian ali'i were born. 100 yards west of the signal at Highway 80 and Whitmore Avenue. Once a 1930s-era experimental arboretum, the 27-acre Wahiawa Botanical Garden is a shady oasis perched above a forested ravine. 1396 California Avenue. 808-522-7060; tinyurl.com/wbgarden. 

Enliven your evenings at Surfers Coffee with open-mic Wednesdays and live-music Fridays. Its volunteer staff donates all proceeds to local and global causes. 63 S. Kamehameha Highway. 808-439-3644; surferscoffee.com.

SHOP

Women's boutique Niu is home to exclusive Pacific Rim fashion brands like Australia's Cocobella Lifestyle. 57 S. Kamehameha Highway. 808-600-7052; iheartniu.com. 

Flaunt town pride with eponymous wahiawa tees and caps from local designer 6Sixty Apparel that are sold alongside a full range of men's and women's sportswear. 660 California Avenue. 808-200-2418; 6sixtyapparel.com. 

After free tours and samples from the store at this tranquil, 7-acre Arabica farm, bring home Green World Coffee's 100 percent Hawaiian coffee. Coffee beans are roasted on-site daily. 71-101 Kamehameha Highway. 808-622-2326; greenworldcoffeefarm.com.

EAT

Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonades serves more than 15 locally sourced flavors of made-to-order lemonade in reusable mason jars, from tart liliko'i to minty mojito. 43 S. Kamehameha Highway. 808-726-1077; wowwowhawaiianlemonade.com. 

Maui Mike's fire-roasts tender, flavorful chicken for sandwiches or whole-bird feasts complete with a choice of seven dipping sauces that range from ranch to Lava Hot. 96 S. Kamehameha Highway. 808-622-5900; mauimikes.com. 

Order ahead to score Uber Factory's decadent ube (Filipino purple yam) tarts, or queue up early before classic and new flavors sell out. 71 S. Kamehameha Highway; fb.com/uberfactory.