Born and raised in Southern California, sister design duo Oleema and Kalani Miller of MIKOH have always called the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii their second home–and purchasing homes there sealed the deal. “You wake up and the first thing you see is the ocean,” Kalani gushed, “I love the temperature and the communal feeling–the family vibes are everything, along with the slower pace of life.” Family vibes indeed; Oleema credits the amazing food on the island and the never-ending beaches and crystal clear waters for her Oahu obsession. Here, the countless shopping, dining and surfing spots that keep these sisters in love with their hometown.
The North Shore is light on shopping hot-spots, but there are chic boutiques (that also stock MIKOH!) like No. 808, Splash, San Lorenzo and the Guava Shop–they’re great to pop into after you’ve had some shave ice at Mastumoto. Take a day trip into town for the high-end boutiques; Ala Moana is great for a range of stores. While there’s everything from Chanel to Louis Vuitton on the island, Hawaii also has the most incredible vintage stores. We’ve scored great vintage finds at Salvation Army and Chinatown is an up-and-coming hub for super cool thrift and contemporary local finds. Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki has some of the best shops–shopping on the beach, what more could you want?!
A MIKOH bikini is always a must–we’re loving the Mokulua Top in Night paired with the Praia Bottom and the Belize Top paired with the Lahaina Bottoms in our Polynesian palm print. Shade Sunscreen is our go-to–and the higher SPF the better. LE PAUMEbikini wash is the first-ever wash specially created to prolong the life of your bikinis, it’s perfect for rinsing your suit after a dip in the ocean. MIKOH’s Amalfi Turkish Towel is great and doubles as a beach blanket, and Isabel Marant‘s boho sandals are perfect for Hawaii’s laid-back vibes. The number one essential is a versatile tote, like our Mako Tote–it easily translates from a beach bag to a carryall. A wide brimmed hat is both effortlessly stylish and also will protect you from the sun, and an easy throw-on dress like our Hamptons Dress that translates from the beach to the street is a both simple and chic.
While cooking at home definitely adds to the communal feel of the North Shore, make a quick drive to Haleiwa and you can find some delicious breakfast bowls; there’s even a cute shack where you can make your own açai bowl. For a coffee in town, head to Arvo, an Australian style coffee shop, for a chai latte with almond milk or their special lavender latte.
Bill’s in Waikiki is an all-time favorite and perfect for brunch on any day of the week. Their chopped salad and banana ricotta pancakes are to die for. Shave ice is a staple in Hawaii; go to The Local–they use all locally-sourced fruit to make the toppings and they share exactly where each ingredient is sourced from.
For a night in town, sushi at Nobu, Sasabune or Banzai Sushi in Haleiwa are foolproof–the fresh fish is top notch here. Dim Sum and Thai are also delicious here; our top spots for each are Jade Dynasty in Honolulu and The Elephant Truck for their green curry fried rice. Every Thursday night on the North Shore at Waimea there is a farmers market with a poke bowl stand that you can’t pass up.
In Oahu, a lot of cultural activities are outdoors and revolve around nature. There’s a hike in Kailua called Dead Man’s Catwalk which is amazing. Iolani Palace is great for experiencing Hawaii’s rich culture, and the Spalding House features a well-curated collection of art in the coolest house.
The Moana Surfrider Hotel in Waikiki is always my place to stay when in town, and it’s also a historical building. They have a special museum upstairs that you must walk in and see if you’re in the area. The Bishop Museum in Honolulu is an amazing resource as well, to learn more about the Hawaiian culture and to see artifacts and pieces that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. Hawaii is full of so much life and history, and just driving around the island is a great way to immerse yourself in the culture if you roll down your windows and open your eyes.
A must-do is to surf Waikiki, every single time the surf there is awesome. The Duke statue in Waikiki never disappoints either. We’ve seen it hundreds of times, but he was a pioneer of surfing and the monument truly embodies the Aloha spirit. A cocktail at sunset at A House Without A Key while watching the hula dancers perform is a Hawaii must.
If you’re able to visit Oahu in the winter months, making a trip up to the North Shore when the waves are big and surf contests are taking place is something you won’t be able to see anywhere else in the world. Make sure to see all four sides of the island and jump in the water and experience each of the different beaches. Some things that aren’t musts: any sort of organized tour and Lani’s Beach on the North Shore (you can see turtles there but there’s major traffic, too many people, and it’s not worth the time). The best way to see the island is to rent a car, ask the locals where to go and stop along the side of the road anytime something catches your eye.
DURING THE DAY
When in need of retail therapy, hit the shops at Ala Moana–the area has everything from Zara to Celine. We live on the North Shore, which is considered the countryside of the island, and the water in Kailua and Waimea Bay has the prettiest water. Canoes in Waikiki is the best place to learn how to surf (and seek out a local surfer to teach you how!); Lanikai Beach’s sand is bleach white, and the water is the most perfect shade of turquoise. Every hike has a unique type of view on offer–The Ehukai Pillbox Hike on the North Shore has breathtaking views of Pipeline.
Luckily there are eight Hawaiian islands and it’s always easy to island hop–some flights are only 15 minutes long and every island has its own unique characteristics. Kauai is known as the garden island and everything is so lush, and I love the Big Island, which also feels like a second home. When in need of some R&R, there’s no place like the North Shore to open a bottle of wine and watch the sunset with your friends.
If you’re craving a fun night out, Addiction at the Modern in Honolulu is a fun club. The North Shore is very quiet and most things are closed by 9pm, so if you’re looking for a bit more night life, then definitely head to the streets of Waikiki. Shops usually stay open until after 10 p.m., and there’s nothing more fun than having cocktails with girlfriends and having a late-night shopping session on the palm tree-lined streets of Waikiki.