Sure, there are cars on the roads and little foot traffic, but like many things in these uncertain times, it’s just not the same. So here’s what’s different and what you can expect to see if you visit HaleÊ»iwa now.
Over the summer, the writers of our sister publication Hawai’i Magazine explored various areas of the state to find the community under various COVID-19 restrictions. This story originally appeared as “What Hale’iwa Looks Like Right Now” in July 2020 on Hawaiian Magazine.
The queue at Matsumoto Shave Ice is still at the door, but barely.
Photos: Kevin Allen
IIt is a strange feeling to walk through a relatively empty Hale’iwa. It’s not a bad feeling, but it’s not fair. Being born and raised in the area – I’m from PÅ«pÅ«kea just north of Hale’iwa – I had grown used to seeing massive amounts of visitors and residents all contributing to the electrifying hustle and bustle that defines the place. But due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, energy in the region has now been replaced by a low hum of activity. Sure, there are cars on the roads and little foot traffic, but like many things in these uncertain times, it’s just not the same. So here’s what’s different and what you can expect to see if you visit HaleÊ»iwa now.
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The main street of Hale’iwa devoid of cars on a Thursday afternoon.
What has changed
While some stores have decided to remain closed, such as Clark Little Gallery and Uncle Bo’s PÅ«pÅ« Bar & Grill, most businesses in Hale’iwa have reopened to customers. Visitors will be happy to know that most of the shrimp trucks, especially those in the food truck plaza directly across from McDonald’s, are again serving plates full of garlic shrimp, without the long lines. You read that correctly: Giovanni had nothing to say when I visited.
Speaking of disturbing little lines, Matsumoto Shave Ice only had a dozen clients waiting to get a syrupy cone of goodness, which is possibly the smallest queue I have ever seen at Matsumoto – and I worked there.
One of Hale’iwa’s best smelling stores will close for good.
Many other stores and boutiques in New Downtown Hale’iwa, like Mahina Boutique and Polu Gallery Hale’iwa, are also returning, but don’t expect to enter without a mask. Some stores also don’t accept cash, to avoid accidental contamination, so make sure you have plastic on hand.
While many businesses and services are still trying to find their way through these unfortunate economic times, some have had to cut their losses. The Soap Cellar, which has been on its Hale’iwa site for more than two decades, was trying to empty its supply of soap at a store closing sale when I last visited as it prepares to close. definitively. Another Hale’iwa staple, Oceans in Glass, known for its intricate pieces of glass-blown sea life and waterscapes, also sported a âStore Closing Saleâ sign.
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Like many businesses in Hale’iwa, Coffee Gallery requires a mask at the entrance.
If you’re hungry, but want to eat healthy, the Beet Box CafÃ© has take out and limited outdoor seating and has one of the best veggie burgers in town.
Need a little rest and relaxation? Hale’iwa’s Ali’i Beach Park – it’s right next to Surf & Sea, if you’re struggling to find it – is as empty as it has ever been, and there’s more to it than enough room for social distancing.
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How’s that for social distancing?
Where to park
Honestly, you can expect to find rows of empty booths in any public parking lot in Hale’iwa. I would recommend driving and parking at every place you want to visit, instead of parking in a central location and walking.
Having the option to park your car in the shrimp truck plaza, then drive to downtown Hale’iwa and find a stall in its normally busy grounds is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.