Ready to take a trip to Hawaii with the help of a local? Amber Thibaut, a heymama member and owner of Coco Moon, is sharing some of her go-to spots in Hawaii. From her favorite botanical garden to the go-to boutiques to where she loves to grab a brew, you’ll discover so many cool things to do from Amber and what she loves about Hawaii. Read on…
Tell us about your company.
Coco Moon is a Hawaii-based lifestyle brand that brings the spirit and warmth of Aloha home, no matter where in the world home may be. Our collection of elevated baby essentials showcases iconic island imagery and tropical motifs across a range of clothing and accessories.
What do you love about Hawaii?
I live on the Windward Side of the island of Oahu, in Kailua, a small town with a laid-back vibe and super friendly people. Oahu is known as “The Gathering Place,” which, is in the urban center of the island, translates to meaning fast-paced and crowded. But to get to Kailua from that urban center, you have to go up and through the mountains via a series of tunnels. As you approach the tunnels, you can feel the air start to change. It’s a little cooler. The mountains are a lot greener. And, often, there’s mist in the air. Once you cross through that tunnel and exit the other side, it feels as if you’ve entered a whole new world. You exit to panoramic views of turquoise waters, small islets dotting the horizon, and mountains speckled with waterfalls bordering your drive. No matter how many times I cross through that tunnel, a calming feeling of home greets me every time.
Where’s the best place to go with kids in Hawaii?
The wonderful thing about Hawaii is that the outdoors truly is your playground and there are no shortage of great kid-friendly options near Kailua. One of our favorites is the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden. Not only is its setting gorgeous, but my kids love feeding the ducks and going fishing in the large pond in the middle of the gardens. You can bring your own bait (white bread works great!), borrow an old-school bamboo fishing pole from the office, and have fun with the catch and release program on site. The fish bite easily and wriggle like crazy when hooked. It is such a thrill for the little ones to bring in a feisty little fish.
What’s your favorite local treat?
My favorite local indulgence is called a “malasada,” which is a Portuguese donut without the hole. And let me tell you, it is a fried, sugary taste of heaven. The unassuming Agnes Portuguese Bake Shop in Kailua has the best malasadas I’ve ever had. The best part is that you can give them a call about 10 minutes before you’re planning to arrive. They then cook your malasadas to order so that they are fresh, hot, and just the right amount of crispy when you get there.
What would you do in Hawaii if you had a kid-free weekend?
If I had a kid-free weekend on my hands, I’d definitely spend as much time as I could in the ocean. Surfing is my first love, but one that often takes a back seat to time with the kids and running my business. One day, my kids will be old enough to surf with me and I can’t wait for that day. But until then, I’ve got to sneak in surf sessions on my own when I can.
During this time of year, the place to go is the North Shore of Oahu, which is about an hour’s drive from Kailua. While we’re dreaming about this weekend, I’d score a great, uncrowded session with perfect waves. Then I’d spend some time shopping in the small town of Haleiwa, which has some of my favorite shops, including The Growing Keiki, Guava Shop, and SoHa Living.
If the surf was no good that weekend, I’d switch gears to do a hike that is a little too challenging for my young kids – the Lanikai Pillbox hike. This hike sports the winning trifecta – it’s close to home, burns the booty on the way up, and has an absolutely gorgeous view at the top that never gets old.
I’d then meet up with some mama friends for happy hour at Maui Brewing Company in Waikiki, which makes my favorite beer, the Pau Hana Pilsner. “Pau Hana” means “done with work,” so it’d be a great cap to a great day in more ways than one.
What’s the best place for coffee?
As much as I love coffee, my go to caffeinated beverage is actually a matcha latte. Anuenue Tea in Kailua town is a super cute spot where I often work and sip on a perfectly sweet matcha latte. The walls of this tea shop are decorated in turquoise and yellow, which happen to be my favorite colors, so my creative juices always seem to flow well when I’m there.
What about the best boutique?
I’d be lying if I said that Kailua’s boutique scene wasn’t another reason why I loved my town. It is home to a handful of great, locally owned shops, which are crucial for a Hawaii shop-a-holic’s survival this time of year. Why you may ask? Well one of the most frustrating things about living in Hawaii, shopping wise, is that non-local retailers ignore the fact that we don’t have huge seasonal changes for fall and winter. They follow their mainland buying patterns and bring in coats and sweaters and boots and all these things that are pretty worthless to us when it’s still 80 degrees out.
My favorite local boutique is called Fighting Eel, which features their own made in Hawaii brand, as well as others. Their clothes are simple, easy-to-wear and figure flattering. If I’m in a pinch and “need” a new outfit (or a piece of jewelry), Fighting Eel is my go-to shop.