With Ala Moana as the largest outdoor shopping center in Hawaii, it’s easy to forget that other shopping venues exist. Take Windward Mall, for instance. Not many tourists realize they can get the best of both worlds when taking the scenic drive through the Koolau mountains. Shopping and sightseeing are both musts for any vacation.

While it may be a lot smaller than Ala Moana, this fully-enclosed mall on the east side of Oahu still manages to cover it all. It’s got a food court, 10-screen movie theater and a main stage area for entertainment. But what I like about this mall the most is that it offers a unique mix of nationally-recognized brands, as well as brands based in the islands. There are shops here not found anywhere else in Hawaii.

Thanks to a multimillion-dollar makeover several years ago, the mall has since made drastic improvements. The barf-orange tile flooring and walls I remember as a kid are gone. Thank goodnessI They’ve been replaced with a fresher, more modern theme that includes simple Hawaiian patterns and designs.

Together, the renovations have really upped the mall’s reputation. Like others, I used to think the mall sucked. It was dirty. The stores were limited and so were the food options.

Now, the mall’s a place for everyone in the family to enjoy and for the whole day, too. You could get lunch and do some shopping before watching a 3 o’clock movie. Then take the kids to the indoor play area downstairs or let them ride the train. Check out the farmers market if it’s Wednesday, and if there’s still some light left in the day, consider driving 10 minutes to Kailua Beach for a sunset swim or beach walk.

So, you see, there’s plenty to do outside of the hustle of Waikiki and Honolulu. In fact, you’ll welcome this mellow change of pace and want to come back for more!

WINDWARD MALL • 46-056 Kamehameha Hwy., Kaneohe, HI 96744 • Opens Mon-Sat 10am-9pm, Sun 10am-5pm • www.windwardmall.com • Free parking in lot; near bus route

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