Recently, the Oʻahu Airbnb community united for Hawaii’s first-ever Airbnb merchant walk in Haleʻiwa.
Airbnb guests stay longer and spend more money in the neighborhoods they visit than typical hotel guests, and many guests visit businesses based on their hosts’ recommendations. Merchant walks help introduce hosts to new and interesting small businesses that they can recommend to their guests. In Haleʻiwa, hosts toured local hotspots, took in the sights, and learned more about the neighborhood’s vibrant small business community.
The merchant walk started at Haleiwa Joe’s, where hosts sampled drinks and light pupus before setting out on their walk.
“Airbnb is about having a community,” said Kanani Oury, the operations manager at Haleiwa Joe’s. “They want to turn vacations into a home away from home. That is part of what we do at our restaurant—trying to make things as authentic as possible. We don’t want Haleʻiwa to be a resort town, but we want to help to make tourists and locals feel at home.”
The North Shore—and Haleʻiwa in particular—is well known for being the surfing capital of the world. But something people may not know is that Haleʻiwa is also home to a number of galleries and art shops: In fact, the neighborhood hosts a monthly art walk to showcase the many works on display in shops across the area.
One of the more popular galleries on the North Shore is the famed Wyland Galleries. There’s also, Polu Gallery, which features artists known internationally as well as locally. Hosts briefly stopped by, admiring the quality of the art and remarking on how these places could be marketed to their guests.
Further up the Kamehameha Highway, Airbnb hosts went to the well known Uncle Bo’s Bar & Grill, where the Assistant Manager Darnell Uneda, treated them to some of Uncle Bo’s famed Boca-Rotta, a local delicacy, and small glasses of wine. She also gave a short presentation on the history of the business.
Darnell spoke of her experience with Airbnb, “It’s nice to meet new hosts as well as other business owners in the area. Some of them were frequent customers, but others were new. It is really nice to keep things local and help out local businesses. We really appreciated seeing the new faces and introducing them to Uncle Bo’s here in Haleʻiwa.”
Nearing the end of the walk, the groups went by Scoop of Paradise, a locally owned homemade ice cream shop. Ever popular for their locally sourced ice cream, hosts were delighted to learn about some of the other items sold there such as learning based toys and Hawaiian authored books. Patti of Golden of Scoop of Paradise said, “The north shore has only one hotel, Airbnb brings more people here which supports our economy… Also it’s a more intimate place for people to be stay”
I was most surprised by the generosity and creativity of the shop owners. “I always enjoy getting the chance to meet new hosts and learn about new places in our community”
-Carolyn, Hawaiʻi host
To wrap up the evening, the group got together for Pau Hana at the World Surf League HQ in Haleʻiwa. There they had the chance to interact with many of the store owners and managers they had seen along the route as well as enjoying food from two very popular Waialua shops; Jerry’s Pizza & Paradise Fresh Food. The World Surf League is a global partner with Airbnb.
“Beyond world famous waves, it’s a close knit community spirit that makes the North Shore of Oʻahu so special. Any opportunity to come together and host our community is an opportunity we welcome. We are stoked to see Airbnb bringing people together. It’s the best way to share what the North Shore and our community is about.”
Jodi Wilmott, a General Manager of World Surf League.
Hosts were able to whet their palate one final time as Il Gelato Cafe, the proud home of Team Gelato USA from 2014-2017. Hosts tried a variety of favorites offered by the restaurant and noted they were delicious. The Airbnb community really enjoyed getting to know a little bit more about the places they recommend to their guests from around the world.