The popularity of vlogs and podcasts have skyrocketed of late, with viewers and listeners tuning in to keep abreast of things that are of interest to them. For the travel industry, they serve two purposes. For one, they give travelers insight into things-to-do and what to expect prior to visiting a destination. But they also provide a digital bridge to stay connected to their favorite vacation destinations when they can’t actually be there. This is why vlogs and podcasts from Hawaii erupted like Kīlauea through 2020-21 as mainlanders were not able to hop on a flight without facing extreme restrictions. In fact, it’s that latter scenario that we’d like to explore.
If you subscribe to digital content to stay connected to the islands then you want it from those who actually live on them. Yes, there a number of online magazines and a bikini-clad pro-vloggers on the islands that have thousands of YouTube subscribers. But while they certainly have their place in promoting hot spots and hidden gems, the takeaways aren’t all that different from what you find on the Instagram feeds for popular hashtags about Hawaii. Instead, we wanted to focus on those who provide an unfiltered look and listen experience. The channels below provide a unique perspective and a couple even allow you to listen in on some engaging conversations that you won’t find with most others found on YouTube and Spotify.
Authentic Vlogs and Podcasts to Watch and Listen To When You Want to Stay in Tune with Hawaii (when stuck on the mainland)
You don’t have to be a fan of pro-surfing to enjoy the Jamie O’Brien (a semi-pro surfer) vlog. Jamie’s constant jollification is infectious as he takes viewers on a journey that involves exploration of Oahu’s many wave-spots. But he also gets into non-surfing hijinks with his friends, filmers, dogs (Grom and Reef), and girlfriend Tina Cohen who also has an entertaining channel (here). Experience Oahu through the ever psyching eyes of J.O.B..
The Aloha Hour
The Aloha Hour with Johny and Dewey is a podcast that is filmed for YouTube once per week. Like many of its kind, it started during the lockdowns of 2020, providing a voice to Hawaiian business owners who had their livelihoods plucked away from them during government enforced shutdowns. Johny is the founder of Hawaiian Aroma Caffe, and his Beachcomber by Outrigger location is the best cafe in Waikiki Beach. The excitable wildcard of the duo is Dewey Doan of the Kekoa Collective, a Hawaiian lifestyle brand that “gives back” and does amazing things for the community.
What we really love about this fledgling but engaging pair of podcasters, is the lineup of guests that pay them a visit each week. They give much deserved exposure to both legends and up-and-comers in Hawaii’s media, entertainment, hospitality, sports, and scientific scenes, while diving into both cultural and sociopolitical issues without ever losing sight of the aloha-spirit. Subscribe here.
It’s a Hawaii Thing
It’s a Hawaii Thing is a light-hearted video podcast from co-hosts Lanai Tabura and Brook Lee. Tabura is a recognizable figure in Hawaii, with a pedigree in TV hosting and production, acting, stand-up comedy, DJing, and has even authored a Hawaiian cookbook. He’s a proverbial braddah’ of all trades, so to speak. You may also know his co-host Brook Lee who was crowned Miss Hawaii USA in 1997 before going on to win Miss USA and ultimately take the title as Miss Universe in the same year. Both are doing Pacific Islanders proud around the globe, and they are a delight to watch and listen to as they invite local, national, and international celebrities and personalities into their studio each week. The lively duo dishes on everything from local music and film to travel and food with a smattering of social commentary.
The Smith Brothers
We return to the surf world for some more light-hearted fun from the Smith Brothers of the North Shore Oahu, including Koa, Travis, and Alex. Beyond their accolades in pro-surfing and on the fashion runway (the chiseled Travis dabbles in modeling) they are successful entrepreneurs as owners of The Sunrise Shack franchise. They have two locations on the North Shore, one on the south side of the island at the Outrigger Waikiki, and more opening up in Japan and around the world. The Sunrise Shack is often a jump-off or pit-stop for the Smith Bros and their crew as they film their vlog. If you’re on-site enjoying one of their superfood bowls or bullet coffees you may very well make the next episode. Like Jamie O’Brien there is a healthy dose of surfing in their vlog, but they also offer ocean awareness tips for visitors and provide plenty of entertainment as they show off the island that they call home.
Did we miss someone that you think we should check out? We’re happy to watch and listen! Message us through our Facebook page with the link the vlog or podcast we’ll hit play.