A Little History…
When industrialist Henry J. Kaiser began to develop Hawaii Kai in the early 1960’s, many residents on Oahu didn’t think the area would garner much interest, as it was considered too far away from the city of Honolulu. Little did they know, the “planned” community would ultimately become one of Hawaii’s most desirable areas to live in. In the Hawaiian language, Hawaii Kai translates to “community by the sea,” and its meaning is evident in its design, as the area was built and dredged around the ancient Maunalua fishpond to form large inlets and waterways dotted with single-family homes and condominium complexes. The southeast corner of Oahu offers the azure, crystalline waters of Hanauma Bay, pounding surf at Sandy Beach, the verdant slopes of Koko Head crater, and stunning views from Mariner’s Ridge. When you include upscale restaurants, a movie theater, and a range of shopping options, there is quite literally something for everyone in Hawaii Kai.
So, what would life really be like in Hawaii Kai?
From the original world-famous Roy’s flagship location to the charming, marina front Island Brew Coffeehouse, Hawaii Kai is replete with restaurant choices. The Koko Marina Shopping Center features Japanese, Hawaiian, Korean, Italian, Greek, and American fare, retail surf shops and clothing stores, and essentials like convenience stores, banks, dentists, medical offices, and nail and hair salons. Directly across the marina, the Hawaii Kai Shopping Center boasts a Costco, Starbucks, Ross Dress for Less, and a City Mill hardware store. There is a local farmers market near Kaiser High School and a Leonard’s Bakery food truck that cranks out “malasadas,” exquisitely fried Portuguese doughnuts (without a hole).
What else will I find in Hawaii Kai?
Hawaii Kai is a watersport lover’s dream. You can enjoy a brief walk along the protected Ka Iwi shoreline to Queen’s Chair and jump from the rocks into the clear, warm water below. You can also rent a snorkel and mask and explore the underwater paradise of Hanauma Bay State Park, or spend an afternoon on the marina riding jet skis, wakeboards, or banana boats at Hawaii Water Sports Center.
For those of you looking for some solid ground fun, you can test your stamina and ascend the 1,000 plus steps to the top of Koko Head Crater, meander through various biomes in the Koko Crater Botanical Garden, or watch the sunset from Spitting Caves or China Walls. Hawaii Kai also has its own championship golf course.
What about the beaches?
Sandy Beach is widely regarded as the epicenter of body surfing and boogie boarding, and is also home to some of the whitest sand on Oahu. Make sure to know your limits however, as some of the most powerful waves are on display here. Around the corner from Sandy Beach is the Halona Blowhole Lookout and “Eternity” Beach, made famous by the classic film “From Here to Eternity.” Maunalua Bay, extending from the beginning of Hawaii Kai to Portlock, is rife with spots to stroll along the water’s edge or lay out and grab some sun on a grassy spot. During low tide, you can even walk hundreds of yards out into the ocean without even getting your thighs wet!