1. Kalapawai Market & Cafe – There are two little green markets in town, but my favorite is the one on Kailua Road, just as the Pali Highway declines into Kailua Town. For breakfast and lunch, walk up and order from the deli case or front counter, and at night the restaurant transforms into the location for the best gourmet meal in Kailua. For breakfast, try their kalua pork biscuit sliders!
Lanikai & The Mokes
2. Beaches. Duh. If you want to boogeyboard, head to Kalamas. The dog walkers march up and down the beach in the early morning. If there is a leash law, it’s ignored, so only friendly pups, please. Families with young kiddos head to Kailua Beach Park and congregate around the mouth of the canal, where you can “sled” down the man-made sand hills on boogeyboards and splash in calm water. Kiteboarders and all of their tangly gear congregate at the northern end of Kailua Beach Park in the evenings. For snorkeling and calm water, head to Lanikai. There is plenty of white sand to go around in all of these locations.
3. The Public Library. Aside from being a fun example of midcentury architecture, the library’s best feature is the public magazine bin. They’re not for check out. They’re back issues donated by other patrons, so just take whatever you want. It’s community recycling at its best and a great way to try new titles.
4. The Dress Code. Or lack of. Don’t bother with makeup. It just melts, and no one cares anyway. Try Mahina, Mary Zs, Fighting Eel, and Global Village for lightweight, easy fitting, island style, and some of the softest cotton you’ve ever worn. The surest way to spot a tourist is a one piece bathing suit. Every body is a bikini body here, no matter how many pounds. For men, board shorts are appropriate for nearly any occasion.
5. Kailua Friendship Bracelets. A single Tahitian pearl threaded onto a thin, hammered silver bangle, usually worn in multiples. Simple, elegant, and depending on the pearl, affordable. So many of our friends have them, they’ve been dubbed the Kailua Friendship Bracelet.
6. Hikes. No need to drive far to find a hike! Kailua hikes include Pillboxes, Maunawili Falls, Kawainui Marsh Trail, and Mt. Olomana. While Lanikai residents are constantly exasperated by the volume of hikers parking in the neighborhood, the hike is reasonable in length and difficulty, and offers incredible views. Keep the peace by parking at Kailua Beach Park and walking to the trail head.
7. Uahi Island Grill. If you find the usual Hawaiian plate lunch of fried meat, white rice, and macaroni salad to be unhealthy and unappealing, try Uahi instead. The chef has transformed the greasy plate lunch into a mature, fresh meal. Kalua pork and kale with brown rice. Ahi sautéed in garlic and shoyu butter with a side of greens. There are also several salad, sandwich, and curry options. And if you’re not feeling quite so calorie conscious, they have crispy french fries served with garlic aioli.