Once abundant with swampy marshlands, Kailua has become one of Oahu’s gems. With beautiful white sandy beaches, modern shops and restaurants, and a lively feel, locals and tourists alike flock to Kailua town.
The Mokulua Islands, Kailua, Oahu
Here are some of the things that make Kailua a favorite place to live on Oahu:
1. The “Mokes”
The Mokulua islands, or the “Mokes,” are two small islands a short distance from Lanikai Beach. The islands are bird sanctuaries and access is permitted on the beach of the larger, northern island. Once there, a panoramic view of the windward side of the island awaits and often the journey out is as rewarding as the island escape whether you canoe, kayak, or take a boat out – these islands are a “must-see” when traveling to the island of Oahu.
2. The Beach: Lanikai & Kailua
Consistently rated on lists featuring the best beaches in the world, these two are nothing short of amazing. Though located adjacent to one another, these beaches are distinctly different.
Lanikai Beach: The more serene location, Lanikai Beach, is a relatively short span of soft, white shoreline, and calm water. With most of the current protected by an outer reef as well as the Mokulua islands, the water often mimics that of a clear-blue lagoon. This beach can become crowded throughout the day – best times to get there are mornings and weekdays.
Kailua Beach: Kailua Beach is a much larger span of shoreline. At one end is the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base and nearby vacation rental of Barack Obama, and at the other end is a large recreational park, a boat ramp, and canoe “halau” where watercraft is stored. This beach does tend to get a bit more wind funneling through than the more protected Lanikai Beach, as well as choppier waters, however, this is a windsurfer’s/kite-boarder’s paradise. The long white beaches are great for going on a brisk oceanside walk or jog and the surroundings are less crowded. Surfers and body-boarders alike enjoy the fun waves this beach has to offer.
Kailua is a great place to rent a kayak (or just a snorkel). With local shops just steps away from the beach, one can easily rent all the gear necessary to head into the water and paddle out. One of my favorite spots is a little island, Popoia, commonly known as “flat island,” where I often encounter green sea turtles swimming nearby. This island is a State Seabird Sanctuary as well – housing the wedge-tailed shearwater seabirds.
4. Kite Boarding/Windsurfing
Original home of notorious windsurfing legends like Robby Naish, this beach is an excellent launching pad for wind-related water sports. Hop on a windsurfboard, kiteboard, or hobie cat and quickly escape the bustling beaches.
This town has everything from lush, mountainous waterfalls to dry mountain peaks. Climbing up to the Lanikai Pillboxes offers amazing, panoramic 360-degree views of the windward coast and a short trail to the top bunkers. Kailua town has a genuine community and outdoorsy feel where people often spend their days outside, strolling the beach, riding their bikes, and dining out.