“Hawaii Kai has a marina”. Outside of possibly Costco, that tends to be what most on Oahu will come up with to describe this community. That marina is so unique you understand why it gets all the attention. The problem is that it masks the real depth of this neighborhood and why it just might be the perfect home for you. You just don’t know it yet. Let’s change that.
One thing that must be understood is that this is a true Master Planned community, a completely new Oahu district where little existed before. Due to that there is an organization and a more fluid layout that you don’t have in other parts of the Island. At the very least, not on this scale.
This was much more than a residential development from the very start. It is instead almost a small city of its own, with the shopping, schools and even health care resources contained within to serve residents. You don’t need to go very far from your important needs.
That master plan also included a magnetic visual appeal and a greater range of real estate spaces than most realize exist.
With the drive-by appeal of the waters on both sides of the highway, you might be surprised to realize this is a true Mauka to Makai region. The whole breadth of Hawaii living experiences is covered in this one neighborhood. Let’s start in a very appropriate place – at the top.
Hawaii Kai Communities – Top to Bottom
From the residential communities on the ridges far above, you can look out to something close to forever. The ocean surging its way in from far off the Oahu shores. The green valleys alive with life. The mountains and Koko Head, glorious gifts from the Island’s volcanic origins.
It’s all laid out before the homes in places like Napali Haweo, Mariners Ridge and the upper sections of Hahaione. From their cooler climes you enjoy these panoramic views plus the more muted noise levels that come with being far above the traffic.
For some, looking down upon the green landscapes here isn’t as exciting as living within them. The valleys of Hawaii Kai are indeed green and beautiful, but you can take that environment one step further. More accurately, further down the road to the least known section of Hawaii Kai.
There you’ll find homes with the greenest views of all, right on the Hawaii Kai Golf Course. Residents of these communities, like Koko Villas, Laulima and Queens Gate, look upon the pristine landscapes of the links. Hidden away from the highway, yet not far from the famed breaks of Sandy Beach, you can live in the secluded splendor of manicured fairways and quiet broken only by the occasional club connecting with a golf ball.
This is easily the most overlooked section of Hawaii Kai properties, but just as much a part of the lifestyle here as the marina. One many don’t even know is there. And speaking of the marina…
Living on the marina is the most conspicuous real estate of all in this district. It’s also probably the most envied. Even passing motorists can’t help noticing the personal docks just steps from the backdoors of so many of the homes in communities like Anchorage, Luna Kai and Spinnaker Isle.
You can’t stop yourself imagining heading out on the water moments after getting the urge. Or sailing over to Koko Marina for dinner or just to do a little shopping. Or just gazing out at the water from home and letting the stress drift away. However, what you can stop imagining is that these are the only waterfront homes in Hawaii Kai.
Take a right just before heading up the hill to Hanauma Bay and you’ll be driving through Portlock, where some of the most splendid oceanfront properties on the Island sit, staring out across Maunalua Bay to Diamond Head’s proud peak in the distance. Henry Kaiser, the creator of Hawaii Kai, chose this shore to make his home, a testament to the allure of these lands and the vista they enjoy continually. He could have lived anywhere. He chose Portlock. That says it all.
Next to these houses on this same stretch of land is Koko Kai, where oceanfront estates sit on dramatic oceanfront cliffs. They are no less stunning, trading the more level transition to the waters of Portlock for the spectacle of foam and spray as the waves meet the cliffside in front of their houses. It’s both sight and sound that you never tire of witnessing.
The homes themselves are stunning as well, with huge dimensions and designs that integrate the indoors with the outdoors, a part of our local lifestyle that makes each day special.
Recreation Opportunities Few Other Places Can Equal
We should point out that those differing environments – the hills, the water and the lands in the valleys – are recreational, as well. Sailing and paddling are common pursuits on the marina and out in the ocean itself, as is water skiing and just about any other activity you can do while getting wet.
Of course any discussion of water activity must include Hanauma Bay, which is well within the borders of Hawaii Kai. Its world famous snorkeling is a Must for not just visitors, but residents as well. One of the perks of living nearby is the free admission for kamaaina to this natural wonderland.
Turning back to the interior, Koko Head presents the perfect exercise by rewarding you with a view that makes the ascent worth every step. Nearby Hawaii Kai Golf Course actually has 2 courses, with ocean views so awesome you’ll even forget those extra strokes running up your score.
For almost any other sport, just head to Koko Head District Park and you’ll find courts for tennis, basketball, volleyball, badminton, along with facilities that provide regular classes of all kinds.
Add in the many open park spaces throughout this district, the wide sidewalks that are perfect for jogging and the active lifestyle the residents pursue so conspicuously and you’ll be ready to get out and join in. Staying indoors is not an option here.
Shopping & Dining Options
Knowing all of this about your surroundings and recreation choices isn’t the end to a homebuyer’s research, though. You also want to know what’s available here for your daily life; the shopping, the schools, the health care options. Can this place fulfill your needs? Let’s find out.
Koko Marina is the highest profile shopping center in the neighborhood, and for good reason. It’s extremely large, with 70 different stores, not counting the dining options. Come in here and you’ll have 20 restaurants and eateries to pick from, including local Drive Inn style places to Assagio’s Italian food and Kona Brewing Company. It also has the local movie theater. In short, this is Hawaii Kai’s mall, where people come often, sometimes with a specific purpose in mind, other times to just have coffee or browse the shops as a way of relaxing.
There’s a lot to see, buy and taste in this outdoor complex, with both worldwide known brands alongside local sellers of every kind.
A little to the west are the other 2 major centers, right next door to each other. The more makai Hawaii Kai Shopping Center features Safeway and Long’s Drugs, providing the two basic staples of groceries and smaller, daily need goods.
Hawaii Kai Towne Center is famous for Costco, but also has City Mill and, yes, Starbucks. Both of these have numerous services, eateries and restaurants as well, providing almost anything you’d need from insurance to a hair styling.
Between these 3 sites, you can take care of almost anything that you need or want, with even furniture available at City Mill and Costco. Rarely will you have to leave this neighborhood to find an item. There’s that much here.
Hawaii Kai – A Good Place to Stay Healthy
Even better is the fact that you won’t be going outside Hawaii Kai to take care of most health needs. Few places on Oahu have the concentration of health providers that this neighborhood does. Hawaii’s three major medical care providers – Straub, Queen’s and Kaiser – all have facilities here to provide care, routine and urgent, to you and your entire family.
There’s also the Island Urgent Care facility that specifically serves emergency room types of cases, so you have a place you know you can go to should you need it. It’s reassuring to know all of this is right here, within reach for both routine check-ins or immediate attention.
Finally, for those with children, you can be assured of quality schools. There are 3 elementary schools. 2, Kamiloiki and Koko Head are both acknowledged as excellent, while the third, Haha’ione was picked as the Best Public School in Hawaii recently.
The higher levels perpetuate that standard. Niu Valley Middle School has scored at or near the top of Strive HI’s rating and Kaiser High School has maintained the same level for their grades. This is one worry that parents can lay to rest.
It needs to be said that these institutions are a major part, but not the whole story, of a place that’s not just family-friendly, but family oriented. Hawaii Kai’s many parks and recreation outlets, including numerous sports leagues for children, the public emphasis on ‘daylife’ rather than nightlife and the abundant shops and services that cater to children and family; they all make clear this is a place you want to raise your kids.
How Does This Neighborhood Compare?
Take all of this in and compare it to other Oahu communities. You’ll find that this neighborhood is rooted in local Hawaii values of family and the outdoor lifestyle. What makes it unique is the variety of home environments it has, the spectacular beauty of this place that combines the best of the natural with the planned and the all-important health and education resources that are the height of what’s available in Honolulu.
It’s a whole-person lifestyle that might have been intended in the planning, but took residents invested in it to bring it to life. Luckily for us all, they have and, as a new resident of Hawaii Kai, you will, too.