If you are so lucky as to being able to choose between these two spectacular Kailua real estate options – Lanikai homes and Kailua Beachside homes – then it is purely a matter of personal preference and not that either one of these beachfront communities is better than the other.
Lanikai has an exclusive, beachy vibe with a very active community. For anyone not familiar with the layout and access of Lanikai, there is basically only one way in and one way out. The entrance into Lanikai is right off Kailua Beach Park with Aalapapa Drive and Mokulua Drive forming a one way loop through the whole neighborhood with side streets branching inward and out.
On any given day you will run into your neighbors walking or jogging the loop, hiking the pillbox or paddling to the Mokulua Islands. Life is easy, fun and exciting when you live in Lanikai. The residents are a nice mix of Kamaaina families and newcomers and in my experience all of them have one thing in common: They love the lifestyle and in general are very friendly and laid back.
The community still has a local Hawaii feeling to it and not every home is a multi million dollar mansion. In the recent years it has gotten quite crowded on Lanikai Beach, especially on weekends with tourists and locals gathering and enjoying this awesome stretch of sandy beach. So if a prospective buyer is looking for a more private, gated community type of living, then Lanikai is not going to work. This is definitely a community where people don’t hide behind their walled off mansions and keep to themselves. There are way too many fun things going on in Lanikai to not wanting to be part of it. Apart from all the ocean activities, you also have Mid Pac Country Club offering an array of activities and Lanikai Park with a little playground, pickup basketball and soccer games. Lanikai has one good surf spot to the left off the Mokulua Islands, but mostly the waters off the beach are very calm and lend themselves more to swimming, paddling and kayaking.
The issues of traffic and parking are being addressed and currently there is a project underway to make the most heavily congested intersection by Kalapawai Market into a roundabout.This will definitely help with the flow of traffic in and out of Kailua Beach Park and Lanikai. Also, any three day weekend (Veteran’s day for example) has now a no streetside parking restriction in all of Lanikai. This has made a huge difference for all residents in Lanikai with these special long weekends being uncongested and laid back, just like it was years ago. That being said, Lanikai is just so welcoming and fun that there will always be visitors to the neighborhood.
For folks living on Lanikai Beach and Lanikai Hillside the views of the Mokuluas are spectacular especially during sunset. If you happen to not have a view but are living in Lanikai you can always take a quick hike up to the Lanikai Pillbox and take in the sunset!
Kailua Beachside has a different vibe and is just as wonderful in its own way. The access is off North Kalaheo with beautiful semi private loop streets and lanes leading to the coveted Beach front homes. Overall the experience is less of being in a walking type beach community and more based on the individual location of each property.
The best loop street in my opinion is Dune Circle, so if you’re one of the lucky residents that live on Dune Circle then your community is your little street and all your awesome neighbors… Same goes for Kaapuni Drive across from St Anthony’s Church. The folks that live there are enjoying great privacy and still have this sense of community. Add to this Kailuana Loop, Laiki Place, Kai Nani Place, Mahiloa Street and so many more incredible mini neighborhoods that all are charming and exclusive.
Kalapawai Market is the center of the Kailua Beachside and there is nothing better than having a morning coffee there, meeting up with friends and neighbors and starting the day with a beach walk.
The views from Kailua Beachside capture the entire bay stretching from Mokapu Point on the furthest left all the way to Lanikai and Mukuluas at farthest right, facing the ocean. With no real focal point, those who visit Kailua beach will be drawn to the surfers in the gentle shore break to the kiteboarders maneuvering white capped swells in the deeper blue waters.
If you happen to be a Kite or Windsurfer, all the action is at Kailua Beach Park and in regards to surf breaks for bodyboarding and surfing the Kailua Beachside has the edge over Lanikai. Locals love going to Castles, Green Walls ( more towards the Aikahi side of Kailua Beach) and Flagpoles ( right off Kaapuni).
Real estate wise, if you’re looking for a compound type of estate on a large lot then Kailua Beachside is likely to be the right neighborhood. There are a handful of Kailua Beachside properties, directly on the beach, currently (as of writing) listed that offer the ultimate gated private experience that requires large lots with big sprawling homes.
These types of luxury compounds rarely come to market in Lanikai mainly because most lots do not have the size required for something on this grand scale. The world famous Paul Mitchell Estate in Lanikai comes to mind, but that of course has never been for sale.
When it comes to traffic from beachgoers and tourists Kailua Beachside also has its share with most cars parking at the beach parks or surrounding neighborhood streets. It’s a lot more stretched out and offers good infrastructure such as parking and restrooms. The beach parks that typically see the most visitors are Kailua Beach Park and Kalama Beach Park. Both have great infrastructure and large stretches of sandy beach for everyone. So there still is enough privacy and exclusiveness for the residents living in the surrounding areas.
When it comes to comparing sales and pricing Lanikai has had 10 sales in the last 12 months that were under $2 million and Beachside had 8 sales under $2 mio. In this attractive price range the price per interior square foot averaged $999 in Lanikai and $768 in Kailua Beachside. For those looking in the $10 million plus category you will find more such estate type homes in Kailua Beachside.
In conclusion, both neighborhoods, Kailua Beachside and Lanikai are incredible places to live in and I want to congratulate anyone who is looking to own a home in either one of these special neighborhoods.