The beach is beckoning. The pool is inviting. Leave everything behind and suit up. Of course, the only suit you need when living in Kailua on the windward side of Oahu, is a swimsuit.
Whether you’re an avid kite surfer or just prefer to lounge poolside, there’s no escaping beach attire. Beachwear often does double duty in Kailua, with residents’ active lifestyles.
So where do you get the look? There’s no shortage of stores selling beach attire for women, men and kids too.
A top go-to for the fashion set is Bikinibird. This one-stop shop for women’s beach wear is the vision of Tiana Becker Gamble, a North Shore gal who is swimming with the Kailua set now. Gamble’s got style. She definitely knows how to make you look great in her high-end, on-trend designer swimwear. Most of the top-designers featured at Bikinibird have local connections including Mikoh (Kalani and Oleema Miller are part-time Hawaii residents); Tori Praver’s from Maui; Acacia (designed by Kauai-based Lyndie Irons and Maui-born Naomi Newirth); and Issa de’ Mar (from Oahu’s North Shore designers Marissa Eveland and Melisa Jasniy). You can also find Island-inspired exclusive designs from Bikinibird, Aila Blue, Indah, and Bec & Bridge at this Hekili Street shop.
To buck the traditions of brick and mortar leading the way, Bikinibird started online – not as a shop — but as a lifestyle blog. The blog and Gamble’s keen vision were so successful that the online store was launched. Now, of course, Kailua residents are benefiting from the style-savvy Gamble who launched her Bikinibird’s flagship store in January 2017. The finds are a bit pricier than your average suit – but these aren’t average suits! Cover-ups, an in-house line of graphic tees, hats, bags, sunglasses, jewelry, and even towels are at your fingertips to complete the look and make a splash at any poolside party.
Bikinibird is located on Hekili Street. bikinibird.com
Just down the street from Bikinibird, also on Hekili Street, is Twin Islands, aptly named after the Mokulua Islands. The twin islands, just off the coast of Lanikai, are Kailua’s defining landmark in Kailua Bay. Not coincidentally, the owner of Twin Islands, Mike Miller, is also a twin. He spent much of his time growing up in Kailua, hanging out and surfing at the Mokulua Islands with his twin brother, Peter. The brothers competed in surfing competitions all over the world. Surfing and then becoming airline pilots were their life passions. Unfortunately, Pete died in a tragic airplane crash in 2006. In honor of Pete, Mike created the Twin Islands logo that adorns the shop and its apparel. The Twin Islands logo has become symbolic of Kailua and is one of Kailua’s most famous logos. Owning a Twin Island logo piece is a must for Kailua residents. If you’re new to Kailua, come on in and be part of the community. Twin Islands sells more than just the logo Ts –choose from men’s, women’s and kids T-shirts plus board shorts, rash guards, hats and accessories. Whatever you select, it will be an original from Twin Islands and will proudly represent where you live.
Twin Islands, Heikili Street. tisurf.com
Kailua residents are now able to get a taste of what Maui residents have been buying: active but sexy styles from Pakaloha bikinis. Kailua gal and surfer, Julie Dahl, was encouraged by her son to create a line of swimwear. As the story goes, he was tired of hearing mom complaining about suits riding up or not staying in place while surfing. And so, Pakaloha was born.
Pakaloha suits hit a balance of cheeky but sporty. The bikinis are sold as separates and range in size from small to extra-large and offer a variety of styles, cuts and coverage. Bottoms range in cuts from suns-out-buns-out to just a bit cheeky and can be mixed or matched with tops which flirt with the sun or are ready to hit the water. One style of top is named after Paige Alms, a top-big-wave surfer, and is designed to stay on whether you’re surfing, swimming or playing. Pakaloha sponsors Paige and big-wave surfing competitions.
As experts in the field, the staff knows how to help you choose styles that stay put if that’s your goal. In addition to bikinis, you’ll find mono-kinis and other one-piece suits, cover-ups, beach accessories and a beach-inspired line of jewelry from North Shore designer Nikki Parlow.
While you’re in the store, remember to pick up sunscreen that is reef safe. A passion of those of us who live by the ocean is to stop coral bleaching. One step is to use reef safe sunscreen and you can get that right at Pakaloha. Ask for Kuuleana Sun Protection.
Pakaloha is on Kuulei Road. pakalohamaui.com
If sizzling in the sun is more your style, check out the suits at San Lorenzo Bikinis. The signature South American style was brought to us from Peru by Lisseth Figueroa. Figuero moved to Hawaii from Lima, Peru, to attend college. She was unable to find suits that featured that now well-known cheeky style. This inspired her to start her own line and business. Since 2002, San Lorenzo swimwear has been the go-to store for sexy, sleek and cheeky styles. Mix-and-match bikinis from extra small to large are all original San Lorenzo designs and fabrics. The quality material of nylon and spandex is silky smooth and all suits are reversible. Besides the bikinis, the to-be-seen set will find retro high-waist bikinis and higher-cut one-piece suits. Alongside the Lorenzo brand, designer brands such as Acacia Swimwear and Frankies Bikinis are in the mix. Cover-ups, rash guards, rompers, sunglasses, and hats round out the choices. San Lorenzo is conveniently located on Kailua Road by the beach park, so if you break a strap – you don’t have far to go!
Next to San Lorenzo Bikinis is one of the favorite Kailua stops for former U.S. President Barack Obama and his family: Island Snow. Of course, we can all get a great shave ice after a day at the beach, but you can also get Island Snow threads. Guys need to look good at the beach and poolside too and even though there’s a women’s section of suits and clothes at Island Snow, the guys are often seen getting great T-shirts, board shorts, backpacks, and aloha shirts. Surf brands like Quiksilver, Volcom, Billabong, Hurley’s, Vans and Roxy dominate the look. Island Snow in Kailua now also features Patagonia. There are two Island Snow locations in Kailua – the one by the beach and the one in Kailua Town – both with Kailua Road addresses. The Kailua Town Island Snow also has a Stussy Chapter Store in the loft. It’s definitely worth checking out if wearing surf labels is the vibe you are looking for.
Across the street from the Kailua Town Island Snow is the Brazilian Showroom, owned by Nadia Ribeiro who came up with a plan to provide local residents with a taste of Brazil. Originally, Kailua residents had to drive to the North Shore to wear the Brazilian look. No more! Now that Ribeiro brought her storefront to Kailua, it’s easy for Kailuans and visitors alike to scoop up the Brazilian bikini look. Crafted by top Brazilian designers such as Enseada da Praia, Cila, Sauipe, Banco de Areia, Ki-Korpo and Jangada with the biggest selection from BSR, the Showroom features a wide range of sizes from extra-small to extra-large. Mix-and-match bikinis line the shop in a large variety of styles and colors. You can find anything from thongs to more traditional American cuts, even a great number of kids’ suits – some boys, but mainly cute bikinis for girls in sizes 1- 16. Brazilian Showroom even features a line of Brazilian-cut men’s trunks. Brazilian Showroom is located on Kailua Road.
If Brazilian trunks are too daring, try opting for the look of amphibian board shorts that easily go from beach to bar or anything in between. The look is easy to get at Hawaiian Island Creations on Hahani Street. Hawaiian Island Creations, established in 1971, has been the go-to for Hawaii’s surf and skate set. Board shorts, rash guards, T-shirts, sweatshirts, slippers and sandals in all the popular surf and skate brands including Hawaiian Island’s Creations (HIC) own brand are in one convenient place for all sizes and ages. In addition to HIC’s boys’ and girls’ sections, girls can also cruise through the Roxy store within-a-store to mix and match with other surf brands for suits, cover-ups, sundresses, tops and pants. Be in the know and watch for their tent and sidewalk sales on holiday weekends!
Still haven’t found the perfect swim gear or board shorts? Take a peek in any of the boutiques or big name stores in Kailua, many of which feature beach attire in addition to their other fashion-forward designs. Consider popping into the surf or skate stores like Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks, 808Skate and Naish Hawaii, that often have the best suits for SUP, surfing, kitesurfing and the like.
It’s also an easy short drive to Windward and Ala Moana malls for a wider selection of looks — there’s no need to wait to make a splash and look the part. Make Kailua part of your lifestyle. Grab that dream property and suit up!