Kailua, Hawaii – Kailua Road

Main Streets 2016: Hawaii

On the island of O’ahu, Kailua Road is the main road in the town center of Kailua, a community of 38,000 that’s located 12 miles northeast of Honolulu. And if you follow it to the end, Kailua Road will take you right onto one of the best beaches in America.

Kailua Beach is a spectacular three miles of soft white sand, making it great for long walks along the crescent-shaped bay with its clear turquoise waters. The bay is also a destination for water sport enthusiasts, and its 35-acre park is a popular family and community gathering spot. The steady onshore trade winds make Kailua Beach one of the world’s preeminent windsurfing destinations. Looking to the north from the beach, you can see the Mokapu Peninsula, which houses the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base. To the south are the world famous Mokulua Islands, and less than half a mile away is Flat Island, a bird sanctuary and destination for swimmers and kayakers.

Away from the beach, Kailua Road runs through the town’s compact, easy-to-shop business district, surrounded by mostly residential neighborhoods. From the visitor’s center, you can go in any direction to find unique local shops, boutiques, restaurants, recreation, entertainment and kamaaina (resident) hangouts.

Kailua is a self-sufficient town that’s culturally and economically diverse town and has a strong sense of community. Holiday and Fourth of July parades are held here every year as well as block parties, canoe-paddling events, and Thursday evening Farmers’ Markets. Each year around the last week of April, the Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle sponsors an “I Love Kailua Town Party,” where small businesses come together to showcase their signature dishes and products.

One of Kailuans’ favorite spots is the view from atop Ka Iwi Ridge. The short, steep hike offers breathtaking views of the Mokulua Islands and Koolua Mountains. The “pillboxes” on top were observation posts between the two world wars. Also in the Kailua area are many ancient temple ruins, such as those at Ulupo Heiau State Historic Site.

Once known as a sleepy beach town, Kailua is becoming increasingly popular with tourists who are attracted to its slower island pace and the small-town vibe on and around Kailua Road. Annual visits by President Obama and his family have only heightened interest and tourism in recent years. That has caused some concern among some local residents, who don’t want the community to lose its unique, authentic Hawaiian character.

So far, you’ll find, that’s still here.

I Love Kailua Town Party photos courtesy of Leon Mosher –