A boat ride to dinner (that’s right, there are boat docks near the marina-fronting restaurants), a walk to the farmers’ market, a workout at one of two popular fitness centers, dining to live music at choice eateries, 18 holes of championship golf, even a youth sailing program — living in Hawaii Kai is all about lifestyle. In fact, this you-can-have-it-all-neighborhood is a bit like a never-ending vacation — with scuba diving, fishing and a whole host of water sports as daily options.
“Most certainly, if there were an amenity war among Oahu neighborhoods, it would be tough to go up against Hawaii Kai,” says one long-time Hawaii Kai resident. “And it’s the unique amenity options that attract the residents.”
The marina and its attending waterways comprise the soul of Hawaii Kai. Driving through Hawaii Kai, subdivision signs read Koko Isle, Mariner’s Ridge, Peninsula, West Marina, Mariner’s Cove, Anchorage — all depicting the waterfront and water view settings for which this east Oahu neighborhood is famous.
“We eat outside on our lanai facing the water every day — we take our coffee out in the morning, and eat most of our meals out there,” he continues. “It’s a lovely way to take in all the beauty around us. We never get tired of it.”
The labyrinth of waterways was all part of the original design concept conceived by Henry J. Kaiser, which began with the dredging of Maunalua Fishpond and Kuapa wetlands in 1959. The first of the homes in Hawaii Kai came with a price tag of $18,500. Since Kaiser’s initial offering, the marina-style ‘burb of Honolulu has evolved into a sparkling community that is more than waterfront aesthetics. With a variety of restaurants, supermarkets, fitness centers, library, post office, satellite city hall, movie theaters, a farmers’ market, and medical facilities — bottom line: Hawaii Kai residents rarely have a need to make the 12-mile drive into town.
With few exceptions, single-family homes in Hawaii Kai start at $1 million and go up … to $17 million. Fee-simple condominiums start in the low $400,000s and top out at $1 million-plus. Rents in Hawaii Kai range from just under $2,000 for a 1-bedroom unit, to $8,000 for a 5-bedroom home.
Besides waterfront home sites, walk-able neighborhoods, and great restaurants and shops, here is a sample of the conveniently located services and recreational amenities frequented by Hawaii Kai residents.
Hawaii Kai Public Library
Here you can expand your child’s horizons, feed their imagination, open their minds, and enrich their lives with cultures of far-away places, free of charge. The Hawaii Kai Public Library offers books that allow children to travel, invent, to discover, to wonder, to dream, to fly. And reading programs that inspire young readers to love to read. From superheroes and princesses to heroes of all genres. Let the library be where imagination is born. Donate your used books to the community used bookstore on the ground floor.
Koko Crater Botanical Gardens
Inside Koko Crater, this garden occupies 60 acres, with a focus on the cultivation of rare and endangered dry-land plants, including Cactus and succulent gardens, a plumeria grove, dry land palms, Hawaiian, African and Madagascan plants. The self-guided tour takes you on a two-mile loop path through the garden. Walking shoes are recommended — the path is an unimproved roadway, which is uneven with loose rocks and takes approximately 1.5 hours to complete. Bikes, motor vehicles and dogs are not allowed.
With water temperatures averaging around 78 degrees Sandy Beach spans 1,200 feet of unspoiled beaches, and is best known as one of the best boogie boarding and body surfing spots in the state. Along with the beach, large grassy fields and good winds are great for kite flying. But beware. Sandy’s pounding shore break can be treacherous and dangerous for novice swimmers — the most dangerous beach in the nation, so be mindful. Unless you’re a very strong swimmer and are familiar with Sandy’s powerful shore breaks, you might opt to remain a spectator and watch the experienced swimmers — it’s quite a show. This beach is mostly local people and residents.
Tennis courts, swimming pools, sauna, hot tub and a fitness center, along with nearly 50 wellness classes, from yoga, spinning, and kickboxing to Tai Chi and water aerobics. Work on your strength, flexibility, stretching, cardio, abs, and balance. Sign up for some one-on-one with a personal trainer. Seniors, ask about the Silver Sneakers program. If you’re eligible, your insurance plan/Medicare Advantage may pay for a fitness membership (access to all the gym equipment and classes, for free). Note: Silver Sneakers may also be available at 24 Hour Fitness, in Hawaii Kai.
Hawaii Kai Golf Course
With a links-type layout and ever-present tradewinds, this spectacular community course is challenging. Hawaii Kai Golf Course’s 18 holes skirt the shoreline and cross-channel views of Molokai and Lanai are magnificent. The executive homes of Hawaii Kai’s Queen’s Gate overlook many fairways and lend the par-72 course a neighborhood feel. The par-3 executive course offers 18 holes of iron play. Sharpen your skills at HKGC’s driving range and putting green. Ask about kama‘aina and twilight rates. Private and group lessons available. At the clubhouse, two banquet rooms are available for special occasions and can accommodate up to 160 people. Reservations are accepted up to 14 months in advance.
For the freshest, most delectable produce, don’t miss the Farmers’ Market at the Hawaii Kai Towne Center, located behind Panda Express on the marina side. Sweet, juicy and locally-grown fruits and veggies picked fresh and ready to eat. Serve your family something healthy and wonderful, while supporting local farmers. Open 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays, and 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays.
This outdoor Zumba class also takes place behind Panda Express in the waterfront pavilion at Hawaii Kai Towne Center on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays at 9 a.m. Energize your day with instructor Jennifer Hintnaus, who takes you through 60 minutes of dance/cardio moves to music that will make you feel great all day. $7 per class.
Article originally appeared in the July/August version of Island Homes Collection. Written by Lisa Scontras.