Kailua Guide

Kailua Guide
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Address , Kailua, HI
A guide to the city of Kailua, Oahu. Complete with history and must see places.

• General: History

Guide Series: Hawaii City Guides
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Kailua is home to some of Hawaii's best best beaches with perfect powdery sand. It's paradise for many and has a lot to offer locals and visitors alike. The name, Kailua, in Hawaiian means "two seas" or "two currents". Don't confuse Kailua on Oahu with Kailua-Kona on Hawaii's Big Island.


You'll find Kailua on the windward side of Oahu, which is along the east coast of the island. To the north you'll find Kaneohe and to the south is Waimanalo.

If you're heading to Kailua there are a few different options. If you're coming from Honolulu, you'll take the Pali Highway (61) which takes around 30-40 minutes depending on traffic. If you do that, be sure to stop at the Nu'uanu Pali Lookout. You could also take the longer route around the southeast tip of the island using the Kalanianaole Highway (72) but plan at least an hour using that route.

If you're coming from the west side you'll use the H1 to H3 route. And from the north shore you'll either come back to the H2 and then H3 or drive along the northwest tip of the island on the Kamehameha Highway. Note that traffic traveling east from the north shore can be painfully slow at times, especially weekends.

The beauty here is that each route offers it's own amazing experiences. Taking the H3 is actually breathtaking in parts and driving through a mountain range is equally fun.

Kailua History

It is thought that this area was home to Hawaiians more than 1,500 years ago. And this area was densely populated even before Captain Cook arrived (see The History of Captain James Cook), and it's easy to see why when you see how beautiful it is here. When King Kamehameha conquered Oahu, he granted this land to the warriors and chiefs who helped him. Much of this area was used for growing rice, taro, and sugarcane.

Kailua Today

Today, Kailua is mostly a residential community with close to 40,000 residents. If you speak to those residents, most are likely to tell you that they'd like to keep that number from growing. You see, the word is out that Kailua is a bit of a paradise within a paradise. Many people dream of living here but those who can't simply spend their vacation time here. That means there are a lot of people in a place that was never meant to support so many people.

It also puts business owners in a tough spot. They want to attract customers to stay in business but then have to deal with the overflow of people during their day to day lives. Nobody wants this place to become the next Waikiki (see Waikiki Guide). Especially because the roads just can't handle the current traffic problem.

How did this all happen? A huge reason for the problems they have today come from the popularization of Kailua Beach Park and Lanikai Beach. Two beaches that are excellent in every way but that residents would prefer you forgot about.

Major Attractions

It goes without saying that beaches are the main attraction here. So you'll want to check out Kalama Beach Park, Kailua Beach Park, and the epic Lanikai Beach. Avoid weekends if possible and go early during the week. Traffic is a nightmare on weekends and parking virtually impossible at times. Since this is a residential area, be respectful! Only park in designated spots, keep quiet, and clean up after yourself.

If you're looking for action and adventure then check out the various Kailua activities. Hikers are sure to enjoy the world famous Lanikai Pillbox Hike / Kaiwa Ridge Trail and Maunawili Falls Trail.

When you get hungry and want some good Hawaiian food check out Uahi Island Grill or Boots & Kimo's Homestyle Kitchen. Paniolos Hawaii and Bowles Burritos are good options if you want a quick burrito before heading back to the beach. There are plenty of other restaurants here to choose from as well.

If you are looking to shop until you drop then you'll find plenty of unique stores in Kailua.