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Hawaii Kai, the largest residential community on the eastern half of the island of Oahu, is one of the most popular real estate markets in the City and County of Honolulu. Hawaii Kai is primarily residential, although there are also a number of recreational facilities and commercial attractions. Hawaii Kai is built around an ancient Hawaiian fishpond built in the valley. The fishpond and its surroundings were known as “kuapa,” and were eventually utilized by early developers as the starting location for Hawaii Kai’s Koko Marina. The draining of the fishpond and the removal of the fishpond’s rock wall represented the start of the residential development of the region, which subsequently accelerated over the next several decades. The land which currently comprises Hawaii Kai was originally owned by the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate and subsequently purchased by or leased out to various developers. Early developments tended to focus on the marina’s immediate surroundings, although they eventually expanded to the various mountains and valleys that now comprise Hawaii Kai. The developments included in Hawaii Kai’s ZIP Code are Portlock, Mariner’s Ridge, Queen’s Gate, Ka’alakei, and Kalama Valley. Notable geographic features in Hawaii Kai are the verdant Koolau Mountains and Maunalua Bay, as well as the Pacific Ocean along the southern shore of community.
The largest shopping center in Hawaii Kai is the Koko Marina Center, which includes most of the leading restaurants, shops, and professional offices for the Hawaii Kai region. Fitness enthusiasts can take advantage of the Twenty Four Hour Fitness and Bikram Yoga Center in Koko Marina, while the whole family can catch a movie at the Koko Marina 8 Theatres. Notable restaurants in Koko Marina Center include Bubbies Ice Cream Koko Marina, Harbor Village Cuisine, Paina Café, and Teddy’s Bigger Burger. Koko Marina is home to a wide variety of shops and boutiques as well, including the Island Treasures at the Marina, Timberland, Bark Avenue, and the Marina Florist. Hawaii Kai is a hub for water sports, and Koko Marina includes a number of water sport shops, including Bob’s Hawaii Adventure, Hawaiian Surf Adventure, and South Pacific Water Sports. In fact, Koko Marina Shopping Center is located immediately right next to the original hub of Hawaii Kai and the marina. Many residents enjoy an occasional sail out from the marina, as well as surfing, swimming, and fishing. There is also a second shopping center, anchored by Costco and featuring such tenants as Outback Steakhouse and GameStop. For those looking for an indoor, more traditional shopping mall, Kahala Mall is located about ten minutes down Kalanianaole Highway.
Hawaii Kai is home to some of the best beaches and beach parks on the island of Oahu. The City and County of Honolulu has spent a great deal of time and effort working to restore and maintain Haunama Bay, located just up the road from downtown Hawaii Kai. Haunama Bay is one of the premier tourist attractions on the island of Oahu, and is widely advertised as a great destination for swimming and snorkeling. There are a number of endangered fish species that make their home in the coral of Haunama Bay, and the relatively gentle surf makes the Bay a great family beach. Golfers can enjoy the Queen’s Gate Golf Course, while body boarders can take advantage of the surf at Sandy Beach and Makapu’u. One of the most popular hiking spots in East Oahu, the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail, is just up the road from Hawaii Kai, while nearby Koko Head Crater hosts the Koko Crater Botanical Garden. Overall, Hawaii Kai more than earns its reputation as a great place to live, work, and play.