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Kapolei is the unofficial “second city” of Oahu. Kapolei is the second largest urban center on the island of Oahu, although it is still substantially smaller than the largest urban center, Honolulu. However, Kapolei is growing at a faster pace than Honolulu, and some expect Kapolei to someday eclipse the traditional population center of the island. However, because of Hawaii’s municipal government structure, Kapolei is not a separate legal entity and is technically part of the City and County of Honolulu. Nonetheless, Kapolei has its own government center, a satellite city hall called Kapolei Hale. Kapolei is built on the former site of plantations, especially old pineapple and sugar fields. Kapolei was developed largely by James Campbell Company, the corporation founded by James Campbell, who owned much of Western Oahu’s land. Kapolei primarily serves as a bedroom center for citizens who work in the downtown Honolulu area, although there an increasingly number of commercial and industrial sites in Kapolei itself. In response to the rapid growth of Kapolei over the past three decades, a number of community centers and government buildings have sprouted up in the region. Some notable examples include the Kapolei Public Library, the Kapolei Post Office, and the Kapolei Police Substation.
Kapolei has also seen an explosion of schools and educational facilities. The University of Hawaii at West Oahu, which was formerly located exclusively in Pearl City, has begun to transition to a larger, permanent campus in Kapolei. There are four public elementary schools in Kapolei – Makakilo, Mauka Lani, Barbers Point, and Kapolei – as well as Kapolei Middle School and Kapolei High School. Despite relatively new schools in Kapolei itself, many residents of Kapolei choose to send their children to schools in town. This can be challenging, because the rapid population expansion of Kapolei has put a significant strain on the existing transportation options and resulted in a considerable amount of traffic. Although the planned Honolulu High Capacity Transit Corridor Project should eventually provide a valuable option, current residents have to take the bus, drive a car, or utilize a ride sharing service. Depending on the time of day, travel from Kapolei into Honolulu can take anywhere from thirty minutes to two and a half hours. Kapolei is bordered by a number of communities, including Makakilo, Waipahu, Nanakui, and Ewa. Kapolei is also home to the Aulani Resort at Ko’Olina Resort and Marina, a recent development by the Disney Corporation that has brought a considerable amount of economic stimulus to the region.
Kapolei includes a wide mix of property types as a result of the different master planned communities and older residential enclaves throughout the community. Kapolei as a whole is a fairly well off community, and the majority of residential properties in the Kapolei region are single family homes with modestly sized lots. There are also complexes of larger mansions, townhouses, and condominiums. Kapolei is home to a number of family favorite recreational destinations, including Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii, the Ko’Olina Resort and Marina, and the Kapolei Theaters. Kapolei boasts an impressive selection of golf courses, ranging from municipal fields such as the West Loch Golf Course to private courses such as the Hawaii Prince Golf Course and Coral Creek Golf Course. There are a wide range of shopping centers and commercial shops throughout the Kapolei area, including the Kapolei Shopping Center and the Crossroads at Kapolei. Other notable commercial centers include the Kapolei Entertainment Center, the Kapolei Commons, and the Kapolei Parkway Shops. Taken together, these facilities offer an impressive variety of department stores, restaurants, big box retailers, and niche shops. Of course, by virtue of its location near the shoreline of West Oahu, residents of Kapolei can also enjoy water sports such as swimming, surfing, boating, and fishing.