The Definitive Guide to Moving to and Living in Kailua | 2020 Edition

guide to kailua lifestyle, restaurants, real estate in 2020

Kailua, Oahu

Kailua is one of the state's premier "Lifestyle" communities in the sense that where the home is matters far more residents than what the home is. Spanning roughly 2.5 miles of powdery white sand beaches on one side and the lush green slopes of the Ko'olau Mountain range on the other, Kailua was all but coined the "Ultimate Beach Town" and "a paradise within in a paradise" by Coastal Living magazine in 2015.

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These honors effectively put this hip little beach town on the world's stage. Between the magazine feature and serving as President Obama's Hawaii hideout, the Kailua secret is out and the town is desperately trying to hold on its sanctity as buyers, renters, and tourists flock to the region from all over the world.

The neighborhood's two idyllic beaches, Kailua beach and Lanikai Beach, make it easy to forget that the neighborhood is also threaded by lazy river canals and a central body of water aptly named "Enchanted Lake." Altogether, Kailua is a waterman's dream, a playground for outdoor fitness enthusiast looking to run, swim, surf, paddleboard, kayak and hike. Nearly everything in Kailua can be commuted by foot or bike, as majority of the residents live within 1 mile of the beach and the eclectic retail, coffee shops, and restaurants in iconic Kailua Town.

Cheat Codes

If you're planning on moving to Kailua, we definitely recommend learning how to pronounce Kailua. Ready? [kai-loo-ah] You're in luck; that's about as easy as it gets in terms of pronouncing Hawaiian words. And what does Kailua mean in Hawaiian? It means "two seas" or "two-currents" which symbolize the the currents that run into beautiful Kailua Bay.

Where is Kailua, Hawaii?

You may or may not know, but Hawaii State's counties are actually designated by each one of the islands and some islands have the same names of towns or regions. So what is island is Kailua on? It's on Oahu; although the Big Island of Hawaii does have a town named Kailua-Kona, another popular vacation hotspot. But as for Oahu's Kailua, it's located on the Windward Side(east) to be exact. Kailua Zip Code: 96734

How Far is Kailua From...

  • Honolulu | 12 Miles | 25 Minutes
  • Waikiki | 15 Miles | 32 Minutes
  • Marine Corp Base Hawaii | 4 Miles | 7 Minutes
  • Honolulu Airport | 19 Miles | 24 Minutes

Kaneohe Marine Corp Base ironically find itself more at home in Kailua than it does Kaneohe, but ultimately it straddles the border between the two regions. Are you getting stationed at Marine Corps Base Hawaii? Well you've just hit the PCS jackpots when it comes to location and scenery. You will not find a more idyllic setting as the base and it's housing sits on a peninsula overlooking Kailua Bay and the Ko'olau Mountain range. Not to mention you've just been given premier to access to one of the ultimate beach towns in the world! If you're going to PCS to Hawaii and will be stationed at MCBH, check out our Ultimate PCS Guide to Marine Corp Base Hawaii.

What is Kailua weather like?

Since Kailua is on the Windward Side of the island, it receives some of the most constant natural Hawaiian air conditioning; the trade wind breezes. The region will be cooler than the dryer, Leeward Side of the island but will also see more rainfall as a result. Plan for an average temperature of 81 degrees and about 66 inches of rain per year. Kailua weather is my favorite in the summer as rainy days dwindle to a minimum.

Kailua Crime

kailua crime rate

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What are the best places to eat in Kailua?

Given the boom in tourism that the region has seen over the last few years, the neighborhood has really picked up steam in terms of the dining options. Kailua restaurants feature far more creative, local eats than they do big box franchise restaurants. Here's some of our picks for the Top 5 restaurants in Kailua:

1.) Cinnamon's | 315 Uluniu St Kailua, HI 96734 | A cult-favorite amongst breakfast lovers! Enjoy some of the most unique pancake offerings like Guava Chiffon and Mac-Nut. The menu is robust so you won't have trouble finding something for everyone.

2.) Boots & Kimo's | 151 Hekili St Kailua, HI 96734 | Home of the world famous Banana Mac-Nut pancakes! These guys are only open from 6am-2pm so prepare yourself to get their early to fight the crowd.

3.) Nalu Health Bar & Cafe | 131 Hekili St #109, Kailua, HI 96734 | Undoubtedly the best Acai Bowl on Oahu in my opinion and one of my favorite places for a post-beach fresh bite to eat. Featuring juice blends, sandwiches, wraps, acai bowls, and coffee.

4.) Maui Brewing Company | 573 Kailua Rd. Suite 105 Kailua, HI 96734 | Hawaii's largest craft brewery offering a killer indoor/outdoor dining experience, live music, Happy Hour specials, and one of the best menus in Kailua.

5.) Kalapawai Market | 750 Kailua Rd Kailua, HI 96734 | An iconic family run restaurant featuring some of the most thoughtful dishes in the neighborhood and relaxed, intimate dining experience.

What to do in Kailua

kailua beach

Beach life goes without saying. We mentioned it above but it's worth driving the point home again; Kailua and Lanikai Beaches are some of the most epic in the world. Powdery white sand, aqua blue and teal waters, and gentle to moderate shorebreak depending on which beach you choose make these two beaches a perfect fit for those seeking family aquatic fun.

moon rise from kailua beach

Moonrise from Kailua Bay

Stop in at Kailua Beach Park or Kalama Beach Park to find the most parking, otherwise the beaches can also be accessed by a number of other beach accesses with adjacent neighborhood parking. If someway, somehow you get sick of the ocean, dry off and check out some the following Kailua activities on land:

  • Lanikai Pillbox Hike

lanikai pillbox hike in kailua, hi

This Pillbox Hike will see you traverse the ridge behind the exclusive Lanikai neighborhood, offering some of the breathtaking views of the iconic Mokulua Twin Islands, the Ko'olau Mountain Range, and the Pacific Blue Ocean from Waimanalo, all the way to the Kaneohe. Feeling ambitious? 

  • Hike Maunawili Falls

maunawili trail to maunawili falls

The Maunawili Falls toffers you an entirely different experience; a shaded, jungle like terrain that takes you deep into a valley to a secluded waterfall and watering hole. Bring mosquito spray for this one!

  • Golfing in Kailua

kailua golf

Golfing in Kailua offers you one of the most surreal backdrops of lush Ko'olau mountains and tropical foliage. Tee up at either Mid Pacific Country Club or Royal Hawaiian Golf Club.

  • Kailua Farmers's Market 

kailua farmers market

This is can't miss. Dozens of food and restaurants vendors set up tents at the Kailua Town Center every Thursday evening and the Kailua community comes alive here. Enjoy some of the best street food, desserts, and local music make this a family friendly event. Try the French Dip Sandwich from Pig and the Lady!

  • Kailua Beach Adventures

kailua kayak rental

This is the only beach rental shop within walking distance of Kailua Beach. Park for free at Kailua Beach Adventures and pickup everything you need for day at one of Oahu's best water playgrounds. From Kayaks, Standup Paddleboards, snorkels, and coolers -- it's a one stop shop!

What are the best schools in Kailua?

The community has a variety of public and private schools, offering a wide range of education types and tuitions. The below schools are listed in order from Top Rated to Unrated per

Kailua Elementary Schools

Kaelepulu Elementary School (public) | 530 Keolu Dr, Kailua, HI, 96734 | PK-6| 200 students

Lanikai Elementary - Public Charter School | 140 Alala Rd, Kailua, HI, 96734 | K-6 | 328 students

Maunawili Elementary School (Public) | 1465 Ulupii St, Kailua, HI, 96734 |PK-6 | 344 students

Aikahi Elementary School (Public) | 281 Ilihau St, Kailua, HI, 96734 | PK-6 | 474 students

Enchanted Lake Elementary School (Public) | 770 Keolu Dr, Kailua, HI, 96734 | PK-6 | 428 students

Kainalu Elementary School (Public) | 165 Kaiholu St, Kailua, HI, 96734 | PK-6 | 440 students

Kailua Elementary School (Public) | 315 Kuulei Rd, Kailua, HI, 96734 | PK-6 | 352 students

Mokapu Elementary School (Public) | 1193 Mokapu Rd, Kailua, HI, 96734 | PK-6 | 881 students

Keolu Elementary Schoo (Public) | 1416 Keolu Dr, Kailua, HI, 96734 | PK-6 | 124 students

St John Vianney Parish School (Private)  | 940 Keolu Drive, Kailua, HI, 96734 | PK-8| 242 students

St. Anthony Parish School (Private) 148 Makawao Street, Kailua, HI, 96734 | PK-8 | 300 students

Le Jardin Academy (Private) | 917 Kalanianaole Hwy, Kailua, HI, 96734 | PK-12| 809 students

Hawaiian Mission Academy Windward Campus (Private) | 160 Mookua Street, Kailua, HI, 96734 | K-8 | 70 students

Trinity Christian School (Private) | 875 Auloa Road & 1110 Kailua Road, Kailua, HI, 96734 | PK-12 | 380 students

Huakailani School for Girls (Private) |45-035 Kaneohe Bay Drive, Kailua, HI, 96734 | K-8 | 30 students

Kailua Christian Academy (Private) | 1276 Kailua Road, Kailua, HI, 96734 | 5-12 | 28 students

Kailua Middle Schools

Kailua Intermediate School (Public) |145 South Kainalu Dr, Kailua, HI, 96734| Grades 7-8| 737 students

St John Vianney Parish School (Private) | 940 Keolu Drive, Kailua, HI, 96734 | PK-8| 242 students

St. Anthony Parish School  (Private) | 148 Makawao Street, Kailua, HI, 96734 | PK-8|300 students

Le Jardin Academy (Private) | 917 Kalanianaole Hwy, Kailua, HI, 96734 | PK-12 | 809 students

Hawaiian Mission Academy Windward Campus (Private) | 160 Mookua Street, Kailua, HI, 96734 | K-8 | 70 students

Trinity Christian School (Private) | 875 Auloa Road & 1110 Kailua Road, Kailua, HI, 96734 | PK-12 | 380 students

Huakailani School for Girls (Private) | 45-035 Kaneohe Bay Drive, Kailua, HI, 96734 | K-8 | 30 students

Kailua Christian Academy (Private)  | 1276 Kailua Road, Kailua, HI, 96734 | 5-12 | 28 students

Kailua High Schools

Kalaheo High School (Public) | 730 Iliaina St, Kailua, HI, 96734 | Grades 9-12 | 808 students

Kailua High School (Public) | 451 Ulumanu Dr, Kailua, HI, 96734 | Grades 9-12 | 756 students

Le Jardin Academy (Private) | 917 Kalanianaole Hwy, Kailua, HI, 96734 | Grades PK-12 | 809 students

Trinity Christian School (Private) | 875 Auloa Road & 1110 Kailua Road, Kailua, HI, 96734 | Grades PK-12| 380 students

Kailua Christian Academy (Private) | 1276 Kailua Road, Kailua, HI, 96734 | Grades 5-12| 28 students

Popular Neighborhoods in Kailua

1.) Lanikai 

homes for sale in lanikai kailua oahu

This is Kailua's most exclusive community and it boasts some of the highest real estate prices in the region. The prices are hard to argue with since the neighborhood is anchored by one of the best beaches in the world; Lanikai Beach. Buyers exploring Lanikai Homes for sale will be hard pressed to find a more idyllic setting for their new Oahu home. 

2.) Maunawili

maunawili homes for sale
If you're willing to sacrifice a few sunny days for lush tropical landscapes, Maunawili might be right up your alley. This Kailua neighborhood is tucked between the Koolau and Olomana mountains and provides a slightly cooler climate than the rest of Kailua due to its elevation and occasional cloud cover. Buyers exploring Maunawili homes for sale should plan for a peaceful setting, out of the hustle and bustle of Kailua Town. 

3.) Coconut Grove  


Homes for sale in Coconut Grove will primarily feature quintessential Beach Cottages; plantation style homes on post and pier foundations with a ton of vintage Hawaii charm. Active beach enthusiast will love this neighborhood as you're between 0.5 to 1 miles away from Kailua Beach, and the same distance to Kailua Town and Wholefoods Kailua. 

4.) Aikahi Park 

This is one of the most suburban neighborhoods in Kailua and being that it literally sits right outside the gate of Marine Corp Base Hawaii, it's naturally a top pick for military personnel stationed at MCBH. Aikahi Park homes for sale will feature for wide streets, level lots, and probably the most festive place for trick or treating in all of Kailua!

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