Kailua is small residential town located 12 miles northeast of Honolulu on the Windward side of Oahu. Kailua Beach was ranked #1 beach in 1998 by coastal expert Dr. Stephen Leatherman, (also known as “Dr Beach) and then “retired” from subsequent consideration. It continues to be ranked among the best beaches worldwide. The water is turquoise blue; the sand is soft and white; and it is not very crowded (especially on weekdays). The light to medium waves make Kailua Beach a great place for boogie boarding. The steady trade winds make Kailua Beach one of the world’s best windsurfing and kite boarding destinations.
Kailua beach is approximately 2 miles long. Unfortunately, between the oceanfront homes that allow their yards to creep towards the ocean and Mother Nature reclaiming the beach through erosion, it seems to be getting a little narrower each year. The beach concession stand has been closed, so pack a picnic lunch. Or better yet, stop off at nearby Kalapawai Market for snacks and a sandwich.
Kailua has a nice mix of casual restaurants and interesting shops. The tree-lined downtown area is quite small and is easily accessible by foot. Some of my favorite stores to shop for “Hawaii gifts” are “So Kailua”, “Under a Hula Moon”, “Kailua Beachwalk”, and “Island Treasures”. No need to give directions to any of these, just stroll around the downtown area and you’ll come across them. Don’t forget to stop off at “Chip & Cookie”, a cookie store owned by local resident Wally Amos (founder of the Famous Amos brand). If your timing is lucky, you’ll be offered a sample cookie by Wally himself!
While you’re here, take some time to stop and see the historical Ulupo Heiau located right next to the local YMCA. The heiau is one of the temples said to have been built by mythical menuhunes for the worship of the Hawaiian gods. Hundreds of years ago, rocks were carried from miles away and carefully placed here. The remains are 140 feet wide and about 30 feet high.
If you are staying on Oahu for more than a few days, Kailua is a great place to visit. I should know, I live there!