Kailua Day Trip

With so much to do in Kailua on Oahu’s Windward side, you could wile away hours exploring this quaint beach neighborhood. If you can carve out an entire day, this is the place to spend it – from summiting the Lanikai Pillbox Hike, breakfasting at Kalapawai Market, followed by a cool swim at Lanikai Beach and shave ice at Island Snow – you can splash out in Kailua from sun up to sun down.

After a morning soaking up the sand and surf at (1) Lanikai Beach, make your way over to (2) Island Snow for their fast, friendly service and full-size servings of shave ice (snow cones). Splurge for their to-go cup (at only $3 though is it really a splurge?) and avoid the mess of a cone. And after you’ve slurped up your shave ice you can check out Island Snow’s buffet of surf wear, street wear, sunnies, watches and accessories – just what you need to mix up your wardrobe before hitting the shore again tomorrow!

Park at Kailua Town Center and exercise your legs or borrow a different set of wheels to explore Kailua. This bicycle-friendly neighborhood makes it the perfect place to take in some fresh air and appreciate our beautiful Hawai‘i weather. Roll on over to take your pick of local bike rentals - options include (3) Kailua Bicycle Hawaii and The Bike Shop - or take advantage of the state's new bike sharing program called Hawai‘i B-Cycle which has stations throughout Kailua where you can quickly and easily pick up and drop off a bike.

Once you’re mobile you can rest your legs and exercise your wallet at any one of Kailua’s beach-chic boutiques. Our regular haunts include (4) Manuhealii(mah-nu-hay-yah-lee-ee) – where you’ll want to hunt down an aloha outfit that will take you from party to professional -- Fighting Eel, Red Bamboo, as well as many other off-the-map shops like Lily Lotus – the perfect spot to scoop up local souvenirs for yourself and friends and family at home.

After a long day exploring Kailua you may feel like you need a vacation from your vacation. If so, what better place to get happy and kick up your feet than with happy hour at (5) Prima? Here, you can quench your thirst with a cold beer and fill your belly with an order (or two) of their Di Bologna, a thin crust, handcrafted pizza topped with pepperocini, mozzarella, a soft poached egg and rosemary. If you're going with a group we recommend ordering family style so you can sample some of their other Prima-ere dishes like the pappardelle curry bolognese with fried curry leaves or their slow roasted pork belly. Delizioso!

And if it’s Thursday, you’re in luck! Head on over to the bountiful harvest at the (6) Kailua Farmer’s Market, held Thursdays at Kailua Town Center, behind Long’s and Pier 1. If you’re still hungry, here you can fill your opu (stomach) with the beautiful buffet of fresh, locally grown Big Island abalone (grilled still on the shell), honey, local herbs, fruits and vegetables and other farmer’s market favorites like the sushi sliders and purple banana malasadas.

1) Lanikai Beach

More than living up to its name (in Hawaiian, Lanikai translates as "heavenly sea") Lanikai Beach in Kailua, consistently shores up as one of the best beaches in the world. With its white sand and gentle, turquoise waters, Lanikai Beach on O‘ahu's Windward side measures up - wave for wave - against the images that guests imagine and travel books the world over depict, as the quintessential Hawai‘i beach experience.

If you float by mid-week, Lanikai Beach is traditionally less crowded by the throngs of kama‘aina (local residents) and visitors who crowd the shoreline toe-to-towel during the weekends and peak summer months. For those who lose track of time, Lanikai also just happens to be the perfect place to stay to catch the moonrise over the Mokuluas.

While the beach itself is public property, because Lanikai Beach isn't considered state or county land there are no lifeguards, restrooms or showers. So make sure to stay safe and plan your restroom needs in advance.

 

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2) Island Snow

Hailing from the Windward side of O‘ahu, Island Snow is freezing out the competition. This shave ice stand is the perfect hits-the-spot stop after a long day in the sand and sun at one of Kailua's beautiful beaches. And after you've slurped up your shave ice you can check out Island Snow's buffet of surf wear, street wear, sunnies and accessories - just what you need to mix up your wardrobe before hitting the shores again tomorrow!

Within walking distance of Kailua Beach just off Kailua Road, Island Snow is known for its fast, friendly service and full-size servings. Splurge for the to-go cup (at only $3 though is it really a splurge?) and avoid the mess of a cone.

This shave ice stand is so cool it has attracted a loyal following. In fact, Island Snow's real claim-to-fame is the regular visits it receives from President Obama and his ‘ohana (family), who frequent here when they make their annual "migration" to Hawai‘i during the holidays. Hey, if it's good enough for the prez...

 

 

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3) Kailua Bicycle Hawaii

Ditch your rental car for a different set of wheels and borrow or rent a bike to explore Kailua. This bicycle friendly neighborhood makes it the perfect place to take in some fresh air and appreciate our beautiful Hawai‘i weather.

Park your car at Kailua Town Center (or anywhere where parking is plentiful!) and roll on over to take your pick of local bike rentals - options include Kailua Bicycle and The Bike Shop. From there, the day is yours to take a short spin to Lanikai Beach (where you'll save yourself the time and headache of having to hunt down parking), grab shave ice from Island Snow and lunch and some light groceries from Kalapawai Café.

Another option is the state's new bike sharing program called Hawai‘i B-Cycle which has stations throughout Kailua where you can quickly and easily pick up and drop off a bike without the time and hassle of going to a shop. Purchase a membership online (you can choose from a 24-hour, 30-day or annual pass) at http://hawaii.bcycle.com and you're ready to hit the road!

 

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4) Manuheali'i

Whenever Hawai‘i residents are on the hunt for an aloha outfit that will take them from party to professional they pay a visit to Manuheali‘i. Since 1985, Hawai‘i designers Darlene and Pono have sewn up the aloha wear business creating original and modern pieces for every man and woman in a variety of prints and styles.

Their two stores - located in Honolulu and Kailua - are well-known stops every season (or every visit!) to try on their new items from men's aloha shirts to modern muumuu. New collections are released every six to eight weeks in an assortment of styles.

Inspired by O‘ahu's environment and rich culture, Manuheali‘i's unique graphic prints feature vibrant colors, which distinguish each and every garment. If you're looking to add a timeless Hawaiian print to your closet, make a visit to Manuheali‘i a must.

 

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5) Prima

Heating up Kailua's culinary scene is Prima, a hot new Italian/American restaurant by a trio of local chefs with some serious cooking street cred.

Folded inside a nondescript strip mall next to Foodland, Prima is known for flipping out some of the island's best kiawe wood brick oven pizzas. We go bananas for their Di Bologna ($18), a thin crust, handcrafted pizza topped with pepperocini, mozzarella, a soft poached egg, rosemary, mortadella Spaghetti all'Amatriciana, tomato, red onion and guanciale. If you're going with a group we recommend ordering family style so you can sample some of their other Prima-ere dishes like the pappardelle ($18), curry bolognese with fried curry leaves or their slow roasted pork belly ($32), with king trumpet mushrooms, mashed potatoes and sautéed greens. Delizioso!

If a visit to Prima is a top priority, make sure to put in your reservation well in advance - they're only open for dinner and are so popular among Kailua residents that they typically have a line winding around the door. And because they fire food to order you may have to wait a bit for your meal. But stick around for dessert - their pistachio glace will make your eyes glaze over.

 

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6) Kailua Farmer's Market

As the sun sets, Kailua comes alive every Thursday with the sights, sounds and tastes of Windward O‘ahu's Kailua Farmer's Market.

After a day swimming and splashing around Kailua, spend your evening perusing the aisles and stalls of the Kailua Farmer's Market, held Thursdays at Kailua Town Center, behind Long's and Pier 1, from 5 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Curb your hungry opu (stomach) with the beautiful buffet of fresh, locally grown Big Island abalone (grilled still on the shell), honey, local herbs, fruits and vegetables and other farmer's market favorites like the sushi sliders and purple banana malasadas.

The best part - because the market is held in the parking garage adjacent to Macy's you won't need to worry about experiencing one of Windward O‘ahu's frequent and unpredictable passing rain showers.

 

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