Kailua is a suburban town on the coast of the Hawaiian Island Oahu, with a population of 36,500 it is a quiet and natural alternative to the busy city streets of downtown Honolulu 20 kilometres away. Although it is a small and remote location, Kailua has become increasingly popular with tourists, especially since President Obama took vacations there in 2008. In the Hawaiian language, Kailua means “two currents”, named after the two lagoons that run through the local sea bay.
The main appeal of Kailua is its small town atmosphere, highlighted by the boutiques of handmade merchandise, restaurants of local cuisine and weekly evening farmers markets. Its beach community dominates the area as the 4-kilometre long beach is a haven for wind and kites surfing fanatics in addition to the famous Hawaiian surfers. Visitors can also enjoy the waves by sea kayaking or paddle boarding, and most locals would recommend travelling to the Mokulua Islands, or “the Mokes”, which are sanctuaries for protected seabirds. The area is also perfect for hiking and visitors can climb the favourite Lanikai Pillbox Trail for stunning views of the local beaches, vast ocean and distant horizon.
The Pali Highway, or Route 61, invites drivers into Kailua with fantastic views over the coast and inland scenery. From Honolulu, local buses leave several times an hour, going to the North Shore of the island and stopping at Kailua. They also travel to nearby smaller towns that visitors can explore.
During the reign of King Kakuhihewa, Kuali and its neighbouring towns were the capital of the Oahu coastal region, evident in the ancient temple ruins scattered around the area. More recently, the town has become less culturally significant, although it has received attention for hosting the Obamas on their vacations to Hawaii. Some residents have openly voiced their protests over the consequent significant rise in tourism, but others welcome the opportunity to show off their beautiful home to new people.