Here we are on the Windward side of Oahu. There's a reason why they call it the Windward side. As you can see, the tradewinds are really honking today. We're just off Makapuu, which is kind of the southern most of the Windward side and we're going to be making our way up the coast today to talk about the pros and cons of living in Windward Oahu.

Tradewind Surf off Makapuu

Tradewind Surf off Makapuu


Here we are now in Waimanalo and one of the things people do love about the Windward side are the beautiful white sandy beaches and deep blue ocean. As we continue up the Windward Coast, you'll see there's typically an outer barrier reef. So, the waves normally don't get too big closer to the shore. They normally make for calmer swimming conditions. 

Waimanalo Beach

White Sand and Deep Blue Ocean in Waimanalo

However, you've always got to consult and make sure you're a good swimmer before jumping in the ocean here. You also will get a lot more Portuguese man o war and jellyfish that do blow inside. Another great thing about the Windward side we'll point out along the way is the nice backdrop of the Koollau Mountains.


We've just left Waimanalo and we're now into Kailua. Kailua is a great area to live in. We've got Kailua Bluffs, Keolu Hills and Enchanted Lake behind me. There's also about another dozen neighborhoods in Kailua.

Enchanted Lake, Kailua Bluffs and Keolu Hills

Enchanted Lake with Keolu Hills and Kailua Bluffs in the Background

One of the catches on the Windward side is the clouds roll in. We did just come from Waimanalo. I was there an hour ago. I had to stop in Waimanalo to check on a listing of mine. What happens throughout the day is the clouds tend to roll in. So, the Windward side of the island is going to be a lot more cloudier than say the Leeward side of the island and it's also going to get a lot more rain. 

Mount Olomana Seen from Maunawili Home

Mount Olomana seen from Maunawili Home

Hence, you're going to have these beautiful green mountains like the Koolaus and Mount Olomana.


Here we are further up the coast. It's still kind of a windy tradewind day. We're at Heeia State Park and this gives you a great perspective of Kaneohe.

Heeia State Park

Heeia State Park

Heeia Fish Pond in Kaneohe

Heeia Fish Pond in Kaneohe

In the background, you've got an old fish pond and across the bay behind me you've got Lilipuna Point and you have some condos there.

Poha Kea Point Condos in Lilipuna

Poha Kea Point Condos in Lilipuna

All throughout Kaneohe, you've got a number of great neighborhoods. I know we kind of breezed over Kailua earlier, however I always say "the best places were taken first". So, the Windward side of Oahu does have some older construction (like Honolulu) in that people wanted to live along this beautiful coastline. 

Kaneohe Bay Views from Lilipuna

Views Along Kaneohe Coast

Kaneohe Marine Base

Kaneohe Marine Base

Kaneohe Marine Base

Windward Retail Shopping

What I will point out is you've got Kaneohe Marine Base. Then, just right up the road here you've got Windward Mall. We had breezed over the retail in which they have in Kailua Town. Kailua has a lot of great retail on property that was formerly owned by Kaneohe Ranch (now Alexander and Baldwin). Here in Kaneohe, you've got several malls, the largest of which is Windward Mall, which is a gigantic indoor mall. Kind of think of the bigger malls on the mainland. It's very convenient for those that aer living on this side of the island and/or are stations at Kaneohe Marine Base. I hope that helps and we'll continue up the coast.


There's a reason (once again) why they call this the Windward side of the island. I'm not sugar coating it today because the tradewinds are blowing pretty good. There are beautiful sunny days out here. We do have some blue in the skies, but if you look back towards Kaneohe Bay, you see a bunch of rain clouds there, but that's also what keeps the island so green and tropical on the Windward side.

Kualoa Beach Park

Kualoa Beach Park

Here we are at Kualoa Beach Park and Kualoa Ranch is directly behind me here. There's a lot of really cool movies that have been filmed there.

Kualoa Ranch

Kualoa Ranch

It's obviously been put on the map for Jurassic Park and right around the corner here at the fishpond, they filmed 50 First Dates with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. You then have Chinaman's Hat out the back here in Kualoa.

Sailing in Kaneohe

We kind of breezed over Kaneohe Bay. As you can see the wind is blowing today and one of the cool things about living on the Windward side of Oahu is it's a great place to go sailing.

Kaneohe Yacht Club Yacht Club seen from Kaneohe Bay

Kaneohe Yacht Club

A little closer to Kailua, you have Kaneohe Yacht Club. There are also some facilities to take boats out of the Marine Base if you have that eligibility. Last, but not least there are little boat slips and places along the coast here in Kaneohe, if you have a boat and wand to launch it out the back. We're going to start to talk a little more real estate here shortly.

Oceanfront Homes Along the Windward Coast

In Waimanalo, there's one on the market right now on the ocean for $5 million. Entry level on the ocean right now in Kailua has been $8 million. However, if you're willing to drive a little further up the coast, which we're going to continue to do. As you get further up the coast, you'll continue to see prices drop. You get more "bang for your buck" (no pun intended). You can start to get something on the water from the mid $1 million to $2 million range. It's a lot more affordable because it's a lot more rural and further to drive. Stand by and we'll continue on to our next stop, which is Kaaawa.


Now, we're on the beach in Kaaawa and Kaaawa is just right up the coast form the city of Kaneohe. Technically, Kaaawa is it's own city. It has it's own zip code and post office.

Kaaawa Post Office

Kaaawa Post Office

When you get mail here, it says Kaaawa, HI. Try to say Kaaawa fast 3 times! In any event, this is the next stop along the Windward Coast. It's got it's own residential community (in MLS) and a beautiful backdrop. Most of the real estate here is going to be set just off the highway. As we start to get more up the coast here, we're doing to talk more about what the cons are of living on the Windward side.

It's beautiful in that you're living on or near the water. But the one of the cons are that there's salt air that's traveling thousands of miles across the Pacific. So, the salt air is going to have a lot more wear and tear on the improvements of your property, your vehicles, etc. That salt air will corrode things quicker as opposed to living on the Leeward side of Oahu or in Honolulu.

Old Hauula Fire Station 15

Old Hauula Fire Station #15

I used to be a firefighter and worked up the road here. A station that I worked at in the late 90's was already falling apart and it was built in the 1980's. Fast forward to today, they have a brand new fire station because the old fire station didn't last that long and it was built in the 1980's.

One of the cons once again of living on the Windward Coast is you're going to get a lot more wear and tear on your property. It's going to be a little more to maintain. But, the sandy beaches are hard to beat...

Traffic on Kamehameha Hwy

I decided to stop further up the street. Another con we're going to talk about right now about living on the Windward side is it is a 1 lane highway. So, if there's any type of construction or accident, the road is going to back up. So, that's something you want to be prepared for, living on the Windward Coast. 

Swanzy Beach Park

They've got some construction going on right here in Kaaawa. Up the road is the Kaaawa Fire Station. Directly behind me is Swanzy Beach Park. It's a beautiful beach park. They do have basketball hoops here as well as a little playground for the kids. 

Swanzy Beach Park in Kaaawa

Swanzy Beach Park in Kaaawa

Having been a firefighter out here, the ocean does get a little bit rough. Even though the waves are breaking way out there, there's a current through here that rips hard. There's been a lot of water rescues along this coast. I've been involved in some and then there's a tragedy that happened out here. There were some kids that got in over their heads in a kayak. Even though the water looks calm on the inside, there's an undercurrent that rips through here. So, you really want to be careful on this part of the island in particular off Kaaawa. We'll be right around the corner here in a second (after the traffic frees up) and we'll check out Kahana Bay.

Kahana Bay

Kahana Bay

Kahana Bay Looking Back at Kaaawa

Here we are now at Kahana Bay, which is right around the corner from Kaaawa. It's a beautiful state beach park. There's not a lot of real estate here. It definitely does not come for sale. There are some leased homes (from the state) back in the valley. Once we get around the corner here, we'll be at Punaluu, where we have a combination of fee simple and leasehold properties along the water. 


Now that we're in Punaluu looking back towards Kahana Bay, there are some homes on the water in Punaluu. Those are actually leasehold properties, where the land beneath them is owned by Kamehameha Schools. They are long term land leases. However across the road, this is something you want to be aware of when you're looking at property on the Windward Coast.

Sometimes you'll see something online as "oceanfront", however it's literally got a highway between it. Over the years, I've seen it in MLS where they call these homes "oceanfront", but there's literally a highway you have to cross to get to the beach. Some of them do have beautiful ocean and beach views, so that's definitely one of the pros. 

Odd Numbers = Oceanfront

One thing to keep in mind as you're driving along Kamehameha Hwy is all the odd numbers are going to be along the ocean and all the even numbers are going to be on the mountain or mauka side of the road. Keep that in mind, because if you see something that they're calling "oceanfront", it's not necessarily always oceanfront. One of the homes here has some scaffolding up and that's another reminder that homes are going to have a little more wear and tear on the Windward Coast.

Pats at Punaluu

Pats at Punaluu

Pats at Punaluu

There's a few things I'd like to discuss while we're here. I've got Pats at Punaluu directly behind me. Outside of the wind, you can hear the jackhammering going on. They're doing a lot of spalling work there, because that's what we talked about earlier. Living on the Windward Coast, you're going to get a lot more wear and tear. So, living on the ocean, they're having to redo all the rebar on the building and repainting it. Once they're done, it's going to be an incredible product and it's hard to beat this lifestyle.

Hanohano Hale Condos

Hanohano Hale

Between Pats at Punaluu and Hanohano Hale, they are definitely 2 of the least expensive oceanfront condo options. If you want to buy on the ocean on Oahu, outside of Makaha, these are going to be the 2 best deals going.

There's a couple more things I want to talk about while we're in Punaluu. Punaluu is an MLS neighborhood that falls within the city of Hauula. Hauula has its own city and zip code, just like Kaaawa. It's an isolated town off Kamehameha Highway. i'd love to tell you a funny story next.

There was one day I was working at the Hauula Fire Station, which is right up the road here. It's station number 15 for HFD. It was Christmas morning and we got called into a rescue call. There was a man in distress swimming out here. It was called in from his wife that was frantic on the beach here at Pats at Punaluu. 

Pats at Punaluu Outer Reef

Outer Reef in the Distance Fronting Pats at Punaluu

As we talked about earlier, there is this barrier reef on the outside. So on the inside here, it's pretty well protected. Up the coast I said be very careful at Kaaawa. So, we came out of the fire station. This was Christmas morning over 20 years ago. We're blazing down the highway. I jump out of the truck in front of this building and put on my fins. The wife is in hysterics on the beach because her husband is face up straight outside. So, we start yelling and screaming. I put my mask, snorkel and fins on and start treading out towards him. He's about half way out to the surf. Then, we stop to say "hey, are you ok"? Because, when they train you, they don't want to person you're rescuing to drown you. He's like face up facing the sky the whole time and all of the sudden he stands up and looks at us and looks at us confused like why are coming out there?

I then start laughing because I had no clue. I didn't grow up on this coast. I didn't realize how shallow it was out there. Obviously, if you're not a good swimmer, be very careful. He literally stood up to his waist in the ocean. I think he had a few cocktails that day. It's a funny story I love to tell. I tell clients that story when I'm showing property out here. I found that's a good takeaway. Even though you have all this ocean between here and the reef. In theory, you could drown, but it is pretty shallow most of the way out there. Just be sure to use your good judgement at be safe.

Windward Sunrise and Sunset

Before I wrap up things at Pats at Punaluu, I just want to point out 1 more thing. The sky is already getting dark at 2:15 PM. Another pro and con of living on the Windward Coast of Oahu is you're going to get the beautiful sunrise off the coast in the morning.

Sunrise off Punaluu

Sunrise off Pats at Punaluu

Sunset on the Koolaus

Sunset Behind the Koolaus

However, it's going to get a little bit darker as the day goes on. The sun is going to set behind the Koolau Mountain range. So, it gets darker a lot quicker here on the Windward Coast. Once again the perk is waking up to the sunrise off the ocean in the morning.


Hauula Sign

Now, we're further up the coast in Hauula. What I'm going to share with you is some local knowledge vs. local Realtor knowledge. So, we started this off by talking about the pros and cons of living on the Windward Coast of Oahu. For all the locals that live here on the island, we basically refer to the Windward side as starting in Waimanalo and it's going to run all the way up to the point in Laie and Kahuku, to what's considered the northern point of Oahu into Kuilima at Turtle Bay.

Laie Point

Laie Point off Naupaka St.

Once you round the point at Naupaka St. in Laie, that's kind of the tip point of the island. It can also arguably be said that once you get up to Turtle Bay or Kahuku, that would be the tipping point because the wind turns at that point and you're now in the lee.

Turtle Bay Resort

Turtle Bay Resort on the Northern Point of Oahu

From a real estate perspective, it's a little bit different. Along that entire coastline, there's 3 major regions on the MLS on Oahu. The first off is going to be Kailua, where we started and encompasses Waimanalo. Then you have Kaneohe, which is the bulk of this coastline. When HBR (The Honolulu Board of Realtors) reports on the stats or I report on the stats every month that talks about the Windward Coast, that's basically the Kaneohe Region of MLS. Keep in mind, the Kaneohe Region has nearly 60 neighborhoods in MLS. The third is the North Shore at the tip of the island.

Oahu Regions of MLS

Oahu Regions of MLS

We just did a broad stroke on the Windward Coast. We kind of stuck along the coast today. I feel like Kailua kind of got cheated, however maybe we'll cover that on another day. 

Every part of the island has their pros and cons. If you have any questions about real estate here on Oahu, feel free to reach out and give us a shout. Mahalo!