Exploring East Honolulu
We explore beyond the cul-de-sacs to find East Honolulu’s friendly personalities, hidden treasures and where your lost fins ended up.
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Going with the Flow
PHOTO: ELYSE BUTLER
Wailupe Stream is the last natural stream feeding into Maunalua Bay, meandering its way from the mountains through ‘Āina Haina to the ocean. There was a time when taro and fishponds dotted this waterway, once stocked with young mullet and crayfish. The stream is now a model to which channelized streams in the area are compared. When rain hits unpaved surfaces, such as a natural stream bed, much of the water soaks into the ground and debris is caught in the vegetation lining the stream, leaving far less runoff than hardened streams do. The modern decision to channelize streams has contributed to the decline in the health of the ecosystem in Maunalua Bay, thus making Wailupe Stream an example by which to live and learn.
When it comes to prime East Honolulu real estate, it’s all about the ridges. But higher doesn’t necessarily mean better. It might sound counterintuitive, but the more expensive homes on the ridges in this area—think Wai‘alae Iki and Hawai‘i Loa—are usually not at the very top. “It’s not an exact science, but the more desirable streets are lower on the hill,” says Jaymes Song, real estate agent with Prudential Advantage Realty in Kāhala, who adds that the quality of the home, the size of the lot and the view are much more important. “People don’t like driving to the top and the views are actually better lower.” The majority of the homes in the gated community atop Wai‘alae Iki don’t have any views; the area up there is flat. “There’s a sweet spot on these ridges you have to figure out,” he says.
Photo: Elyse Butler
Tucked away in back of Kalani High School is an old auto shop that had gone unused for years. The 1,500-square-foot building, which housed industrial arts classes until the ’90s, is being converted to a new kind of trade program. Four years ago, two retired educators recruited about 20 students to pilot a program focused on sustainability. Today, about 75 teens are enrolled in the school’s Natural Resources program—a dozen more participate after school—where they learn skills that include repairing electric vehicles and growing herbs using aquaponic systems. “It grew from the idea of engaging all kids—the bright kids, the drifters, the overachievers, the underachievers,” says Ken Kajihara, a retired ag teacher and state Department of Education curriculum specialist. “We want to give every student with an interest a chance to apply what they learn in the classroom to the real world. They build stuff they never imagined building. They’re fixing things they thought were unfixable. It’s been really rewarding.”
That’s a Paddling
PHOTO: ELYSE BUTLER
One of the oldest canoe clubs in the state resides in Hawai‘i Kai. Hui Nalu (Hawaiian for “Club of the Waves”) was founded in 1908 by the legendary Duke Kahanamoku, Knute Cottrell and Ken Winter. It was originally based at the Moana Hotel, now the Moana Surfrider, in central Waikīkī. While its original focus was swimming, Hui Nalu’s members were often found surfing and paddling in the rolling waves of Waikīkī. When the club moved to its current location on Maunalua Bay in 1960s, it was all about paddling. Today, the club boasts more than 500 members ranging in age from 8 to mid-70s, all lured by the family atmosphere and a shared passion for the ocean. “We are a very diverse group,” says head coach Denise Darval-Chang, 52, who’s been a member of the club for 40 years. “We cover every single crew there is, from kids to older guys. We fill every single category.”