Discovering the Treasures: Oahu’s Windward Side

(Sponsored) Once you drive through the lush ridges of the Koolau mountains, escaping the crowds and hustle of Honolulu, relaxation takes over. From Waimanalo to Kahaluu, Windward Oahu’s unique local businesses, scenic beauty, and friendly faces bring kamaaina and visitors alike to this low-key paradise.

Windward Eats:

The Eastside entices foodies from all over the island with its mosaic of eateries. Come delight your palate and taste what’s cooking this side of the Koolau.



Early risers flock to the Windward side for a hot cup of Kona coffee and a stack of Cinnamon’s famous pancakes. Known for its family-friendly atmosphere and creative menu items, this bustling Kailua restaurant has been dishing up some of the best breakfast in the state for 29 years. Owner and Kailua resident Puna Nam says his secret is to “Have fun and surround yourself with good people,” and his emphasis on fun really shows. Perfecting and reinventing classics, like eggs Benedict and buttermilk pancakes, is Cinnamon’s specialty. Playful dishes like red velvet pancakes with white chocolate sauce, guava chiffon pancakes, freshly pressed ginger ale, and crab-cake eggs Benedict with house-made hollandaise sauce are just a few of the culinary creations cooked up by Cinnamon’s innovative chefs. “We love what we do,” says Nam.  “It has been and will continue to be our good fortune to be part of the greatest group of employees and guests in the world.”

A Hawaiian-style twist on a French favorite has folks lining up for lunch to grab one of Rosario “Kakay” and Chris Tarvyd’s homemade crepes from Crepes No Ka Oi. “Initially, we decided to open up shop in Kailua so we’d be able to walk to work; it was a wonderful decision in so many ways,” explains Chris. The Tarvyds have acquired quite a following with their sweet and savory crepe creations. The customer favorite, the Ultimate Breakfast Crepe or UBC, is stuffed with a slow-cooked medley of potatoes, bacon, onions and rosemary, and topped off with cheddar cheese, a poached egg and a side of fresh hollandaise sauce. The creative couple says they are expanding their menu at a soon-to-open new location to host locavore specials featuring fresh local ingredients.

Another iconic Windward Oahu institution is Buzz’s Original Steakhouse. Relax, eat well, and enjoy stunning views of the Mokulua Islands at this local Lanikai hotspot. Buzz’s fresh seafood, mouthwatering steaks, and killer pupu have kept this beachside bistro a homegrown favorite since 1962. General Manager Mani Schneider cites the retro-chic décor as the vehicle that takes diners on a trip down memory lane to the “good ‘ole days of Hawaii.” But don’t let its vintage looks fool you, the eatery puts out elegant and modern dishes with the freshest local ingredients. Schneider says her number one goal is to create a memorable and flavor-filled dining experience for every patron, every time. “We may seem busy, but we care about our customer,” she says.

East Coast meets Oahu’s Eastside at Bob’s Pizzeria, where diners can grab a generous slice of Boston-style pizza pie.  Robert “Bob” Festa has been serving up oversized pies with fresh ingredients, fresh dough made on the premises, and homemade sauce at this Kailua hotspot for the past seven years. “I love providing the visitors and residents of Kailua with a quality product, a good price and a friendly atmosphere,” says the Boston-native.  Clearly, his patrons appreciate his hard work; Handmade thank-you cards and letters from past patrons grateful for the flavorful meal paper the pizzeria’s walls and urge you not to miss out on the free entertainment—Festa’s daily magic tricks.

If you’re in the mood for bold, festive flavors, check out Kailua’s favorite taco spot at Maui Tacos. This casual dine-in taco shack boasts a bounty of fresh menu options and south-of-the-border zest for your before or after-beach cravings. Fish tacos, Hawaiian BBQ pork tortas and the mango salad are a few of Maui Tacos’s beloved dishes.


Shop Hop:

Locals from all over Oahu venture east to indulge in the Windward side’s vibrant shopping scene.  From beachy boutiques and eclectic storefronts to organic nurseries and global home furnishings, Windward Oahu has everything and anything on your wish list.

Photos: Keaka Lunn

Inspired by Native plants and Hawaii’s easy-going lifestyle, Manuhealii creates contemporary Aloha wear for the whole family. Since 1985, husband-and-wife team Danene and Pono Lunn have celebrated Hawaii’s beauty and culture through fashion and design. Manuheali‘i’s well-crafted collections of clothes and accessories intertwine meaningful Hawaiian images with stylish prints and modern cuts. Pono, an architect and graphic designer, creates the designs himself, while Danene uses her aesthetic eye to select color palettes for the apparel. “We’re continually evolving,” explains Pono. “This year we are expanding our collection to incorporate more global prints and fresh new styles.”

If you’re looking for one-of-a-kind finds, Kailua Verde is the place for you. As Kailua’s only high-end consignment shop, Kailua Verde brings sustainable fashion at affordable prices. The eco-chic boutique is known for its high-end clothes, gently used designer pieces, and vintage jewelry. “I love my customers, and I love helping them find new life in these beautiful clothes and accessories,” says owner Lillian McDonnell. Just because it’s recycled, doesn’t mean it’s not new. “We have a lot of brand new items,” explains McDonnell. “When shops around the island go out of business or have extra stock, we take on their apparel to recycle at our store.”

Get lost wandering through a three-story treasure trove of unique home furnishings and exotic décor at Baliboo. For 14 years Baliboo has been a Windward O‘ahu hidden gem, tucked away on Kapa‘a Quarry Road. A favorite among interior decorators, Baliboo is the place to go to find eclectic art, beautifully carved Buddha statues, and handcrafted furniture to perfect your indoor/outdoor lifestyle. Aside from its Southeast Asian woodcarvings, this shop boasts one of the largest collections of Koa furniture on the island.

If you’re drawn to the beautiful and exotic, Koolau Farmers has a variety of interesting plants and flowers to brighten your home. The home and garden center, with two east-side locations in Kaneohe and Kailua, has been a botanical resource in Windward Oahu for decades. Koolau Farmers offers everything from seed-starting supplies and fertilizers to worm-compost bins and expert planting advice from their knowledgeable staff. And the Kaneohe store is spearheading a new venture for the local chain—floral arrangements. Many Hawaii plant-lovers go to Koolau Farmers to buy bizarre and beautiful flowers and trees—such as a black-flowered anthurium and the popular evergreen “Mrs. Garfield” amaryllis. The stores also carry a dwarf Japanese Maple variety, which grows splendidly in our volcanic soil. “Most of the popular maple trees that have been introduced to our state will die or not grow well,” explains general manager Elton Hara. “This one variety grows really well. People love the colors and shape of the leaves.” With a new location popping up in Honolulu on McCully, the homegrown enterprise is spreading their seeds through the island.


Homing Instinct:

Picturesque beaches, great schools and charming neighborhoods draw homebuyers to the Windward side every year. From Waimanalo to Kahaluu, this side of the island is idyllic for those looking to escape the city and put down roots.

Photos: Courtesy of Hollace "Holly" A. Turl, Ed Medeiros

According to the talented realtors at Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties, Hawaii’s leading real estate firm, the Windward side holds the most active and exciting market on Oahu right now.  “We are absolutely off the charts right now,” says Holly Turl, Realtor and vice president of Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties. “Our sales are up 30 percent from last year.”  If the beach is where you want to be, look to Turl, who specializes in finding hopeful homebuyers their perfect beachfront abode. Turl says there’s something for everyone on the Windward side—whether you prefer the lush landscape of Kahaluu or to be walking distance from the bay in Kaneohe, the versatility in surroundings and price point is quite accommodating. 

Photos: Raymond Rippel, ANDY LANDGRAF

“There are more ways in and out of Kailua then any other city on Oahu. When H-3 opened, that really put us on the map, as well,” says Mary Beddow, Realtor/vice president and previews property specialist for Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties. Beddow says another reason people are packing up and heading to the Windward side is because the zoning for these neighborhoods, especially Kailua, carries restrictions for further development, keeping the area’s charm and small-town feel intact. As long-time Kailua residents, Beddow and her family work to find their clients the home of their dreams. “I work with my husband Chris and our niece Malia Barger together as a team, so when you hire me, you are getting all three of us to ultimately sell your house and to help you find one to buy,” she adds. “We give over 100 percent to our clients and we perform at a level of service and commitment that is hard to find.”

Photo: Alicia Camacho

With the Windward Side’s diverse neighborhoods, it’s easy to find something for everyone. Born and raised in Kailua, Donna Maier specializes in Windward Oahu real estate as a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties. “It’s important to find an agent who understands the market and is familiar with the area,” explains Maier. “Homebuyers who want a more rural lifestyle, away from the crowds of Kailua and Kaneohe, should escape to Waimanalo and Kahaluu. My goal is to help my clients find the best living environment for them and their families.”

The team at Coldwell Banker represents more buyers and sellers than any other real estate firm in Hawaii. Always willing to go the extra mile for her clients, Maier has assisted hundreds of homeowners in finding their perfect place on the Windward side.

“I feel so honored I get to help my clients find and transition into a new home,” says Maier.

Photo: Courtesy of D.R. Horton-Schuler Homes

Balancing upscale urban design with Windward Oahu’s beach-town charm is D.R. Horton – Schuler Homes’ new Kailua condominiums Ka Malanai. “Condominium living provides freedom from the myriad of chores associated with living in a single-family home,” says Mary K. Flood, vice president of sales and marketing, D.R. Horton – Schuler Division. “Yet unlike renting it allows a person to be a homeowner with the opportunity to gain equity and battle inflation while enjoying a convenient lifestyle.”

Inspired by the breezes that flow through Kailua, Ka Malanai is a modern community offering residents an urban lifestyle in a small-town setting. The six four-story buildings are centrally located and offer a selection of floor plans and spacious outdoor living areas. “D.R. Horton – Schuler Homes  has built over 8,000 homes in Hawaii since 1974,” says Flood. “Ka Malanai embodies the features and engineering derived from years of experience and listening to what homeowners want in condominium living.”


Live & Learn:

For generations, Oahu’s Eastside has grown well-rounded students and community-minded individuals. Parents can relax knowing their children are just a quick bus ride or walk from home at one of Windward Oahu’s many high-quality schools and colleges.

Photos: Courtesy of St John Vianney Parish School

Nestled at the base of the Koolau Mountains since 1965, St. John Vianney Parish School has played part in educating several generations of Windward Oahu families. The Enchanted Lakes school, with its intimate class sizes and Catholic-faith foundation, fosters effective communicators, critical and creative thinkers, and responsible and involved citizens. This Windward Oahu school offers its students exciting extracurricular opportunities in band, orchestra, hula, robotics, sports, Japanese language, and technology classes. Conveniently located by the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, the school welcomes many military families into the community. “It is our honor to offer military dependents a safe and caring environment with challenging curriculum as their parents serve our country,” says principal Caryn DeMello.


In the heart of Kailua town, St. Anthony Catholic School provides a balanced progressive and traditional education. As the oldest private school in Kailua, St. Anthony’s teaches Catholic values along with a stimulating academic curriculum. “Our students are well prepared for high school with an enriched curriculum and are regularly accepted into other, competitive, top private and Catholic schools,” says principal Bridget Olsen. Keeping up with the times, the school focuses on incorporating 21st Century learning and project-based learning with today’s latest technological elements such as interactive Promethean boards and iPads.

Photo: Courtesy of Le Jardin Academy

Upon a grassy hillside off of Kapaa Quarry Road, Le Jardin Academy grows topnotch students and athletes. Le Jardin is the largest independent school on the windward side of Oahu with an enrollment of 820 students in grades PreK through 12. As an International Baccalaureate World School, Le Jardin teaches a challenging academic curriculum balanced with community service initiatives. “Our emphasis on critical thinking and community service creates curious, independent learners who excel scholastically and develop a healthy and moral character,” says Cindy Herndon, director of marketing at Le Jardin Academy. These philosophies are exemplified in the fifth grade Exhibition—a team-oriented, student-run research project. “Exhibition is a culmination of what they’ve learned and what interests them,” explains K-5 principal Majken Johansson. “We want them to think globally and act locally. This year, some fifth graders explored the difference between street art and graffiti, another group pursued the topic of bullying in schools. It’s great to see them find ways to take action towards a specific topic.”

Photo: Courtesy of Trinity Christian School

Trinity Christian School also strives to raise worldly students. Situated just off the Pali Highway, the school combines Christian-based classical education with a focus on both global and local communities. The small K-12 school keeps class sizes at a max of 18, and provides additional aids and learning specialists to enhance the classroom. Trinity Christian School takes a trip in its senior capstone program, the Grand Tour of Europe, in which the students actually visit the historic European cities and sites from their studies. “We provide a unique and effective method of education that helps prepare our young men and women for further learning opportunities and helps them to become worldly citizens,” explains headmaster Stephen Sprague.

Photo: Courtesy Windward Community College

The beautiful Windward Community College (WCC) campus, tucked against a green ribbon of the Koolau range in Kaneohe, features outstanding facilities and resources to help East Oahu students pursue their dreams. The Paliku Theatre, Hokulani Imaginarium and Lanihuli Observatory bring the students’ studies to life with stage productions, hands-on research, and visual learning experiences. “Sometimes students don’t even want to leave campus, because of the peaceful open spaces and serene study environment,” explains Bonnie Beatson, marketing and public relations director at WCC. “Many students consider WCC like family.” Beatson says WCC strives to provide the best hands-on education possible in a nurturing environment and for an affordable price. Known for arts and sciences, WCC students excel in today’s professional world thanks to unique programs such as an Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology and the Nursing Pathway Program (a CNA-LPN-RN pathway program)—which combines prerequisites for nursing school along with Native Hawaiian healing practices for a well-rounded education.


Healthy Living:

Windward Oahu encompasses all the charm of small-town living with the amenities and resources of a big city. Being healthy involves more than just the occasional morning beach run, and the Eastside offers various means to keep your physical and mental wellbeing in check.

Founded in 1984 by Dr. Susan H. Chapman, Pali Women’s Health Center is Windward Oahu’s leader in women’s health. Today, the Center has two locations, Kailua and Laie, where Oahu’s women receive compassionate care in a spa-like setting. The collaborative, all–female team of OB/GYN physicians work with on-staff nurses, midwives and physician assistants to provide the appropriate and individualized care for each patient at Pali Women’s Health Center.  Each patient receives a customized care plan to assure their mental, physical and emotional needs are met—from honoring birthing plans to addressing sensitive gynecological issues. The center offers counseling and treatment in pre-pregnancy planning, prenatal care, high-risk pregnancy management, childbirth, complete gynecological care, contraception, menopause management, urinary problems and pelvic organ prolapse.  Utilizing the latest technology and minimally invasive surgical techniques, the center is able to provide advanced, comprehensive women’s health care.

Don’t worry about your dark sunspots and visible veins anymore, the Windward MediSpa & Vein Center has fixes for all those pesky ailments and more. Performing medical aesthetic treatments in a state-of-the-art facility, the doctors and staff of Windward MediSpa & Vein Center are highly trained and eager to help you with your needs. The MediSpa specializes in Light Sheer Duet Laser hair removal, Vein treatments, Coolsculpting and Ultherapy—and is currently the only provider of these services in Windward Oahu. The MediSpa also employs licensed aestheticians with certification for Oncology Esthetics, providing safe and specialized treatments for patients who have recently been diagnosed with cancer or are currently undergoing chemotherapy or other treatments for the disease.