Things We Love: Exploring Windward O‘ahu

(Sponsored) Just a stone’s throw from the bustle of Honolulu, Windward O‘ahu packs all the perks of paradise in the quaintness of small-town living. From low-key surf towns to lush back-valley communities, people journey from all over to experience and taste what O‘ahu’s east side is all about.

A Foodie Favorite

Kailua and Kāne‘ohe play host to a bevy of unique and iconic restaurants to satisfy all tastes.


Photos: David Croxford and Odeelo Dayondon

Food lovers from all over the island make the journey over the Pali to explore the culinary scene of Windward O‘ahu’s many exceptional eateries. Kailua and Kāne‘ohe play host to a bevy of unique restaurants to satisfy all tastes.


Many of these east side eateries are community staples. For the past 30 years, Cinnamon’s has been the place to go for a hot cup of Kona coffee and a stack of its famous pancakes—featuring flavors such as guava chiffon, carrot cake, red velvet and gingerbread. Perfecting and reinventing classics is Cinnamon’s specialty. Playful dishes like crab-cake eggs Benedict with house-made hollandaise sauce, macadamia-nut cinnamon rolls, Portuguese sweetbread French toast and its signature Loco Moco are just a few of the innovative creations cooked up at this family-friendly restaurant. Owner and east side resident Puna Nam says the secret to its longevity and success, aside from its tasty and creative menu items, is Cinnamon’s warm and welcoming atmosphere. “We treat our staff and our guests as ‘ohana, with the true aloha spirit of making every effort to ensure their satisfaction and well-being,” explains Nam. 



Kalapawai Kailua
Kalapawai Market

“Kalapawai Café is the first thing you see when you come into town and the last thing you see when you leave,” says Lindsey Dymond, owner of Kalapawai Market and Kalapawai Café & Deli.  Its plantation-style red roof welcomes east side residents home from their winding drive through the mountains. Kalapawai Café is a Kailua hot spot, serving up classic fare with an Island-style twist and the best coffee this side of the Ko‘olau. Both Kalapawai establishments offer a great selection of sandwiches and burgers—including the house favorite, the Kailua Club. “Our café customers often enjoy a glass of wine with lunch or settle into a seat with a house-made latte and their laptops, and beachgoers can come into the market with sandy feet to grab a cheeseburger or sandwich, then head back down to the water,” says Dymond.  


When the Dymond family purchased Kalapawai Market, their main goal was to preserve the essence of the quaint cottage-style shop while providing their customers with updated inventory and great eats for the beach. Kalapawai Market has a been a convenience and a treat for Kailua and Lanikai residents for decades, providing snacks, coffee, drinks, sandwiches and any last-minute items you forgot to pack in your cooler. 


The Dymond family also runs Zia’s Caffé—Kāne‘ohe’s perfect date-night spot. Zia’s has an upscale menu of Italian comfort food, an extensive wine list and a charming atmosphere, all of which keep customers coming back two or three times a week. Favorites on the menu include the chicken Parmesan, the Moloka‘i sweet-potato ravioli and the Panzanella, an Italian bread salad. Zia’s also expanded its hours and is now serving a simple yet elegant brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Did you know? 100 percent of proceeds from each Buzz’s calendar sale goes to the Hawai‘i Foodbank.



Whether it’s a Monday afternoon or a Saturday night, grabbing a Mai Tai and some pūpū at Buzz’s Original Steakhouse, another long-time Windward O‘ahu restaurant, is always a good choice. This family-owned-and-operated business has been dishing up the freshest seafood and pouring Island-inspired cocktails for more than 50 years. Director of operations Kaleo Schneider says Buzz’s retro-chic décor and signature dishes draw in crowds of local regulars and visitors to celebrate life’s milestones with family and friends or just enjoy everyday beachfront dining. “We feature different items on our lunch and dinner menus, so our patrons have a little diversity, explains Schneider. “It’s great to sit out on Stan’s deck and come for a drink and an appetizer in the afternoons. We serve a calamari appetizer that is to die for—lightly breaded in panko, pan-fried in butter and served with a lemon-butter caper sauce.” As long-time supporters of its community, the Lanikai eatery also puts out a yearly Buzz’s calendar, which is sold for $10, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Hawai‘i Foodbank. 



Crepes no ka ‘oi.

Hordes of hungry lunchgoers head over to Crepes No Ka ‘Oi for one of Rosario “Kakay” and Chris Tarvyd’s homemade crepe creations. “Kailua is our home, which is why we chose it for our first location,” says Chris. “It has the right mix of tourists and locals. We have regulars who were born here and tourists who come to our shop every year when they are on vacation.” Some of their customer favorites include the Ultimate Breakfast Crepe, the Tiki Torch and a new creation called the Cookie Monster—a delicate crepe filled with crushed Oreo cookies, fresh strawberries and vanilla ice cream, topped with powdered sugar and more Oreos. 


Did you know? Bob’s Pizzeria helps with beach cleanups and other community events throughout the year.


A few blocks from the beach, ravenous pizza lovers can enjoy a giant slice of Boston-style pizza at Bob’s Pizzeria. Robert “Bob” Festa has been serving up oversize pies with fresh ingredients, homemade dough and his famous tomato sauce at this Kailua locale for nearly a decade. “We’ve consistently tried to give our customers the best product and value for their money. I try to contribute to our neighborhood community, particularly where our children and our seniors are concerned,” says the Boston native.  The inner walls of Bob’s shop are covered in handmade thank-you cards from past and present patrons, grateful for the pizza’s consistent taste and Bob’s fun-loving attitude and generosity. 




At Home on the Windward side 

Windward O‘ahu features several idyllic neighborhoods for those looking to escape city life and set down some roots.





Island-style homes with cascading green-mountain backdrops, picturesque white-sand beaches, top-notch schools and one-of-a-kind shops are just a handful of the qualities drawing homebuyers here. From the mountains to the ocean, Windward O‘ahu features several idyllic neighborhoods for those looking to escape city life and set down some roots. 


You don’t have to commute into town to find an outstanding and accredited school. Le Jardin Academy has grown from a small elementary school into an award-winning PreK–12 International Baccalaureate World School. On a 24-acre campus off Kapa‘a Quarry Road, Le Jardin is the largest independent school on the Windward Side, with an enrollment of 820 students. The school’s college preparatory program and extracurricular courses create curious, active learners and first-class athletes and artists. The challenging curriculum and ‘ohana-style atmosphere allows the students the freedom and comfort to develop their personal skills and talents, while acquiring a high-end education. “Our emphasis on critical thinking and community service creates independent learners who excel scholastically and develop a healthy and moral character,” says Cindy Herndon, director of marketing at Le Jardin Academy. “A recent survey showed that students chose to stay at Le Jardin due to caring, supportive teachers.”


Photo: Trinity Christian School 


Windward O‘ahu’s other accredited school offers a Christian-based classical education. At Trinity Christian School, the small class sizes and classic curriculum, with a focus on both global and local communities, produce thoughtful, high-quality learners. With a cap of 18 students per class for grades PK through 6, and 15 students per class in grades 7 through 12, Trinity Christian School offers a personalized and attentive learning environment for its students. “Our school is small enough to provide a strong sense of community that can partner with a family from preschool through graduation,” explains Headmaster Stephen Sprague. “We provide a unique and effective method of education to help our students to become worldly citizens.” The school’s seniors receive a rare opportunity with the Grand Tour of Europe, a senior capstone program that takes students on a weeklong trip to historic European cities and sites.


Pali Women’s Health Center.


Windward O‘ahu tenders the convenience of a big city within the quaintness of small-town living. Residents of the Windward Side enjoy state-of-the-art healthcare resources, such as Pali Women’s Health Center, right in their own neighborhood. The center, founded in 1984, is the leader in women’s health on O‘ahu, providing compassionate care by an all-female staff. Its experienced board-certified physicians and midwives offer counseling and treatment in obstetrics: pre-pregnancy planning, prenatal care, high-risk pregnancy management and childbirth; and gynecological care for contraception, menopause, urinary problems, etc. Expanding its services, Pali Women’s Health Center now offers in-office laser procedures such as Smartlipo, a minimally invasive laser fat-removal procedure for body contouring; and MonaLisa Touch, a nonhormonal, painless laser procedure to relieve vaginal dryness and painful intercourse. With customized care plans and the latest technologies, Pali Women’s Health Center provides personal care for and by women just a few minutes from work and home in Windward O‘ahu.  


Did you know? Every piece in BaliBoo’s 15,000 square-foot space is hand-picked and one-of-a-kind.

Whether big or small, locally owned businesses thrive on the east side. A unique selection of homegrown shops, boutique businesses and specialty stores pepper the neighborhoods of Kailua, Kāne‘ohe, Kahalu‘u and Waimānalo. For 15 years, BaliBoo has been Windward O‘ahu’s hidden gem, tucked away on Kapa‘a Quarry Road, providing shoppers with international home furnishings, eclectic artwork, global trinkets and one-of-a-kind pieces. The three-story treasure trove boasts hand-carved furniture and sculptures in a variety of woods—including teak, lychee, sono and petrified wood—as well as one the largest collections of koa pieces on the island.