Three Perfect Days in Kailua

Kailua’s unique local businesses, scenic beauty, soft-sand beaches and friendly faces make it a place where residents and visitors alike can experience some of the most perfect days on Oahu.

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photos: david croxford, kristen hook and thinkstock


As you drive through mountains to reach it, pouring out of the first tunnel, then the second, there it is—the Windward side. Two brilliant blue bays, miles of lush terrain and a close peppering of neighborhood rooftops come into view from atop the Pali highway. Kailua’s unique local businesses, scenic beauty, soft-sand beaches and friendly faces make it a place where residents and visitors alike can experience some of the most perfect days on Oahu.


The Perfect Weekday

Heading to work, picking up the kids from school, or stopping at the store for groceries don’t feel like chores to the typical Kailua resident. Part of the town’s allure is its convenience—a unique luxury for many residents who live, work and play in Kailua.


Down to Earth

photos: kristen hook


If the standard Monday through Friday workweek doesn’t apply to your schedule, a perfect weekday in Kailua would involve going outside to enjoy a Maunawili Falls hike on a near-empty trail, or a less crowded afternoon at Kailua beach. But if a traditional 9 to 5 is your thing, it’s just a short walk around or a couple minutes of a commute, to run an errand, shop for a friend or have a delicious lunch.


Kailua town has several little lunch-break bistros and healthy grab-and-go options. You’ll quickly learn that a sack-lunch sandwich won’t compare when it’s pitted against one of Rosario “Kakay” and Chris Tarvyd’s homemade crepes from Crepes No Ka Oi. The Tarvyds have acquired quite a following with their sweet and savory crepe creations. The La Bella Italia crepe is stuffed with melted provolone cheese, Italian sausage and peppers slow-cooked in marinara sauce. Their most popular crepe, the Ultimate Breakfast Crepe or UBC, has people calling in from Hawaii Kai and the North Shore to make sure they haven’t sold out of the tasty item before heading to Kailua.


Vegan and vegetarian Kailuans don’t have to go far to enjoy a healthy, great-tasting meal. Down to Earth, Hawaii’s only all-vegetarian market, has a convenient Kailua location right on the centrally located Hamakua Drive. The market also features a deli with hot entrees, an extensive salad bar, fresh juices and smoothies, a great made-to-order sandwich menu and fresh grab-and-go options. “We have served health-conscious islanders for over 35 years, with natural and organic products,” says Mark Fergusson, chief vegetarian officer. “Our vast array of prepared vegetarian foods meets such high standards of culinary tastes that it is a destination point for people of all walks of life seeking tasty and healthy food.”


Crepes No Ka O

Afternoon shoppers make their way into the town’s main thoroughfare of Kailua Road. Stylish women’s boutique Mary Z’s helps Kailua women and visitors find their perfect outfit. Owner and Kailua native Terrie Farmakis, who named the store after her own mother, says her store offers an eclectic collection of designer jeans, dresses, and blouses that allow mothers and daughters to shop in the same place—a frequent after-school activity. “The women of Kailua are extraordinary,” she says. “They’re loving, kind, and hardworking. They’re friends and mothers and athletes. Every day it’s such a pleasure to see my customers come through the door.” Mary Z’s is constantly expanding its collections and adding new brands to better serve Kailua’s women.






Little Sprouts

photos: david croxford

Sharing the same family-oriented philosophy, Melanie Decker Koehl, owner of Little Sprouts children’s boutique, offers fun and organic fashions for newborns to 6-year-olds. The eco-chic kids boutique, the only one of its kind on Oahu, offers eco-friendly accessories, recycled plastic toys and organic graphic T-shirts, with cute local sayings like “Future Paddler,” designed by Decker Koehl herself. “As a mom, I’m really proud of our organic clothing lines. It’s nice to know that these are practical items that are not only cute, but safe for your baby and good for the environment,” says Decker Koehl.

Take a mid-week break from cooking dinner and head over to Bob’s Pizzeria to treat yourself to a generous slice of a Boston-style pizza pie. The oversized pies—topped with fresh ingredients and homemade sauce—have lured weekly, and often daily, regulars to the pizzeria. “The ingredients we grew up with that grew in our grandmother’s gardens, that’s what we put on pizzas,” says Robert “Bob” Festa. Originally from Boston, Bob appreciates the small-town neighborhood feel of Kailua. The inner walls of Bob’s pizza shop are covered in handmade thank-you cards from past patrons—school children he’s performed magic shows for and participated in educational activities with, hungry tourists and the everyday Kailua resident, grateful for the pizza’s consistent taste and Bob’s fun-loving attitude.

One storefront over, Bob’s sister, Donna Festa, is getting ready to open the doors to her own shop—Lanikai General Store. Opening on May 1st, Donna’s mom-and-pop shop will be that go-to place to grab a morning coffee and a fresh pastry before school or work. “In so many ways, I didn’t realize just how special of a place Hawaii was, until I started living here,” explains Donna. Working on and off for her brother for the past 13 years, Donna has seen the loyalty of his customers and wanted to provide a convenient one-stop-shop service to the community.  Along with food, beverages and other conveniences, Donna wants to offer Kailuans old-time services at her corner store, such as a notary. As creator of the non-profit organization Hawaiian Monk Seal Response Team Oahu, Donna has been key in rescuing marine animals and documenting Hawaiian Monk Seal populations. Part of Lanikai General Store will be dedicated to educating tourists and residents about the endangered species.

Boots & Kimo's Homestyle Kitchen

The Perfect Weekend

Every weekend in Kailua should begin and end at the beach—a morning swim out to Flat Island and an after-dinner stroll along naupaka-lined sand. Between those moments are endless possibilities to explore and enjoy Kailua town’s coastal culture through its various specialty stores, boutiques and homegrown eateries.

After an early-morning paddle or jog along Kailua Beach, there’s no better way to start your Saturday or Sunday than with a hearty breakfast. Rick and Jesse Kiakona, brothers and owners of Boots & Kimo’s Homestyle Kitchen have been serving up traditional breakfast favorites with a Hawaiian-style twist for 18 years. Their new location, at the corner of Hekili and Hahani Streets, beckons locals and visitors who will gladly wait in line for their famous fare. A plate of the renowned Macadamia nut pancakes smothered in secret Mac-nut sauce, or a rolled-egg omelet with a side of their signature Portuguese sausage makes the morning wait worthwhile. “Quality and consistency is really important to us, and our goal every day is to get it right and make our customers happy,” says Rick.


Kailuans will line up for another stack of pancakes, as well, at Cinnamon’s Restaurant—another bustling weekend spot that’s well worth the wait. Known for its family-friendly atmosphere and killer pancakes, this favorite local eatery has been perfecting and reinventing breakfast classics, like eggs benedict and buttermilk pancakes, for 28 years. Guava chiffon and Red Velvet pancakes, and crab-cake eggs benedict are some of Cinnamon’s new breakfast classics. “Kailua town has evolved from a little, laidback beach town into a very dynamic place, which has been exciting to see,” says owner Norman “Puna” Nam. “I am so thankful for our wonderful employees, who have been with us throughout the years. We have such great customers too, and we’re very blessed to be able to keep doing what we love—serving great food here in our hometown.”



Lanikai Home & Style

photos: david croxford

Kailua town’s new storefronts and shops offer a lovely escape from Honolulu’s hurried and hustling crowds. Locals from all over Oahu are venturing out to Kailua to indulge in the town’s new shopping scene. “Most people come to Kailua to find something unique,” says Wayne Parker, who works with his wife, Mona, owner of Lanikai Home & Style. Wayne, Mona and their sons have lived in Kailua all their life, but they venture quite a distance to collect some of the diverse items in their store. “Our brand is casual, yet elegant,” says Parker, who also operates his own interior design business. “We supply the simple and beautiful items that compliment your home’s interior.” Lanikai Home & Style boasts a variety of stylish home accessories, such as eco-chic bamboo towels and colorful designer pillows. The store also features personal items, like scarves, fun footwear and the Parkers’ own line of endangered species graphic T-shirts which help teach locals and visitors to be mindful of our Islands’ wildlife.


Sand People


Sand People also provides an abundance of home goods with coastal-chic charm. The store, with two other locations around the state, provides locals and visitors with beach house furnishings, unique artwork, books and nautical décor. “We know what our customers want, and we understand the tourists too,” says co-owner Laura Phillipson. “They want to have our coastal lifestyle, and with our store they can take a little piece of it home with them to remember their time here.”




For one of a kind designs, venture over to family-owned Manuhealii on Hoolai Street. Since 1985, husband-and-wife team Danene and Pono Lunn have represented our Islands’ beauty and culture through their well-crafted collections of clothes and accessories featuring intricate prints in vibrant colors. “We design from what we know and our experiences, so every time there is an event in our lives, whether it’s our son’s graduation or a new plant that grows in our garden, we use those stories to inspire our designs,” explains Danene. “Last year, we came out with our coral reef design, which was our way of making people aware of Hawaii’s endangered coral reefs.” Pono, an architect and graphic designer, creates the designs himself, while Danene uses her sartorial prowess to select color palettes and fashionable cuts for their clothes.

With hands full of shopping bags and a stomach growling for some grub, a short walk in any direction is the easiest way to find a tasty meal.  Whether you’re looking for some quick after-beach fare or a casual place to sit-down and have an afternoon glass of chardonnay, Kailua town has many award-winning eateries to please your palette.



The iconic beachside Kalapawai Market is a Kailua favorite.

photos: david croxford

Take a step next door from Manuhealii to Kalapawai Café and Deli, the 2011 Hale Aina-award winner for Best Little Neighborhood Restaurant and Best Gourmet Comfort Food. “We like to keep it local,” says owner Lindsey Dymond, who reveals that 70 percent of their ingredients are sourced locally. Dymond also says he only stocks the restaurant with local beers from Hawaii brewers, such as Maui Brewing Co. and Home of the Brave Brewery. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Kalapawai Café and Deli offers up fresh coffee, homemade pastries, and an extensive menu of gourmet dishes and local favorites, like the Kailua Club Sandwich—which is also a favorite down at the beach at their sister location, Kalapawai Market.

Zia's Caffé

photo: courtesy zia's caffé

Lindsey and his father, Don Dymond, own and operate the iconic beachside market. The quaint, cottage-style shop has a been a convenience and a treat for Kailua and Lanikai residents, providing snacks, coffee, drinks, sandwiches and any last minute items to beach goers and barbequers for years. “It’s a place a lot of people grew up with,” says Dymond. “I started working at the market with my dad when I was 10 years old, sweeping floors and doing dishes, and a lot of people that were our customers when I was 10 still come in every single day.”

The Dymond family also owns and operates Zia’s Caffé, an Italian family-style sidewalk bistro. Zia’s offers a menu of traditional Italian classics, a great wine selection and the perfect outdoor setting for any weekend afternoon or evening.

If you’ve spent the day at the beach and have a hankering for a quick bite before heading home, sandy feet are always welcome at Maui Tacos. Fish tacos, Hawaiian-barbecue tortas and the mango salad are CEO Jeff Endervelt’s favorite after-beach foods. “We’re basically a laidback beach shack,” he says. “We love being part of the Kailua community. We were born on Maui and bred in Hawaii, so we offer local people and visitors a great, healthy meal at a fair price.”

The Perfect Special Occasion

Kailua may not have the upscale restaurants and flashy designer storefronts of Waikiki, but this town provides exceptional food and fashionable shops that always make for a memorable occasion.

Both photos: Buzz's

Photos: Kristen Hook


For 50 years, Kailuans have flocked to Buzz’s Original Steakhouse for its fresh fish, great steaks and unchanging retro style. “Buzz’s provides a comfortable and intimate setting for diners; being in the restaurant transports you back to the good ‘ol days of Hawaii,” says Mani Schneider, the restaurant’s general manager. Patrons of this iconic establishment appreciate it not only for its vintage charms, but also for its convenient location, situated right across from Kailua Beach Park. A paddling win, birthdays, anniversaries and first dates have all been commemorated at Buzz’s. “This restaurant represents Kailua, it’s like the heart of our home,” adds Schneider. Of course, it doesn’t take a significant event to drive people to Buzz’s, as most Kailua residents will tell you, they eat there because it’s just so darn good.



Whole Foods Market, opening April 18.

photo: courtesy whole foods

If you’re craving something a little more exotic, forego the local-style fare and try a savory Latin American dish from new Kailua Road bistro, Cactus. Hale Aina Award-winning head chef and owner John Memering says his new bistro is filling a flavorful spot that’s been missing from the Oahu restaurant scene. Using bright, tropical flavors of lime, mango, coconut and chili, Cactus takes advantage of all indigenous ingredients that Hawaii has to offer. Memering says he is focused on using local meat and produce from the Islands, such as Shinsato Farms pork, and Kuahiwi beef, veal and wild boar from the Big Island. “It’s food from another region, but 70 to 80 percent of what we’re using is grown here,” says Memering. Cactus also features a well-stocked bar of premium tequilas and Peruvian rum. “People can come in from the beach during our lunch hours and have a couple of tacos and a cold beer. Then for dinner the lighting takes on a whole dramatic look, but it’s still casual. We want folks to go out and have a good meal without all the formality,” he says.

Another Kailua-town newcomer is Whole Foods Market. Opening this month on Wednesday the 18th, the new store will be the second Whole Foods location on Oahu, and third in the state. Providing the Windward side with a wide selection of locally grown produce, organic foods and products, and an always fresh, self-serve poke bar, this store is specially tailored for the Kailuan. “Whole Foods’ mission and lifestyle really suits the Kailua community well,” says Dabney Gough, Marketing Supervisor for the Whole Foods Market Kailua. “We are always seeking out new local vendors to feature on our shelves. And we are excited to work with and support our new community.” The store has already dedicated its first Community Support Day, a national Whole Foods’ program, to local non-profit Paepae o Heeia to help restore the crumbling wall of the ancient Heeia fishpond.  This April 25th,  five percent of that day’s net sales will be donated to Paepae o Heeia.

Although Kailua residents will enjoy Whole Foods everyday, its assortment of exclusive items—both from the Islands and afar—make it the go-to place to pick up something special.  Enthusiastic cooks seeking out those hard to find ingredients, and foodies searching for a unique ale to pair with their meal will find what they’re looking for at Whole Foods Market Kailua.

Whether you’re headed out for a night with friends, or spending an enjoyable evening at home, Tamura’s Fine Wines and Liquors is a convenient place stop to pick up a bottle of wine and pupus. For the past 11 years, Tamura’s has provided Oahu customers with a vast selection of beers, wines and liquors from around the world.  The store also carries delicious gourmet foods, such as their made-fresh-daily poke and smoked Ahi spread.

Kailua Verde owner Lillian McDonnell

photo: david croxford

And what special occasion would be complete without a few “new” things? A refreshing addition to Kailua’s new shops and boutiques is a store filled with not-so-new things. Kailua Verde, Kailua’s only high-end consignment shop, is filled with stylish clothes, gently used designer finds, and so many more reusable treasures. Owner Lilian McDonnell’s always found new life in old things, and she endears shoppers with her sustainable passion for fashion on a daily basis. “Why demand more items when we have so much already?” asks McDonnell. “We live on an island; we can’t keep bringing more stuff here. It’s actually a lot more fun to use what you have and make something new out of something old.”

Kailua Verde boasts beautiful items that are still good, and would be very difficult to find anywhere else. Niihau shells, vintage Jade bracelets, antique Rolexes, Hermes handbags, Chanel earrings, and the store even has designer wedding dresses and diamond engagement rings. McDonnell has helped many young women find their prom dress, or a designer outfit for a special occasion. “It’s such fun, it’s like treasure hunting,” McDonnell says.



Making a Home in Kailua

The people make the place—and Kailuans are known Island-wide for their hospitality, eco-friendly outlook and laidback lifestyle. Its people—kamaaina and visitors alike who have each claimed the town as their Kailua—strive to preserve its natural beauty and neighborhood charm.

photo: kristen hook

Kailua native Scott Carvill, of Carvill & Company realty, couldn’t imagine raising his family anywhere else. “My family and I love the water, so everyday is a perfect one in Kailua,” Carvill says. “I’ll take off for an hour and fish with my kids. It’s nice that everything is available to us in this compact place.”  Founded in January 1995, by Scott’s parents, Connie and Rich, Carvill & Company is very community-focused and provides professional excellence to for all types of real estate transactions on Oahu. “We work and sell together as a team. Working with great people and having great clients, it’s such a satisfying thing” adds Carvill.

Donna Maier, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties, agrees helping great people find the perfect Kailua home is her favorite part about her job. “It’s really life changing for me and my clients,” Donna explains. “I feel so honored I get to help my clients find and transition into a new home.  It’s so important to help people find the best living environment for them and their families.”

If the beach is where you want to be, look to Holly Turl, who specializes in beachfront properties as Realtor and Vice President of Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties. Turl admits no matter where you are in Kailua you’re going to love it. “We have a friendly community feel. The Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle sponsors an ‘I Love Kailua’ Town Party every year to fund their beautification projects,” she says. With the robust market, Turl says the inventory of available homes is low and the prices are strong.

Knowing the neighborhoods in Kailua is key  to buying a home here.

photo: david croxford

Knowing the perks and nuances of the different areas of the neighborhood is an important part of finding your Windward dream home. William “Bill” Boyle, owner of the oldest real estate company in Kailua, Century 21 Kailua Beach Realty, has been helping wannabe Kailuans of every walk of life find their perfect place on the windward side for the past 28 years. “We have agents that range in age from 23 to 88 years old,” he says. “Kailua real estate is such a family market, and we are very much a family company. We take care of our clients and are able to represent all the different generations of people that live here.”

Boyle has enjoyed the community’s growth over the years. “Kailua used to be a commuting community, but that has definitely changed,” Boyle explains.  Now, a good majority of Kailua residents work in the town’s several local businesses—making the daily commute miniscule.

With the cost of living so high, understanding Kailua’s market and what you can afford is the best way to start your buying process. Guidance from Kailua-based Edward Jones Financial Advisor Scott D. Hamp ton ensures you’re making smart spending choices. “My job is really to help people find peace of mind,” says Hampton. “Helping people plan for their family’s future is an important and needed community service.”

photos: david croxford and kristen hook

Like many Kailua natives, Yvonne Ahearn, principal broker at cutting-edge boutique real estate company Home Shoppe Hawaii, sees nothing but good things for her town’s future.  “I expect the market to stay strong here, despite any economic hiccups on the mainland,” she says. “I love to see so many Kailua homes remodeled and neighborhoods restored, one house at a time, by new buyers and a next generation of homeowners. Every year Kailua keeps getting better.” The locally owned company has an informed and tech-savvy team to help hopeful homeowners make the right decisions. “My favorite part of my job is seeing the satisfaction my clients get when I sell their home for more than they expected, or find them the home of their dreams.”

The small-town friendliness, low crime rate, new community developments, and outstanding natural beauty are just a few of the reasons why residents like Ahearn feel no need to relocate.



As a family-oriented community, parents can relax knowing their children are just minutes away at of the many outstanding educational institutions in and around Kailua town.  For more than 50 years, Le Jardin Academy has nurtured and educated Hawaii’s children right in Kailua’s backyard. The campus, resting at the foot of the Koolaus, provides excellent scholastic, athletic and creative resources.

As an accredited International Baccalaureate World School, Le Jardin keeps their students involved in the community service and sustainability projects in Windward Oahu. Classroom-based green initiatives, such a composting and recycling, teach students from a young age the importance of sustainable living.

“We strive to create curious, active learners and compassionate people,” says Susan “Susi” Taylor, Director of Admissions and Marketing. “We have a good balance within our curriculum. We have everything: Great sports, fun drama programs, excellent language electives, and intimate class sizes so students get the attention they deserve. Our students get up to go to school because they want to not because they have to.”

Le Jardin offers hands-on learning about sustainability.

photos: courtesy le jardin academy, kristen hook

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. “We’ve been focusing for the past three years on new technology, and utilizing those technologies to advance our students’ learning skills,” says principal Bridget Olsen.  Also focused on greening their community, St. Anthony’s students partner with local organizations to clean up Hamakua marshlands, protect endangered species, and teach other citizens about sustainability.

Trinity Christian School also strives to raise community-minded students. Situated just off the Pali Highway, the school provides s Christian-based classical education and a nurturing learning environment. “Our school exists to provide a rigorous academic program where wisdom is developed in the heart and mind of a child. We prepare children for life’s challenges by helping them to grow socially, physically and intellectually,” says Head of School, Nancy Shaw.

Dr. Sean  Holliday recently opened an orthodontics practice in Kailua.

Kailua not only breeds excellent students, it grows great businesses too.  Dr. Sean Holliday of Holliday Orthodontics loves teaching people how to smile again, and recently opened the doors of his Kailua practice last year. “Some Windward-side patients didn’t have the time to travel to our other locations, in Honolulu and Pearl City, for their care, so we came to them,” explains Dr. Holliday. The new Hekili Street location gives Kailua families the opportunity to receive world-class treatment in the convenience of their hometown. Using new technologies to digitally scan patients’ teeth Dr. Holliday can take a more accurate impression and better treat the problem.

General dentist Dr. Marcus Hannah of Kailua Dental Arts also uses new techniques and philosophies to give his patients efficient and high-end dental work. “I like seeing all forms of dentistry, the old and the new, and seeing which one would best benefit my patients,” says Dr. Hannah.  “We give everybody enough time and we don’t rush because we care for our patients and want to feel good about what we do.” A Kailua native, Hannah enjoys providing top-notch dental care and unique services to the Windward community. Dr. Hannah even offers sedation dentistry, so even the most apprehensive patients are able to have a procedure done without the anxiety.



photo: david croxford

The town’s small businesses, laced with neighborhood pride, always try to support each other’s shops and industries. “I honestly try to only shop locally with Kailua vendors,” says Clifton Crawford, owner and general contractor of C&J Contracting and Pacific Pool & Spa. “You can find anything you need right here in this town.” Crawford and his team are a Kailua-born company, and can fix, build or install anything for your outdoor area.

Ian Osborne, owner of Custom Built Cabinetry also grew his company in Kailua.  Osborne has been outfitting Kailua homes with custom-built cabinetry for kitchens, bathrooms, and entertainment centers for more than 20 years.

In the past five years, Kailua town has changed in many ways, with the mostly notable being the new Kailua Town Center. Kaneohe Ranch, Kailua’s largest landowner, designed the new shopping center to hold the same small-town atmosphere but with an updated look. Kimo Steinwascher, Vice President of Leasing and Development, says new shops like Fighting Eel, Executive Chef and the soon-to-open Whole Foods Market will be a beneficial addition to the town’s ambiance. “We’re a small family-owned company that has been in Kailua and owned property in Kailua for more than 20 years,” says Steinwascher. “Many of us are Kailua residents as well, and we try very hard to uphold the integrity and beauty of our community. It’s very honoring and humbling to do a project in our hometown, and we really put a lot of thought and passion into these projects.”