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Windward Oahu Beachfront Retreats – Kaaawa

Fifth in a series

One of Hawaii’s most scenically varied and dramatically beautiful coastal regions, Windward Oahu embraces long stretches of white sand beach washed by turquoise waters and backed by the forested cliffs of the Koolaus. Along the approximately 50 mile coast between Makapuu Point and Kahuku are beaches rated among the best in the world. Rating a beach is a subjective process, but the basic ingredients are a sandy, rock free shore and clean, clear water. However, while swimmers prefer calm waters, surfers have other criteria, generally breaking waves – many beaches offer both. Hawaii’s beachfront property ranks as some of the world’s most prized real estate. The homes that front the beaches of Windward Oahu are as varied as the scenery, from vintage cottages priced at under $1 million to grand estates commanding upwards of $10 million.

When Anita Bruhl and her family moved to Hawaii from the East Coast, they immediately went on a house hunting tour of Oahu and found their “dream home” in Kahala. However, Anita had made a mental note that the site of their “country home,” when it became feasible to own one, would be Kaaawa.

“I grew up in Massachusetts, and had always loved the ambiance of the little oceanside neighborhoods on Cape Cod,” Bruhl said. “Kaaawa reminded me of some of those enclaves of neat little New England style homes with their tidy gardens and decks overlooking the ocean.”

Now a Realtor and Premier Fine Homes Specialist with Prudential Locations, Bruhl has been involved in more than a dozen transactions in Kaaawa over the years, but only recently found the property that would become her family’s “country home.”

“A close family friend and business associate, Miles Kimhan, who is president of CU Network Services, was also interested in a beachfront retreat for his large family,” Bruhl said. “The 15,000 square foot lot he found was ideal for both his new home and mine. As owner/builders we were able to obtain the needed funds to finance our own construction project. We CPR’d the property and built side by side three bedroom, three bath homes with views of the ocean from every room, as well as from large viewing decks above the carports and accessible from the main living areas. Both homes are just across the highway from one of Kaaawa’s best sections of sandy beach.”

Kaaawa itself is actually a cape bounded on the north by Kahana Bay and on the south by Kualoa Point. Inland are Kahana Valley State Park and Kualoa Ranch. Development of Kaaawa is limited by its own geography, with a relatively small buildable area between the forested cliffs and foothills of the Koolau mountains and Kamehameha Highway which skirts the shoreline, sometimes only a few yards from the sandy beaches.

Kualoa Regional Park, Swanzy Beach Park, Kaaawa Beach Park, Kahana Bay and various unnamed strips of sandy beach just off the highway attract surfers and fisherman from all over the island.

Kaaawa’s major recreational attraction is Kualoa Ranch with 4,000 acres encompassing hiking and riding trails, picnic grounds, facilities for receptions, weddings, and luaus, and a 125 acre operational Hawaiian fish pond. A variety of activities are offered, including cultural tours, field trips for school groups, snorkel and scuba tours, guided horse rides, and boat trips. Numerous motion pictures have been filmed at Kualoa. The Crouching Lion Inn and Restaurant is a Kaaawa landmark. Built in 1927, it has been operated as a roadside inn and restaurant for approximately 60 years, with the exception of periods when it was offered for sale and closed for renovations. It sits at the base of a ridge with a profile resembling a lion in a crouching position.

Otherwise, the only commercial development in Kaaawa is a popular 7-Eleven, Post Office, Tropical Farms, and an elementary school. Residential development consists of single family homes and CPR projects, some of which are operated as vacation rentals, and Makaua Village, an 85-unit condominium town-home community. Current real estate listings range from $2,950,000 for the Crouching Lion complex to $162,000 for a unit at Makaua Village.

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