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Windward Oahu Beachfront Retreats – Laie

Second 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.

Located between Hauula and Malaekahana, Laie historically served as a puuhonua, or place of refuge. Hawaiians who had violated a law or kapu could escape retribution in this Laie retreat up to the early 1800s when the system was abolished. In the early 1900s, Laie became a very different kind of refuge, serving as a country retreat for residents of more urbanized Honolulu neighborhoods. They built large, rambling beachfront homes and cottages where they could escape the stresses of urban living and enjoy the laid-back lifestyle in what was then a completely rural setting.

Mauka areas were devoted primarily to the cultivation of sugar and taro. However, major changes in the landscape would eventually follow the 1865 acquisition of Laie lands by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, most notably the monumental Mormon Temple, Brigham Young University-Hawaii, and the Polynesian Cultural Center. A number of new projects are planned or underway on Church-owned land. The replacement of the Laie Inn by a Marriott Courtyard Hotel was recently announced.

According to Beth Worrall Daily, Broker/Owner of Mary Worrall Associates Sotheby’s International Realty, who is active in sales in the area, the landowner has indicated that new development would be sensitive to the rural environment, including the privately owned properties makai of Kamehameha Highway.

Worrall is currently listing two Laie properties, including a cliff-side home on Laie Point and another on Hukilau Beach. In May she sold the only other property available on Hukilau Beach in the past ten years. The beach-front home she is now offering was designed in 1971 by distinguished Hawaii architect George Vincent Hogan AIA for prominent Hawaii engineer Richard Libbey. The three bedroom, 1,812 square foot home is situated on an 11,014 square foot, gated property with 120 linear feet of ocean frontage. A former member of Hogan’s architectural firm, in a monograph on Hogan’s work, refers to the house as “an example of ranch-style-influenced Island vernacular architecture.”

In the course of his prolific 50 year career in Hawaii, Hogan designed numerous major commercial structures as well as single family homes, many of them award-winning projects. This Laie beachfront home typifies Hogan’s approach to design, which involved careful study of the site in order to take full advantage of natural ventilation and light, as well as views. He was known for opening up interior spaces to the natural surroundings, in this case a broad expanse of white sand beach, ocean, and coastline, and creating a structure in harmony with the character of the community.

Worrall noted that the home enjoys a choice location fronting Hukilau Beach, favored for net fishing, body surfing, wind surfing, and snorkeling. Offshore is Goat Island, reachable by walking the reef at low tide or paddling out to a surf break on the south side of the island, a seabird sanctuary. Close-by is one of the area’s most popular body surfing beaches, known as Pounders. The most prominent geographical feature of the coast is Laie Point, a lithified dune jutting out into the ocean. The rocky peninsula is the site of the Laie Point Wayside Park, a vantage point for viewing the spectacular coastline and off-shore islands.

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