Seventh 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.
Until the mid 1900s, Lanikai was primarily an enclave of weekend retreats. As with other Oahu oceanfront neighborhoods, the development of primary residences eventually became more the norm and Lanikai evolved into a distinct, cohesive community.
Although Lanikai is one of several component neighborhoods of greater Kailua, it has established its own ambiance and evokes an image of quality development in harmony with the unique natural environment.
The name Lanikai, meaning “heavenly ocean,” makes a statement about the appeal of the neighborhood to kamaaina and newcomers as well. The vast majority of residents, whether part or full time, will tell you the idyllic white sand beach, the clear, calm waters of Kailua Bay, and the spectacular coastal and offshore views were the primary influences that motivated them in choosing to buy in Lanikai.
Residential development along the beachfront is a mix of vintage kamaaina homes, many designed by leading architects of the time, and new construction that has replaced some of the older beach cottages.
Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties Realtor Barbara Anne Rosa, who grew up in Kailua, specializes in Kailua and Lanikai properties. “Lanikai is one of Oahu’s most desirable residential neighborhoods,” she said. “Many of the buyers I’ve worked with have specified Lanikai with location taking precedence over other criteria.”
Last year, she sold a vintage 1938 Lanikai home on a 20,791 square foot beachfront lot for $5,100,000. The 4 bedroom home with a separate cottage was designed and remodeled by two of Hawaii’s most celebrated architects, Vladimir Ossipoff and Alfred Preis, respectively.
The previous year, she sold an 18,211 square foot beach-front estate consisting of a main house, separate recreation room, spa, and swimming pool for $6,100,000. “This home was completed in 2007 but the architect incorporated many of the elements found in my mother’s historic 1929 Lanikai beach house…traditional Hawaiian architectural detailing was integrated with modern luxury features,” Rosa noted.
Also contributing to Lanikai’s appeal is the unique layout of the neighborhood with its cul de sacs and one way streets that are conducive to walking and biking. From every part of Lanikai, it’s a short walk to the beach. And of course there are the incomparable views of Kailua Bay with its turquoise waters, waves breaking on the reef, and the Mokulua islands in the distance….views that are accessible not only to beachfront homes but also those situated on Kaiwa Ridge.
The Lanikai Community Park, owned and operated by the Lanikai Community Association, houses the Lanikai Canoe Club and includes sports courts and a pavilion. Its facilities can be rented by residents for special events. Just mauka of the residential area and adjacent to Kaiwa Ridge is the Mid Pacific Country Club with one of Hawaii’s most scenic golf courses.
All considered, Lanikai Beach remains the main attraction of this Windward Oahu neighborhood. Even though much diminished in some areas by erosion, it continues to be rated as the best swimming beach in Hawaii. Some reviewers have proclaimed it the world’s best beach. The photo above, taken in December 2012 by Phil Spalding III, is a view of Lanikai Beach looking toward Kailua.
Photo by Phil Spalding III