Windward Oahu Beachfront Retreats – Waimanalo
Eighth 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.
The six mile coast of Waimanalo Bay, extending from Wailea Point to Makapuu Point, embraces some of Oahu’s finest sandy beaches and beach parks. Residential development along the shores of Waimanalo Bay is limited to a few areas, notably the Laumilo Street neighborhood between Waimanalo Bay State Recreation Area and Waimanalo Beach Park and the line-up of homes and estates between Kalanianaole Highway and the coast heading toward Makapuu Point.
Although the four and a half mile sandy shore of Waimanalo Bay is the dominant image projected by this large Windward community, Waimanalo is also horse country and farm country. The beachfront neighborhoods are components of a diverse community that extends inland to the steep, forested slopes of the Koolaus and occupies some of Oahu’s most scenic countryside. Mauka of Kalanianaole Highway are multi-acre parcels zoned for commercial and agricultural use, large estates and ranches nestled in the foothills, and one of Oahu’s largest Hawaiian Home Lands communities.
For residents of other parts of Oahu, Waimanalo is a popular weekend destination for swimming, surfing, and camping. Vacation rentals on the beach or close-by have been discovered as desirable options to hotel accommodations in more populous, tourist-oriented areas. Bellows Air Force station, a military recreational and training facility at the north end of Waimanalo Bay, includes approximately 125 cottages that are available as rentals to both active and retired military and their families. The Bellows section of Waimanalo Beach is open for civilian use from Friday noon to Monday at 8 a.m. Just south of Bellows is the Waimanalo Bay State Recreation Area that includes a large grove of ironwood trees that gives the area its popular name, “Sherwood Forest.”
Between Waimanalo Bay State Recreation Area and Waimanalo Beach Park, with Kalanianaole Highway as the mauka boundary, is a large subdivision that includes the Laumilo beachfront residential area with some of Waimanalo’s most upscale homes. The approximately 36 single family homes with frontage on one of the best sections of beach include properties with a minimum of 10,000 square feet. Among them is a custom designed, 7 year old home listed by Choi International at $3,995,000. Situated on an 11,252 square foot lot, the 3,678 square foot home incorporates many features reminiscent of “old Hawaii” beachfront homes, with broad verandas and decks overlooking the ocean and gardens.
Waimanalo Bay beachfront properties south of Waimanalo Beach Park, where the highway begins to hug the coast, are rarely on the market and include a number large estates, most notably the private home that served as a set for Magnum P. I. The nearly 9,000 square foot Spanish-Colonial style house was built in the early 1930s and sits on three acres. Adjacent to it is the Shriners Beach Club, a facility owned and operated by the Aloha Shriners. Several private homes were acquired by the Shriners over the years and the lots amalgamated to create the complex the organization utilizes for its own functions and also rents out.
Realtor Dannette Lee, a principal of Waimanalo-based Lee Realty, said, “Large beachfront and country properties do not change hands often here. Where else on this island can one enjoy the beauty of country life with the ocean within walking distance. For my husband and business partner, who grew up in Diamond Head where he was able to surf every day, that he can both work and play right from our home office is a blessing for our lifestyle. Two years ago I sold a large lot here to a busy Hollywood executive looking for a quiet retreat and yet not too isolated. He was typical of many of the buyers we are seeing in Waimanalo today.”
Photo by Phil Spalding III