Formerly called Ko’ohao, covered in native grasses, and used to raise watermelon and turkeys, the first permanent houses, used as vacation homes, were built in 1924. This is when it was developed as a subdivision and renamed Lanikai. Lanikai is meant to mean “heavenly seas” and heavenly they are. Come experience the bewitching blue waters and soft sands of the windward side of Oahu.
Lanikai Beach, sister to Kailua Beach, is one mile of the same white, silky sand and stunning turquoise waters. Lanikai lives up to its translation, “Heavenly Ocean”. Since there are no posted signs, finding Lanikai Beach can be a bit tricky. Look for the word “Lanikai” on a huge pillar in the area. You will find the pedestrian entrance located between residential homes, on beach alleys. Lanikai Beach does not have any restrooms, showers, lifeguards, or picnic tables. Make sure to bring a cooler packed for the day, and make a stop at Kailua Beach Park nearby for the facilities. It is best to come to Lanikai Beach in the early part of the day, as the sun dips below the Ko’olau Mountains in the afternoon.
Kailua Beach Park is two and a half miles of silky white sand blending with the mesmerizing teal waters. Steady trade winds, waters averaging seventy-five degrees year round, and the protective reef provide perfect conditions for windsurfing and kitesurfing. If you have ever wanted to try stand up paddle boarding or kayaking, this beach is perfect for the experience.
Hiking in the Area
You will want to make the short trek up to the Lanikai Pillboxes. This is a short, one mile hike. Though the first part is quite steep; this can be challenging for some in the beginning. The pillboxes themselves were shelter bunkers for soldiers during World War II. Also known as the Ka’iwa Ridge Trail, the Lanikai Pillboxes hike is considered one of the most scenic hikes. Providing the hikers with panoramic views of the coastlines, Ko’olau Mountains, and the Mokolua Islands in the distance. The entire hike round trip should take you from sixty to ninety minutes. Come before sunrise for some especially breathtaking views.
Maunawili Falls Trail is a moderate 3.9 kilometer (about 2.5 miles) hike to a spectacular waterfall in the Waimanalo Rainforest Reserve. Accessible year round, the trail can be muddy in the rainy seasons. This hike makes a wonderful day trip, bring a picnic lunch, even bathe in the pool at the base of the falls, weather permitting.
Kaiwainui Marsh Trail is an easy trail, more of a relaxing nature walk. Enjoy this easy 4.7 kilometer (just under 3 miles) walk through the wetlands, observing the native Hawaiian birds in their natural habitats. This walk is family friendly.
There are no less than four fantastic courses in the area for you to experience.
Ko’olau Golf Club is breathtaking and scenic, and one of the toughest courses in Hawaii. Challenge yourself on this beautiful course. Or just enjoy the good walk spoiled.
Olomana Golf Links is considered President Obama’s favorite course. Located in Waimanalo, these eighteen holes are split into two distinctly different sets of nine.
Pali Golf Course is a public course with breathtaking views of the Koolau mountain range as well as bay views of Kaneohe Bay.
Royal Hawaiian Golf Course, due to its tropical surroundings and lack of signs of civilization, is referred to as Jurassic Park. A not to be missed course, you will enjoy the “crafty” golf holes and the lush terrain. This amazing course sits at the foot of the Ko’olau Mountains and is framed by ancient jungle trees one hundred feet in height.
You will find your staples at the Enchanted Lake Shopping Center, a strip mall which features both national and local brands. Here you will find casual dining options and a grocery store for your needs.
In addition to the casual dining found at the shopping center, you will find nearly every cuisine you could desire in the area. Make sure to also check out the dining in nearby Kailua. Kailua is so close to Lanikai, the recommendations for restaurants cross the two. For Ramen, check out Rai Rai Ramen and the spicy kimchi ramen. Once featured on “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives”, Uahi Island Grill is worth checking out. For fresh fish you will want to head to Nico’s Pier 38. These are just a few of the many restaurants in the area.
Weather and Transportation
The average temperatures in Lanikai range from 65 to 85 and rarely go below 65* or above 86*. The best time to visit for hot weather activities is from May to October. With an average of about seven days per month of rain, and perfect temperatures year round, Lanikai is perfect any time of the year to visit.
For the most freedom of movement about the island, we would recommend renting a vehicle. You can also take Uber, Lyft, or taxis around town. Also, there is public transportation via TheBus and TheHandi-Van.