Posted by: Jerry Garrett | December 24, 2011

Five Fun Things To Do in Oahu’s Kailua Beach

Kailua Fantasy: What would you do in this Oahu paradise? (Jerry Garrett Photos)

KAILUA, Hawaii

What if you were to find yourself in Kailua, on Oahu’s “back” side? Actually I think “lose yourself” would be a better term to describe what can happen to you in this often-overlooked slice of Paradise! But, based on my time in Kailua, here are some suggestions of fun things to do for you, your family – and even the First Family! Best of all, none of these suggestions requires a bunch of money!

1. Coffee – Build your day with a solid foundation of coffee at Morning Brew at 600 Kailua Road. A local gathering spot, with some scrumptious nibbles, as well as great coffee. The coffee comes from the Honolulu Coffee Company (yes, you can find several of HCC’s own stores in Waikiki, and even at the HNL international airport). It’s great coffee! But they are promising to start serving their own private label, organic, Hawaiian-grown coffee soon. Free internet here too. If you need to walk while savoring your “morning brew” specialty, the shops in the area have an interesting array of unusual – and unique – items.

Carrot pancakes, red velvet pancakes, local bacon and island butter! Yum!

2. Breakfast, Brunch or Lunch – Have you heard about the pancakes at Cinnamon’s Restaurant? You should have; they’re world famous! (Just a couple of blocks away from Morning Brew.) The signature item on the menu is red velvet pancakes with a warm cream cheese topping (for good measure, a surprise cache of this decadent treat is cooked right inside of the pancakes themselves). Variations on the theme include lilikoi (passion fruit) pancakes, guava chiffon pancakes, carrot cake pancakes and local corn pancakes with blueberries. Yes, Cinnamon’s does make its own killer cinnamon rolls! (IPhone users, for laughs, ask Siri how to find Cinnamon’s in Kailua! See what she comes up with.) There is also a huge menu of other items. Be prepared for a wait; this place is popular!

3. Shopping – I alluded to this opportunity earlier, when talking about the area around Morning Brew. But here are three eclectic favorites of mine: Executive Chef – this cooking supply store may not be as big as chain-store juggernaut Sur La Table, but for the square footage, this place has so many cool things for people who love their kitchen, their own tiki bar or luau pit! There’s only one other Executive Chef store in the Hawaiian Islands (the flagship store in Honolulu). EC is sort of an island institution. (And like most everything on this list, not a tourist trap; not over-priced; and not a chain.) Just a couple of miles away in Kaneohe is one of four Fabric Mart stores in the islands (three on Oahu, and one on Maui); they also have an online store.

Mind-boggling selection!

This has to be the greatest selection of authentic Hawaiian prints and fabrics in the world; they claim to have over 3,000 patterns to choose from, in every type of fabric. Take some home, for your own craft project, or ask a clerk about locals they work with who will make for you one-of-a-kind island clothing, furniture coverings or other decorator items, such as those fabulous Hawaiian quilts. Great prices! Finally, check out some of the thrift stores in the area – particularly the Salvation Army Store, for fabulous selections of vintage aloha shirts from Tori Richard, Kahala and more – from $10. A real find! (Same shirts in vintage stores in Honolulu can run you hundreds!)

4. Shave Ice – An island favorite! Check out the selection at Island Snow at 130 Kailua Road. It can be a little tricky to find because it is actually inside a surf shop there. When it doubt, follow the crowd; there’s usually a bunch of folks out in the parking lot tonguing cups full of colored ice! Lots of flavors, and the perfect treat for a sunny day (and it’s within walking distance of our top choice of something to do in Kailua – see below).

Kailua Beach Park's beauty is unsurpassed on Oahu!

5. Kailua Beach Park – The color of the water here is unsurpassed on Oahu. I said “unsurpassed” – to avoid any arguments; there may be water as pretty at other beaches around Oahu, but none prettier. There is a nice wide sandy beach here too, and – unlike, say, the North Shore – calm waters to play in. Some days (when the Secret Service doesn’t have the place commandeered, for instance), you can feel like you have the place to yourself (see the photo at the top of the article, of one lucky woman’s view of the place recently). In the water, there’s a gentle slope, so that you can walk quite a ways out, without going over your head. Even when it’s windy elsewhere on Oahu, the Kailua Beach Park/Lanikai area is often sheltered from the trade winds. There is a grassy area for picnics, picnic tables, barbeque units and large public restrooms. It’s a real haven for locals, and “those in the know”. Across the street from the park, there’s a decent bar and steakhouse.

Not all that many people, I realize, who come to visit Hawaii will take the time and effort needed to get themselves out of the Honolulu/Waikiki area to explore Oahu’s hidden treasures. Those who do will be richly rewarded. Those who don’t…well, we won’t miss you!

Jerry Garrett

December 24, 2011


  1. Very cool!! We stayed in Kailua twice. I agree, those who venture outside the Waikiki/Honolulu area will be rewarded.

    I just completed summarizing my 2 trips to Oahu here ->

    • Thanks for checking in here, and providing links to your blog. Very worthwhile reading!

  2. That shave ice sure is popular!

  3. Hi Jerry-
    I bet you knew my great uncle Jerry Flint (since you were both auto journalists). Email me– jane (at) dwellable (dot) com. I always like to learn more about him.
    Jane Fader

    (by the way, I’m contacting you from work and came upon your blog in a search for blog posts about Kailua)

    • I did know Jerry. What a great guy! I will email when I get back from Italy next week!

      • Cool! I can’t wait!

  4. Hello! I simply want to offer you a big thumbs up for your great information you
    have got here on this post. I will be returning to your
    web site for more soon.

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