Honolulu is the largest city and the capital of the state of Hawaii.
Ko Olina provides full-time resort living in six lovely neighborhoods, totaling more than 1,300 residences. Each gated neighborhood of single-family homes, townhouses, and condos has its own distinctive style of architecture. From styles reminiscent of Hawaii plantation managers’ residences to luxury beachfront condos, Ko Olina has much to offer the full-time resident and real estate investor.
At the southwestern edge of Oahu, Ko Olina is a unique residential community nestled between the sparkling blue waters of the Pacific Ocean and the earthy slopes of the Waianae Mountains. Residences share 642 acres with three resorts, four man-made lagoons, a deep-draft marina, a championship golf course, wedding chapels, and a shopping area with groceries, boutiques, services, and restaurants. Two more resorts bordering three lagoons are planned.
In Hawaiian, Ko before Olina means to fulfill joy, and today, it appropriately defines Ko Olina as “a place of joy.” This joy is evident in the beautifully designed and landscaped neighborhoods of Ko Olina. Each distinctive neighborhood has open concept floor plans and one or more spacious lanais to enjoy the beautiful golf course, mountain, or ocean views. Some residences have two or even three of these views of nature’s abundance!
Kai Lani (“Heavenly sea”) residences are on the right before the Ko Olina gatehouse on Ali’inui Drive. These four-plex 2- and 3-bedroom condos are in the style of an earlier era of Hawaiian beach houses. Kai Lani is the smallest community in Ko Olina, with private amenities including a lovely swimming pool, spa, and recreation center. It is just a short walk across the old Oahu Railway narrow-gauge tracks to Milo Cove, a delightful small, secluded beach.
The Ko Olina Fairways is the first of the residential neighborhoods constructed in Ko Olina, with initial occupancy in 1995. Several units border the golf course’s 2nd and 3rd fairways. These are 2- and 3-bedroom townhouses in the most affordable community in Ko Olina. The private amenities include a swimming pool, spa, and recreation center.
The Coconut Plantation began initial occupancy in 2001. This low-rise multi-family condo community is in the quaint style of Hawaii’s past plantation managers’ homes. The condos have 2-, 3-, and 4-bedroom floor plans. The residences are airy and open with large lanais to enjoy the lush landscaping. Three sides of this gated neighborhood border the golf course fairways. The private amenities include two swimming pools and recreation centers, 3 spas, and meandering walkways.
Walking makai (seaward) past the shopping area and across Ali’inui Dr., residents can stroll between the serene Four Seasons Resort and Disney’s lively Aulani Resort. Their destination is one of the four man-made lagoons to enjoy the beach and warm ocean waters.
Ko Olina Kai Golf Estates and Villas is adjacent to The Coconut Plantation on the east side and borders the golf course fairways on three sides with single-family homes. The single-family homes and 6-plex villas are more modern in design but still with that unmistakable Hawaiian tropical touch in design features and covered lanais. The single family estates have 3- and 4-bedroom floor plans while the villas have 2-, 3-, and 4- bedroom floor plans. The private amenities include a swimming pool, spa, clubhouse, exercise room, recreation area, tennis court, and putting green.
Ko Olina Kai is not within a short walking distance of the lovely lagoons, unless scampering across a fairway or following a cart path on the makai side of the neighborhood. However, some residents have golf carts for getting around the area. Now that certainly is resort living!
Ko Olina Hillside Villas was constructed shortly after Ko Olina Kai in 2006. These two story townhomes in 2- and 3-bedroom floor plans are tucked away at the eastern end of Ali’inui Drive across from the Ko Olina Fairways. The amenities include a pool, spa, recreation center, and barbecue grills.
Ko Olina Beach Villas are tropical-styled high-rise condos perched close to the Honu (green sea turtle) Lagoon. The 2- and 3-bedroom villas have top-line appliances, high ceilings, and large lanais to bask in the beauty all around. Residents and guests are within easy walking distance to the nearby marina and golf course. The amenities include the sandy beach and lagoon, a lovely lagoon-like on-property pool, lap pool, sandy-bottom kiddie pool, fitness room, sauna, barbecue grills, and beach bar.
Ko Olina was part of a larger land division in the time of the Hawaiian monarchs (ali’i). Even before Kamehameha, the area that today comprises Ko Olina was considered sacred and used for rest and renewal as bathing in the sheltered waters provided a certain tranquility. After uniting the islands, Kamehameha and his wife Ka’ahumanu often came to the area, followed by later ali’i, including the last monarch, the beloved Queen Lili’uokalani.
Thousands of acres of Oahu land had been passed on to various descendants of Kamehameha and their in-laws. In 1877, James Campbell purchased from one of those in-laws vast acreage in leeward Oahu, including today’s Ko Olina. In 1939, his daughter Alice chose to make the Ko Olina property her home. She called it Lanikūhonua, “Where heaven meets the earth.” Isn’t that lovely? Today, the Lanikūhonua Cultural Institute occupies the area that was Alice’s home, between the Paradise Cove Luau and the Four Seasons Resort.
In the 1950s, the Campbell Estate began selling leeward parcels of land for development as the sugar cane industry was drawing to a close. But it was more than 30 years later when the estate sold 642 acres to a local developer who envisioned a master-planned resort community. The developer received approval for a marina and four man-made lagoons in 1988, and construction commenced.
In 1990, the Ko Olina Golf Course opened, followed by the clubhouse, pro shop, and restaurant. The first hotel, the Ihilani Resort & Spa, situated beside Kohalā Lagoon, the first man-made lagoon, was completed in 1993. Today, the renovated hotel is the luxurious Four Seasons Resort Oahu. The first phases of the planned marina were also completed at this time.
However, the resort plans stalled when financial problems ensued. But in 1998, another developer, The Resort Group, purchased the Ko Olina property. Construction resumed with the Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club timeshare and the subsequent residential neighborhoods so beautifully a part of this “place of joy.”
As a resort community, Ko Olina encompasses a broad spectrum of year-round and part-time residents and vacationers. Ko Olina has 2,000-2,200 residents. Many residents want a more leisurely lifestyle and do not need the hustle and bustle of Honolulu’s competitive lifestyle.
The largest ethnic group is white, followed by a much smaller Asian population. The average annual household income is more than $140,000. Residents enjoy the lovely, quiet neighborhoods in a vibrant coastal resort community with its sheltered lagoons, championship golf course, deep-water marina, and sunny weather promoting a healthy lifestyle.
Most commuting Ko Olina residents work in Kapolei, “the second city.” The commute is about 5-7 miles east from Ko Olina. During rush hour, the traffic streams east from the Waianae coast. The quick 10-20 minute trip to Kapolei is pretty much stress-free.
A commute to downtown Honolulu during rush hour involves traffic streaming onto the H-1 Freeway all along the route to town. It is an exception when the 25-mile drive goes smoothly. The drive is likely to take an hour or more. During non-rush hours, the drive is 35-40 minutes. Other than rush hours, the trip to most destinations in Honolulu will begin on the H-1 Freeway, with easy access off the freeway to the destination.
The new rapid transit rail system is projected to begin in Kapolei later this year or early next year. Initially, it will travel as far as the Aloha Stadium. A second phase will be to Pearl Harbor and the airport. Projected for 2031 completion, the rail will cover 20 miles from Kapolei to the downtown Honolulu central business district.
The Bus public transportation runs on Farrington Hwy. but does not stop near Ali’inui Drive. Taxis, Uber, and Lyft are options. Shuttles are available to and from Ko Olina and the airport. A free shuttle travels within the resort.
The annual high temperatures are between 80°F (27°C) and 88°F (31°C). The annual low temperatures are between 66°F (19°C) and 74°F (23°C). Some days may be even hotter. Air conditioning and solar panels are popular home features.
The monthly rainfall is between negligible and less than 3 inches (76 mm). More rain occurs during the winter months. On average, there are six rainy days in a winter month and three rainy days in a summer month.
The average water temperatures are between 75°F (24°C) and 80°F (27°C).
The public schools serving Ko Olina’s small permanent resident population are located in nearby Kapolei: Barbers Point Elementary School (Pk-5), Kapolei Middle School (6- 8), and Kapolei High School (9-12).
There are two college-prep private schools (K-12) in Kapolei: Island Pacific Academy and American Renaissance Academy.
Seagull School for pre-kindergarten ages is on Ali’inui Dr. in Ko Olina. More pre kindergarten options are in Kapolei.
University of Hawai’i – West Oahu is on Farrington Hwy. in Kapolei.
Queen's Medical Center – West O'ahu is an easy 9-11 miles drive east on the H-1 Freeway. Queen’s is recognized as a Magnet hospital, the highest national honor for nursing excellence, and a further example of the Queen's hospital's promise of high quality, compassionate care.
Further east, on the western boundaries of Honolulu, Kaiser Permanente’s Moanalua Medical Center and Tripler Army Medical Center for military personnel, their dependents, and retirees are also via the H-1 Freeway.
Kapolei is 3 miles east of Ko Olina on Farrington Hwy. Ewa Beach is 4-6 miles farther on Kapolei Pkwy.
Ewa Beach and Kapolei have physical therapy clinics and nursing facility options.
Ko Olina uniquely hosts soft sandy beaches in sheltered lagoons filled with warm Pacific waters. It also offers walking paths, boating, sailing, paddling, golf, cultural events, luaus, and even stargazing. All of this alone is a formula for rewarding enjoyment, but Hawai’i is rich in enjoyable things to do, especially taking advantage of the beautiful tropical climate.
Several beaches and natural formations worth visiting are just a few miles north on Farrington Hwy. Farther up the Waianae Coast is uncrowded, scenic Yokohama Bay and beach, and a hiking trail to Ka‘ena Point, the northwestern tip of Oahu.
To the east, in Kapolei and Ewa Beach, there are five more golf courses and one private membership course. A Kapolei adventure park has ATV off-roading, zip lines, climbing walls, and an adventure tower. And more water fun can be had at Kapolei’s Wet ‘n Wild Hawaii water park! Bike paths are in Makakilo and Kapolei, and a couple of hiking trails begin in Makakilo.
Ko Olina has much to offer in shopping, groceries, services, and dining not only in its shopping areas, Ko Olina Station and Ko Olina Center, but also in the hotels and at the golf course. The boutique shops offer designer clothes and accessories. The dining possibilities are few, from plate lunches to casual to fine dining in world-class restaurants.
Costco, Safeway, and Down-to-Earth Organic are just a short drive to Kapolei. All the necessities found in an urban area are here in still growing Kapolei. Ka Makana Ali’i, anchored by Macy’s, is one of its four shopping centers. Dining choices range from popular fast food eateries to casual and ethnic dining. But for fine dining, the restaurants in Ko Olina are the unquestionable destinations for epicurean delights, long to be remembered and often revisited.
The country-like surroundings before the Ko Olina Resort overpass turnoff make one feel that this resort community is tucked away in its own wonderful mid-Pacific paradise. Residents of Ko Olina enjoy all that tropical resort living has to offer – with urban convenience just down the road.
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