7-Eleven Neighborhood Guide
Jasmine Lombardi | Feb 13, 2017
Far from the Crowds
The small, tight-knit windward neighborhood of Waimānalo is one of Oʻahu’s best kept secrets. Free from any big box stores or hotels, the area is a great place to escape and enjoy a blissfully tranquil day on the island.
Many residents and visitors make the drive east towards Waimānalo from Hawai‘i Kai and stop at popular sites and destinations along the way, including Hanauma Bay, Hālona Blowhole, Makapuʻu Beach Park, Rabbit Island and Sea Life Park. But continue east on Kalaniana‘ole Highway and you’ll enter the lesser-known, idyllic community of Waimānalo, which boasts some of the most spectacular views of the Ko‘olau mountains (seen in episodes of Magnum P.I. and Baywatch Hawaiʻi).
This colorful community is known for its local flair and sweeping landscapes. Stretching miles along the eastern coast, Waimānalo Beach is the longest stretch of sandy shoreline on Oʻahu and is undeniably the crown jewel of the neighborhood. A favorite spot for in-the-know residents and savvy visitors, these beaches have some of the softest sand and most sparkling turquoise waters in all of Hawai‘i. The shoreline wave break is typically small and safe, so don’t forget your body board! For an underwater adventure, just south of Waimānalo Beach Park is Kaiona Beach Park. Less for lounging (there’s just a narrow strip of sand), and more for snorkeling, the beach’s shallow, calm waters host an impressive mix of tropical fish and honu (green sea turtles).
Whether you’re a resident or visitor, a trip to this side of the island offers a sweet escape from town
The Hustle and Bustle of Country
Days in Waimānalo are decidedly slower—a welcomed change from the hustle and bustle of Honolulu. Spending a weekday in this charming neighborhood can be a real treat for those looking to experience true island living. Though, one could argue weekends in Waimānalo are when the real fun begins. The area is almost always buzzing with barbecues, birthdays and baseball games. Set up under a tent and light up the grill at any of the public parks where you’ll find other groups of ’ohana (family), including aunties, uncles, keiki (children) and friends, socializing over good food and even better company. From late May to late October, people from all over the state as well as national and international travelers head to The Honolulu Polo Club to watch players and ponies trot up and down the field.Even further east heading towards Kailua is Waimānalo’s small epicenter brimming with old-school Hawai’i character.
Waimānalo Shopping Center serves as the hub of the community—a tiny strip mall of convenient stores and services including a ’ukulele shop and a boutique clothing store, and even a statue of Akebono Tarō, a retired sumo wrestler, one of the areas most famous residents. Whether you’re a resident or visitor, one would be remiss not to check out the local flavor (think roadside stands selling fresh ice cold coconuts), the lush landscape housing nurseries of exotic plants or the uncrowded, pristine beaches that make Waimānalo the little piece of paradise it is today