For those who want to live on the marina and/or keep a boat in front of their house, Hawaii Kai is the best option. The problem is that it's difficult to choose which part of the marina to live on, as not all marina front neighborhoods are created equal.  I frequently receive emails from people who want to know about the various homes and areas on the marina. How is the neighborhood? Is this a good part of the marina?" Here I offer my thoughts on the various single family neighborhoods and condo or townhouse complexes on the marina in Hawaii Kai.  

Single Family Homes on the Hawaii Kai Marina
- A beautiful neighborhood toward the back of Hawaii Kai with homes built in the early 80's.  When this neighborhood was built, it was considered upscale, so you have larger homes with larger lots, and nice wide marina frontage.  A lot of the homes here are now in need of updating inside, but most of them look pretty great from the outside to this day.  If you can get one with a view of the little island in the marina, you'll get to watch the birds all day long, as it's a little sanctuary just for them.  

The best part about Anchorage is that the marina is very wide in every direction.  Looking out from your back yard, you'll have several hundred yards across.  The width across the marina is one of the most important things to look for.  You can have a house with 60 feet of frontage on the marina, but if you can throw a rock at your neighbor across the water, it's probably going to feel very tight after a while.  And of course you can't turn a big boat if it's very narrow.  

One downside about Anchorage is that some homes there get no breeze at all.  It's probably not going to be true of homes on the marina, but if you buy one that is just across the street from the marina, your wind could be blocked by other houses.  Watch out for that - a hot house in Oahu is a miserable house. 

Kealaula Kai - Most mainlanders can't even pronounce this name, but it doesn't matter because it's just the 2nd phase of Anchorage to most people.  Say it just like it looks, sound it out - Ke-Ala-Ula Kai. I don't think people who live here even call it by it's name. Many just say it's Anchorage. The difference is that the homes are about 7 years newer, and can be larger and nice looking.  Even though it's on the same little street as the Anchorage homes, when you get to the back of Kealaula Kai, you notice that the homes are a little bigger, a little nicer.  The marina width is the same as Anchorage, so if you see a house for sale in this neighborhood, you probably have a winner.  If you get too far up Makaa st though, it gets more narrow, so you have to know which part of the street you're on. 

Luna Kai - The whole strip of marina front homes between Foodland and the bridge before luna_kai_273Keahole st. In other words, all the homes on the marina that are along Kalanianaole Highway.  (We call it Kal Hwy.)  The obvious drawback is the noise from the street.  I would say it's a real Highway in the mainland sense, but it is a very busy street, and some of the homes are built pretty close to it.  Others have kind of a barrier that keep the noise down, but I think every house has some noise.  The good news is that after about 9pm the street is very quiet.  The bad news is that the rest of the day, cars go by constantly.  Some of the homes here are on little tiny inlets off the Highway that are very hard to get to, and even harder to get out of.  A few of the little driveways are nearly impossible to turn around in. 

Having said all that, the homes on this stretch of Kal Highway can be very nice.  They were all built with nice wide marina frontage, and they face the sunrise, so you don't have the strong afternoon sun in your face.  I've seen some large 5000sqft homes in Luna Kai, built with very high end features, but most of them are from the 60's and 70's.  If you get a nice remodeled house, or one that has been rebuilt more recently, then you're going to have a nice high end home with great marina frontage.  As far as the width of the marina, many of these are a couple hundred yards across.  You also get to watch the water skiers, as the course is just in front of Luna Kai.  Also you get a nice view of Koko Head from Luna Kai, so you can enjoy a nice relaxing Hawaii afternoon, if you can just block out the highway noise.  

Mariner's Cove - Marina front in Mariner's Cove means either Niumalu Loop or Kalanipuu st.  I've found that some homes in parts of Niumalu Loop are just ok to kind of run down, while all of Kalanipuu seems to very nice homes in great shape. These two streets are real similar to Anchorage, except that they face the opposite way - into the setting sun.  While most won't get too much sun because of Mariner's Ridge (a good thing) some are going to get a lot of sun all day.  Niumalu Loop can get you facing either direction depending on which part you're on, and all of it has pretty wide marina frontage.  

The homes in the middle of Kalanipuu st that face the bird island are my favorite in this neighborhood.  They have very wide frontage, and very wide marina depth.   (One measures your house, the other measures how far it is across the water on the marina.)  Prices tend to up upwards of $2million for a nice home, and most homes on Kalanipuu are pretty large.  The Niumalu homes tend to be smaller unless they've been rebuilt.  There is a part of Niumalu that looks straight down the entire marina, basically where Mariner's cove comes to a point, and they may have the best location of all marina front homes, period.  

Spinnaker Isle - It's more like a street than an actual neighborhood.  Kumukahi Pl is just one forked street that many people don't know about, shaped like a big "U".  Built in the 60's mostly, the original homes were small at about 1500sqft, single story, and very simple.  About 1/3 of the homes have been either rebuilt or renovated, with a few of the homes now well over 3000sqft. $2million will get you a nice, newish home with all the upgrades and great marina frontage.  The homes on the inner side of the U shaped street are on a very narrow part of the marina, so that you could not turn a boat around.  If you can get one on the outside of the "U", then you're going to have wide frontage and good marina depth.  The ends of each side of the street and the outside of the left fork  are the best locations, looking straight down the water for several hundred yards.   

West Marina - If it isn't in one of the above neighborhoods, but it's marina front in Hawaii Kai, then it's probably West Marina.  I'm not sure where this neighborhood begins and ends, and I've never heard anyone use this term to describe where they live.  It encompasses all the little streets of Hawaii Kai that are on the marina, several of the homes that are actually on Hawaii Kai Dr, and a whole bunch of homes off Keahole st.  Since it's kind of broad, it's hard to describe altogether.  

There are tiny narrow streets like Awini Pl, Awini Way, where the marina becomes more like a tiny canal.   Homes tend to be smaller, a little more run down, with narrow streets.  However, some people have renovated some homes on these little streets and made them very nice.  If you pick up one of the old houses and redo it yourself, you're probably going to save a ton of money, while at the same time you drive yourself crazy with the remodeling process.  

There are homes on Hawaii Kai drive and just off of it, that have great marina frontage with great width, and large beautiful homes.  Ainahou st and 9 of the homes on Kaiolohia Pl are great examples of marina front living.  These rarely come up for sale and when they were built in the 80's, they were nice high end homes.  These have some of the best water frontage so if you see one, grab it! 

The Peninsula - West Marina also includes the single family homes in the Peninsula, which is totally confusing to most people. It makes  no sense to have it lumped in there, since the Peninsula is a gated community built mostly in 2004, with it's own association, pools, etc.  There are around 50 marina front single family homes in the Peninsula, along with dozens of townhouses too.  The homes on the marina here are all very nice at about 2500-3000sqft, and run about $1.5million as of Sep 2008.  The funny thing is I've never actually seen any of the houses with a boat in front.  Maybe these people just bought the house for the view, which is good enough reason for me too, since the views are amazing.  If you want something new, gated, with a community pool and nicely maintained neighborhood, then the Peninsula might be for you.  The homes are kind of simple, not very grand, not very unique, but still a nice product on the water and with a dock.  It's extremely rare to see one for sale with a dock.   

Hawaii Kai Marina Front


Condos and Townhomes on the Hawaii Kai Marina

There are so many different complexes on the marina in Hawaii Kai that most people can't keep track.  You can choose from high rise, traditional low rise condo, two story townhome, duplex, or even some combination of the above.  These are cheaper than single family homes, smaller, with less maintenance (it's done by the association.)  

Colony Marina - Not to be confused with the Colony at the Peninsula (none of which are actually on the marina), the Colony Marina was built in 1969, with some of the largest marina front townhouses built to date.  Most are about 1700-1900sqft, and some have 4 bedrooms.  Almost all the units are right on the marina, though few people have boats.  The frontage is as wide as your unit, which is probably around 25-30 feet.  They face some of the homes in West Marina, and it's not too narrow.  If you want a larger condo/townhouse on the marina, these may be a good option for you.  Amenities are scarce, but they have a nice pool.  These units feel like they were built better than some of the other cheaper complexes.  

Esplanade - It's the highrise on the marina directly adjacent to the Peninsula.  While none of the units are right on the marina, the ground floor units walk out about 100 feet to the water, and you can have a dock (for rent.)  Many of the units have great marina views, and the building has nice amenities.  Tennis, a huge pool, and security guards that seem to be at every turn.  Also they remodeled the meeting room in 2007, so it's looking great.  One drawback of the Esplanade is that it can be a long walk from your car to your unit.  The units here tend to be small 2 bedroom units with  windows at each end but not on the sides, unless you get an end unit.  It's not true marina front living, but you see the marina, and you can have a dock.  

Gateway Peninsula - It's the first complex you see when entering Hawaii Kai from the west.  Fairly large for condos, these units can be about 1800sqft, and many are right on the water with a dock right in front.  Built in the 70's, the complex is starting to feel old and will probably need a facelift soon.  The units that have been remodeled are very nice, and many have a nice view.  One problem in Gateway Peninsula is that it's right near the higway.  You can see and hear the cars crossing the bridge over the marina.  There is a very small pool and meeting room, but since it's a small complex, they are big enough.  Every time I've shown the units in here, buyers seem to be deterred by the highway noise.  There are a few units that don't face the highway, but those are in a real narrow canal part of the water. 

Hawaii Kai Cp - These are old duplex style units built mostly in the 60's, off Kawaihae st.  This area feels the least "high end" of all marina front Hawaii Kai.  Some are very run down and feel like you would need to burn them down just to renovate them.  But other people who renovated them have done a great job making them feel open and modern.  They are cheaper than most other townhouses on the marina, and some have wide enough water to feel like a house. Usually around 1400sqft, these townhomes are split level, so they feel kind of narrow inside.  If you have about $600k-700k and you want a marina front townhome, these are some of the best opportunities for a remodel.  

Kaimala Marina - The best feature about many of the Kaimala Marina front townhomes is that they have big lanais on the marina side.  The units themselves are kind of small at around 1280sqft, but the prices match at about $500k.  Only some of the units are on the marina, but the ones that are have great views.  One problem is that they face right into the setting sun, making them hot and bright in the afternoon.  I've seen several of these remodeled and done very well, but since they were built in 1972, there are several that need to be gutted.  You can have a dock right in front of your unit, but not really a walk out private dock like Koko Isle or Kuapa Isle.  It's more like a big shared dock, and you have to pay for one.  The units can feel a bit narrow, especially if you get an inside unit with no side window.  Get an end unit on the water and you've just gotten some of the lowest priced marina frontage in Hawaii Kai. 
Kalele Kai - Built like a highrise though it's only 4 stories tall, it may be the most well constructed of the marina front condos.  It feels like a hotel when you walk in, built out of concrete with high ceilings and a very solid feeling structure.  The units in Kalele Kai can be quite large, at about 2000sqft, though none of them have a private walk out dock.  You can rent a dock and they seem to be available often.  Many of them face Keahole st or Safeway, which is not very desirable.  The units that face the marina can be great.  Kalele Kai has some two story townhomes as well as the low rise buildings, and those townhomes sit right up on the marina with great frontage and views.  

You can walk out the gate of Kalele Kai to the Safeway center, where you have great little restaurants and a nice coffee shop right on the water.  Built in 1993, these condos feel modern but some units still need some updating on the inside.  You have to be picky in Kalele Kai so you don't end up with a lot of noise or a view of Safeway's roof, but the nice units here are hard to beat.  There is a pool but not much else other than the marina.  When they were built, they were upper end condos for working professionals, so the whole place feels quite upscale. The nice units tend to be about $1million. 
Koko Isle - One of the few actual islands, Koko Isle is a very unique little neighborhood.  Small two story townhomes that look a bit cheap from outside, these units can be renovated to very nice condition.  They take a bit of getting used to, since they look as if they might fall in the water, with posts that stick up out of the water to support the townhomes.  I've seen some very nice townhomes in Koko Isle, but some of my buyers can't get past the exteriors.  For some reason the association keeps the place looking very gray, and sort of shabby, but Koko Isle is like the ugly duckling of Hawaii Kai, where what's inside is a lot more attractive than what's outside.  And while the buildings are kind of plain Jane, the grounds are kept nice and green.  I just hope they choose a new color next time they paint. 

Privacy is easily found here, as there is just one little bridge in and out of Koko Isle, and management seems to be good about watching out for the neighbors' safety.  The huge advantage that Koko Isle has is that every marina front unit has direct and private dock access.  You can get a townhome with your own private lanai leading to your own private dock.  Depending on the location, you might be able to get a 40 foot boat in front of your home.  

Kuapa Isle 
- Is kind of like Koko Isle's prettier cousin, a sort of similar private island but with better built, larger  townhomes built in 1970. The homes are still pretty narrow, but many have great marina frontage and wide open water views.  People tend to like Kuapa Isle because the townhomes are built mostly as duplexes, sharing only one wall.  Some of the units are as large as 1800 sqft, but most are about 1500 sqft. I think they need more guest parking, but they do have some nice grassy areas and a pool that overlooks the marina.  

Marina Palms
 - Never heard of Marina Palms? Neither has anyone else in Hawaii Kai.  It's across the street from Colony Marina, and they don't often come up for sale.  Marina Palms is a group of small townhomes of about 1000 sqft that will cost you just under $500k.  If you want a little 2-3 bedroom condo on the marina with just the basics, this is your place.  The complex has a small pool and seems like it's well built. You can have a dock in front of your condo, and the marina is about 50 feet across at some parts, wide enough to turn around.  You don't have much view other than the condos across the water, but this is pretty basic marina front living.  A good choice if you're looking to spend as little money as possible on the marina.  

Moorings - Built in 1969, the Moorings are located right off Hawaii Kai Drive, the first complex on the left.  Almost every unit is right on the water with a dock right in front.  Some of them face Kal Highway, which is noisy as I've already said.  There is a small pool, party room and bar-b-que area?

Hawaii Kai Marina Front

There are beautifully renovated units in the Moorings for about $650k, and most units are about 1300 sqft.  Not large, but enough for a few people to enjoy the marina and a boat.  They aren't much to look at from the outside, with a lot of brown and beige, and wood shingled roofs that need to be changed to something more modern. What I like about the moorings is that they were built a little wider than other units like Koko Isle and Kaimala Marina, which feel a little more bowling alley-like.  If you can get a renovated larger unit at the Moorings on the water, you've got yourself a nice place to enjoy the water. 
Mawaena Kai - In the heart of Hawaii Kai is a nice two story townhouse project built in 1988 called Mawaena Kai.  They look nice, and since they're built wide like a house, they feel spacious.  People inquire about Mawaena Kai a lot because they often see as Leasehold with the fee available, which means they list cheaper than they sell for.  The regular Fee Simple Price is about $600k-$750k.  

Views of Koko Head are great, and face away from the setting sun.  Most sit on a nice wide part of the water, and though you can't have a private dock out your door, you can rent one of the many docks available.  This is a popular complex that faces The Peninsula, and has a pretty nice neighborhood feeling.  All the buildings are on the water, so all you have to do is pick the right unit.  A lot of them are small, at around 1100-1200 sqft, but the ability to walk out the door to the grass then the marina makes them live larger.  

The Peninsula - The Peninsula condos and townhomes were built in 2004 and are the most recent addition to our marina community.  They are quite simple, but feel very nice.  I wouldn't say luxurious, but I would say clean, contemporary, and well kept.  Only a couple of the townhouses have actual docks in front, and there are a small number of docks you can rent.  And if you see the Colony listed as marina front, it's not.  None of the Colony units are on the marina.  

The Peninsula is a great gated community with 2 pools, walking paths, a workout room, a meeting room, and some very nice landscaping.  It's not ideal for boat owners (except for the single family homes with docks) but if you want to live on the water, they are a great option.  There hadn't been anything built on the water for 15 years until the Peninsula came along, so if you like newer, this is your best option.


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