Discover Oahu’s Neighborhoods
Oahu’s give island residents many lifestyle options. From beach towns to hidden valleys and family-friendly communities, the island of Oahu has it all. This is where you’ll learn more about Oahu’s wonderful neighborhoods
AINA HAINA NEIGHBORHOOD
By Lisa Scontras | Photos by Davin Iyamatsu
From its expansive beachfront lots to the majestic estates tucked into mountain Ridges overlooking the coastline, the Aina Haina/Niu Valley stretch between Diamond Head and Koko Head is endowed with some of the most desirable, most valuable real estate on the island.
It is here, where mountains meet ocean, that many have found the perfect home in the perfect setting. And it is no wonder.
“People decide to live in Hawaii Loa, for example, because they enjoy the views of the ocean,” says Elaine M. Shinagawa, Realtor Associate at Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties. “Ikena translates to views, as in Puuikena, hill of views.”
The very best of Oahu’s iconic ocean views are what characterize the neighborhoods along Kalanianaole Highway, from the Waialae Country Club Golf Course to Maunalua Bay in Paiko Lagoon Wildlife Sanctuary.
And while the neighborhood has its share of custom homes, including many by architects Charles Dickey and Vladimir Ossipoff — there is also an eclectic mix of homes that hold appeal for the less rich and famous. But no matter what level of luxury is right for you, the short commute to downtown and some lesser-known secluded beach spots are a couple of reasons why Aina Haina and Niu Valley are the neighborhood of choice for many move-up buyers looking to have it all.
“The oceanfront and Ridges homes between Wailupe and Kuliouou are certainly attractive and generate a buzz,” says Shinagawa. “However, if you focus on these, you might miss the homes that roll up Wailupe, Niu and Kuliouou valleys.”
Today there are less than 20 single-family homes for sale in Aina Haina/Niu Valley. Current listings include a 2-bedroom, 2-bath property in great need of TLC offered at $638,000, a totally updated 4-bedroom, 3-bath home for $799,000, a pool home for $945,000, a cozy beachfront cottage with an asking price of $1,880,000, and estates up to $11 million.
Sales in the area are relatively strong. When comparing year-to-date figures, the number of closed sales is up 38.9 percent from a year ago, as is the median sales price, up 18.2 percent to $1,060,000. But the extreme high-end areas on the ocean side of Kalanianaole Highway do tend to skew the numbers. Sellers are typically receiving 89.9 percent of the original list price.
“The neighborhoods are not as homogeneous as one might be led to think,” says Marti Hazzard, Realtor Associate at Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties. “The median sales prices of oceanfront parcels (land makai of Kalanianaole Highway) in 2010 had a wide range: Wailupe Circle, $1,505,000; Aina Haina Beachside, $3,350,000; Niu Beach, $1,840,000; Paiko Lagoon, $2,500,000.
“The median sales prices of interior homes, (mauka of Kalanianaole Highway) in 2010 also ranged: Aina Haina area $780,000; Hawaii Loa Ridges, $1,633,750; Niu Valley, $780,000; Kuliouou Valley, $700,000,” says Hazzard. “The warp and weft of the diverse neighborhoods form an interesting tapestry of community, I think, flowing seamlessly towards Hawaii Kai.”
Last September, Aina Haina and Niu Valley topped Pacific Business News’s list of Hawaii’s wealthiest ZIP codes. The region boasts high incomes, but where the area really outshines other high-end neighborhoods, are the premium lots, tailor-made homes, convenient location, and picturesque setting.
Aina Haina Shopping Center
Two shopping malls — one in Aina Haina and one in Niu Valley — offer a variety of convenient options without too much of a commercial feel. Recently renovated, the Aina Haina Shopping Center has adopted a sophisticated new tone while maintaining a somewhat slower personality than Kahala Mall. Today, the center provides residents with grocery shopping,
several restaurant options, conveniently located post office, library, bank, medical office, title company and hair salon. The Niu Valley Shopping Center boasts some of the best dining on the east end. Check out Le Bistro (don’t miss their amazing beef quartet) or warm up your chopsticks at Gyotaku Japanese Restaurant.
Kilohana Senior Enrichment Center
As our population ages, it takes a village to care for our older generation. Kilohana Senior Enrichment Center was established in 2006 to provide day care for seniors and respite for their caregivers. Because of the center’s extraordinary efforts, it didn’t take long for Kilohana’s extended family to grow from four clients when the center opened to 31 today.
Kilohana Academy of Arts showcases a project where seniors are given half a picture and they fill in the other half.
Activities at the center, which is open 5 days a week and serves 3 meals a day, include karaoke, exercise, pet therapy, brain games, as well as socializing. A photo wall shows conga lines, a karaoke team, a 95th birthday celebration, group exercise programs and, most importantly lots of smiling faces.
“We address social, emotional, spiritual and physical needs,” says Bonnie Ho, program director. “We have a good time.”
At least 20 of the 31 seniors are regulars and come five days a week.
“They usually start out coming one or two days a week,” Ho says. “Then they go home and there is nothing to do so they want to come more often.”
Days are filled with activities especially designed to get everyone engaged. A typical day may include word games — naming 15 things that have the letter “Z” in it or a rousing session of Old Favorites karaoke. Every day is different but always includes patience, encouragement and laughter.
“During Pet Appreciation Month, we spent some time naming all the breeds of dogs,” says Ho. “Then we picked German Shepherd and came up with different words using the letters in German Shepherd. We came up with 81 words.”
Ho’s own dad had Alzheimer’s and her mom had cancer. “They were still teaching me,” she said.
The average age at Kilohana is 87 — the youngest is 65 and the oldest is 100 — and they’re all friends.
Ho remembers one client’s daughter who had once told her, “The best memory I have, is my mom coming home from Kilohana one day and saying, ‘I have a best friend.’
“They look out for each other,” Ho says. “They have histories and careers where they contributed to society. Life is not what it used to be, but we have fun. The people here and the friends they make give their life quality and give them something to talk about when they go home with their families.
“It’s the most enjoyable, hardest work I’ve ever done,” says Ho. “We’re an extended part of the family’s care team. It’s very rewarding.”
Bingo is a favorite with the group and currently, they only play it once or twice a week because they are limited with prizes.
“We would really like to do it every day,” says Ho. The clients love it. Some of the staff grow plants for prizes. But we really rely on a lot of donations.”
For more information, or to make a donation, call 373-2700 or visit Kilohana Senior Enrichment Center at the Kilohana United Methodist Church at 5829 Mahimahi Street in Niu Valley.
Aina Haina Public Library
This year, the Aina Haina Public Library has gone green, receiving a photovoltaic solar panel system that ultimately will generate its own electricity.
Aina Haina Public Library is one of 51 branch libraries that make up the Hawaii State Public Library System — the only statewide public library system in the United States. The library is located next to the Aina Haina Shopping Center. The library opened its doors to the public in 1962 with 8,000 books, replacing bookmobile service to the area. At the time it was only the second library east of the main branch downtown to serve the communities to East Honolulu (the other library was Waikiki Library established in 1952).
To support the library, consider donating used books when you’re finished reading. Donated books are either added to the collection or sold by Friends of Aina Haina Library. An ongoing used book sale is right inside the main entrance. Used books are $1.
Kuliouou Ridges Trail
Take in the beautiful scenery while earning some endorphins on this 3.4-mile hike 1,700 feet to the summit then take a break and enjoy the dazzling coastal views of Waimanalo and Lanikai Beach. Hikers should exercise caution and wear bright colored clothing as the trail is shared by hunters and mountain bikers.
Dogs are allowed, on a leash, as is camping, with a permit. The trailhead is at the end of Kalaau Place.
Take a left on Kuliouou off Kalanianaole Highway heading east, follow the curve to the left and take a right on Kuliouou Road. Turn right on Kalaau Place and look for signs.
Much Aloha to Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties and Island Homes Collection, Who bring wonderful neighborhoods and some of our favorite dining options.
Listings and statistics included in this story are as of May 20, 2011 from Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties (CBPP) and the Honolulu Board of Realtors (HBR)..
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