Get beyond Waikiki’s buzz to gorgeous lagoons, sunny resorts of West Oahu.
WEST OAHU, Hawaii — Palm fronds rustled in the breeze as we strolled under a dazzling blue sky near the crescent-shaped lagoon called “Ulua,” Hawaiian for fish. We paused to watch a catamaran glide from the nearby marina. It was a laid-back afternoon — as most are — at Ko Olina, a 642-acre luxury development near the Waianae Mountains on Oahu’s sunny leeward side.
Ko Olina, meaning “place of joy,” is home to four such man-made crescent lagoons, an 18-hole golf course, a marina, a small retail center, privately-owned villas, resort condos, a cultural retreat known as Lanikuhonua, and three luxury hotels: Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa; Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club; and the recently opened Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina.
As regular visitors to Oahu, my husband and I are among a growing number of those who prefer the slow pace and scenery at Ko Olina and the island’s west coast to Honolulu’s hustle and bustle. And you need not stay in one of the high-end lodgings to enjoy the area.
Ulua, near the marina, is furthest from those luxury high-rise hotels and the lagoons they front. It’s where the greatest number of day-trippers seem to congregate, although there’s public access to and day use permitted at all the lagoons in this development.
We’d passed dozens of locals and tourists who’d nabbed spots on Ulua’s grassy border. Some picnicking, others, stretched out on beach towels, were working on their tans while catching a few “Zs” or sea-gazing. Kids chased sea foam as gentle waves broke on the sandy beach. In the distance a bride and groom posed for wedding photos at the lagoon’s edge. Despite its popularity, the lagoon is never as crowded as the island’s more famous beach, Waikiki.