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Oahu Neighborhoods

Oahu Neighborhood Profiles: Leeward Coast

Hawaiian Soul Country

"The Independent Lifestyle of the Waianae Coast"

Far west Oahu is a study in contrasts, corralled as it is between the dry, craggy Waianae Mountains and the watery depths of the blue Pacific Ocean.

This was perfect for the first Hawaiians who sought shelter here over a thousand years ago. They felt that the majestic mountains provided a safe wall of isolation, allowing them to feed from the ocean and maintain an independent lifestyle.

Today, this part of Oahu is the closest thing to a true Hawaiian place on the island. Proud and independent like their forbears, Waianae Coast communities nevertheless opened their hearts to diverse cultures, welcoming others to the ocean-loving pleasures and simple lifestyles enjoyed by centuries of Hawaiians.

All of the Waianae Coast shares 20 miles of what many feel are the island's most beautiful, unspoiled beaches. Certainly, Oahu's best big-game fishing is off this coast. Most Waianae Coast homes, condos and apartments are in the affordable price range, although a few expensive homes with incredible ocean views dot the landscape.

The soul of the community of Makaha is celebrated in the richness of its progeny. Two of Makaha's finest were living legends until their untimely deaths in the late '90s. The Queen of Makaha, surfing sensation Rell Sunn, and Israel (Bruddah Iz) Kamakawiwo'ole, angelic-voiced lead singer of the Makaha Sons of Niihau, embodied the sweetness and spirit of this beautiful community.

Two golf courses and one of Hawaii's most ethereal restored heiaus are located in Makaha. For years, the Makaha International Surf Championship, one of the world's major surfing events was also held here.

You can still talk story about surfing and the wonders of Makaha with living legend Buffalo Keaulana. This veteran of 36 years as an Oahu lifeguard and father of two champion surfers hangs out every day on Makaha Beach.

Most Nanakuli residences are unpretentious 2- and 3-bedroom homes, about half owner-occupied and half affordable rentals. This good-hearted neighborhood is a beach picnic, backyard barbecue, potluck dinner kind of place. A word to the wise: If you ever get invited to a Nanakuli wedding or first-year baby luau, don't miss it. The festivities are legendary.

The community of Waianae is home to one of the most unusual healing centers in all of the islands. The Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center has served the area for 30 years, with a broad range of health and healing services deeply rooted in Hawaiian values. All Waianae communities are as inextricably linked to Hawaiian values as they are to the ocean.

*Content provided courtesy of the Honolulu Advertiser