5 Unique Features of Winters in Kailua

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou! Aloha and Happy New Year from Kailua! Wishing all the best for you and yours this 2015.

Sometimes people on the “mainland” (as we call the continental USA) or other non-tropical places, who have never been to Kailua, Hawaii before, wonder what winter is like in Kailua. They think it must be strange and foreign because, after all, the Hawaiian islands are the most geographically isolated landmasses on Earth, they’re mostly tropical, and there’s no snow (other than on the tallest summits of our highest mountains, but that’s another story). So everything has got to be way different here, right? The answer is, well, yes and no. You might be surprised by some of the similarities—and differences—of our Kailua winters to winters elsewhere.

Winter in Oahu Hawaii
Winter in Oahu Hawaii

So, for those of you who may have a similar question, I thought I’d share with you 5 unique things about the Kailua winter season. We may not have snow, we but that definitely doesn’t mean we don’t know how to have fun! Let’s just say winters in Kailua have a special Hawaiian twist :).

It’s freezing!! (To us–hey, it’s all relative, right?)

During the winter months, temperatures often dip below 70 degrees Fahrenheit In the mornings and evenings, forcing many a Kailuan to actually use a blanket at night, to put on a sweater and possibly even a scarf, and to squeal “It’s freeeeeeeeezing!” to anyone who will listen (…or is that just me???).

Then, of course, there’s the uniquely Hawaiian phenomenon of “slippahs with socks.” Slippahs (also known as “slippers,” “flip-flops,” or “thongs”) are the beloved unofficial footwear of Hawaii, and many of us can’t bear the thought of wearing shoes, so if it’s cold, we’ll wear our socks with our slippahs, thank you very much. This local style goes great with the surf shorts and aloha shirts.

Hawaiian phenomenon of slippahs
Hawaiian phenomenon of slippahs

The chilly weather also makes ideal conditions for a cup of hot chocolate or tea, and evening bonfires.

But it’s not too freezing.

But don’t worry, we keep plenty warm during the day. The blankets, sweaters, socks, and scarves soon fall away and are replaced by shorts, t-shirts, hats, and sunscreen. So, just how warm does it get? Well, here’s a picture of the thermometer in my car at 11 a.m. on Christmas day:

78 degrees

78 degrees. Sounds like perfect beach weather!

Which brings me to….

We dream of a white Christmas, too.

And we are not disappointed. There’s nothing quite like spending the day on the beautiful white sands of Kailua’s beaches. Kailua is a beach town, so no matter where you are in Kailua, you’re always just a few minutes’ drive, walk, or bike ride from the beach. “Kailua Beach” stretches the length of the town and can be walked from one end to the other–about 2.5 miles of soft white sand and beautiful turquoise-blue water.

Kailua Beach on Christmas
Kailua Beach on Christmas

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who headed to the beach on Christmas day.

Kailua Beach on Christmas day was more crowded than usual, but that didn’t stop anyone from enjoying the day. Children played in the sand and shore break; some people sat or laid around reading books and soaking up the sun; and the more adventurous folks swam, kayaked, surfed, or boogie boarded. Others played games of volleyball or frisbee, and some had picnics in the shade.

If you love playing in the snow, you’ll probably love playing on the beach, too. Actually, you can find a lot of similarities between beach and snow activities.

  • If you love sledding: try boogie boarding.
  • If you love snowboarding or skiing: try surfing.
  • If you love making snow angels: try making sand angels.
  • And if you love making snowmen? Well…

We also build cute guys with carrot noses.

If you love building snowmen, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

Allow me to introduce you to my friend “Sandman”:


Isn’t he adorable? Look at his cute starfruit* buttons.

*In case you’re wondering what starfruit is, it’s a delicious fruit that looks like stars when sliced–but that’s another story for another day.

If you thought all you could do with sand is build sand castles, think again! Building sandmen has all the fun of building snowmen, minus the frozen fingers.

You’ll often find sand sculptures of all kinds while walking Kailua Beach–mementos left behind of a family’s fun day at the beach.

But if sandmen aren’t really your thing, check out these guys I stumbled across in Lanikai (a neighborhood in Kailua):


Buoymen!  Besides being super cute and friendly-looking, they are also eco-friendly—upcycled from old buoys that washed up on the beach :).

We DO have ice in abundance!

There may be no snow on the ground, but there is ice in abundance: shave ice! Shave ice is a delicious treat made from very finely-shaved ice that looks like snow and is flavored with syrups that come in a rainbow of colors and flavors—including (but certainly not limited to) local favorites like coconut, mango, guava, passion fruit, etc. Shave ice is often served with a scoop of ice cream and a sweet bean paste. You can also get a “white cap” of condensed milk poured over the top.

Shave ice on O'ahu Kailua
Shave ice on O’ahu Kailua by http://matsumotoshaveice.com

Shave ice may sound like just a summer treat to cool down, but it’s actually a Christmastime favorite. President Obama has been known to visit his favorite shave ice shop, Island Snow in Kailua, with his family every year during their Christmas vacation in Kailua.

In case you’re wondering, shave ice is similar to snow cones, but even tastier because the finely shaved ice better absorbs the flavors instead of pooling at the bottom of the cup.

So there you have it, five things that make our Kailua winters different (or maybe not so different) from places with snowy cold winters. As you can see, we have plenty of fun here in our beautiful island home. I hope you’ll come experience a Kailua Winter for yourself!