Some of Kailua’s favorite businesses can be found right on the edge of town. Unfortunately, many visitors coming here on Hawaii Vacations never get here.
Coming over to Kailua for a day of shopping and activity? Don’t blink when you cross over the bridge into town or you might miss three of its most interesting locally-owned shops. All three of them are almost within shouting distance of each other.
Kimo Surf Hut is first, located on the left side corner of Hamakua and Kailua Road. The stream is off its back door and you’ll miss the driveway if you aren’t careful, as it’s before the light. Housed in a beautifully restored circa 1957 building, the curved glass front shows off a selection of the boards in stock. The window is a work of art in itself. This store just does boards – no clothes, hats, or related merchandise. He sells his own shaped and designed boards as part of the stock. He has antique, used, and stand up boards. They do repair work and will also help you with shipping a board bought there. Kimo is usually there in the store, comes from a large surfing family, and is a wealth of knowledge about the boards he sells.
Manuhealii has been a Kailua destination store since 1985. Their fan base is solid, perse, and loyal, probably due to the ever-changing designs and colors that make their garments ultra chic, stylishly fetching, but so very Hawaiian. I personally own two of their dresses, and love how the fabric feels and flows. I bought a lot of aloha wear’ when I first moved here which I would probably not wear off the island. But these designs have such a sophistication about them that I’d be comfortable wearing anywhere. And they offer matched sets for the family – perfect for a portrait for your next Christmas card. I love their accessories and bags made out of their signature fabric (which is very subtly branded with the name hidden within the design). The store is located in a small white cottage’ ½ block off Kailua Road, just past the stop light, to the left and across the street from the green Kalapawai Market Café. Prices are usually <$100 – a very good buy.
Lastly and maybe most famously is Muumuu Heaven on Kailua Road (go through the light and take the first driveway on the right). This family-run business has a very eco-conscious business plan and product, crafting fashionable and one of a kind garments out of older/vintage muumuus, but with a revamping on the styling to reflect a modern and updated fit. In fact, I recognized a dress that I’d recently seen at an estate sale, retooled into a very trendy piece. It’s amazing to go into this spacious store and see rows of dresses, skirts and bags – each one different and each one once worn by someone from the past who would surely be thrilled to see their original purchase reborn. It shares space with a home goods section that features vintage items and local art. This store had developed a reputation beyond the islands, from Hollywood to the nation’s capital. You’ll know why when you visit it.