Makaha, Hawaii | The Ultimate Real Estate & Neighborhood Guide

Makaha, located on the west coast of Oahu, Hawaii, is a paradise for nature lovers and surf enthusiasts alike. The name "Makaha" means "fierce" or "savage" in Hawaiian, fittingly attributed to its powerful winter surf. It's the place where big wave surfing began and is the home of the renowned "Buffalo Big Board Surfing Classic," a contest held annually since 1976. This competition, founded by Richard "Buffalo" Keaulana, a legendary local surfer, lifeguard, and community leader, carries a unique spirit. It honors Hawaiian traditions, promotes family values, and acknowledges the highest levels of waterman skills across various surfing disciplines. Despite its world-class waves and natural beauty, Makaha maintains a small-town charm that's a breath of fresh air away from the bustling city life of Honolulu.

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What Makaha is known for

Renowned for its beautiful beaches and incredible surf, Makaha has an inviting, laid-back atmosphere that appeals to both residents and visitors alike. Its most famous landmark, Makaha Beach Park, is a popular spot for surfing, diving, and simply enjoying the sun. Moreover, the Makaha Valley — known for the Makaha Valley Towers and Makaha Resort Golf Club — adds to the charm, bringing a taste of luxury to the rustic beach town.

Where is Makaha located

Situated on Oahu's west coast, Makaha's location offers seclusion from the bustling city life of Honolulu, while still being within a comfortable distance for a day trip. It does have a reputation as having the worst rush hour commute on Oahu so plan accordingly.

  • Honolulu International Airport: Approximately 35 miles east (~1 hour drive)
  • Waikiki Beach: Approximately 36 miles southeast (~1 hour 15 minutes drive)
  • Pearl Harbor: Approximately 30 miles southeast (~1 hour drive)

Living in Makaha

Life in Makaha means embracing an unhurried lifestyle. Its appeal lies in its relative seclusion, community feel, and access to stunning natural landscapes. From the verdant Makaha Valley to the pristine beaches, residents are never far from an outdoor adventure. It's a place where neighbors know each other, fostering a strong sense of community. This welcoming atmosphere is coupled with affordable housing options, making it attractive to families, retirees, and anyone seeking a slower pace of life.

Makaha enjoys a tropical savannah climate with some of the warmest temperatures on Oahu throughout the year. Living in Makaha without AC will be rough unless you're tough! Rainfall is fairly distributed throughout the year but is typically higher during the winter months, from November through March. Meanwhile, summer months from June through October tend to be drier and slightly hotter.

Makaha offers easy access to some of Oahu's most beautiful and less crowded beaches:

  • Makaha Beach Park: Renowned for its surf, Makaha Beach is a local favorite.
  • Kea'au Beach Park: A scenic beach park that offers a serene spot for picnics and beach strolls.
  • Pokai Bay Beach Park: Located in neighboring Waianae, this beach is known for its calm waters, making it a great spot for swimming and paddleboarding.

Things to do in Makaha

Aside from enjoying the surf and sand of Makaha Beach, there are several other attractions and activities for residents and visitors to explore in and around Makaha.

  1. Visit Yokohama Bay: or Keawaula Beach, is a beautiful, less crowded beach located at the northwest tip of Oahu. It's known for its pristine waters, excellent surf, and opportunities for spotting marine life, like dolphins and sea turtles. It's also the starting point of the trail leading to Kaena Point, Oahu’s westernmost tip.

  2. Hiking Trails: Makaha offers access to several beautiful hiking trails. One popular choice is the Peacock Flats Trail, known for its breathtaking views and challenging terrain. The trail winds through a lush forest, leading to camping sites and picnic areas—perfect for a family outing. Another great choice is the Mount Ka'ala Trail, the highest point on Oahu. The trail is a challenging climb but rewards hikers with stunning views of the entire island.

  3. Attend the Buffalo Big Board Surfing Classic: Experience the roots of Hawaii's surf culture at the Buffalo Big Board Surfing Classic, held annually at Makaha Beach. It's an event that captures the spirit of Aloha through the surfing competition and cultural activities.

  4. Makaha Valley Country Club: For golf enthusiasts, the Makaha Valley Country Club offers a championship course nestled between the majestic Waianae mountain range and the Pacific Ocean. The 18-hole course provides a fun and challenging game with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

Makaha Real Estate

Real estate in Makaha offers a variety of options ranging from affordable condos to stunning Oahu beachfront homes. The market here tends to be more affordable compared to the more tourist-centric areas of Oahu. Single-family homes, multi-family units, and condos with stunning views of the ocean or the verdant Makaha Valley are all options for prospective homeowners or investors.

  1. Maunaolu Estates: Nestled in the lush Makaha Valley, Maunaolu Estates is a gated community offering a serene, private living experience with large luxury homes on 1+ acre lots. With stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the Pacific Ocean, the homes in this neighborhood are beautifully designed to harmonize with the natural environment.

  2. Makaha Oceanview Estates: As the name suggests, this gated community offers residents breathtaking ocean views. Homes in Makaha Oceanview Estates are designed with a modern touch while maintaining the island-style architecture, making them a perfect blend of elegance and local charm.

  3. Oceanside Streets of Farrington Highway: This is where the allure of beachfront living comes to life. The area along the oceanside streets of Farrington Highway features homes with larger than average lot sizes. The homes are just walking distance from Makaha and Aki's Beach, offering residents direct access to the stunning coastline. If you're looking for a Makaha Beach House, keep you eyes peeled to this location as they don't come up often. 

Comparing Makaha to Its Eastern Border Town, Waianae

Both Makaha and Waianae are well-known communities located on the Leeward Coast of Oahu. They share a common cultural heritage and a mutual love for their local beaches, outdoor adventures, and the natural beauty of the island. However, there are also distinct differences that make each location unique.

Waianae is slightly larger than Makaha and serves as the commerce center of the region. It offers a more urban experience compared to Makaha, with majority of the dining options and commercial activities. This town also serves as a hub for healthcare and educational facilities in this part of the island.

Makaha also offers a unique geographical aspect; it's literally at the 'end of the road.' To its west, there are no more border towns, just the pristine wilderness of the Waianae Mountain Range and the Pacific Ocean. This cul-de-sac location further heightens Makaha's feeling of remoteness and serenity, offering residents a sense of living at the very edge of civilization, where untouched nature meets human habitat.

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Is Makaha Beach safe to swim?

While Makaha Beach offers stunning beauty and exciting surf, it's important to exercise caution as the waves and currents can be quite strong, particularly in the winter months. Lifeguards are usually on duty and it's always best to check the surf conditions and follow their advice before going into the water.

What side of Oahu is Makaha?

Makaha is located on the Leeward, or western, side of Oahu. It is nestled between the Waianae Mountain Range and the Pacific Ocean, providing a beautiful blend of mountain and seaside landscapes.

What happened to the Sheraton Makaha?

The Sheraton Makaha Resort & Country Club, a once-popular hotel and golf course, closed in 2008 due to financial challenges. The property has since been purchased with plans for redevelopment into a new resort destination.

Is Makaha safe for tourists?

Like any destination, it's important for tourists to stay alert and aware of their surroundings. However, Makaha is generally a safe area for tourists, offering beautiful beaches, surf spots.

Is Makaha Hi safe?

Makaha, like most of Hawaii, is generally safe. However, like any area, it has its share of crime. Residents and visitors alike should always take standard safety precautions.

How far is Makaha from the airport?

Makaha is approximately 28 miles from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu. The journey takes about 45 minutes by car, though travel times can vary depending on traffic conditions.

Why did Makaha resort close?

The Makaha Resort closed its doors in 2008 due to financial difficulties. Since then, the resort has been purchased and there are plans for redevelopment.

What island is Makaha Beach on?

Makaha Beach is located on the island of Oahu, the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands.

Who bought Makaha Valley Country Club?

The acquiring party is KH Gangwon Development, an affiliate of the Seoul-based conglomerate, KH Group marking a significant development in Oahu's golf resort landscape. This notable transaction was facilitated by CBRE for $20.7M and included a sprawling 664 acres.  As a result of this acquisition, the resort now belongs to the KH Group, 

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