Oahu’s Emerging Leeward Coast
There was a time when the west coast of Oahu was only visited by surfers bound for Yokohama Bay and hikers heading to the spit of wilderness at Kaena Point. This is the sunniest and driest part of the island, where steep cliffs plummet to the blinding white sand beaches. Then JW Marriott made the bold move to build their 387-room property, the Ihilani Resort and Spa, on the remote leeward coast. In 2011, Disney followed suit and opened their first resort not affiliated with a theme park. Called Aulani, the property helped spur on travel to Oahu, especially at a time when many families found the resorts of Waikiki to be dated and chose instead to head to the Hawaiian islands of Maui, The Big Island, and Kauai. The two resorts are now part of the umbrella Ko Olina Resort and have been joined by two other properties, Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club and Ko Olina Beach Villas.