Kapolei/Ko Olina/Makakilo

Koolina Harbor Small (1)
Kapolei:Ko Olina:Makakilo

For nearly two decades, Kapolei has been touted as Oahu’s “second city.” The goal: Build houses and create jobs in West Oahu so people didn’t have to live or commute to Honolulu. For many, the Leeward city is the answer. A construction boom has resulted in several new subdivisions, government amenities and schools. And when it comes to shopping and dining, if you can think of it, chances are it’s in Kapolei. Although Kapolei mostly has big box stores and chain restaurants, there are still local boutiques and eateries dotted throughout. Ko Olina, too, has significantly expanded over the years. Once an area on the island where few tourists dared to wander, it’s now a visitor destination in and of itself. The 642-acre master-planned vacation and residential community features three resorts, the Marriott Ko Olina Beach Vacation Club Aulani, a Disney Resort and the newest addition, Four Seasons Ko Olina.

Wet ’n’ Wild Hawaii

The beach can wait for tomorrow when there’s a place like Wet ’n’ Wild Hawaii! The state’s only water park, Wet ’n’ Wild is located just off of the highway in Kapolei. There are more than 25 slides, pools and funnels at the 29-acre park, including the Tornado, a 45-foot funnel or the Shaka, a 36-foot U-shaped slide. For something more relaxing, jump on an intertube and float down the lazy river or swim in the 400,000-gallon wave pool. The kids will love the Water World playground with mini slides, ropes and water cannons. After you’ve worked up an appetite, visit the Windjammer Café. Cori’s Tip: Avoid the lines, and save money by purchasing your tickets online! Visit wetnwildhawaii.com

Ko Olina Resorts

Enter through the gates of the 642-acre master-planned community of Ko Olina and you’ll almost feel like you’re on another island. With three massive resort complexes, many visitors to Oahu are choosing to skip Waikiki and spend their trips in West Oahu instead. This side of the island is sunnier and arid, the perfect conditions for a round of golf at the Ko Olina Golf Club or a chartered snorkel session from the Ko Olina Marina. The resort community features three hotel complexes. The Marriott Ko Olina Beach Vacation Club features oceanfront hotel rooms and an on-site luau. Aulani, a Disney Resort, opened in September 2011, and because it’s Disney, this resort is kid friendly, from breakfast with Mickey to a teens-only spa. The newest Ko Olina resort is the luxurious Four Seasons Ko Olina. Nearly every room in the 17-story hotel offers an ocean view. Guests can enjoy the infinity pool or get a beachside massage in a private cabana. Four Seasons Resort Ko Olina has five restaurants, including its signature seafood restaurant, Fish House. Cori’s Tips: Even if you’re not staying in one of the three luxury resorts, you can still visit Ko Olina. The best reason to? The area’s four man-made lagoons. Each is completely protected—perfect for kids—and is surrounded by shaded grassy knolls. Be sure to arrive at the lagoons early; parking at each is limited.

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