Dawn breaks over the Mokulua Islands, just offshore of Kailua's Lanikai Beach.
The Mokulua islets rise like twin cones a mile and a half from shore.
They are also known as the "Mokes," and are reachable by kayak ... or canoe.
On a clear morning, you may be able to catch glimpses of the islands of Molokai and Lanai across the channel.
The bay's waters are protected by an offshore barrier reef. They are shallow, relatively calm and warm.
How tough is a paddle to the Mokuluas? It's not effortless. It takes about 45 minutes. But most able-bodied folks can make it.
A view of the Mokulua Islands from Lanikai Beach.
The larger of the Mokes, Mokulua Nui, has a sandy beach for landing and picnicking.
The smaller of the two islands is named Moku Iki.
Lanikai Beach, like all Hawaii beaches, is public. Though million-dollar homes now line the beach, it can be accessed by walkways between the houses.
There's only street parking, no facilities and no fresh water at Lanikai Beach. But your reward is a beautiful, uncrowded swimming beach.
A view of Lanikai (foreground) and Kailua Bay from Kaiwa Ridge. A short hike from the bottom of the ridge ends with this view.
A couple of pillboxes at the top of the ridge were used during World War II to keep an eye on the coast. You can see why it was an ideal spot for the task in this and the next few photos.
Waimanalo Beach, Waimanalo town and the southeast ridge of the Koolau Mountains.
Rabbit Island and Makapuu Ridge and lighthouse.
Another view of Lanikai, Waimanalo Beach, Rabbit Island, the Koolau Mountains and Makapuu Ridge.
Kailua Beach, Kailua Bay, Ulupau Crater (home of Marine Corps Base Hawaii) and, in the distance, the Windward Coast of Oahu.
Lanikai means "heavenly ocean." If that name sounds like it was made up by a developer, it was, back in the 1920s when a man named Charles Frasier turned the property from turkey farms into lots for summer homes and weekend retreats.
Back then, you could buy beachfront property with a view of the Mokulua Islands for 20 cents a square foot. These days, you need better than $1 million in your pocket before you're in the beachfront market.
Near the southern end of Kailua Beach Park, it's hard to miss the green-and-white facade of Kalapawai Market.
Kalapawai Market is a community gathering place, where there are lines for coffee in the morning and burgers at lunch.
Lunch order up at Kalapawai Market.
Fresh cut torch ginger for sale outside Kalapawai Market.
Savory crepes and dessert crepes (the menu typically features 11 of each) are the specialty of Crepes No Ka Oi in Kailua town. (131 Hekili St., (808) 263-4088)
In the window of Island Treasures Art Gallery hang stained glass pieces from artist Lei Aloha. (629 Kailua Road, (808) 261-8131)
More Island Treasures treasures.
The acai bowl at Lanikai Juice Co. comes topped with tropical fruit. (600 Kailua Road, (808) 262-2383)
Island Snow shave ice. Kailua firefighters' preferred way to cool off. (130 Kailua Road, (808) 263-6339)
The sun shimmers on the wetlands of Kawai Nui Marsh. The 830-acre wetlands was once the caldera of the massive volcano that formed the Koolau Mountain Range.
In ancient times, Kawai Nui Marsh was a freshwater fishpond so rich Kamehameha the Great camped his army here before conquering Oahu.
Joggers run along the levee of Kawai Nui Marsh.
Ulupo Heiau is a massive rock terrace just outside of Kailua town, 140 feet by 180 feet, with walls up to 20 feet high.
Ulupo Heiau was built, patiently, the rocks carried by hand from all over the island, perhaps as early as 900 A.D., certainly by 1750.
Ulupo Heiau is one of the largest and best restored ancient sites on Oahu. It has been cared for and restored by a group of volunteers called Ahahui Malama i ka Lokahi.
Ulupo Heiau originally served as an agricultural temple, celebrating the fertility of the region, which was an important source of food for ancient Oahu. Ahahui Malama i ka Lokahi have planted the area surrounding the heiau with plants that hint at the region's fertility in ancient times—taro, bananas, papaya, noni and lauhala.
The hiking trail to Kailua's Maunawili Falls.
The 1.5 mile hike to Maunawili Falls takes a leisurely 40 minutes one way, through a lush rainforest and gentle streams.
The view of the Koolau Mountain Range from the Maunawili Falls trail is stunning on a clear day.
Maunawili Falls empties into a cool, clear—and very popular— swimming hole.
The adventurous can jump the falls' pool from heights relatively low ...
... and seriously high.
You can silently swing past Kailua Beach—and through nearly all of Kailua town—on a Segway from Segway of Hawaii. (130 Kailua Road, (808) 941-3151)
Welcome to Kailua Beach.
Kailua Beach is one of Hawaii's most comfortable for water sports or just hanging out on the sand.
There are lifeguards, public restrooms, showers, a concession stand and picnic tables.
You can rent kayaks, snorkel gear and other beach equipment nearby.
Kailua Bay is ideal for kayaking. If you're experienced or adventurous, you can simply rent a kayak for the day.
The south end of Kailua Beach Park. The road in the background leads to the other side of the peninsula and Lanikai.
Canoe paddling is a popular sport on Kailua Bay. These canoes belong to paddling teams ...
... like this one.
Kailua Beach Park activity #1: Reading a book with your toes in the sand.
Kailua Beach Park activity #2: Stand-up paddleboarding.
Kailua Beach Park activity #3: shoreline fishing
Kailua Beach Park activity #4: windsurfing
Kailua Beach Park activity #5: long walks on the sand
Another day ends in Kailua.
But Kalapawai Market is still open for business.