140 Alala Road, Kailua, HI 96734


What is Ka’ōhao?

Ka’ōhao is the actual name of the area between Kailua Beach and Waimanalo Beach. It is commonly, but incorrectly, called “Lanikai”.

Ka’ōhao means “the tying” and takes its name from the tying of two women by Hāuna, kahu to high chief Lonoikamakahiki of Hawai‘i Island, after the women were beaten at a game of kōnane. The women were led to Hāuna’s canoes, released, and — against all expectation — rewarded with the feather wealth that the wa‘a contained.  That place was named Ka’ōhao in commemoration of the incident.  (The complete story is told in Fornander’s Collection, IV:314-315.)  “Lanikai” is the 1920s concoction of Charles Frazier, the district’s developer who was under the mistaken impression that he was naming the place ‘heavenly sea’ (Honolulu Advertiser, 8-15-1948). His word order, however, was hemahema; “in Hawaiian the modifier commonly follows the noun; hence Lanikai means ‘sea heaven, marine heaven’” (Pukui, Place Names of Hawai‘i, 129).

In 1926, Frazier and the Trent Trust Co. subdivided the 100-plus acres that he had bought from Maunawili Ranch, put up the lighthouse-shaped monument at Alāla Point, and announced the sale of thirty-two vacation home lots. Ka‘ōhao was actually the name of the northernmost of two land divisions bordered by Alāla and Wailea points; the second of these is identified on the old maps as Mokulua. Frazier and Trent bought Mokulua shortly after their initial purchase of Ka’ōhao, and both old names were swallowed up by the misnomer Lanikai. (John Clark, Beaches of O‘ahu, 175; Jiro Tanabe, personal communication, 1983.)

 The Future of Ka’ōhao