Kalanianaole Highway – Then and Now

Hawaii state route 72 is named for the Hawaiian royal turned U.S. congressional delegate for the territory of Hawaii, Prince Kuhio Kalanianaole. Kalanianaole Highway begins at the end of the H-1 freeway in the Honolulu suburb of Kahala, loops around the eastern tip of Oahu through the Honolulu suburb of Hawaii Kai and ends at its junction with the Pali highway in Kailua. Along the way it passes through many of the island’s most desirable neighborhoods and many notable landmarks.

The Long and Winding Road

By 1931 much of the road around the eastern end of the island had been completed, including the spectacular section that winds along the flank of Koko Head Crater and over the Ihiihilaukea Bridge to Sandy Beach. During the Second World War, the road was an important link between Pearl Harbor and the naval air station at Kaneohe Bay and Sandy Beach was also a popular attraction for thousands of soldiers stationed on the island.

From Here to Eternity

Hawaii-OceanIn 1951 James Jones scored a huge hit with his novel, From Here to Eternity. His story of the days leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor included a quiet and secluded beach as the backdrop for one of the books most iconic and scandalous scenes. The small beach at Halona Cove, tucked into a curve in Kalanianaole Highway, quickly became known as Eternity Beach. As well as being featured in the book, the beach was used to film the heavily censored 1953 Hollywood version. In 1954, the road was widened from two to four lanes and officially dedicated as Kalanianaole Highway.

The Kaiser of Hawaii Kai

In 1955 Henry J. Kaiser moved his family from California to his newly completed estate in the Portlock neighborhood of Hawaii Kai. A noted industrialist, Kaiser was developing what would become the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki while at the same time making plans for development of a marina around the Kuapa Fish pond in Hawaii Kai. In 1959 dredging began and in 1961 his company leased most of the land in Hawaii Kai from the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate. The trust created by the former descendant of King Kamehameha is the largest private landowner in the State of Hawaii.

Kalanianaole Highway Today

During the 1960s and 70s Hawaii Kai grew into a large community which now numbers more than 30,000 people. Most residents of the community commute to and from work, accounting for the bulk of the 71,000 cars that travel the highway each day. Visitors also enjoy the highway for its many views of the ocean, the lush Koolau Mountains and the Kaiwi channel where you can see the islands of Molokai and Maui on a clear day. Popular stops include the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve and the Makapuu Lighthouse hiking trail.