Island fever is real, according to BYU-Hawaii students, so whenever a trip outside of Laie becomes a necessity for mental health, discovering different communities can be an adventure. Students shared how their trips to Kapolei and its many different options to eat and shop are worth the hour drive.
“I think it is important to get out of Laie because a lot of people, especially the new students can get ‘island fever,’ feel trapped, and feel like they aren’t doing a whole bunch, said Mason Peterson, a junior from Colorado studying biomedical science. “Visiting new places allows us to meet more of the people, more of the island, and it allows us to experience new things.”
Peterson said he recently visited Kapolei. Kapolei is located in West Oahu, 23 miles from Laie. It is a growing community and is estimated to have 80,000 new homes by 2025 according to kamakanaalii.com.
To satisfy the “shopping and dining demands” of West Oahu residents, the Ka Makana Ali‘i website says, “Phase one of the 1.4 million-square-foot regional mall features more than 100 exciting stores, restaurants, a state-of-the-art Consolidated Theatres, and the state’s first Hampton Inn & Suites on property, making Ka Makana Ali‘i the perfect place to shop, dine, play and stay in West O‘ahu.”
Peterson shared, “If I remember right, I remember it being more spacious and less crowded than the Ala Moana. Ala Moana probably has more variety, but if you’re like me and don’t want the claustrophobic feel of the Ala Moana, Kapolei is a good place to go.”
John Walters, a sophomore from Hawaii studying business management, goes to Kapolei to visit his best friend every so often. He joked and smiled about the comfortable shopping environment, and he promised the food and shopping options can even accommodate students not wanting to spend too much money.
“The development is exciting. If you would’ve gone to Kailua, where I am from about five or six years ago, that’s when it started to get busy. Because of all the developments in Kailua, and we’re seeing something super similar in Kapolei. One of the reasons my best friend moved there is the market for real estate is great. So he tried to get in on it while he still could.”
The Ka Makana Ali’i features a diverse variety of food options to choose from. Some uncommon food selections to North Shore Oahu would be restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory, Applebee’s, Cinnabon, Johnny Rockets, California Pizza Kitchen, Kickin Kajun, Limon Rotisserie and more to be seen on their website.
Stopping by Five Guys Burgers and Fries to eat was a delight for Megan Erickson, a sophomore from Hawaii majoring in exercise science. She commented how enjoyable it was to eat a burger, which was different but familiar.
For students who want cheaper and faster options, the McDonalds in the area has the same great taste and environment according to Walters. “You even have an Outback [Steakhouse] around the corner of the same McDonalds. It’s a great place to go.”
Peterson went to The Cheesecake Factory in the Kapolei area. It is one of only two on the island. He shared how the food was really good, and he and his girlfriend enjoyed the experience.
One thing students were delighted to share was how close everything was. Peterson said while he and his girlfriend went for the sole purpose of eating at The Cheesecake Factory, finding more things to do was as easy as crossing the street.
He said, “There’s a bunch of other shopping places out there that people may not know like TJ Maxx and H&M, where we like to go to because it’s really big.”
Erickson also shared how she was able to take care of back-to-school shopping in Kapolei. You can find clothes that are “cute and cheap.”
“Even though it is farther, there are many stores that are a lot closer to each other with less traffic,” said Erickson. “They have really great stores to select from. It is a nice mall that isn’t too busy. I would definitely go back, especially because they have a TJ Maxx and Ross in the same strip mall.
“There is one straight road that can take you to another strip mall which has American Eagle, Zumiez, H&M, and Forever 21. Ten minutes from there, you can find a Walmart, which is even better. Shopping is nice because it is cooler over there. It is not as tropical looking and a little bit drier, so it is not too much of a scenic route. But it’s cooler over there.”
More information about the Ka Makana Ali'i center can be found on their website.