Take an exclusive look inside President Barack ObamaÂ’s winter retreat on OahuÂ’s Kailua Beach. By Jack Morris, photographs by Dave Sanford.
Stepping out of your beachfront estate right onto pristine white sands and wading into gentle rolling surf might be high on anyoneÂ’s list of priorities when it comes to planning a Hawaiian vacation. But not if youÂ’re the President of the United States. And not if youÂ’re staying at OahuÂ’s Paradise Point.
Â“ThereÂ’s a beach on the Marine base where they have privacy that they like to go to,Â” says Paradise Point owner David Zimel about the First Family. Â“ItÂ’s a crime that they canÂ’t go out to the beach in front of their house.Â”
View the complete photo gallery of the Obama Winter White House below:
Paparazzi aside, President Barack Obama and his family have been content to call this corner of the world their home during the past two winter holiday seasons, prompting Zimel to dub this private estate on Kailua Beach the Â“Obama Winter White House.Â” One look around and itÂ’s no surprise that the President and his family chose to return to this same spot one year after a photo of his leisurely ocean swim here made headlines across the globe.
Located on 4.5 acres on the windward eastern shore of Oahu, just 20 minutes from Honolulu, Paradise Point is a gated, island plantation-style retreat comprised of two structuresÂ—a guest house and Plantation EstateÂ—marked by exquisite luxuries and unmatched scenery.
Just beyond the seven-foot lava rock walls that protect the estate from the nearby road, a sprawling courtyard welcomes visitors with lush vegetation, a lagoon-style pool, tropical waterfalls, and a lavish island spa. Here is where Hawaiian tradition and modern amenities unite.
Spread out over 7,000 square feet, the Obama Winter White House features five bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms, a three-car garage, a media room with a 60-inch flat-screen TV with speakers embedded in laser-carved mahogany leaves, and a centralized Lutron lighting system. Details like the etched windows, stained glass, natural stone tiling, and African mahogany carvings set the scene for the ultimate in presidential and Hawaiian relaxation.
Â“ItÂ’s incredibly peaceful and self-contained,Â” says Zimel. Â“The President gets to download here. Rarely can he do that anywhere else. The only time he leaves is when he speaks publicly or goes to Kailua with the family.Â”
The President and Mrs. Obama sleep in the master bedroom suite, which includes a therapy tub that looks directly out onto Kailua Beach, while their two daughters, Malia and Sasha, share a room that is separated from the rest of the house and overlooks the pool. But even if youÂ’re the leader of the free world, a vacation on HawaiiÂ’s coast means getting outside and enjoying the tropical breezes. ThatÂ’s where the covered lanai comes into play.
Â“This is Michelle ObamaÂ’s favorite reading space,Â” says Zimel. Surrounded by coconut trees and well outfitted with an outdoor bar, refrigerator, sink, and TV, the lanaiÂ’s privacy and amenities are only part of the draw. The flow of the nearby waterfall can be adjusted to suit any mood, and the surrounding native vegetation and coconut trees can be illuminated at the touch of a button.
Â“At night, if you want to be wowed, you turn on the pool lights and the tree lights, then adjust the tiki torches. ItÂ’s like youÂ’ve died and gone to heaven,Â” Zimel says. ItÂ’s also where the Obamas enjoy dinner every so oftenÂ—a catered affair with their own private chef. Add to that the sound of the ocean wafting over your shoulder and the waterfall trickling nearby, along with the smell of the hibiscus flowers in the garden, and it suddenly becomes apparent as to why the Obamas chose this location out of all the places in the world to spend their winter vacation.
History also played a role in bringing the Obamas back to Hawaii. The President spent his early years attending nearby Punahou School and swimming in the waters of Kailua Beach with his grandfather. While he did return several times since his youth, it wasnÂ’t until a good friend showed him Paradise Point that sealed the deal. In the winter of 2008, the family stayed in the Plantation Estate for the first time.
Â“The Obamas didnÂ’t want to leave,Â” Zimel says of their first visit. Â“They knew they had a lot of work ahead of them, and so I believe thatÂ’s why they wanted to come back.Â”
The history of Paradise Point dates much farther back than 2008, however. Kailua Beach itself is considered to be the birthplace of the Hawaiian people. In the 16th century, Kailua became the political and social focal point for Hawaiian royalty, thanks to its crops of sugarcane, rice, and taro. In the 1800s, a New England missionary named Samuel Castle came to Kailua to establish a school for local children. CastleÂ’s success in the sugar industry allowed him to purchase large tracts of land in the Kailua basin, as well as the area now known as Paradise Point.
These days, the Castle name has been overshadowed by the Obamas, but it doesnÂ’t seem to be ruffling any feathers. When the First Family comes to town, business booms. Located just five minutes from the estate, the town of Kailua is home to 50,000 permanent residents and a quaint shopping district full of restaurants and stores, including one called Island Snow, where the Obamas regularly visit for shaved ice. ThereÂ’s even an item on the menu called the Â“Snowbama.Â”
When not visiting the town of Kailua, the President often takes a drive four minutes up the road to the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base, where he regularly works out and where the family can share some downtime away from the public eye at the private beach. With several golf courses nearby, as well as options for surfing, kayaking, windsurfing, and other water sports, thereÂ’s certainly plenty to keep anyone busy. But at the end of the day, itÂ’s the tranquility of the oceanfront setting and the luxuries of the home that appeal to the Obamas.
Â“IÂ’ve heard people say itÂ’s like youÂ’re at a lavish hotel, only itÂ’s all yours,Â” says Zimel. Â“Every time you walk up and down the white sand beach of Kailua Bay, you keep pinching yourself, saying, Â‘How can this be so quiet and so peaceful?Â’ It feels too good to be true there.Â”
Rates for renting the Obama Winter White House start at $3,000 per night, but for a cool $8.9 million, anyone can scoop up this slice of heaven all for themselves. Paradise Point Estates, 866-702-6565, paradisepointestates.com.