Oahu Real Estate and Community News

Jan. 25, 2021

Moving to Hawaii in 2021 | Do you stay or do you go?

moving to hawaii

If you grow up in the midwest you know that the being in the middle of anything, is still the middle of nowhere. Sure, the cost of living is some of the best in the nation but the summers are the hottest of hot, and the winters are cold for nothin'. It rarely snows and the hopes of a "Winter Wonderland" are preceded by a short love affair with Autumn; a red-headed Midwest Mistress that catches you in your most vulnerable state. You've endured months of Summer's nagging heat and humidity, your fuse is short, and you're not sure if Summer is the girl you thought she was. Your morale is fading as quick as your inhibitions, and you're yearning for something new.

And then one late September day, you catch a glimpse of her; Autumn. Her fiery hombre hair swaying through the trees landing gently on her Abercrombie fleece. You feel the first breeze in months that didn't resemble a blow dryer in your face and you know she's the one. You compliment her hair, she tells you look handsome in flannel, and after a few months of Pumpkin Spice Lattes by the fire you wake up to a grey sky, bare trees, and early onset seasonal depression. She's gone. 

Establish Your Why

It was truly winter that ran me out town, coupled by the fact of knowing it doesn't have to be this way. I grew up in Jefferson City, MO with a divorced Missouri Born Father and Hawaii Born Mother. The seasonal depression thing was either learned or genetic because I watched my mom suffer through each Winter, separated not only from the sun and sea but from her family as well. If we were lucky, we would make it to Hawaii every other year for vacation and that contrast between a Missouri winter and just "every day in Hawaii" implanted an idea in my head I was never able to shake... As soon as I get the chance, I'm outta here. I'm going to live in Hawaii.

That feeling was so intense that during the summer after my junior year of high school I said I'm out. Naturally, my mom completely understood. My dad on the other hand couldn't wrap his head around why an otherwise happy kid would leave everything; his mom, dad, brother, sister, and all of his friends to start anew, 5,000 miles away. So I went. I moved into my auntie's house on Sunset Beach in Haleiwa, HI. I enrolled as a senior at Kahuku High School and since I had more credits as a Junior than a graduating senior, I only had to take one class a day; Hawaiian History. I was done with school every day by 9:00AM and was left to my own devices. No friends, no plan, and absolutely no clue what living in Hawaii meant versus just vacationing here. 

After a few months of utter loneliness compounded by watching the seniors at my school preparing for graduation with their lifelong friends, guilt set in. I would ultimately move-back to Missouri, to everyone but not everything I knew and loved, and would graduate in May 2006. But after a semester stint at college and some very college-like trouble that would see 4 of my closest friends leave the school during one of the Missouri winters on record, I was back in Hawaii by February 2007.

Take it from an expert

family in hawaii

It's been 14 years in Hawaii now and I've never looked back. What I do look back on is a pattern that has persisted in my family for 3 generations; moving to, moving out of, and moving back to Hawaii.  My mom's side of the family is of Filipino & Hawaiian descent and nearly all of them live in Hawaii today. My mom's mom, my grandma, grew up poor in the Central Oahu town of Wahiawa, home to Schofield Barracks Army Base Hawaii.

Like many young girls in her time, she met my Missouri born grandpa while he was was stationed at Schofield and after a short period of dating, the old cliche of "go with the white man and have a better life" would ultimately see my Hawaii-born grandma with a new life in Missouri. The "better life" portion of that cliche didn't quite pencil out to permanence, and my grandma would later find her way back to Hawaii, separated from my Grandpa, but now with 3 young daughters. 

My mom and her sisters would spend their entire childhoods moving back and forth between Hawaii and Missouri; going many years without seeing the other parent. Oddly, the same pattern would persist for me and my siblings as well. So if you're truly considering the move to Hawaii, take it from an Expert!

Before you pack your bags

There are many people out there interested in adopting Hawaii life, whether they have visions of waking up to waves crashing in the distance or access to a slower-paced lifestyle.

But what do you really know about Hawaii? There are things you should know before any potential move to Hawaii, so that you’re making the right choice based on the right reasons. Let’s take a look at what moving to Hawaii is really like, and all the things to know before moving to Hawaii.

moving to hawaii

Coronavirus in Hawaii

The pandemic has upended our lives, and navigating a move or travel for tourism anywhere is a challenge. It’s important to be informed about not only nationwide restrictions in place but local rules and regulations around what is expected of visitors to a destination. Check out the Hawaii Health Department's resource for all thing Coronavirus related, including travel and restrictions.

When will Hawaii reopen for tourism?

As of January 13, 2021, the requirement in Hawaii is that visitors ages 5 and up may bypass a 10-day quarantine with a negative COVID-19 test. Tests must be administered no less than 72 hours ahead of travel, and must come from a list of accepted providers.

As with the rest of the country, Hawaii is receiving and distributing both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines as efficiently as they’re able. The situation is a fluid one, and there is the expectation that anyone considering a move or even a visit to Hawaii has educated themselves about any updates and additional state guidance ahead of their travel.

A Little Hawaii History

how to move to hawaii

Hawaii’s history is as colorful as the floral offerings you’ll find on the islands. 

Somewhere between 124 and 1120, the islands were settled by Polynesians, who found Hawaii using the stars as their only navigation system. Their history was an oral one, so what we know about their time on the island is limited until 1778. This is when British explorer Captain James Cook came upon the islands, specifically Waimea Bay on Kauai. Cook renamed the Hawaiian islands the Sandwich Islands, not because he found them delicious, but after the Earl of Sandwich. 

Years of interactions, even clashes, with explorers followed, until Hawaii became an independently ruled kingdom in 1810. The annexation of Hawaii by the United States happened by 1898, but it would be years before Hawaii was recognized as a U.S. state, even well after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

When did Hawaii become a state?

Hawaii became a state on August 21, 1959, but locals were able to retain some of their independence following statehood. In 1978, the Hawaiian language became the state’s official language, the only state where English is not the only official language. The current Hawaiian alphabet only has 13 letters, by the way, five of which are vowels. That makes all of those long Hawaiian words that much more impressive.

To ensure you’re ahead of the others at your next trivia game, here are a few more fast Hawaii facts:

State nickname: Hawaii is known as the Aloha State. Aloha, by the way, is more a way of life than anything else, the idea of living with a respect for others.

State motto: The state motto of Hawaii is “Ua Mau ke Ea o ka 'Āina i ka Pono,” which translates to “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.” You’ll find the motto on the official state seal.

State flower: Hawaii’s state flower is the yellow hibiscus, also known as the Hawaiian hibiscus.

State tree: The state tree of Hawaii is the Kukui Tree, or candlenut in some circles. Hawaiians have numerous uses for kukui nuts, from condiments for their poke to ink for their tattoos to leis from the shells.

State mammal: Hawaii’s state mammal is the Hawaiian monk seal, but the state has an additional state marine mammal, as well. The humpback whale boasts that title.

Where is Hawaii?

where is hawaii?

Hawaii is the only state without any physical connection to North America, an island-state surrounded by the waters of the Pacific Ocean more than 2,300 miles away from the mainland United States.

How big is Hawaii?

The Hawaiian islands have an area of 10,931 square miles. Looking at a Hawaiian islands map, you’ll certainly notice some differences in size among the main landforms that make up the island-state. There are eight main islands that make up the Hawaiian islands: Niʻihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoʻolawe, Maui, and Hawaiʻi, or as it’s more commonly known, the “Big Island.”

The Big Island is, predictably, the largest Hawaiian island, at 4,028 square miles.

The Hawaiian islands are actually made up of volcanic islands, which sounds scary until you realize living among Hawaii volcanoes is a way of life for locals. While scientists are not yet able to predict when a volcano will erupt, the volcanoes in Hawaii are of the type that do not erupt violently but produce slow-moving lava flows, instead. Where lava will flow following an eruption is easier to predict, as scientists can look at the topography surrounding a lava flow to generally determine its direction. 

That doesn’t mean living in Hawaii is free from risk when it comes to the volcanoes. Hawaii boasts two of the most active volcanoes in the world: Kilauea and Mauna Loa, both on the Big Island. Mauna Loa is actually the largest volcano in the world, but Kilauea has been more active in recent years.

The last eruption by Kilauea that caused a mass evacuation was in 2018, an event that destroyed hundreds of homes. Kilauea erupted again in December 2020, sending ash into the sky but allowing most residents to stay put. 

Despite the danger, Hawaii’s volcanoes bring tourists from all over the world to get up close and personal with active volcanoes and lava fields. See them for yourself at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. Take a scenic drive around the crater, or if you’re more adventurous, tackle one of a number of hikes across the lava fields to some impressive geological diversity.

What time is it in Hawaii?

Hawaii observes Hawaii Standard Time (HST). The state does not observe daylight savings time, a positive for most who don’t enjoy those biannual time changes.

Hawaii Demographics

Hawaii is one of the most diverse states in the country, a melting pot of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander groups with other population groups that have come to the islands over the years and stayed there, including a large population of Asians.

How many people live in Hawaii?

Hawaii’s population as of 2019 was about 1.4 million people. About two-thirds of that population live on the island of Oahu, home to Hawaii’s capital of Honolulu. Population growth on the islands has trended upward since 2010, with recent swings downward since about 2018. Experts point to the average cost of living in Hawaii as one reason why population numbers have declined in recent years.

Hawaii Climate

weather in hawaiiHawaii weather is a big reason why it’s a bucket list destination for many. With moderate temperatures that don’t experience much change throughout the year, a visit to Hawaii is generally safe weather-wise no matter the time of year. 

That doesn’t mean there are no variations. Hawaii does have both a wet and dry season. April through October is Hawaii’s dry season, or summer. November through March is Hawaii’s wet season, or winter. If you’re into surfing, you’ll want to travel during those winter months, as that’s when you’ll get the biggest waves.

The climate in Hawaii is a tropical one. Severe weather is most often limited to a handful of heavy storms in the winter months, and the occasional Kona storm. Kona storms are technically extratropical cyclones, which just means they have a cold core. Kona storms can bring heavy rain, high winds and hail, which can lead to problems with flash flooding in affected areas. The Hawaiian islands get an average of two to three Kona storms per winter, with some seasons seeing none at all.

Hawaii is relatively protected from the most extreme weather. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are generally rare, and hurricanes don’t usually make landfall in Hawaii thanks to the cooler waters that surround the island. The last hurricane that made landfall in Hawaii was Hurricane Iniki in 1992, although hurricanes that make it close will bring inclement weather like heavy rains.

Is Hawaii a safe place to live?

Generally, Hawaii is a safe place to live. Locals take the same precautions in Hawaii as they would anywhere, like making sure they’re not flashing valuables and cash out on the street, avoiding places at night that aren’t well-lit, keeping anything of value out of sight in their cars and at home, and locking doors. Rental cars stick out like a sore thumb so if you want to be extra cautious, avoid Jeep Wranglers! Not picking on Jeep; that's just the quintessential Hawaii rental car.

The Hawaii crime rate overall is lower than the national average when it comes to violent crime, but higher than the national average when it comes to property crime. Some locals have taken to installing security systems in their homes, a highly effective tool at preventing property crime.

It’s also important to note that Hawaii safety isn’t only about Hawaii crime statistics. The natural wonders on the islands are beautiful and should be explored, but there are common sense tips everyone should follow when they’re out there having adventures:

When on a hike, stay on designated paths. You aren’t only risking your own safety when you blaze your own trail, you may be affecting local habitats, as well.

Wear sun protection, even when the weather calls for a rainy day. The weather in Hawaii is unpredictable.

Pay attention to posted signage, particularly around cliffs and overlooks. Those signs are likely warning you where the limit is as far as your selfie-taking.

Protect yourself from mosquitoes and other biting pests, particularly in the summer months when they’re most active.

The ocean is wonderful, but it can also be dangerous. Be aware of regular ocean activity, like rip currents and changing tides. Watch the waves facing the waves, so that you’re not surprised by a sneaker wave coming to shore. If you’re not a strong swimmer, don’t push it. Swim at beaches with lifeguards present and practice the buddy system.

Transportation in Hawaii

hawaii transportation

Despite some improvements in public transportation and bus systems on at least some of the islands, the Hawaiian islands remain very car-centric. That means anything you’ve likely heard about Hawaii traffic, particularly on Oahu, is true. Avoiding rush hour times is key if you’re wanting to cut your travel time in any significant way.  

If you need to travel between islands, the easiest way to do that is to catch a regional flight from one island to the next. Those on Maui will have access to Molokai or Lanai on two different passenger ferries, as well.

The Art of The Move

When thinking about how to move to Hawaii from the mainland, you’ll likely need to look into shipping many of your belongings. Moving to Hawaii shipping costs will vary depending on what you’re shipping, how much you’re bringing along with you, and the distance between Hawaii and where you’re coming from. Moving to Hawaii from California will likely cost you less than moving from the East Coast, for example, and shipping your car will add to the expense, as well. It may make sense to downsize a bit if you can, or find a home that includes some furnishings to help you save on the move.

Hawaii overall is a very pet-friendly state, particularly if you’re moving to Hawaii with dogs. You’ll find a number of dog-friendly beaches, green spaces and boarding facilities to choose from once you’re there with your furry friend. It’s important to understand that moving to Hawaii with pets will require some additional steps before enjoying those amenities, though.

The state’s Animal Industry Division FAQ's will give you all the information you need about bringing your pet to Hawaii, but generally, expect to have updated vaccinations, including recent rabies shots for your pet, to avoid lengthy quarantine requirements on the Hawaiian islands.

Cost of Living in Hawaii

The pleasure of living in paradise comes at a cost, and if you’re not doing your research before a move, you can experience some sticker shock after moving to Hawaii. The Hawaii cost of living is some of the highest in the United States, with Honolulu topping most lists of the country’s priciest cities.

If you’re looking to purchase real estate in Hawaii, your moving to Hawaii cost will vary considerably depending on location and home size. On Oahu, the most populous island, median home prices continue beating record highs, despite population drops in recent years. As of fall 2020, the median single-family home price on the island was $880,000 and the median condo price was $430,000.

Certainly, there are options for housing well below those numbers, but scarcity is something to contend with on the islands. Hawaii remains a very desirable place to live despite the cost of moving to Hawaii, on top of existing housing shortages.

As far as Hawaii homes for rent prices, you’ll find studios on Oahu starting around the $1,000/month mark. Proximity to the beach, views, and access to additional amenities will certainly drive up rental costs, with the average rental price on the island around the $2,000/month mark.

When considering job prospects on the islands, it’s important to understand the biggest local industries. Tourism is the largest economic driver in the islands. Hawaii also has a strong military presence, with branches of nearly all aspects of the military represented on the islands. Agriculture, the fishing industry and manufacturing all round out an economy propped up by the millions of visitors who come to the islands each year. 

Things to do in Hawaii

what to do in hawaii

Hawaii is an outdoor enthusiast’s playground. You likely already know that Hawaii is a surfing mecca. But did you know that the roots of modern surfing are in Hawaii, as well? 

Although surfing in Hawaii as a way of life dates back to the island’s first inhabitants, it was Duke Kahanamoku, a native Hawaiian more often referred to as just “Duke” or “The Big Kahuna,” who popularized the sport and turned surfers into local celebrities. Today, he’s known as the father of modern surfing. If you visit Honolulu, you’ll even see a statue put up in his honor.

If you’re interested in surfing only as a spectator sport, there’s still loads of options as far as what to do in Hawaii:

Eat all of the local favorites.

The food in Hawaii is as diverse as it is delicious. You’ll have access to the freshest fish, making for some excellent sushi and poke opportunities, on top of local Hawaiian foods you’re sure to enjoy. We’re talking about Kalua pig, much like Hawaiian pulled pork, loco moco, Spam musubi and all of that shave ice. Eating local is also friendlier to the budget, so embracing locally-sourced foods will be good for the wallet and your palate.

Experience the culture.

Seek out cultural events that celebrate all that makes Hawaii special. Experience traditions in song and dance at a luau, visit the local farms producing the nuts, coffee and more that you enjoy on the mainland, and plan around statewide celebrations.

Hit the water, not just the waves.

If you’re just not coordinated enough to surf and are nervous about taking a lesson, there are a lot of ways to enjoy the waters surrounding the Hawaiian islands without catching some waves. Pull out the snorkel gear to explore some of the islands’ most beautiful reefs, or finally get around to learning how to scuba dive and go deeper with the bountiful marine life in these waters. If you don’t want to swim, the activities on the water are numerous, too. 

Take a boat tour to experience the thrill of watching whales breach the water. Rent a kayak or canoe to navigate calmer waters at your own pace. Or work on that balance on a standup paddleboard, a much easier activity than full-blown surfing.

Pros and Cons of Living in Hawaii

living in hawaii

Now that you have a background about Hawaii and what living in Hawaii may look like, let’s sum up the pros and cons of moving to Hawaii to help you make your decision.

Pro: Hawaii’s natural resources make it one of the most beautiful destinations in the world.

Con: You pay a premium for all of that beauty. Hawaii has a high cost of living.

Pro: The mild climate makes Hawaii a year-round destination.

Con: It can feel isolating living on an island if you don’t embrace it.

Pro: Moving to Hawaii is an adventure, and you’ll be the envy of everyone you know if you take the dive and do it.

Con: Being the envy of everyone you know means those visitors you’ll get will never want to leave!

So what’s it like living in Hawaii? It’s incredible. Hawaii is a paradise that boasts many perks, but it’s important to have all of the information about real Hawaii life before making the move. Now that you do and are considering a Hawaii move with an informed mind, you may find that any negatives are far outweighed by the magic that is Hawaii.


Jan. 16, 2021

Hoakalei Resort Planning New Surf Park in Ewa Beach, HI

hoakalei resort surf park
All Photos Courtesy of Haseko Development Inc

Ewa Beach, Hawaii region of West Oahu has undergone a massive residential and commercial transformation over the last decade, with Haseko Development Inc playing a sizable role in reshaping the sunny Ewa Plains into the suburbia we see today. Haseko's flagship development is undoubtedly Hoakalei Resort, a 726-acre master planned community that sits adjacent to the Ocean Pointe community near the Ewa Beach coastline. The region is now buzzing with excitement over recent news that Haseko has plans to develop a 100ft wide man-made surf park that will serve as the centerpiece of Wai Kai Lagoon; a 52-acre body of water owned by the community that put Haseko in the middle of heated suit by the roughly 3,000 Hoakalei homeowners that were initially promised a 120-acre boat marina a decade ago.  

hoakalei resort in ewa beach, hawaii

Project officials say the wave will feature technology from Citywave, a German stationary wave company, and will be operated by Surf Park Management, a California based company. Surf enthusiast are undoubtedly salivating over the proposed scope and specs of this new West-Oahu surf break which is said to feature a breaking wave, not a barrel, at adjustable heights between 2 - 6.5ft. While it's no Waimea or Pipeline, we'll see consistent, year round surf in lieu.

wai kai wave in ewa beach

The wave can also be generated for single use as one long wave, or the party-wave function that sees the wave partitioned into 2 or 3 parts for multi-surfer use. Skill levels will range from entry-level to expert surf, bodysurf, or bodyboarding utility. 

hoakalei resort retail center

The "Wai Kai Wave" and surf park is the latest of numerous plans that have been floated to the public about what would occupy the site, including a $300M retail complex that was announced back in 2017. The plan proposed 200,000sq of retail space to include 7 planned restaurants, 100+ commercial tenants, health club & spa, all spanning roughly 25 acres. The new surf park will occupy nine of the 25 acres with plans to development the remaining acreage in the future. 

retail village in hoakalei

The wave is pinned to be the widest stationary wave in the world and plans to open in 2022. The Wai Kai Surf park will add an exciting amenity to the residents of roughly 4,000 Hoakalei homes in Ewa Beach and will supplement the current amenities like Hoakalei Golf Course and Country Club, as well as the numerous fitness center and pools through the community. The Hoakalei community is known for their luxury homes in Ewa Beach, some with golf course frontage, and artful landscaping throughout. Haseko's previous development featured the early 2000's Ocean Pointe homes which still share some of the similarities of the more recent Hoakalei. 

Jan. 4, 2021

Living in Honolulu, Hawaii 2021

The Ultimate Guide to Living in Honolulu | Restaurants, Attractions, & Real Estate in 2021

living in honolulu

Honolulu, Hawaii has also become synonymous with the hustle and bustle on Oahu, a stark difference from much of the rest of the island’s more relaxed atmosphere. Honolulu traffic has then become the stuff of legend, with travel times predictably worse during morning and afternoon rush hours. It’s important to note, however, that the Honolulu population - approaching 400,000 county wide - is nowhere near that of larger cities on the mainland like Los Angeles and New York City, both with very heavy traffic. Many residents who live in Honolulu also work in Honolulu, cutting commute times drastically, often to nearly nothing. 

Honolulu itself offers easy access to the best of Oahu, from the Honolulu airport nearby to all the city has to offer, including beautiful beaches, hiking opportunities, and anything you’d need on the retail market. By living in the city, residents will also have more access to healthcare options, multiple stations of the Honolulu Police Department, and extensive offerings in the school system there. Whatever is on your Hawaii wish list, Honolulu likely has a solution for you. Honolulu is then an excellent choice for those seeking convenience and access to the island’s amenities, and the population of Honolulu is quite happy because of it.

Where is Honolulu?

Honolulu is Hawaii’s largest city. As the capital of Hawaii, Honolulu is often considered the gateway to the Hawaiian islands, and the first spot for visitors looking to get a taste of that Aloha spirit. 

What island is Honolulu on?

Honolulu is found on the island of Oahu, and well-known for its tourist scene, offering a plethora of dining and shopping options, luxury hotels, and the famous Waikiki Beach. 

Waikiki itself is known for being a mecca for surfers. Visitors see obvious evidence of that not only off the beach, observing the surfers riding the waves, but the prominent bronze statue of Duke Kahanamoku, considered the father of modern surfing. Kahanamoku was a Honolulu native and Olympian who grew up on all of the water sports available in Waikiki, including surfing, but also swimming and canoeing.

See all Honolulu Homes For Sale

See all Honolulu Homes For Rent

How Far is Honolulu From…

  • Honolulu International Airport (Daniel K Inouye International Airport) | 6 Miles | 10 Minutes
  • Pearl Harbor National Memorial | 9 miles | 16 Minutes
  • North Shore | 27 miles | 36 Minutes
  • Polynesian Cultural Center | 32 miles | 56 Minutes
  • All of the above driving times suggest ideal traffic conditions. Honolulu traffic is known to be some of the worst in the nation

What Does Honolulu Mean in English?

The word “Honolulu” translates to “sheltered harbor” or “calm port.” As the gateway to Hawaii from the mainland, Honolulu is certainly an important port, and major international business center for the United States and worldwide.

Weather in Honolulu

As with the rest of the Hawaiian islands, Honolulu has nice weather year round. The coldest month of the year is February, where temperatures dip to a comfortable 65 degrees on average. The warmest month is August, with average temperatures approaching 89 degrees. The rainy season is November through March, although residents still enjoy many sunny days within that time frame. Honolulu weather is then quite ideal. Even those rain storms are welcome, as they keep the island’s green spaces lush and vibrant.

Honolulu Time

This isn’t a reference to taking one’s time while on the island, but to answer any time zone questions around “What time is it in Honolulu?” Honolulu’s time zone operates under Hawaii Standard Time. The time in Honolulu is not dependent on daylight savings time, however, as the state overall does not observe it.

What to Do in Honolulu

Honolulu offers easy access to a range of activities. Whether you’re looking to spend the days lazing on the beach, interested in a shopping spree, or seeing some of the island’s natural wonders while burning some calories from the delicious eateries in town, you’ll find lots of things to do in Honolulu.

diamond head hike
PC: Daniel Ramirez

Diamond Head State Monument: One of the most popular Honolulu hikes, Diamond Head State Monument leads hikers to not only beautiful views, but through an area of historical and geological importance. The crater you visit here was created by a volcanic eruption an estimated 300,000 years ago. At the top, you’ll see remnants of an old fort and navigational lighthouse. It’s a perfect spot to work up a sweat, or perhaps train for the annual Honolulu Marathon.

honolulu zoo

Honolulu Zoo: Perfect for families, the Honolulu Zoo features more than 1,200 animal species and educational programs in support of animal conservation. When looking at your Honolulu map, the zoo is located in the heart of Waikiki, making it an easy stop that is surrounded by amenities.

waikiki beach

Waikiki: When people think of Honolulu beaches, Waikiki will likely come to mind. Known as the beach where celebrities play, Waikiki Beach was also where Hawaiian kings and queens would come to spend time at the waterfront. Waikiki Beach is an iconic spot in not only Honolulu, but across the Hawaiian islands. 

honolulu museum of art

Honolulu Museum of Art: This museum is the largest in the state, with a permanent collection of more than 50,000 pieces. Works of art include a focus on Hawaiian life and landscapes. Book tickets for the Honolulu Museum of Art here.

visit pearl harbor

Pearl Harbor National Memorial: Just a short drive from the Honolulu city center, Pearl Harbor is an important historical site honoring the events that took place there toward the end of World War II. Areas of note include the USS Arizona Memorial, which visitors can take a boat tour to, and an impressive aviation museum. 

Shopping in Honolulu

salt at kakaako

Honolulu itself is essentially a one-stop shop when it comes to options, no matter what you’re looking for on the island. You’ll find mega malls like Ala Moana Center with everything you need, urban retail like SALT at Kakaako, in addition to specialty shops if you’re looking for something specific, or a gift. While you may need to drive there and back, the shopping on the island doesn’t get more extensive than what you’ll find in Honolulu.

Grocery and Drug Stores

Costco Honolulu | 525 Alakawa St, Honolulu, HI 96817 | Fans of the members-only wholesale store will find great deals at Costco Honolulu. There is an additional location in the Hawaiʻi Kai Towne Center.

Longs Drugs | 1450 Ala Moana Blvd #2004, Honolulu, HI 96814 | The Longs Drugs chain, now part of CVS, includes not only a pharmacy but access to basic goods, as well.

Target Honolulu | 4380 Lawehana St, Honolulu, HI 96818 | The retail chain is centrally located just north of the airport, offering easy grocery access after your Honolulu flights. There is an additional location inside the Ala Moana Center, as well.

Walgreens | You’ll find a number of Walgreens locations in Honolulu for your pharmacy and quick shopping needs, including shops on Beretania Street, School Street, Nuuanu Avenue, and Piikoi Street.

Whole Food Honolulu | 388 Kamakee St Ste 100, Honolulu, HI 96814 | The organic grocery chain has a location just north of Ala Moana Regional Park. You can find an additional location in Kahala Mall.

Honolulu Pet Stores

Calvin & Susie | Kilohana Square, 1016 Kapahulu Ave #125, Honolulu, HI, 96816 | This local pet shop has a wide variety of natural pet treats and raw foods for pets on special diets. 

The Public Pet | 3422 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI, 96816 | This urban pet supply store offers pet treats and accessories, including gifts for pet owners, as well.

Honolulu Hardware Stores

Home Depot Honolulu | 421 Alakawa St, Honolulu, HI, 96817 | The home improvement chain offers everything you’ll need for at-home fixes.

Lowe’s Home Improvement | 411 Pacific St, Honolulu, HI, 96817 | Another home improvement chain, Lowe’s also has all of the hardware supplies you’ll need for home projects.

Honolulu Gyms

You have options when it comes to gyms in Honolulu, and if you need to mix things up, local Honolulu hikes are always an option, too.

24 Hour Fitness | 1680 Kapiolani Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814 | This gym chain is a great option for residents who like working out at off hours. There are additional locations in Honolulu on Bishop Street and in the Koko Marina Center.

Iron Hawaiian Fitness | 1727 Republican St #3112, Honolulu, HI 96819 | This local gym option describes itself as both intense and hardcore, so those looking for a challenge may like the warehouse experience at this gym. Hours are limited on the weekends, but extended on the weekdays.

Planet Fitness | Center 1450, Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814 | This fitness chain offers memberships at competitive prices, with no commitment options available for those who’d prefer to try the gym out first. 

UFC Gym | 805 Pohukaina St, Honolulu, HI 96813 | Holding down the name of former Hawaii legend and UFC Champion BJ Penn himself. This Mixed Martial Arts inspired gym offers an array of yoga and martial arts classes, as well as traditional top of the line weight and training equipment.

Restaurants in Honolulu

honolulu restaurants

Honolulu is known for a diverse mix of eateries to satisfy any palate. From the casual to more fine dining, beachfront restaurants to quick stops, Honolulu has something for everyone, including every budget.

Duke’s Waikiki | 2335 Kalakaua Ave #116, Honolulu, HI 96815 | This beachfront restaurant is known for not only its setting and the ambiance - these are true Hawaiian vibes here - but the delicious menu offerings, as well. You’ll find both surf and turf here, along with a cocktail menu of umbrella drinks.

Helena’s Hawaiian Food | 1240 N School St, Honolulu, HI 96817 | Helena’s is a well-known classic serving up diner-style Hawaiian comfort food to hungry locals and visitors. Just make sure to bring cash along with you to cover your meal, as this restaurant, a James Beard America’s Classics award winner, won’t take your credit cards.

Liliha Bakery | 580 N. Nimitz Hwy, Honolulu, HI 96817 | You’ll enjoy a fine breakfast here, but the real draw is the coco puffs, so make sure you take a box to go. If you find that the Nimitz Highway location is too busy, there are two additional locations on Kuakini Street and in the Ala Moana Center.

Maguro Brothers Hawaii Chinatown | Kekaulike Market, 1039 Kekaulike St #113, Honolulu, HI 96817 | This Chinatown counter service eatery is known for its sushi and poke platters at more reasonable prices than you may be used to when dining out for this level of fresh sushi. There is a second location at the Waikiki Hotel, as well.

Merriman’s Honolulu | 1108 Auahi St, #170, Honolulu, HI, 96814 | Merriman’s is a popular eatery in Honolulu that offers not only delicious seafood and a farm-to-table style menu, but an extensive wine list and live music. Daily specials typically include a catch of the day.

The Pig and the Lady | 83 N King St, Honolulu, HI 96817 | This fun eatery is a Vietnamese fusion restaurant in Honolulu’s Chinatown neighborhood. The inventive menu includes new twists on classic pho and fun twists on fried chicken. Both are not to be missed.

Schools in Honolulu

Honolulu has numerous public and private school options. The schools below are listed by rating with scores of 9 or above on Greatschools.org.

Honolulu Elementary Schools

King Liholiho Elementary School | 3430 Maunaloa Ave, Honolulu, HI, 96816 | Public district |  PK-5 | 467 students

Moanalua Elementary School | 1337 Mahiole St, Honolulu, HI, 96819 | Public district |  PK-6 | 638 students

Major General William R. Shafter Elementary School | 2 Fort Shafter, Honolulu, HI, 96819 | Public district |  PK-6 & Ungraded | 471 students

Salt Lake Elementary School | 1131 Ala Lilikoi St, Honolulu, HI, 96818 | Public district |  PK-6 | 741 students

Admiral Chester W. Nimitz Elementary School | 520 Main St, Honolulu, HI, 96818 | Public district |  PK-6 | 706 students

Aliamanu Elementary School | 3265 Salt Lake Blvd, Honolulu, HI, 96818 | Public district |  PK-6 | 592 students

Waikiki Elementary School | 3710 Leahi Ave, Honolulu, HI, 96815 | Public district |  PK-5 | 587 students

Nuuanu Elementary School | 3055 Puiwa Ln, Honolulu, HI, 96817 | Public district |  PK-5 | 370 students

Noelani Elementary School | 2655 Woodlawn Dr, Honolulu, HI, 96822 | Public district |  PK-5 | 474 students

Manoa Elementary School | 3155 Manoa Rd, Honolulu, HI, 96822 | Public district |  PK-5 | 535 students

President Abraham Lincoln Elementary School | 615 Auwaiolimu St, Honolulu, HI, 96813 | Public district |  PK-5 | 341 students

Kalihi Uka Elementary School | 2411 Kalihi St, Honolulu, HI, 96819 | Public district |  PK-5 | 238 students

Honolulu Middle Schools

Moanalua Middle School | 1289 Mahiole St, Honolulu, HI, 96819 | Public district | 7-8 | 238 students

Kaimuki Middle School | 631 18th Ave, Honolulu, HI, 96816 | Public district | 6-8 | 988 students

Honolulu High Schools

Moanalua High School | 2825 Ala Ilima St, Honolulu, HI, 96818 | Public district | 9-12 | 1,942 students

Kalani High School | 4680 Kalanianaole Hwy, Honolulu, HI, 96821 | Public district | 9-12 | 1,383 students

Henry J. Kaiser High School | 511 Lunalilo Home Rd, Honolulu, HI, 96825 | Public district | 9-12 | 1,141 students

Residents seeking higher education will find options in Honolulu, as well. Those include Honolulu Community College, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Kapiolani Community College, and the private options of Hawaii Pacific University, Remington College, and Chaminade University of Honolulu.

Honolulu Public Transportation

Honolulu continues to make improvements in its public transportation offerings. Oahu’s system of buses is known as TheBus, with stops throughout Honolulu, making the city better connected by public transit than the rest of Oahu. Travelers interested in the tourist route in and around Honolulu may also be interested in the Waikiki Trolley, an open-air scenic tour that picks up and drops off in Waikiki.

Honolulu Hospitals & Healthcare Facilities

Honolulu has several options for healthcare facilities. The top facility as ranked by U.S. News & World Report is Queen’s Medical Center, a teaching hospital with high marks across eight adult specialties. The residents of Honolulu Hawaii also have access to Kaiser Permanente Moanalua Medical Center, the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, the Kuakini Medical Center, Leahi Hospital, and Straub Medical Center.

There are also over 160 dentists practicing in Honolulu, as well. Over 120 of those are practicing general dentistry. You’ll certainly have options when it comes to your health and dental care while in Honolulu.

Honolulu Hotels

Honolulu has no shortage of accommodations for visitors to Oahu if you have family and friends who need a place to stay. From luxury hotels to more budget options, including AirBnb Honolulu rentals and vacation rentals in the plethora of Honolulu apartments available, Honolulu has options no matter what a visitor may be looking for. Below, see several great options for well-respected, well-situated hotels that would satisfy any guest.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Resort  | 2005 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815 | Visitors interested in a resort-style stay will be hard-pressed to find a complex with more to offer guests than this Waikiki property. It’s described as a village because it’s exactly that, 22 acres of not only accommodations, but beachfront, dining options and live entertainment.

The Modern Honolulu | 1775 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96815 | This five-star hotel offers visitors a view of Waikiki Beach on top of several on-site bars and restaurants. The focus here is on a modern aesthetic with upscale amenities, so guests looking for a luxe experience will enjoy this one.

Surfjack Hotel and Swim Club | 412 Lewers St, Honolulu, HI 96815 | Visitors looking for a boutique-style hotel will enjoy the Surfjack. Choose between bungalows or suites at this curated hotel, and enjoy the on-site restaurant, swimming pool and cabanas, and swim club programs for the more active visitor.

Honolulu Real Estate

Honolulu real estate prices continue to steadily rise, as city amenities with an island feel aren’t going out of style anytime soon. The housing supply, however, has been trending downward, so with demand (and those amenities) comes higher cost. Expect to pay more than in other towns on the island that are away from the city limits. The median sale price for single-family homes in November 2020 was $872,500; the median sale price for Honolulu condos in November 2020 was $425,000. The Honolulu real estate market is then a highly competitive one.

The average cost of Honolulu rentals is around $1,600 per month. Rental prices have actually decreased a little over the previous year, although 2020 is a difficult year to base trends on. Rental prices overall vary dramatically, based on things like size, amenities, and location.

Best Neighborhoods in Honolulu

Honolulu will always be a popular place to move to, thanks to all that it has to offer within a short drive, even a short walk depending on your location. Prospective residents have options within Honolulu, too, as far as the best neighborhoods to consider for a move. Here are our top three picks based on what they have to offer those new to Honolulu, including those considered a more exclusive Honolulu zip code:

kahala beach homes

Kāhala: Kāhala is an upscale neighborhood that offers some of the most expensive luxury homes for sale in Honolulu; minutes away from Diamond Head Crater. Homes for sale in Kahala are synonymous with exclusivity, seclusion, and beachfront homes on Kahala Avenue. Prospective residents looking for a Honolulu condo won’t enjoy as big of a sticker shock as those interested in their limited inventory of single-family homes. Two-bedroom condos in the neighborhood start around $600,000 while the median price for Kahala homes for sale in 2021 is $2.3M.

kakaako luxury condos in honolulu

Kakaako: This is the new urban epicenter of Honolulu that transforming the city's skyline as we speak. Bordered by Waikiki and Downtown Honolulu and fronted by Ala Moana Beach Park; Kakaako condo living is Honolulu's premier urban lifestyle. Condos for sale in Kakaako range from $500,000 studios, up to $36M ultra luxury Kakaako condos for sale in Ward Village. The median price for a Kakaako condo is $763,000.

kaimuki homes for sale

Kaimukī: Homes for sale in Kaimukī boast more of a neighborhood feel for those coming to Honolulu and seeking more of a community. It’s much quieter here, with dozens of options for coffee shops, boutiques selling unique goods, and delicious eateries. And if you move here, you’ll be able to say you live in the neighborhood that well-known Hawaiian musician Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole grew up in. The Median price of Kaimuki Homes for sale in 2021 is $970,000.

waikiki condos for sale

Waikiki: It would feel strange to leave off the iconic Waikiki, home to some of the world’s most well-known beaches, luxe accommodations and hundreds of options for when the hunger strikes. Home prices in Waikiki vary widely, but you may be surprised to find the neighborhood does have some budget options if the timing is right, and if you’re interested in purchasing condos for sale in Waikiki. Even townhomes start around $250,000. Single family homes are extremely rare, skewing median home prices due to low inventory so if you're exploring homes for sale in Waikiki, prepare for condo living. 

If you have further questions about Honolulu neighborhoods or want to discuss your best options for your upcoming move, please don't hesitate to contact us at info@dwellhawaii.com| Koa Cassady (RA) at 808.777.0588



Posted in Community News
Nov. 5, 2020

Howard Hughes Plans 2 New Honolulu Condos at Ward Village Kakaako

howard hughes announces ulana and the park on ward

The Howard Hughes Corporation met with the board members of the Hawaii Community Development Authority on Wednesday to present a preview of the latest development plans in their highly acclaimed Ward Village master plan in Kaka'ako. The developer is proposing to construct the 8th and 9th towers of the master plan with construction slated to start in 2022. 

Ward Village

Ward Village was named the 2018 Master Planned Community of the Year and their vision has seen a once industrial-dense zone transformed into the pinnacle of urban living in Kakaako. Wide, sidewalk-line streets and ground-level retail, restaurant, and shopping provide a neighborhood fully navigable by foot or bike. Premier proximity to Ala Moana Center and Ala Moana Beach Park reflect urban amenities second to none. The projected Honolulu Rail Transit will also thread the neighborhood, providing multiple stops and broadened community access to landmarks like SALT at Kakaako, Honolulu International Airport, on to the genesis of the rail in the Hoopili community of West-Oahu.

Ulana Ward Village is slated to be the largest, more moderately priced choice of of the two new Kakaako condos while The Park on Ward will provide a more luxury element. Here's the highlights:

Ulana Ward Village Condos

ulana ward village condos

  • 697 total units, tower will anchor the block bordered by Auahi, Kamani, & Pohukaina Streets
  • Expect the building to feature Reserved Housing units for sale. Read some of the common FAQ's here Honolulu Affordable Housing guidelines
  • Adjacent to 30,000 square-foot public park
  • Separate parking structure for residents
  • 30,000 square feet of commercial space that may feature restaurants, retail, etc

The Park on Ward Condos

the park on ward condos

    • 546 market-priced, mid luxury Kakaako condos
    • Tower will front Ward Avenue, the site once home to Sports Authority
    • Ground floor retail on every side of the building
    • Portion of build site will be allocated to increase size of adjacent public park

Completion of the two new Ward Village condos will align with Ko'ula and Victoria place, the 6th and 7th towers currently under construction, and will further Howard Hughes' vision of creating a 60-acre urban-utopia of 4,500 new hawaii homes that span a total of 16 towers. The rise of Waiea and Anaha luxury condos in Ward Village originally set the tone for the neighborhood and was closely followed by Ae'o; commonly referred to as the "Whole Foods Building." The 4th tower, Ke Kilohana, provided a "reserved housing" option of more moderately priced home while the 750-unit tower of 'A'ali'i is currently still under construction.

The Honolulu Real Estate Market has truly become the "Tail of Two Communities" as Ward Village and the Kapiolani Corridor continue their duel of urban planning and residential development. Kapiolani will also see two new Honolulu condos entering the market via Keeaumoku Towers; a 1,000 unit project pinned for the "Koreamoku" area of Honolulu in 2021.

If you have immediate Oahu new construction needs or would like to join our New Projects List for newsletter updates on Sales Launch Dates, Official Pricing Releases, Floor Plans, & Developer news, shoot us an email at info@dwellhawaii.com. We look forward to helping you explore your Oahu Real Estate options!


Aug. 20, 2020

2020 Guide to the Best Kahala Restaurants

The Best Restaurants in Kahala, Hawaii

best restaurants in kahala, hawaii

The prestigious neighborhood of Kahala on Honolulu, Hawaii's south shore has long been home to some of Oahu's elite. Living in Kahala wasn't always a status symbol but in the last 100 years, the neighborhood has become synonymous with affluence and exclusivity. With that type of reputation, you better have dining experiences to match!

Below you'll find some of the best places to eat in Kahala; from quick bites and local favorites to the fine dining restaurants within The Kahala Hotel. We'll go out on a limb by saying you're not the type to play Russian Roulette and with that, we've aggregated our top picks for the Best Restaurants in Kahala in 2020; breaking them down into categories to organize your cravings. Loosen your belt and enjoy!

Quick Bite Places to Eat in Kahala

1. BRUG BAKERY​ | 4618 Kilauea Ave #8 | This Kahala bakery offers a lineup of both sweet and savory treats, made with flour harvested in Hokkaido, Japan exclusively for Brug. Always baked fresh and without any artificial preservatives or additives, Brug serves over 70 types of bread and pastry items daily. Start your day with some mochi donuts and get some of their specialty Japan-style ‘loaf bread’ to take home.

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2. PANIOLOS​ | 4​211 Waialae Ave Offering build-your-own burritos, tacos and bowls, Paniolos is conveniently located in Kahala Mall next to its sister store, Aloha Salads, and is one of the only options for Mexican restaurants in Kahala. Menu items are made with grass-fed, antibiotic free beef from Kualoa Ranch, Molokai Ranch and Hawaiian Big Island Beef.

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3. LANIKAI JUICE​ | ​4346 Waialae Ave | For the healthiest smoothies, fruit bowls, and juices in Kahala. Grab a refreshing Lanikai Splash or protein-packed Pineapple Power to cool off on hot summer days. Perfect before or after the beach!

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4. PUKA’S AT WHOLE FOODS KAHALA​ | 4211 Waialae Ave | Puka’s is a casual restaurant in Kahala where you can grab a quick meal or a pau hana drink after work. Choose from their selection of organic wines or draft microbrews- but make sure to pair it with our favorite Kalua Pork or Cauliflower Nachos.

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5. KURU KURU SUSHI​ | 4​211 Waialae Ave |  One of the only sushi spots in Kahala, at Kuru Kuru you get a fun, interactive dining experience. Booths and counter seats cozy up to a conveyor belt that transports freshly made sushi in a loop throughout the restaurant. Hot dishes like tempura, curry and udon are also on the menu, along with vegetarian options.

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6. ZIPPY’S KAHALA​ | 4134 Waialae Ave | Located directly across Kahala Mall, Zippy’s Kahala serves signature local dishes like their Chili & Rice, Portuguese Bean Soup, and Korean Fried Chicken. You can always go with the iconic Zip-Pac too. Kahala diners are lucky because this particular location has a bakery and sushi bar too!

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1. ARANCINO AT THE KAHALA​ | 5000 Kahala Ave | Arancino is the top picks for Italian Restaurants in Kahala and located within The Kahala Hotel. Combining classic Italian dishes made with ingredients imported from Italy with local products from land and sea. Arancino Restaurants are award winning, especially known for their Lobster Bisque Zuppa, Uni Pasta, Ribeye and their signature pizza, the Owner’s Favorite. Be sure to save room for their decadent Tiramisu or Gelato Affogato after dinner.

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2. THE COUNTER​ | 4211 Waialae Ave | Construct your own burger or choose from their large array of sandwiches, chilis, and salads. Whether you’re Gluten-Free, Vegan, Carb-Free, Adventurous or Traditional, The Counter has got you covered. Make sure you don’t miss out on their fries - you can choose from shoestring, parmesan chili cheese or sweet potato. You can also indulge in a classic milkshake, their Birthday Cake, Banana Split or Smores concoctions, or create your own!!!

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3. GOMA TEI​ | 4211 Waialae Ave A modern restaurant chain, Goma Tei is one of the best places on Oahu to indulge in authentic Japanese cuisine. Goma Tei’s house-made Ramen broth puts their Tan Tan and Shoyu ramen at the top of our list.

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4. ASSAGGIO BISTRO​ | ​ ​4346 Waialae Ave The classic “date night” restaurant in Kahala. Take in the romantic ambiance while enjoying Assaggio’s famous Caesar salad (served tableside) and Chicken Anchovy Olio.

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5. OLIVE TREE CAFE​ | 4614 Kilauea Ave | Head to this cozy cafe for some of the best traditional Greek food on the island, and the only one in Kahala. You’ll love the baklava so much you better pack some to go!

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6. CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN​ | 4211 Waialae Ave | California Pizza Kitchen is widely known for its fresh take on pizzas, pastas, and salads like the Original BBQ Chicken pizza and Thai Crunch salad. You can start with some cocktails and the spinach artichoke dip, enjoy your fave entree and top it off with their famous Butter Cake and vanilla Haagen-Dazs ice cream!

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Posted in Community News
Aug. 2, 2020

Moving to Kahala? The Ultimate Guide to Lifestyle, Restaurants, and Real Estate in Kahala, Hawaii in 2020

Living in Kahala 2020

kahala luxury homes on oahu, hawaii

​Kahala means "amberjack fish," which is found abundantly in Hawaiian waters. In the 1920s, 35 cottages were built on Kahala Avenue for families moving from Manoa, Makiki and Nuua​nu. In the 1940s, Har​lan​d Bartholomew created a plan for Kahala that included 1,000 lots, schools, parks, shopping and a hotel.

>>See Homes For Sale in Kahala
>>See Homes For Rent in Kahala

kahala fish

Over 100 years ago, the area was not known as Kahala. Back then, the land in this area was divided into 2 distinct ​divisions: Waialae Nui (small) and Waialae Iki (large). Nui ​ran east of the Palolo Ahupua'a up to Waialae Iki. Waialae Iki ran west up to ​the Wailupe ahupua'a. ​Then about 100 years ago, because of the abundance of Kahala (fish) that were being caught along the Waialae shoreline and beaches, the area began to be known as Kahala. And from that point forward, the​ name stuck.  ​

Some of Hawaii's elite have called home to Kahala; notable residents like the Brewers, Walkers, Cassidays, Pfluegers, Dillinghams, Doris Duke​, as well as famous architect Charles Dickey ("Dickey roof"), Ossipof​f​​.

Where is Kahala, Hawaii?

Kahala is suburb of Honolulu and can be identified as the region adjacent to the eastern side of Diamond Head Crater; south of H-1 Freeway, situated between Kaimuki and Aina neighborhoods. The Kahala zip code varies from 96816, 96821, 96746, 96815, and 96813.


The Neighborhood

Prestigious ​Oahu neighborhood containing 16 distinct micro-neighborhoods ​​

One of the most recognizable neighborhoods in the state

Formerly all Bishop Estate-owned lands

Contains about 1,200 homes (59 are beachfront Kahala homes)

A mixture of the quiet elegance of old Hawaii (traditional Hawaiian beach bungalows) and large, modern, contemporary homes

Generally larger lots than other Oahu communities

Access to secluded, white sandy beaches via multiple beach access sites along Kahala Ave.





Easy & multiple egress/ingress into the neighborhood (many ways to get in and out of the area and bypass traffic). H-1 (west) and Kalanianaole Hwy (east) easily accessible

Proximity to Downtown, East Oahu and Waikiki. Centrally convenient location.

Traffic and thoroughfares

Busy streets: Kahala Avenue, Kealaolu Avenue, Kilauea Avenue, Hunakai Street, Elepaio Street

Lot sizes – area #1 has larger lot sizes.  You see merging of lots in Kahala to create "compounds" that provide more privacy and larger homes. This is particularly seen in areas #4 and #2. 

Home cond​​itions vary

Both above & underground utility lines

Dry, sunny weather conditions (ideal location for Photovoltaic/Solar Systems)

Ample sidewalks

Abundant storm drains

Availability of street parking

Various flood zones

​Lifestyle and Attractions

whole foods at kahala mall

​Kahala Mall (opened November 1954 as the "Waialae Shopping Center").​ It was renamed in 1969​ to Kahala Mall.​ It is one of the major shopping centers on the island, serving East Oahu. ​It boasts over 100 local stores, restaurants, large national​ chain stores, ​​​​an 8-plex movie theatre, ​and weekly live performances from local groups and community organizations. It is also a very popular exercise venue for seniors early in the morning who come to walk the mall prior to the stores opening. 

Hotels in Kahala

Kahala Hotel & Resort (opened in January 1964)​. Two man-made peninsulas were ​built at both ends of the resort as a means of preventing beach erosion and providing protection from ocean surge. These peninsulas also are popular with fisherman who use them as fishing jetties. Public access to this calm, private, sand beach.

kahala hotel and resort

Kahala Golfing

​Waialae Country Club has long been known as the pinnacle golf experience on Oahu and home to the Sony Open; the 1st full field event on the PGA Tour held in early January. The Country Club firsts opened in February 1927 and back then, local golfers who paid a nominal annual fee were allowed to play the course under a ​"privilege card." Then in 1930, a few of these golfers formed a private group within Waialae Golf Club, naming it "Waialae Country Club," along with the adoption of by-laws and a formalized organizational structure. In February 2014, there was a major ​recreational facility built on the site of the old pool area which now boasts ​full exercise rooms with weights and exercise machines, ​meeting rooms, locker/shower facilities, as well as ce​rtified trainers

waialae golf course in kahala

waialae golf course in kahala oahu, hawaii

Beaches in Kahala

kahala beach

  • Kahala Beach has roughly 8 beach access points and right of ways off of Kahala Ave (mostly public, a few are not)​ between Kahala Beach Park and Royal Place; with most beach goers parking on Kahala Avenue. At higher tides above 1.2 ft, there is hardly sandy beach available due to the tide levels. The best times​​ to enjoy Kahala Beach will be when when tides are .8 ft or less. There are a few swimming holes and the the rest of the beach is lined with coral reef or rocky bottom. Rip current can be very strong during changing tides so it's important for novice swimmers to use extreme caution as there are no lifeguards on duty here.

waialae beach oahu, hawaii

  • Waialae Beach Park (at the eastern most part of the neighborhood adjacent to Waialae Country Club) is a popular beach park in Kahala. It is the only public beach park in the vicinity that has a public restroom and showers. It has a covenient parking lot with the capacity to accommodate approximately 30 cars, and is just a few steps away from the beach​. ​A thick, tree covered gazebo also shades those who want to have a nice lunch or picnic on one of the tables located under the gazebo. Although there is a sandy beach front, the beach itself has many rocks and coral shelves exposed on the beach. No sandy bottom; rocky coral contour in the water. 

Parks in Kahala

  • Hunakai Park (known as "Sticker Park" by locals due to the abundance of thorny "sticker" seeds on the weeds that proliferated on the field prior to it being maintained by the Kahala Community Association and Residents) is heavily used by local soccer clubs year round. It also serves as an unofficial off-leash dog meeting place for local residents in the morning and when clubs are not using the park. It is owned by the Kahala Community. It therefore receives no government subsidies or funds and runs strictly on private/community donations. It is also the primary site for parking during the Sony Open, which uses the park for the entire week. Although it is a private park, it is open to all the public. The Kahala Community Association also​ maintains a sand volleyball court on the east end of the park.​

  • Kahala Community Park is a heavily used park. Adjacent to Kahala Elementary School, this park ​contains 2 full basketball courts, 2 tennis courts, ​2 baseball fields, ​a community recreational meeting room, a jungle gym/playground area, and ample parking (parking lot). Many of the local, little league baseball teams use the baseball field for weekend games and weekday practices. Because of this, parking during these times are limited (on Kahala Ave. and surrounding neighborhood streets). Parking in general is ample.​ ​

Notable Events in Kahala

The Sony Open

Every January, 144 of the world's most elite golfers bear down on the island of Oahu to compete in the the Sony Open; hosted by Waialae Golf Course in Honolulu, Hawaii since 1965.  This professional golf tournament is on the PGA Tour, and is part of the tour's FedEx Cup Series.

sony open in kahala oahu, hawaii

The Honolulu Marathon

At 26.2 miles, The Honolulu Marathon is the fourth largest marathon in the U.S. and it runs right through the Kahala neighborhood enroute to the finish line!

the honolulu marathon

Restaurants in Kahala

Since the Kahala is home to one of only 4 shopping malls on Oahu, not to mention The Kahala Hotel, the neighborhood offers a variety local fare and fine dining opportunities. Check out our guide to the best Kahala restaurants in 2020 below!

best places to eat in kahala, hawaii

Posted in Community News
June 29, 2020

Koa Ridge to start home sales July 2020

koa ridge hawaii

The effects of COVID-19 on the Hawaii Real Estate market back in March pointed to a grim future as the virus started to sink its teeth in earlier this year. Oahu home sales dipped significantly, would-be sellers sat on the sidelines in fear of the exposing their homes to strangers, and purchase cancellations spiked across the board.

After 20 years of planning and rumored sales launches dating back to 2018, one could only imagine that Castle & Cooke Hawai'i would have have picked any other time but now to launch sales for their highly anticipated Koa Ridge project. However, current sales data from Locations LLC sees certain neighborhoods turning Coronavirus lemons into lemonade and Koa Ridge is poised to pour themselves a tall glass to weather the hot summer buying season. 

Oahu Real Estate amidst the pandemic

As of June, new listings are down 21% over the same time last year while interest rates teeter around record lows;  sparking an influx of buyer demand in certain neighborhoods. This dynamic puts an exclamation point on the intense Oahu housing shortage that acts as a beacon residential real estate developers across the globe. NorthPark by Gentry, a project offering new homes in Ewa Beach held their first lottery release this past weekend with reports of 60 applicants vying for 10 homes. Ho'opili by D.R. Horton Hawaii is also still seeing a significant amount of demand for their Affordable & Market Priced new homes for sale in Ewa & Kapolei.

The data provides optimism and a proving ground for Koa Ridge as it plans to launch its first 37 single family condominium homes within the "Nanea at Koa Ridge" phase amidst the greatest public health concern of our lifetime. The project's starting price of high $800,000's is going to be new territory in the Central Oahu real estate market and it will be interesting to see how well it's received. The Cost of Living in Hawaii has been plagued by rising home prices leaving the state perplexed on how to relieve it. 

Koa Ridge will have more reasonably priced options coming later in the year by way of the Luana duplex options from low $700,000's as well as the Malina townhomes offered under Honolulu Affordable Housing restrictions; starting prices pinned in the low $400,000's.

Model homes won't be finished until next year which will see the first batch of residents having purchases off of floor plans alone; a testament to the demand that Koa Ridge expects they will receive. The community will ultimately take shape over the course of a 10 year development plan that includes 3,500 homes, restaurants, retail stores, a medical center, hotel, and the 7.5 Mile "Ho'ala Trail" that will allow residents to traverse the neighborhood on foot or by bike. 

Castle & Cooke Hawaii expects to offer 200 homes for sale at Koa Ridge in 2021, including 100 Affordable Housing units with income and eligibility restrictions as determined by the state's leading   As it stands, there are (4) Lead Lenders who have been approved to lend on the project and we should expect Castle & Cooke Mortgage to be the 5th lender. Like most previous new Oahu home projects, we should see the developer require buyer's to obtain a Prequalification Letter from one of the approved lenders in order to participate in the lottery. It's unclear at this time whether financing incentives will be offered by the lead lenders but we will deliver updates via our newsletter as more information is made available.

If you're interested in receiving updates on Koa Ridge or other Oahu new construction projects, feel free to join our New Project List to subscribe to our newsletter. If you have questions about your current home or need assistance in mapping your next real estate move please contact us at info@dwellhawaii.com and one of our Oahu Real Estate specialists will be in touch with you.

June 13, 2020

2020 Guide to the Best Restaurants in Kailua

kailua restaurants

The last decade has seen Kailua, Oahu soar from a quaint, island beach town to one Hawaii's most coveted tourist destinations. The idyllic floury white sand of Kailua Beach and Lanikai Beach coupled with a feature in Coastal Living magazine has put Kailua on the map. Tour buses and Kailua vacation rentals see tourists flocking here in droves for an opportunity to frolic in the Kailua Shoreline and like any top tourist destination, people demand to eat!

kailua beach oahu hawaii

Below you'll find some of the best places to eat in Kailua, many of which are uniquely Kailua. Aside from a few fast food joints, California Pizza Kitchen, Pieology, you're not going to recognize most menus here so live a little. We'll go out on a limb by saying you're not the type to play Russian Roulette and with that, we've aggregated our top picks for the Best Restaurants in Kailua in 2020 and have broken them down into categories to service organize your cravings. Loosen your belt and enjoy!


1. Nalu Health Bar | 131 Hekili St #109, Kailua, HI 96734

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Juice blends, acai bowls, sandwiches and wraps incorporating local ingredients in a cheery, counter-serve space. The Turkey Kale Pesto Croissant, Rainbow Salad, Nalu Bowl and Mango Colada are faves! Nalu has quickly become a cult classic in terms of restaurants in Kailua, due largely in part to having the best acai bowl in Hawaii.  Don't leave without one!

2. Lanikai Juice | 600 Kailua Road, Kailua, HI 96734

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This Kailua fave is a breezy spot with outdoor tables featuring smoothies and juices with locally sourced ingredients. The Kailua Monkey is our smoothie of choice every time.

3. The Beet Box Cafe | 46 Hoolai Street, Kailua, HI 96734

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The selections at this Kailua cafe are vegetarian and delicious, mostly organic and locally sourced with many gluten free options. The best Avocado Toast and Banana Oat Pancakes...and we can never decide between the Green Blend Bowl or the Cacao Bowl. Be on the lookout for freshly baked goodies every day.

4. Over Easy Cafe | 418 Ku`ulei Road, Unit 103, Kailua, HI 96734

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Many will drive over the Pali to dine at this popular Kailua breakfast spot. Pair the Kalua Pig Hash or the Over Easy Plate with a Lilikoi Mimosa for a Hawaiian brunch with cocktails. (You can also check out their sister restaurant down the street called Easy `Que for some aloha-infused BBQ in the evenings!)

5. Farmer’s Market Sunday | Pali Lanes, 120 Hekili Street, Kailua, HI 96734

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Enjoy a lazy Kailua Sunday morning wandering the aisles for the freshest island fruits and vegetables, delicious prepared foods and artist treats. Sundays from 8 am to noon.


1. Nico’s | 970 N. Kalaheo Avenue, Kailua, HI 96734

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Nico’s Kailua showcases the freshest fish hand-selected every morning at the Honolulu Fish Auction. Any one of their local favorites and daily specials will be delicious. Save room for dessert too!

2. Tokoname Sushi Bar & Restaurant | 442 Uluniu Street, Kailua, HI 96734

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Classic Japanese fare with quality sushi on the Windward side. You have to try the Lanikai roll! It is a minimalist and intimate setting so make sure to make a reservation!

3. Assagio Ristorante Italiano | 354 Uluniu Street, Kailua, HI 96734

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This is the go-to Italian restaurant in Kailua. Start off with the Caesar salad served tableside then pick any of their signature Southern Italian dishes. We love the Chicken Anchovy Olio and the Chef Special Chicken Parmigiana with Ravioli.

4. Willow Tree Korean Restaurant | 25 Kaneohe Bay Drive, Suite 104, Kailua, HI 96734

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Fans will drive all the way from town to Aikahi Park Shopping Center in Kailua to get some of their traditional Korean cooking. Every meal starts with turnip soup and a variety of Korean vegetable side dishes called “banchan.” We always order their famous Meat Juhn and Sizzling Kalbi, EVERY TIME.

5. 22 Kailua | 22 Oneawa Street, Kailua, HI 96734

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A private sushi bar hidden in the back of a coffee shop? Yup! Make your reservations early for this one-of-a-kind culinary Japanese omakase (Chef’s choice) experience! The only thing you do is select how many courses you would like and Chef Taka takes care of the rest. This Kailua treasure only has 6 seats with two sittings a night. Take your own party of six or meet some new friends! The experience will transport you to Tokyo!


1. The Food Company | 201 Hamakua Drive, Kailua, HI 96734

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A Hawaiian cafe offering casual breakfast, lunch and dinner, a takeaway food market and catering. Korean Chicken Bento, Fresh Grilled Garlic Ahi Sandwich and Kalua Pig Quesadillas with papaya salsa!!! Definitely one of the most popular Kailua take-out spots!

2. Fat Boy’s | 301 Hahani Street, Kailua, HI 96734

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Fat Boy’s is famous for its garlic chicken and gourmet plate lunches. With the open lanai for dining at this Kailua location, Fat Boy’s is the perfect stop to get your Plate Lunch fix - before or after the beach!

3. Bob’s Pizzeria | 130 Kailua Road, Kailua, HI 96734

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Every neighborhood needs a great pizza joint. Skip the pizza chains and head toward Kailua Beach and you’ll find Bob’s Pizzeria - it’s Boston-style and the pies are BIG! A simple cheese is amazing but so is the spinach & garlic! They also have subs, calzones, wings and salads…

4. Island Snow Kailua - 600 Kailua Road, Kailua, HI 96734

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Right next door to Bob’s is Island Snow - where everyone goes for Kailua’s favorite shave ice! The flavor combinations are endless but the tropical flavors are always a must. Lilikoi, Melona, Li Hing Mui and Pickled Mango are just some of the flavors to enjoy when you cool off from a day at the beach.

5. Whole Foods Market Kailua | 629 Kailua Road, Kailua, HI 96734

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Take Out can be as healthy as you want it to be at Whole Foods Kailua. Buy groceries or take out from the Coffee or Juice Bar, Hot or Cold Buffet, Pizza Bar, Sandwich Bar, Smokehouse or Taqueria. Whole Foods Kailua also has a Raw Fish Bar and Sushi Stand. Whatever you choose, you won’t be disappointed. The Windward Bar inside Whole Foods Kailua serves organic wines, draft microbrews and casual American plates. Live music and Monday Night Football make the Windward Bar so much fun!

Living in Kailua

The Kailua lifestyle offers an unparalleled island style living and it's no wonder why it was named America's Ultimate Beach Town back in 2015. Thinking about moving to Kailua? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Living in Kailua!

Posted in Community News
May 28, 2020

Moving to Kaneohe? The Ultimate Guide to Kaneohe Real Estate, Lifestyle, Restaurants, & Rentals

Kaneohe, Hawaii

kaneohe, hawaii

In the past, Hawaiian chiefs and kings made Kaneohe their home and used the land for traditional farming and fishponds. Later, much of the area was historically owned by the Castle family and used for a cattle ranch and sugar plantation. As the agricultural land uses waned and new highways were built, Kaneohe experienced a housing boom in the mid-20th century. 
It’s also not far from some of the most “country” parts of Oahu to the east and north. Living in Kaneohe, you get the experience of both “old” and “new” Hawaii. 


Cheat code: How to pronounce Kaneohe (kah-nay-oh-hay)


Compared to neighboring Kailua, Kaneohe is a more affordable town with a diversity of real estate options. Most single family homes will have three or more bedrooms and two or more baths, and a carport instead of an enclosed garage. There are a few new construction homes in the area too, if that is your preference.


> > View all Kaneohe Homes For Sale.

> > View all homes for rent in Kaneohe.


marine corp base hawaii mcbh kaneohe bay


Kaneohe is home to Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH), one of the 9 military bases in Hawaii. If you are PCS’ing to Oahu, and especially to MCBH (or K-Bay), living in Kaneohe would place you just a few minutes outside the gates to the base. You would have a short commute and close proximity to MCBH services, shopping and conveniences. If you have children, they might still be going to school with both local and on-base peers.


> > See Ultimate PCS Guide to MCBH in Kaneohe, HI


Where is Kaneohe Hawaii?

Situated on the picturesque windward side of Oahu, Kaneohe (Kāneʻohe) is one of two major towns right by the H-3 and Pali highways and near the marine corps base. Kaneohe sits along beautiful Kaneohe Bay in the shadow of the Ko’olau Mountains, offering some of the most stunning scenery in the world. Kaneohe Zip Code: 96744


hoomaluhia botanical garden in kaneohe, hi




The commute to Honolulu from Kaneohe is traversed over the H-3 and Likelike highways that offer stunning landscapes of mountain, ocean, and Kaneohe Bay views. The scenic drive is only 11 miles and about 22 minutes during off-peak hours.


How Far is Kaneohe from...


  • Daniel K. Inouye International Airport | 14 Miles | 20 Minutes
  • Waikiki Beach | 13 Miles | 24 Minutes
  • North Shore (Haleiwa) | 34 Miles | 45 Minutes
  • Bellows Air Force Station and beach | 10 Miles | 22 Minutes




Kaneohe weather sees cool breezes from trade winds that come in off the coast will blow through your home. The region can also expect up to four inches per month of rainfall in the winter months. When it does rain, there are long waterfalls streaming off of the bright green Ko’olau mountain range, and plants thrive too. Temperatures go up to the 80s during summer, with plenty of sun, and dip down to the high 60s at night in winter. 



kaneohe sandbar


There is plenty to do with family or friends in and around Kaneohe! Whether you like parks, water activities, dining or shopping, you don’t have to go far to find activities and relaxation!


  • Windward Mall | The mall in Kaneohe has many typical chain as well as local stores, a food court, restaurants and community events. It also hosts Regal Movie Theaters in Kaneohe and a farmer’s market twice a week and has a rain garden.

  • Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden | On 400 green acres in Kaneohe, Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden is the largest of several public botanical gardens across the island. Ho’omaluhia provides epic views of the Koolau Mountains, trails, fishing and campsites. People like to pose on the palm-tree-lined road heading into the park for social media-worthy photos!
  • The Sandbar | The town of Kaneohe as well as MCBH are right on the turquoise blue Kaneohe Bay, which has the largest saltwater sandbar in the world. People kayak or take larger boats out to enjoy snorkeling, picnics and games. It’s like being on the beach in the middle of the bay. The sandbar’s Hawaiian name is Ahu O Laka, and from it you can also see small islets including Mokoli’i, Chinaman’s Hat, off the coast.
  • Golfing | Kaneohe has three highly-rated golf courses plus one more within the gates of MCBH: Koolau Golf Club, Bay View Golf Course, Pali Golf Course and Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course. You might even spot former President Obama on the course! 



In addition to the mall, all the essential errands are within reach if you live in Kaneohe, whether you have base access or not. It is not a long trip for groceries, home and pet supplies, etc. And if Kaneohe itself doesn’t have what you are looking for, there’s a lot more shopping in nearby Kailua, including a Whole Foods and a Target.


Grocery and Drug Stores


Foodland | 45-480 Kaneohe Bay Drive, Kaneohe, HI 96744 | This local grocery store is known for lots of aloha from the staff, some local produce and great poke.


Times | 45-934 Kamehameha Highway, Kaneohe, HI 96744 | Another local chain, Times has great produce (including Asian vegetables) and a tasty lunch counter.


MCBH Commissary | Bldg 6088, Mokapu Road, MCBH, Kaneohe, HI 96863 | If you are a military or veteran family and have access to the commissary, there you will find the best prices by far for staples and basically any groceries that have to be flown in from the mainland, as well as some local items.


Safeway | 46-065 Kamehameha Highway, Kaneohe, HI 96744 | This Safeway is a nationwide grocery store that has organic items but reportedly long lines.


Walgreens | 46-021 Kamehameha Highway, Kaneohe, HI 96744 | Walgreens is a drugstore with mini mart basics.


Longs Drugs | 45-480 Kaneohe Bay Drive, Kaneohe, HI 96744 | Longs are part of the CVS Pharmacy company, and this one also has a Minute Clinic. 


valley of the temples kaneohe, hi


Pet Stores


To get a pet or their services or supplies from fish to dogs, the locations below can help you in Kaneohe.


Koolau Pets | 46-056 Kamehameha Highway, Kaneohe, HI 96744


Petco Kaneohe | 46-023 Kamehameha Hwy Unit G, Kaneohe, HI 96744


Kaneohe Farm Supplies | 45-1048 Kamehameha Hwy H, Kaneohe, HI 96744


Hardware Stores


For home projects, hobbies or garden needs, here are two hardware stores in Kaneohe.


City Mill Kaneohe | 46-209 Kahuhipa Street, Kaneohe, HI, 96744


Yamashiro’s Building Supply/Ace Hardware | 45-552 Kamehameha Highway, Kaneohe, HI 96744




Dean’s Drive Inn | 45-270 William Henry Road, Kāneʻohe, HI 96744 | Visit this famous casual spot for local plate lunches and sandwiches that typify Hawaii’s fusion comfort foods. 


Haleiwa Joe’s at Haiku Gardens | 46-336 Haiku Road, Kaneohe, HI 96744 | The windward location of this popular Oahu restaurant and bar has excellent pupus and seafood entrees. Just arrive early to find parking and get a table.


Kikuya Restaurant | 46-148 Kahuhipa St C, Kaneohe, HI 96744 | A small, homey restaurant in Kaneohe, Kikuya offers delicious Japanese food.


Kogi Aina | 46-138 Kahuhipa Street, Kaneohe, HI 96744 | For Korean plate lunches and hot pot, visit Kogi Aina near the Windward Mall.


Waiahole Poi Factory | 48-140 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe, Hawaii 96744 | Waiahole Poi Factory is the place to go to truly experience authentic Hawaiian dishes.


Zia’s Caffe | 45-620 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe, HI 96744 | For Italian entrees, pasta, pizza and breakfast on the weekends, Zia’s is a family friendly restaurant.




There are over 30 public and private schools from preschool to higher education in Kaneohe. Click on the education level link to see how they are rated and where in Kaneohe they are located.





Visit the pages below to find primary care doctors and urgent care clinics in Kaneohe. If you are a military family, you may choose to use the clinic on MCBH.



Kaneohe Hotels


Unfortunately there aren't any hotels in Kaneohe but if you're in the service and live on or near MCBH Base, you do have options for lodging in Kaneohe.  The region has historically been one of the hot spots for Oahu Vacation Rentals but with With recent legislation surrounding Oahu vacation rentals, make sure they are licensed and legal before booking.


Other options:

Popular churches in Kaneohe


kaneohe real estate


If you are thinking about renting or buying on the windward side of Oahu near to conveniences and maybe MCBH, Kaneohe provides options from condominiums to single family homes. Prices may decrease as you move north up the windward coast away from the town and increase if the property is on the waterfront or closer to Kailua.


Compared to some parts of the mainland, Kaneohe home prices might seem high, but they are still more moderate than in neighboring Kailua. Also, homes on Oahu tend to appreciate, or grow in value, as space is limited on a busy island with a continually hot market. 


Older condos or even some townhomes truly in Kaneohe are available starting around $200,000, but if you have the budget and want something larger or renovated, you can find that too. Single family homes can range from in the $600,000s to the millions. Rental homes and apartments in Kaneohe range from about $1400 for a modest 1-bedroom all the way up to $6000/mo for an immaculate oceanfront property on Kaneohe Bay.


If Kaneohe’s price range is overwhelming and you don’t need a lot of room, don’t despair. If you don’t mind country living, small condominiums and other properties in Hauula up the coast are available at lower prices.



  • Haiku Plantation: There are several Haiku neighborhoods of Kaneohe, full of vibrant green and with different types and sizes of homes. This area is convenient but quiet, with a suburban feel and community amenities. Haiku Plantation  $500K to over $1M.

  • Kaneohe Bay: If you want oceanfront or ocean views, you'll want to focus your search on the Kaneohe Bay Homes for sale within the Mikiola and Mahinui neighborhoods Though you will not be on a sandy beach, it's still waterfront nonetheless and perfect for boating, kayaking, standup paddling and convenient to highways and MCBH. These exceptional properties are on the market for about $700K to over $5M.

  • Ahuimanu/Temple Valley: If you like a more rural feel and homes at the foot of the epic Koolau mountains, you might love thes houses for sale in Ahuimanu Hills and Temple Valley. Serene and a bit removed from town, though it does have a shopping center, you can find townhomes and condos built in the 1970s here. Temple Valley and Ahuimanu Homes for sale typically range from t $650K to $1.2M.

> > View all homes for sale in Kaneohe

> > View all homes for rent in Kaneohe


If you have further questions about the Kaneohe neighborhood or want to discuss your best options for the upcoming move, please don't hesitate to contact us!

May 23, 2020

Cost of living in Hawaii in 2020 | The Ultimate Guide to the Price of Paradise

hawaii cost of living

There are few places in the world that share quite the same brand recognition as Hawaii does except for maybe New York City, London, Paris, Los Angeles, and other iconic destinations made popular by historic culture or Hollywood. I think it's safe to argue that if "Name The Top Vacation Destinations" or "Name A Place You Would Live if Money Were No Object" were Family Feud questions, "Hawaii" would roll off the tongue most frequently.

That being said, it's no secret why Honolulu is often ranked in the Top 3 Most Expensive Cities in the U.S. According to a study by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center in 2019, Hawaii has the highest cost of living in the nation with an index of 191.8. The national average index was set at 100 and Hawaii absolutely crushed it with the closest 2nd being the District of Columbia at an index of 159.

Hawaii is a trophy destination, a never-in-a-lifetime or once-in-a-lifetime experience for too many. Some calculations suggest that the average Hawaii trip cost per person is roughly $1,899 a week for fun in the sun. Idyllic white sand beaches, mountainous backdrops, and the crystal blue Pacific Ocean are things of post cards and hard for some to imagine as every day lifestyles. Trust me when I say I wouldn't trade it for the world, but that doesn't mean there aren't concessions to be made.

So if you have ever wondered, "what is the cost of living in Hawaii?" allow us to break it down for you but from the perspective of a few Missouri-born Hawaii transplants. We've run the spectrum of being born and raised in the 3rd cheapest state in the nation to starting a life, family, career, and real estate portfolio in one of the most expensive. We'll cover cover the dollars and cents on the topic as well as shining a light on the intangibles costs of living in Hawaii. On one hand you'll find local families brought closer together through combining resources to secure multi-generational housing, or pulled apart like our family; splintered between Hawaii and Missouri. 

How much does it cost to live in Hawaii

Studies have the cost of living in Honolulu requires residents to have an income of $120,000+ are required to live comfortably in the state's capital. This is subjective of course, but according the U.S. Census, Honolulu's median household income was around $80,000 in 2019. Subjective or not, that's a pretty wide delta and it shows that many Honolulu residents aren't living very comfortably. According to a study by Payscale.com, the cost of living in Honolulu, Hawaii is 88% higher than the national average with housing clocking in at 202% higher than the national average. 

What is considered Low Income in Hawaii?

In 2020 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) concluded that "low income" for an individual living on Oahu is considered $93,000. That's a staggering considering it's nearly double the national average income of a full time salary earner is around $48,672. 

What is state income tax for Hawaii?

Compared to the national average, Hawaii's top income tax rate of 11% is high but the state also has the lowest effective property tax rate of just .27% annually. There is no literal state sales tax but businesses must may a 4% general excise tax on all business activities, plus an 0.5% override for Honolulu County. Below are the Hawaii income tax brackets for Single Filers and Married Filing Jointly. Click here For Married, Filing Separately and Head of Household.

Income Tax Brackets

hawaii income tax      hawaii income taxes

Everyday Expenses

Using the above scenario of a "low income" earner of $93,000 -- we'll compute their net wages using federal tax rate of 22% and the Hawaii income tax rate of 8.25% per the chart. The individual's net wages, after taxes, pencil out to $64,635 annually which equates to $5,386/mo for housing and everyday expense. Let's take a look at some of the every day expenses one can expect and see how the individual budgets out.

what is the cost of living in hawaii

Hawaii Apartments

Rent prices for Apartments in Hawaii are some of the highest in the nation but how much exactly depends on which island you're on, and which side of each island you're on. Honolulu Apartments taking the prize of the highest in the state and this is due largely in part to their proximity to the business district and majority of the Honolulu jobs.

Here's the average rent to expect for apartments in Honolulu and/or single family home rents:

  • Studios | $1,000 - $1,300
  • One-bedrooms | $1,400 - $1,700
  • Two-bedrooms | $1700 - $2,100
  • Three-bedrooms | $2,100 - $2,600

These are mere average ranges and these numbers can fluctuate significantly depending on the presence of ocean views or proximity to the ocean. Here's the top 10 most expensive apartments for rent in Honolulu to give you some context.

The Big Island of Hawaii sees substantially lower rent prices than Honolulu rentals and this is again attributed to the amount of commerce, jobs, and proximity to jobs. Hawaii Island is much slower and much less dense in population and job opportunities which in turn sees less demand for rentals and homes for sale, hence the lower prices. 

Buying a Home

Referencing the graphic above you'll see that Hawaii's staggering median home prices that saw heights of around $835,000 in 2019 for single family homes and $400,000 for Honolulu condos for sale. Despite the lack of affordability, the Oahu housing shortage is intense and as a result, residential developers have been flocking to the island to capitalize on the demand. Neighborhoods like Kakaako and Ala Moana have seen developer erecting New Honolulu Condos for the lasts 6-7 years. 

Developers are also entrenched in the West Oahu neighborhoods of Hoopili and Koa ridge that will see nearly 15,000 new homes in Oahu over the next 15 years. Rumors of a development named Makaiwa Hills in Makakilo may add another few hundred as well. 

Hawaii Electricity 

The average cost of electricity in Hawaii runs about $50/mo higher than the national average. The average electricity bill in Hawaii of $168.13/mo pins the Hawaii electricity cost at the highest in the nation according to the U.S. Energy Administration.

How Much is Gas in Hawaii? 

Gas prices in Hawaii largely depend on what island you're living on. The island of Hawaii gas prices hover around $3.25/gallon in 2020 with the average gas prices in Honolulu, Hawaii near $3.00/gallon.

Groceries in Hawaii 

You'll be hard pressed to find a wider variety of groceries anywhere in the world compared to Hawaii. Considering our geography of being halfway between the U.S. and Asia, as well as the tropical fruits native to the islands, Hawaii's food choices are abundant. Our geographical location also puts a steep price on groceries due to the costs of shipping them here. The aforementioned study done by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center concluded that Hawaii groceries ranked 164.6 compared to the national index of 100. The closest 2nd was California at 119.3.

Often times we hear visitors gasp at the Hawaii price of milk that can reach heights of $8.99. If you live here, obtaining a Costco membership is imperative so you can buy in bulk to scale your costs down.

The Local Perspective | How to make it

With the right perspective, days off from work as a Hawaii resident can still feel like a dream vacation but for most, we're one credit card or mortgage statement away from the harsh realities of Hawaii's steep living costs.  I tell all of my clients, both locally and from abroad that maintaining a comfortable lifestyle in Hawaii requires intention, and lot of it. Applying intention to every dollar spent, every financial decision made, and every job you apply for goes long way in determining if you can continue to comfortably live here, or if you will inevitably be "priced out of paradise."

Not to get too personal, but I think it's healthy to suggest that we need be extra intentional about our relationships as well. The words we choose and the way we resolve conflict with our significant others. If purely having a healthy relationship isn't incentive enough, then you should know that it's just good business in Hawaii. Your boss will never give you bigger promotion or demotion than what you can give yourself by securing or destroying a healthy relationship with another income earner.

Aside from the benefits of companionship, raising a family, and stability, the term "it's cheaper to keep her," and vice versa, has never rang more true while living anywhere else in the United States. Two income earners working towards a common goal is a surefire way to "level up" your financial situation while living in Hawaii but if you're hell bent on rollin' solo, you're most definitely and underdog, but we're rooting for you!