Kaka'ako Condo & Lifestyle Guide
For the last decade, Kakaako has been burgeoning with real estate development and has quickly become the mecca of Oahu new homes. With as many as 20 new Kakaako condos either completed, under construction, or in the planning stages, the skyline you saw 5 years ago is unrecognizable today. The draw of the neighborhood is underpinned by its premier "ocean-urban" location between Waikiki and Downtown Honolulu on it's east and west borders, but fronted by Oahu's ultimate playground in paradise; Ala Moana Beach Park.
Ward Village is the acting "tip of the spear" of the neighborhood and was named Best Master Planned Community in 2017 by Architectural Digest. The condos in Ward Village were planned to offer unmatched walkable convenience and alternate methods of commute. The vision continues to materialize through thoughtfully designed condo towers anchored by exciting dining and retail, as well as wide sidewalks and green spaces throughout the neighborhood that beg residents to leave the car at home and enjoy the Kaka'ako lifestyle by bike or foot.
Kakaako breaks down into 3 major districts
Ward Village, referenced in blue in the map search below, In 2013, developer Howard Hughes Corp kicked off what's shaping up to be at least a 15 year development boom of the Ward Village -- a 60-acre master plan with as many as 16 new condos in Kakaako.The first release, Waiea; is a front row, ultra luxury condo building with incredible Diamond Head and unobstructed ocean views. Waiea was the developer's flagship building, the first of 10 later released condo projects in Howard Hughes' globally acclaimed 60-acre Ward Village Master Plan.
Fast forward to Ward Village in 2022 and you'll find a thriving new Honolulu that buzzes with locals and visitors alike. Many park at South Shore Market and thread the wide sidewalked lined streets and green spaces to enjoy dozens of new dining and retail opportunities anchoring as many as 8 beautifully designed condos either completed or under construction.
Just west of Ward Village sits the Our Kakaako Master Plan(referenced in orange on the map search above) that adds an entirely different flavor the neighborhood. This is the trendier, artsier, and certainly less expensive version of Ward Village that's anchored around SALT at Kakaako; an open air shopping mall, food district, an all around good time. Our Kakaako features mural lined streets that thread dozens of unique boutique stores, cafes, and coffee shops to stimulate the rest of your life in the neighborhood.
Ten years ago, Kakaako was merely an idea bounded by the geographical boundaries of Ala Moana Beach, Piikoi St, and Ward Avenue. Prospective buyers were forced to base multi-million dollar purchase decisions on mere proposals, artist renderings, and built to scale model kitchens and bathrooms in the developer's Sales Gallery at the IBM building.
This is the east Kakaako region (referenced in green in the map search above) closest to and bordered by Ala Moana Shopping Center, right behind Ward Village. The original Kakaako condo towers are most easily identified by everything between Ward Avenue and Piikoi St. This sector consists of some of Kakaako's "legacy" condos that were built between 1999-2009, as well as a new master planned community named Ward Village developed by the Howard Hughes Corporation.
>> See Ultimate Guide to Kakaako Living
Prospective buyers looking for single family options will have to take the search outside of the neighborhood as Kaka'ako is the epitome of metropolis and urban living in Honolulu. While you will find some affordable housing in Kakaako, the neighborhood is best known for offering mid-luxury to ultra luxury Honolulu condos for sale. Once the neighborhood matures, we'll see more than 5,000 new honolulu apartments and condo units enter the market, with the majority of that inventory falling within the following three sectors:
Expect Ward Village condos for sale to range from the $500,000 micro-studios at Aalii up to the $25 Million Grand Penthouse of Waiea. "Reserved Housing" units were also sometimes offered to provide more moderately priced housing for residents with restrictions. Check out our guide to Honolulu Affordable Housing Requirements to learn more.
- West Kakaako offers a trendy, culture rich lifestyle that sees a healthy dose of urban-industrial inspired elements in it's construction of new commercial and residential development. West Kakaako is best identified as the area between Ward Avenue and South St -- with it's most noteworthy establishment being SALT at Kakaako shopping center; the neighborhood's urban epicenter that offers dozens of retail, restaurant, and coffee shop opportunities.
Most of the neighborhood is owned and planned Kamehameha Schools under the guise of the "Our Kakaako," master plan. While West Kakaako features some of the older condos in the neighborhood, we're still seeing solid influx of new developments taking hold. Real estate prices in West Kakaako range from roughly $500,000 for a modest 1-bedroom, up to the grand penthouses of $7.6 Million.
Kakaako Real Estate Insights
- Buildings that run across Ala Moana Boulevard are what we call the "Front Row," and command the highest prices as this is the best location to secure Kakaako condos with ocean views. Naturally the further you retreat from Ala Moana Boulevard and Beach Park, the more likely it is you have buildings in front of you that obstruct your ocean views.
- Condos in Kakaako that are not on the front are subject to their views potentially being obstructed in the future. Be sure to ask your Kakaako Realtor about how mature the views are from any building you may be touring. I tell all of my clients not to fall in love with the warehouse rooftops they see in front of them, as you may very well be watching someone else's Seinfeld episodes across from you in years to come.
- While Kakaako isn't the only neighborhood offering New Honolulu Condos, it's undoubtedly the tip of the spear. The adjacent Ala Moana neighborhood has seen its own transformation of late and while new Ala Moana Condos offer a similar lifestyle, they lack ocean frontage(aside from The Residences of Park Lane). The front row of Kakaako will forever enjoy unparalleled, unobstructed ocean view of crystal Pacific blue. It's hard to pin a price on that but for some, it's priceless. Kakaako is homes to some of the most expensive homes in Hawaii. Check out this $19M Penthouse at Anaha in Ward Village, Kakaako to see what we're talking about.
- Amenities for most condos in the neighborhood are second to none, especially if you're exploring the luxury Kakaako condos. Expect to see fitness centers, movie theaters, spa options, multiple pools, and BBQ stations.
- Kaka'ako apartments for rent can range from
Kaka‘ako, nestled between Downtown Honolulu and the Ala Moana area is a mixture of retail and
commercial businesses, wholesalers, warehouses, and other industrial businesses – plus an ever-
growing residential component.
What does Kaka'ako mean in Hawaiian?
It’s unclear of the origins, but Kaka‘ako translates to “dull or slow” in the Hawaiian language, quite the
opposite of the hustle and bustle of this up-and-coming neighborhood.
What was Kaka'ako like in ancient times? Read More...
The Kaka‘ako area was primarily fishing villages, agricultural terraces, Hawaiian
fishponds along the shore, and salt beds or ponds. Pa‘akai (“firm sea” or salt) was gathered from the salt
beds and was an important and valuable resource to the native peoples. Without refrigeration, fish,
pork, beef, etc. were all salted for food preservation. Plus, it was an ‘ono (delicious) accompaniment to
various traditional Hawaiian dishes.
The Hawaiian proverb, “E ‘ai i kekāhi, e kāpī kekāhi – eat some, salt some,” speaks of the importance of
not only salt in the Hawaiian diet, but also in general preparation. Eat some now, literally and
figuratively speaking, but save or have enough (salted) to eat later. Essentially, be prepared for
whatever life may bring.
Who were the first landowners in Kakaako?
Land in Kakaako was so productive, that King Kamehameha I had a home there, as did his personal kahuna,
Hewahewa. In the Great Māhele (land divide) of 1848, nearly 30 acres of Kaka‘ako land went to
Kamehameha’s granddaughter, the high chiefess Laura Konia. Subsequently, Konia willed these lands to
her only daughter, Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the benefactress of the Kamehameha Schools, named in
honor or their ancestor.
Today, Kamehameha Schools is one of the major landowners of Kaka‘ako.
The other major landowner is Victoria Ward Limited, purchased by the Howard Hughes Corporation in
2010. Victoria Robinson was born in Honolulu in 1846 to Mr. John Robinson, an English ship builder and
Mrs. Rebecca Kaikilani Previer Robinson, a daughter of one of Hawai‘i’s first interracial marriages and
chiefly lineages from Maui and Hawai‘i Island. They were an affluent family, well respected amongst
Honolulu high society, and often in the company of the royal family.
In what was most likely one of the premier events in Honolulu, Victoria married Curtis Perry Ward of
Kentucky in 1865. Together they had seven daughters! After they married, and living near Honolulu
Harbor for several years, they decided to move out to what was deemed “the country,” as opposed to
living in what is today considered Downtown Honolulu. Through various astute deals and purchases, the
Ward’s eventually acquired 100 acres in the Kaka‘ako neighborhood.
Their home, named “Old Plantation” was a large stately Southern-inspired structure, the site of many galas and parties. An
invitation to Old Plantation meant an evening of revelry and delight. Many of Hawai‘i’s royal family
could be counted in attendance at an evening soiree or seen playing croquet on the vast lawn. On the
ground of the lavish estate grew a thousand coconut trees and a working farm to fulfill the family’s
A personal friend of Hawai‘i’s last reigning Queen, Lili‘uokalani, Victoria took the 1893 overthrow of the
monarchy very personally. Apparently, she refused to allow anyone to speak English in her presence
from that point on in a sign of rebellion and solidarity until her death in 1935. She also had a Hawaiian
flag stitched into the underside of the canopy of her four-postered bed so that she could die beneath
the same flag she was born under. A powerful statement from a formidably influential woman.
In 1958, the City & County of Honolulu purchased part of the Ward Estate, and their home, Old
Plantation was leveled to make way for the Honolulu International Center, renamed to the current Neal
S. Blaisdell Center, after a former Mayor of Honolulu.
You may recognize the street that runs adjacent tothe Blaisdell, Ward Avenue, named in honor of the Ward family. The rest of the property became what isreferred to today as Ward Village, a mixture of residential, retail, and commercial entities.