Oahu’s Neighborhoods

Here’s a brief breakdown and insiders’ guide to some of Oahu’s popular neighborhoods where you may be buying a home in Hawaii.

Oahu, nicknamed the “Gathering Place,” is the most populated isle of the Hawaiian Island chain, and the most accessible place for buying property in Hawaii. With the state capital city of Honolulu and other renowned districts—such as surfers’ dreamland, a.k.a., the North Shore—it’s no surprise why the Hawaii housing market is booming on the island, and particularly in the following districts: Honolulu, Hawaii Kai, Kailua, Kapolei, and the North Shore. Here’s a brief breakdown and insiders’ guide to some of Oahu’s popular neighborhoods where you may be buying a home in Hawaii. Find yourself a good real estate agent on Oahu, and browse some of these booming, popular Hawaii real estate investment areas where you may find your new dream home.

HONOLULU

With easy access to downtown’s business district and Ala Moana shopping mall, you’ll have a pick of several local districts here: Artsy and edgy, and maybe a little dicey by night, Chinatown is a colorful corner bustling with restaurants and local flavor. While Kakaako is the former industrial zone that experienced a proper real estate makeover, transforming into a hip, up-and-coming district with the Salt at Kakaako arts and retail district, filled with hip shopping and local dining … It’s truly the place to be. And we couldn’t think of a more happening place to be for young professionals and families looking to be in the heart of the city, while maintaining a quaint, safe neighborhood vibe. Call it the Brooklyn of Honolulu. Kaimuki is another area to check out, more towards Kahala, a luxury beach-front suburb with oceanfront properties, if you find yourself heading west. Plus, you also have Diamond Head and Waikiki, the more touristy hot spots in your own background. A prime selection of private and public schools abound, and newer developments offer optimal and affordable Hawaii housing options.

HAWAII KAI

Hawaii Kai is on the eastern end of the southern half of the island of Oahu. This residential neighborhood is home to the famous snorkeling spot and nature reserve, Hanauma Bay, which makes the area particularly attractive, if you have kids or love boating, as Hawaii Kai’s marina is another hot spot. Another added features: local famed brewery Kona Brewing Company has a restaurant / locale here, and Costco is certainly not far away either. The Makapuu Lighthouse Trail and surfers’ beach Sandy’s also make this area extremely attractive. This is also known for being one of the safest neighborhoods on the island of Oahu.

KAILUA

If you’re looking for a suburban, small-town America vibe with luxury homes and cerulean blue sea scapes, then Kailua is your spot. Made famous for being Obama’s hometown, most of Kailua is walkable or accessible by bike, and there’s an epitome of eclectic restaurants and shops to keep you entertained. The real estate market may not be the least expensive on the island, but we do feel that this is worth the price. Most residents own their home here, so it gives the district a neighborhood vibe that’s less transient than say some of the neighborhoods of Honolulu. Home to young professionals, retirees, and families, this is a good spot for Hawaii real estate investment. This ultimate beach town is truly a paradise within a paradise, offering upper class lifestyle, and outdoor activities via Kailua Beach and Lanikai Beach (known for the Mokes, two famous bird sanctuary islands). Easily accessible from Honolulu, many residents are happy to make the daily commute downtown to call Kailua home.

KAPOLEI

Kapolei’s western island location has a lot of positive aspects, especially the fact that they have consistent prime beach weather and lots of sunshine. The Leeward side of Oahu’s real estate market has been booming over the past five years, and the promise of Hawaii public transportation via the upcoming rail to Honolulu is making this side of the island extremely attractive to investors and families. The commute to Honolulu from Kapolei is no longer an issue as it may have been. Called Oahu’s thriving “second city,” Kapolei is home to Aulani Disney Resort, a famous marina, Paradise Cove luau, and the Four Seasons hotel. Shopping and dining are prevalent, and the beach scene is a plus, with Electric Beach being prime for snorkeling and dolphin sightings. The Honolulu Department of City Planning predicts 50,000 residences by 2035. Real estate development plans include walking trails and parks, so this community is certainly one you could call home—and this is a prime time for Hawaii real estate investment in Kapolei before prices skyrocket with its rising popularity!

THE NORTH SHORE

Living on the North Shore is a surfer’s dream. Beautiful seascapes, luxury resort Turtle Bay, and Haleiwa, nicknamed “surftown USA,” make this picturesque northern part of the island a beautiful place to call home. It certainly feels more remote—and dare I write more “Hawaii”—than the bustling metropolitan of Honolulu, with ampid nature around and the finest shrimp trucks on the island. The North Shore boasts a dual boho-chic vibe with colorful boutiques and art galleries nestled among coffee shops, quirky food trucks, and luxury properties. From off-beat banana plantations to Shark’s Cove snorkel spot, to numerous hiking and horseback riding trails, and legendary big waves and surf competitions in the summer, the North Shore offers the laid-back luxury many real estate investors dream of. Home to Dole’s Pineapple Plantation and the sets of Blue Crush and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, this community is about an hour north of Oahu (depending on traffic). The lifestyle is certainly casual and ultra homegrown. There are a variety of homes for sale here, including plantation-style, single-family apartments, condos, townhomes, and luxury gated estates with sweeping oceanfront views. Kuilima Estates at Turtle Bay Resort provides the opportunity to live within a resort by investing in one of their beautiful condos.

While our guide may be a good launch pad, please don’t hesitate pairing yourself with a Hawaii real estate professional, who can better assist you in your paradise home buying. Good luck in your Hawaii housing hunt!

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