To gaze out over the expansive developments, lush tropical beauty, and scenic shorelines of Hawaii Kai, it’s hard to believe that 60 years ago, the area was merely fishing grounds too wet to build upon and sparsely populated. Thanks to the vision of Henry J. Kaiser and skillful dredging, living in Hawaii Kai offers a community lifestyle that has attracted native islanders and newcomers alike to this beautiful southeast Oahu peninsula.
There must be something special about a community that has grown and thrived for 60 years, but what exactly is it? What does living in Hawaii Kai offer its residents? Local real estate expert Beth Chang breaks down the appeal and the challenges of the “community by the sea.”
The best Hawaii Kai has to offer
If you were to guess what people love most about living in Hawaii Kai, what would you suggest? The beautiful location? The outdoor activities? Sure, those are great features, but residents really gush about the “Aloha Spirit” that is alive and well.
Hawaii Kai juts out into the sea, with sheltered inlets at Maunalua Bay Beach Park and Hanauma Bay beckoning boaters and snorkelers to come out and play. Numerous sandy beaches surround Hawaii Kai, and the vistas along the perimeter road of Highway 72 are simply stunning.
Located just 10 miles from downtown Honolulu, your family can enjoy intimate community life just far enough removed from the bustle and tourism of the capital city and yet be close enough to easily commute to work, attractions, and activities in the city.
Neighbors take the time to get to know each other here. Most residents are far from families on the mainland, so “ohana” is extended beyond the traditional family unit to include friends and neighbors who become a family of choice. Neighbors trust each other, support each other, and know help is available when they need it.
Hawaii Kai is the type of community in which you can live, play, and work. With plenty of businesses, shops, and schools right here on the peninsula, you may never have to leave the community. Retail and restaurants are concentrated in three key areas: Koko Marina Shopping Center, Hawaii Kai Town Center, and Hawaii Kai Shopping Center.
Koko Marina Shopping Center
Looking for a delectable dinner or just a night out of the kitchen? Enjoy dinner at Assaggio’s Ristorante Italiano as you feast on traditional Italian fare. Assiaggio’s also offers an extensive vegetarian menu. Looking for casual local fare? Visit Zippy’s and enjoy the view while you sample their famous chili. Try out the newest arrival at Koko Marine, Inaba Hawaii, a traditional Japanese feast for the senses.
There’s so much more than just a great meal at Koko Marine. Enjoy boutique shopping, fitness opportunities, water sports and equipment rentals, and a host of services from financial planning to veterinary care for your four-legged family member.
Hawaii Kai Town Center
The expansive complex of the Town Center has a master-planned design to offer everything you might need (or want) to care for your family and the conveniences that make living in Hawaii Kai a great experience. After your shopping and errands are finished, check out the waterfront stage, and you just may be in time for one of the many community events or live performances that occur regularly.
Hawaii Kai Shopping Center
Like the other retail and business complexes, you’ll be right on the waterfront at Hawaii Kai Shopping Center (yet another perk of this beautiful peninsula). Fuel up for your day of shopping with java from Island Brew Coffeehouse, or take a lunch break at L&L Hawaiian Barbecue. Need a little pampering? Go ahead and book a treatment at Serenity and Massage.
So far, you’ve been given a pretty idyllic view of living in Hawaii Kai, but we wouldn’t be honest with you if we didn’t mention the two biggest frustrations locals contend with. Are they insurmountable? No. But knowing what you’re getting when you settle into Hawaii Kai will make the transition smoother for you.
Commuters have a lot to say about the condition of roads as they travel back and forth from downtown. The roads may not be up to the standard you’re used to from other places you’ve called home, but if you’re aware of the risk, you can be a more alert driver and avoid those potholes when you encounter them.
The high prices of island living should come as no surprise. After all, almost everything that is consumed in Hawaii must be brought to the island from elsewhere. Hawaii’s overall cost of living is 66% higher than the U.S. mainland average, but East Honolulu, where Hawaii Kai is located, is more than twice as pricey. These costs can be felt most acutely in the housing, which is very expensive throughout the island, but nowhere is this more true than in East Honolulu. Let this insight help you strategically plan your housing budget as you prepare to relocate. The good news is real estate on Oahu has shown long-term, steady appreciation, despite what market shifts happen in the short term.
Real estate prospects
The island as a whole has seen a real estate market slow down in the short run. In May 2023, single-family home sales were down 24%, and condo sales by 36%. Prices have come down only slightly, at 4% and 2% for houses and condos, respectively. These numbers are slightly more promising than the year-to-date numbers, which indicates activity may be moving toward a balance.
Why has Oahu real estate seen a slowdown in sales? Several factors come into play. First, the real estate surge post-pandemic resulted in unprecedented home prices and sales that have never been seen before or since. Those 2021 record-making months have skewed results, making modest progress or modest downturns seem cataclysmic. To see the market more clearly, one must step back and take a long view. Second, we’ve seen a significant decrease in the number of homes for sale compared to 2022. However, if you will once again step back and look at the long view, the current number of houses for sale and their median sales price far exceeds pre-Covid numbers. Finally, consider the uncertainty that the U.S. economy faced in 2022. With soaring inflation and soaring interest rates, the inevitable result was wariness on the part of buyers and sellers. As our economy returns to full strength, the housing market will continue to stabilize and reflect our strengthening economy.
Partner with an expert
Have you got questions about living in Hawaii Kai, the timing of your relocation, or what type of property is right for your family? Don’t let your questions linger. Get answers and information you can depend on from expert Hawaiian real estate professional Beth Chang. Give her a call today to learn more.