Honolulu Real Estate and Community News

June 21, 2021

Live Well in Kaimuki

photo by Kaimuki Soap Co. via Keep It Kaimuki


Kaimuki is one of Honolulu’s oldest neighborhoods, and perhaps one of the most charming. The area, which lies among the tony neighborhoods of Diamond Head, Mānoa Valley and Kāhala, boasts a unique small-town feel yet is just a short drive from the city, marking it one of—and easily accessible to—the best parts of Honolulu. 


The beauty of this dynamic community is that everything is at your fingertips. From fine dining to trendy gastropubs and unique gift shops, Kaimukī offers a lifestyle that is as culturally diverse as its residents.


As many neighborhoods in Honolulu are experiencing complete renovations and overhauls, the heart of Kaimuki is still the various locally-owned shops and businesses. Many establishments have been around for decades, such as the family owned and operated surf shop Downing Hawai’i and the beloved local home and hardware store City Mill. Perhaps equally important as the neighborhood’s rich past is the excitement of its present and future. A burgeoning food scene and abundance of mom-and-pop shops have turned Kaimuki into a go-to neighborhood to find some of Oahu’s top tastemakers and for living well.


Kaimuki is brimming with places that invigorate mind, body and soul. Think Palolo Valley’s Ka‘au Crater hike for a glimpse at the stunning waterfalls, hot yoga classes and a handful of quaint coffee shops for solo time or to connect with loved ones. Here are just a few of our favorite healthy eateries and wellness-minded shops in Kaimuki.


Support Local, Feel Good at Awa + Olena

Head to Awa + Olena, a “feel good store,” for a variety of locally sourced wellness essentials, clean beauty brands, home goods and jewelry. Shop owner Amanda Watkins is almost always behind the counter eager to spit knowledge on each item she’s so carefully curated. Expect to find brands from all over the islands in one well-stocked spot, such as A’o Organics, Malama Mushrooms, Maruyama Jones Farm, Matt Bruening Label, Hawaii Medicinal and so much more. Its fresh aesthetic and bright pink accent wall elicits a good feeling the moment you step inside. 

1152 Koko Head Ave.



Eat Well at Coco Bloom Kitchen

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Coco Bloom Kitchen opened its doors in 2020, moving forward with the idea to provide healthy and delicious meals to the masses. The energizing menu of items features locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, and are always free of additives, preservatives and pesticides. Sandwiches and burgers are technically less healthy, but the curries are chock-full of veggies and the salads and smoothies are almost too pretty to eat—almost. This new Kaimuki cafe is located in the Times Supermarket plaza on Waialae, where there’s plenty of free parking so there’s no excuse not to stop in, show your support and savor something sans guilt.

3221 Waialae Ave., Suite A3



Shop Sustainably at Everyday Better by Green Meadows

If you’re looking for eco-conscious housewares and gifts in Honolulu, head to Everyday Better by Green Meadows, a hidden gem tucked away by the former Goodwill Kaimuki store on Koko Head Ave. Owner Katie Meadows opened the shop in 2019 determined to offer more sustainable alternatives to everyday essentials and lifestyle items that don’t skimp on style. Most, if not all, brands you’ll find in the shop are locally made, helmed by women or are family-owned and operated, much like the shop itself. Whether you’ve been living zero waste for a while now or you’re just starting your journey into reducing your carbon footprint, this eco-friendly shop in Kaimuki should be on your short list of go-tos. 

1223 Koko Head Ave., suite 2



Taste the Rainbow at Jewel or Juice 

This longtime, family-owned business has been serving up some of the best acai bowls, smoothies and juices on Oahu for more than 15 years from its Kaimuki location. Jewel or Juice's ingredients include tropical island favorites like pitaya (dragon fruit), passion fruit, guava and lychee, plus superfoods like blue spirulina, bee pollen, chia seeds and more. Not to mention, this is the place to get your greens, as it has more than eight options for green juice and smoothies that are flavorful and pack a punch (of the good stuff). This no-frills cafe on the corner of Koko Head and Waialae Avenue is one of those rare gems that truly serves the community, rather than just catering to tourists.

3619 Waialae Ave.


Read more about Kaimuki here, and stay up-to-date on neighborhood happenings by following #KeepItKaimuki, which celebrates the small business community of Kaimuki.

June 21, 2021

How to Sell Your Home in Hawaii

Kitchen interiors, Pacific Properties Hawaii


Though Oahu’s housing market has seen some record highs since the beginning of 2021, if you’re looking to sell your house in Hawaii there are several things you should think about to maximize your home’s price. And, of course, we at Pacific Properties Hawaii are here to make selling your home as speedy and stress-free as possible. 


Here are just three of our tips for getting your home ready to sell in the hot Hawaii market (or any market, really).




Remember, you’re trying to sell your home, not just show it off. The overall goal is to help potential buyers envision themselves living in the house, not envision how you lived in the house. That being said, you’ll want to make sure to create a blank slate so that a variety of people with different tastes can picture themselves living there. You’ll want to clean, declutter and depersonalize, which means removing personal photos, tchotkes, family heirlooms, etc. It doesn’t mean you have to get rid of the items entirely, but you may consider renting a storage unit and only keeping what’s absolutely necessary in the house while you’re showing to potential buyers.




While it’s true that homes in Hawaii are selling at record speed, making some small improvements can often yield bigger returns. Going back to wanting your home to appeal to a variety of people, you don’t want to undergo a major renovation in a specific style and risk turning off certain buyers who can’t see the potential to add their preferred style. Not everyone is going to want an uber modern kitchen or a farmhouse chic bathroom, so you’ll want your home to be as neutral as possible.


On the other hand, it is important to make necessary improvements like fixing anything that’s noticeably in disrepair or giving walls a fresh coat of paint. These relatively low cost improvements give your house a facelift and offer buyers the blank slate they’re looking for in a home. Replacing light fixtures is also a good idea. It’s another simple and low cost home improvement that can really update a home and increase its perceived value. (Here in Hawaii, a good ceiling fan can be worth its weight in gold.) Lastly, you’ll want to look at your landscaping—aka curb appeal. After all, a buyer’s first impression begins before they even walk in the door. You can hire a professional, or opt to do it yourself. You don’t have to have a green thumb, you just may have to put in some sweat equity. At the very least, you’ll want to get rid of any dead plants, clutter or debris.


Home staging 

before & after



If your budget allows, you may want to consider staging your home. Professional home stagers know how to appeal to the masses and transform homes to show personality and potential. Staging your home with the right pieces not only helps buyers envision themselves in the house, but it also provides some spatial awareness. They can actually see what furniture would maximize the space in the living room, or how big of a bed can fit in the main bedroom, for example. Plus, even if it’s an older plantation-style home, strategic staging can often make your home look more modern, and therefore, make the home seem more valuable. 


Interested in learning more? Feel free to contact us!


~ Joe & Mary Anne

Oct. 1, 2020

7 Deadly Sins of Making Burgers

Common mistakes to make a perfectly wrong burger.


1. You’re buying the wrong lean to fat ratio

And so: your burgers aren’t tasty

Too often I go to barbecues and the burgers are dry and overcooked. This is typically due to people opting for 90% lean to 10% fat ratio ground beef. The optimal percentages are 80% lean to 20% fat. One thing to note, finding the 80/20 ratio is difficult in Hawaii and many times I see 85/15 ratios. If that's your only option, by all means, go for it. Fat is flavor. We are making a burger people, not a kale salad- stop trying to make it healthy. 



2. You're buying cheap meat

And so: you’re nervous about eating or serving rare or medium rare

My personal temperature preference on a burger is rare to medium rare, but if you're buying cheap meat from your local grocery chain where it’s been sitting for half a week in the case of shrink-wrapped, pre-pattied ground beef - it can get a little dicey. If you can afford going to a butcher, have them ground it while you wait- it will make a huge difference. Butcher & Bird grinds their meat daily so that's a great option too.



3. You’re adding anything other than salt and pepper (which should be done just before cooking) to the meat

And so: you’re not even making a burger

The number one offense is adding anything like onions, eggs or herbs to the meat. You’re essentially making a meatloaf sandwich. With eggs especially because it limits the temperature to which you can serve your burgers. Unfortunately, I have found too many “burger” joints in Hawaii adding eggs to burgers. A telltale sign is when they only offer temperatures medium or higher. I find this blasphemous.


4. You’re adding salt to the meat before making patties

And so: your burgers are not tender

Don't salt your meat until you have finished making the patties and just before they go on the grill. Adding salt before making the patty will draw out the water in the meat and start to dissolve the proteins which makes them cling to each other. The finished texture will be springy like a sausage, not tender like a burger. Which leads us into number 5.



5. You’re over-handling the meat and packing your patties too tight

And so: your burgers have a tough rubbery texture

Another great way to get a tough texture is packing your patties into tight hockey pucks. The result will be a similar experience to chewing on one. Over-handling the meat causes the proteins to get worked up, making the burgers less tender. Form the patties just until you think they won’t fall apart while cooking. Keep in mind the proteins and fat will bond once they cook so you can pack them a lot looser than you think. No need to beat a dead cow.


6. You’re not making an indentation in your patties

And so: your burgers are not cooking evenly and becoming spherical

Burgers contract while cooking, causing the middle to puff up which makes for uneven cooking and a real b*tch to hold toppings. By making a small indentation in the middle of the patty your burgers will cook evenly, and be nice and flat.


7. You’re pressing the patties down while they cook

And so: your destroying all the flavor and juiciness of your burgers

The only acceptable reason to press your patties while cooking is if you are making a smash burger on a flat grill. Other than that, you are pressing all the delicious meat juice straight out of the burger. STOP!

Sept. 23, 2020

A Brief Condo Construction Update

New Construction Condos in Honolulu - Where are we now

With many of our new construction condo buyers wondering what is the status of the development they purchased, we decided to take a closer look at what's going on. For the majority of new developments Covid is not affecting projects which have entered the construction phase- construction is deemed an essential service and there were no shutdowns.


Last week we drove around Honolulu looking at some new development projects and found that they are full steam ahead. Our first stop is Azure.


When we pull up to the building it is buzzing like a beehive. Hard hat cladded men line the street directing a queue of cement trucks waiting to pump their payloads into the sky. They are pouring the 31st floor and there are only 11 more floors to construct. The widow installation is well under way and lanai railings started last week. Inside Azure, the construction team is working the interior walls, electrical, and plumbing. Azure is expected to hit their targeted completion date about a year from now.


Our next stop is Ward Village by Howard Hughes. We visit their 3 sites: ‘A’ali’i, Ko’ula, and Victoria Place.

In a recent chat with one of our trusted sources at Ward Village confirmed the developer is not experiencing any completion delays for both ‘A’ali’i, and Ko’ula. For Victoria Place, sales remained strong during Covid and Howard Hughes hit their 70% mark. In the photo below you'll see there is some action happening on the site where Victoria Place will be erected. 



‘A’ali’i is looking great. The building is already topped out with most of the windows and balcony railings installed. It seems the interior buildout should be commencing shortly.



Ko’ula is making great progress since coming out of the ground. We can see the famed Wallumns (casted in orange molds) preceding the next story of the building being constructed. The wallumns are not only a handsome architectural feature of the building, but allow Ko’ula to have no interior columns eating up square footage in the homes. The fourth floor of the tower has been poured, and forming of the fifth level has commenced.


Victoria Place

Overall, it's really great to see the projects that we most advise our clients to buy are doing so well. 


April 19, 2020

Virtual Museum Tours

Virtual Museum Tours

The recent quarantine has many of us going down the rabbit hole of social media content, recipes, and work out videos. We though we would share some interesting content where you can take in some culture. Google has recently released Arts and Culture where you can view a myriad of art and take in more than Ina Garten's bread recipe. 


Virtual Museum Tours

Virtual Museum Tours

Virtual Museum Tours

Virtual Museum Tours

Virtual Museum Tours


Dec. 9, 2019

Neighborhood Spotlight: Kalihi

Kalihi Alicias Market
Photo courtesy of Alicia's Market

Home to the Bishop Museum and a few gorgeous hikes, along with a blustering collection of traffic-heavy commercial centers, the mixed-use Kalihi neighborhood is a study in contrasts. Kalihi-Palama lies at the southwest edge of O‛ahu, tucked between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu. 

Once an ahupua‛a in the traditional Hawaiian land use system, today the neighborhood is split down its middle by the Likelike Highway and is made up of six microneighborhoods: Kalihi Kai, Kalihi Area, Kalihi Kua, Kalihi Valley, Kalihi Upper, and Kalihi Lower. 

These schism are echoed in other contrasts: the neighborhood is at once old-school O‛ahu, resistant to the development that has changed the faces of neighborhoods like Kaka‛ako, and a thriving locus for innovative artists and businesses, who come for affordable rents and easy access to Downtown and stay for the community they find. 

Plate Lunch Every Day

If you like to eat and you enjoy food adventures, a working familiarity with the side streets and storefronts of Kalihi will serve you well. Often missing from glossy-mag restaurant reviews are some of the most flavorful and compelling meals to be had on O‛ahu (many of which come in Styrofoam). Here, a shortlist of plate lunch favorites, plus a little something for dessert:

Ethel’s Grill

Everything about Ethel’s is a bit of a task: it’s cash-only, the seating is limited, it’s difficult to find, the parking is limited, the kitchen closes at 2pm, they are closed on Sundays and Mondays, and the ambiance is more lunch counter than destination meal. None of that matters. The food—local style plate lunch, but elevated—is the only thing that matters. The best way to eat here is to bring friends and share: do the mochiko chicken and ahi tataki, plus the daily special (recent specials: super tender ahi kama (jaw), salmon with watercress and miso pesto). 

Helena’s Hawaiian Food 

As the foodie and fine dining scenes expand all over Honolulu, some things stay constant. Helena’s has been serving staples of local food to grateful diners since 1946 (approximately a millennium in restaurant years) and proudly bears a James Beard award. What may well be the best pipikaula on O‛ahu can be found inside the storefront, along with kalua pig, laulau, exceptionally delicious squid luau, and plenty more. Again, bring a group if you can—everything is served family style in small bowls, and the strong game is to taste a bit of as many dishes as possible. 

Alicia’s Market

Another beloved local institution, Alicia’s is nestled into a nondescript storefront on Mokauea Street. Family-run since the 1940s, the food here brings together the heart of home cooking and the expertise of a professional kitchen. They are best known for their huge array of poke varieties, but smoked meat is my pick—char siu ribs any day of the week, or, just on Fridays and Saturdays, lechon (suckling pig). 

Liliha Bakery 

The iconic bakery has called Kalihi home since 1950, and whether you are a “sweets person” or not, you haven’t really given yourself the Kalihi food tour until you’ve had a Liliha coco puff: choux pastry filled with chocolate pudding and topped with chantilly mac-nut frosting. Small enough to eat even if you aren’t exactly starving, these treats hit the pastry trifecta of sweet, creamy, and doughy. The other move (less classic and more filling but never disappointing) is the poi donut, brilliant purple underneath its deep-fried outside, redolent of sugar and taro.

Kalihi_Poi Donuts at Liliha Bakery Photo: Poi donuts at Liliha Bakery


What’s Ahead?

With median listing prices well below the island-wide average and occasional gems coming on the market—particularly back in Kalihi Valley, which feels tucked away from the bustle of the Dillingham-adjacent areas—Kalihi is proving attractive to new residents. The strong sense of local community is palpable. If you become a repeat visitor at any of the beloved plate lunch spots, you’ll see many of the same faces, day in, day out, some on their way to work at the State Capitol, others on their way to work at the docks, eating side by side. 


Header image of the Kalihi Valley, courtesy of maaachuuun. 


Sept. 1, 2019

Autumn in Honolulu: Events to Consider

Autumn in Honolulu_Honolulu Marathon

In Hawai‘i, the leaves don’t turn orange and the temperature barely drops to herald the start of Fall, but here on Oahu, we mark the arrival of shoulder season with some of the best social and cultural events of the year, which serve as prelude to the season many residents and visitors wait all year for: Big Wave Season! By November, the North Shore is abuzz with all things surf as pros from around the world descend on the island for legendary winter swells and competitions. Here, a few of my top picks for this year’s fall festivities:

Scream Like It’s 1999: 20th Anniversary

Autumn in Honolulu_Honolulu Museum of Art_Scream

Doris Duke Theatre at the HoMA

Sunday October 27 and Thursday October 31

$12 general admission, $10 for HoMA members

Just in time for Halloween season, the Honolulu Museum of Art presents “Scream Like It’s 1999,” a celebration of the high art of horror cinema. The screenings mark twenty years since the release dates of Takashi Miike’s Audition, M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense, and Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez’s The Blair Witch Project, and promise hefty doses of both nostalgia and creep factor. 

North Shore Surf Comp Season

Autumn in Honolulu_North Shore Surf Camp Season

Due to the mercurial nature of ocean swells, surf competitions are planned inside of time windows rather than on specific dates, with events being “called” last minute. This is certainly stressful for the athletes, but exciting for the spectators: Will the Eddie go this year? Who knows, but it’s exciting to wait and wonder. Event window dates for the major competitions in the North Shore big wave season are as follows—and be ready fight traffic north on the Kam when the epic swells roll in.

  • Sunset Beach HIC Pro: October 28-November 10, Sunset Beach
  • Hawaiian Pro Hale‘iwa: November 13-November 24, Ali‘I Beach Park
  • Vans World Cup of Surfing: November 25-December 7, Sunset Beach
  • Billabong Pipe Masters: December 8-December 20, Ehukai Beach Park
  • The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational: typically December 1-February 28, but dates vary from year to year. This contest only runs under highly specific conditions which include 30’-40’ waves, Waimea Bay.
  • Volcom Pipe Pro: January 29-February 10, Ehukai Beach Park

Taimane & Her Band at the Blue Note

Blue Note Hawaii

Sunday November 3, 7:30PM

Premium tickets $42

As Honolulu’s favorite songstress’s career picks up international steam, it is becoming rarer and rarer to catch her intense flamenco ukulele and vocal performances in settings as intimate as the cozy Blue Note stage. Just this year, she’s sold out five North American shows and walked the runway for AllSaints, so it’s fair to say, she’s having a well-deserved moment. This show will sell out quickly, so be sure to reserve your seats ahead of time. 

Honolulu Marathon: 26.2 Miles in Paradise

Kapi‘olani Park

Sunday December 9

Race entry $225; spectating free

Whether you’re an ambitious runner looking to smash a PR on one of the most scenic marathon courses in the world, a hobbyist with an epic walking costume, or a mimosas-in-the-park picnicker who prefers sleeping in and watching others exercise, there is something here for you. As one of the largest international marathons, with over 20,000 runners and a field of elites which typically includes Olympians and world record holders, this race is considered top-tier in the sport of distance running. It also holds the distinction of being the only major marathon with no cutoff time, a rule which has blossomed into a robust tradition of costumed running and walking. Keep your eyes peeled hours after the elites break the finish line tape and you will spot tubas, full Darth Vader suits, geta sandals, and much more.

Header image by Tom Pennington, courtesy of Honolulu Marathon

Jan. 22, 2019

2019 Design Trends Predicted by the Pros

Architectural Digest asked the pros of the interior design industry to take their best shot at predicting 2019 design trends. Read their blog to find out the patterns, colors, and textures you might just be seeing a lot of this year.

Design Pros Predict the Big Decor Trends of 2019

Featured image courtesy of architecturaldigest.com

Posted in Decor & Design
Jan. 16, 2019

The Latest on the Honolulu Rail Project

The Latest on the Honolulu Rail Project: Kapolei to Waipahu Honolulu Rail Line extending from Kapolei into Waipahu. Photo courtesy of HART.

For more than four decades, local residents and politicians have hotly debated whether Hawai‛i’s most populated island needs a rail transit line. Honolulu’s traffic congestion consistently lands it a spot among the Top 10 U.S. Cities for highway gridlock. Most Honolulu residents have long considered it the price for living in paradise. But what to do about it?

The City and County of Honolulu is constructing a 20-mile raised rail transit line to connect East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center near Waikiki. The route will begin near the University of Hawai‛i - West O‛ahu campus, and will have twenty-one stations along the way to downtown Honolulu, with stops in communities such as Waipahu, Pearl City, Waimalu, Aiea, Halawa, and the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

This will be the first large-scale publicly-run metro system in the U.S. to feature both platform screen doors and driverless operation. But its construction hasn’t been without controversy.

In November 2008, the rail issue was on the ballot and only a slim majority (53%) of voters approved it. At the time, it was projected to be a 34-mile raised rail line, with a price tag of $4 billion, that would ease traffic congestion for commuters into the downtown area. Government officials were later criticized for releasing the Environmental Impact Statement a mere 2 days before the vote, meaning that early voters never saw it and the majority of people went to the polls unaware that the statement had been completed. The findings of the EIS were that the rail project impacts would include land acquisition from private owners on the route, displacement of residents and businesses, aesthetic concerns related to the elevated guideway, and noise from passing trains.

Ten years later, the estimated cost is now $8.1 billion and climbing, while the planned length is down to 20 miles. Needless to say, the Honolulu Rail Project has lost some popular support over the past decade. But with almost half of the line constructed, it’s too late to turn back now. And by all projections, the line isn’t due for completion until the end of 2025.

Local taxes are financing the project, as well as a $1.55 billion grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). After major cost overruns, the temporary .5% increase in the general excise tax that was supposed to expire in 2022 has now been extended to 2030. And a new law this year placed a surcharge of 1% for the next 13 years on the statewide hotel room tax that is paid by tourists. There is no guarantee that there won’t be additional taxes levied in the future to get this project over the finish line.

The first phase of the project linking East Kapolei and Aloha Stadium is scheduled to open in late 2020. Construction of the final 4.3-mile section through downtown Honolulu, which is expected to be the most difficult to build, has not yet started.

Like most major infrastructure work in Hawaii, construction of the rail line is likely to uncover historic human remains in its downtown Honolulu section. The Oahu Island Burial Council (part of the State Historic Preservation Division) is the watchdog to protect the treatment of ancient native Hawaiian burials.

Honolulu Rail Project: First Train set

Nan Inc, the contractor set to relocate the utility lines along the 4.3 mile downtown stretch, estimates that it will take until 2022 to complete their work, which they describe as “some of the most disruptive work that’s going to happen on the project”. This utility line relocation will run the following path: through the final eight rail stations along the Dillingham Boulevard corridor, past the Kalihi, Kapalama, and Iwilei stations, onto Nimitz Highway to the Chinatown and Downtown stations, over to Halekauwila Street through the Civic Center and Ward Center stations, and finally along Kona Street to the station fronting Ala Moana. Residents in high-rise towers and businesses on the route have been notified of added noise and traffic while the work proceeds.

While cost overrides of the rail line construction have been in the news consistently, little has been discussed of what it would take to operate the line once completed. The Honolulu rail authority recently announced plans to use a “public-private partnership” approach to develop the last segment of the line as well as the planned Pearl Highlands Transit Center, together estimated at $1.4 billion to build. The plan is to solicit proposals from developers who will finance and build the new facilities as well as operate and maintain the entire rail system for 30 years. For more information on the Honolulu Authority for Rail Transit (HART) project, their website is at http://www.honolulutransit.org/








Posted in Neighborhood News
Jan. 6, 2019

Neighborhood Spotlight: Kaimuki

Neighborhood Spotlight: Kaimuki
Photo courtesy of Keep It Kaimuki

There’s no neighborhood more reminiscent of Honolulu in the 1950’s and 60’s than Kaimukī. It’s been a residential neighborhood since the early twentieth century, and today boasts plenty of single-family homes with a sprinkling of multi-family dwellings. Close to shopping and downtown Honolulu, the business center of Kaimukī retains its retro charm with old-style diners and boutique shops.

Kaimukī is situated on the mountainside of Diamond Head Crater between Kapahulu to the west and Kahala to the east. Pu‛u o Kaimukī Park, Kaimukī's highest elevation point, sits on the rim of an extinct volcanic crater and offers great views of everything down-slope.

Most of the homes in Kaimukī were constructed before the 1940’s, with a number of those homes still owned by the same families, passed down through the generations. Little by little, older homes are being renovated or replaced with new construction as homebuyers discover the value of Kaimukī’s convenient location. Most Kaimukī homes have modest-sized lots between 3,000-6,000 square feet.

Even amid the growing sprawl of O‛ahu, Kaimukī has managed to maintain its quaint charm and small-town vibe. Kapiolani Community College is in Kaimukī, and every Saturday it hosts the largest farmers market in the state. Converging on this iconic outdoor marketplace, residents and tourists alike plan their weekends and travel itineraries around it to find the best in fresh local produce and unique homemade crafts.

History of Kaimukī

Many ancient Hawaiian legends tell of a race of tiny people who did good deeds and built great structures during special nights. They were similar to stories of the Irish leprechauns, and they were called “menehune”.

Kaimukī got its name from stories that the menehune had ovens in this part of O‛ahu where they baked the roots of the ti plant into a sweet food that was eaten like candy. Thus, the name Kaimukī , which in the Hawaiian language, means “the ti root oven”.

Maybe Kaimukī really got its name from it's naturally dusty and dry landscape, having only one known spring in the area. Still, in the 19th century, King Kalākaua took the land over as his personal farmland and was known to let his ostriches roam wild in the mountains.

It wasn't until the Chinatown Fire of 1900 left many Chinese people homeless that Kaimukī began its transformation into a residential area in earnest. Those who didn’t rebuild in Chinatown moved their households and businesses to Kaimukī, where just a few years before, a water system had been constructed.

Being so close to Honolulu, an early vision for Kaimukī took shape: a suburb where residents could commute from each day for work. So, in the first decade of the 20th century, electric streetcar routes extended out to the Kaimukī area. That was all it took for waves of young families to move there.

Eventually, Kaimukī  became a live-work destination in its own right, as Waialae Avenue became a busy thoroughfare and magnet for businesses. However, issues arose: Ala Moana Shopping Center in Waikiki and the Waialae Shopping Center became competition to the mom and pop stores in Kaimukī. Additionally, the new H-1 Freeway hurt those small businesses even more by diverting commuters.

But the community fought to get exit ramps added, and the H-1 Freeway may have ultimately been what saved Kaimukī’s main business thoroughfare. Since traffic is diverted by the freeway, Kaimukī’s businesses can serve local residents without the added pressure of investors looking to demolish and rebuild larger shopping centers.

The Best Things About Kaimukī

Kaimukī is a little hamlet tucked behind Diamond Head Crater. Waialae Avenue is its business center and is lined with an eclectic mix of small shops, boutiques and some of the best eating spots on the island. Although it is known as a non-touristy part of Honolulu, if more tourists knew about it they’d enjoy the quirky vibe that is Kaimukī today.

And if more families knew about its school system, they might consider relocating. A neighborhood which houses many schools within its boundaries, Kaimukī boasts Waialae School, a public charter elementary school, along with Kaimukī Middle School and Kaimukī High School. Private schools also abound, with Saint Louis School for boys, Sacred Hearts Academy for girls, St. Patrick’s co-ed school for K-8, and Kaimukī Christian School. There’s also Kapiolani Community College on Kaimukī's perimeter, with the University of Hawai‛i Manoa Campus just two short miles away.

Besides a mix of shopping venues where you can find everything from vintage aloha shirts to Japanese fabrics, the eating places in Kaimukī are highly worth mentioning. You can satisfy your hunger with everything from Chinese dim sum at Happy Days restaurant to Portuguese donuts, called malasadas, at iconic Leonard’s Bakery. You could spend a whole weekend dining on the octopus salad sandwich at Kaimukī Superette, the breakfast bruschetta at Koko Head Café, or Lilikoi (Passion Fruit) gelato at Via Gelato. Indulge in boiled peanuts at Tamura’s, the teriyaki bento box at Okata Bento, or the freshest catch of the day at Fresh Catch. And try anything at all where former First Lady Michele Obama came to eat: the trendy farm-to-table restaurant, Town.

And the fun of Kaimukī is that there’s so much more to discover than the few places mentioned here.

What’s Ahead for Kaimukī?

Kaimukī is on the cusp between preservation and development. The vision is to find the balance for both.

On the preservation side, there’s a strong community in Kaimukī which continues to discuss the best options for residents. ENVISION KAIMUKĪ has already held a series of town hall-style meetings where they've discussed strategies for Kaimukī’s future. They aim to improve pedestrian safety, make Kaimukī more of an age-friendly community, develope bike-friendly streets, and beautify the mature tree canopy.

On the business end, KEEP IT KAIMUKĪ is a grassroots organization formed by small business owners who strive to collaborate to keep the business community strong.

With cooperation and aloha between residents and businesses, Kaimukī will continue to be a choice location to live, as well as work, for Hawai‛i residents. To see homes for sale in Kaimukī click here or call me at 808-843-0003.


Header image of Kaimuki as seen from Puu o Kaimuki Park, the highest point in the neighborhood, Travis Thurston, Wikipedia.