The site of some of O‘ahu’s most impressive homes and exclusive micro-neighborhoods as well as glorious beaches and destination surf spots, Kahala is verdant, luxurious, and laid back. Many homes have been owned for generations, and the range of properties—from simple family residences and apartments to palatial cliffside estates—brings a relaxed diversity to the neighborhood. The commercial side of the neighborhood is well curated, and quaint and quiet relative to other retail areas. Many side streets house sweet boutiques and independent restos, so if you live here, you don’t really need to venture to “town town” unless you want to.
1. WHAT TO EXPECT
Quiet upscale residential areas and full service commercial amenities within a few minutes’ drive, with a bit of Old Hawai‘i feel and the accompanying relaxed vibes.
2. THE LIFESTYLE
Beachy, friendly, and athletic, but make it luxury. Sig Zanes and board shorts, multi million dollar properties casually peeking out from unassuming front yards, and everyone always seems to be training for the marathon.
3. WHAT NOT TO EXPECT
Anything to happen quickly. This isn’t the North Shore, but it also isn’t town, and while the commercial side of the hood is abuzz with locals and tourists alike, folks don’t like to rush. Also, while Waikiki is a stone’s throw away, the vibe in Kahala is infinitely more peaceful.
4. THE MARKET
Competitive for residentially zoned lots, luxury and ultra-luxury properties adjacent to the beach, with limited new construction, condos, and affordable options inland.
5. YOU’LL FALL IN LOVE WITH
The friendly, small-neighborhood feel and fantastic dining scene on nearby Waialae Avenue.
Cozy, Quiet & Serene, Parks & Rec, Kapi‘olani Park Adjacent, For Foodies, Fun for Kiddos, Beach, Excellent Schools, Family Friendly
Airport: 20m by car
Downtown: 10m by car
Diamond Head: <5m by car
North Shore: 1hr by car
Kapolei: 45m by car
East to West Kealaolu Ave. to Aukai Ave., Ahakea St., Elepaio St. and Hunakai St.
North to South Waialae Ave. to Kahala Ave.
Nearby Neighborhoods Diamond Head, Kaimuki, Kuli‘ou‘ou, Palolo
Taking a walk around the neighborhood, it is easy to see why Kahala is one of the most desirable residential addresses on South Shore O‘ahu. Natural amenities, like glorious Diamond Head Beach and the uber-popular Diamond Head hike, are close by, as are some of the most impressive properties in all of Hawai‘i.
Despite its upmarket status, Kahala does not feel fussy or formal—you can go nearly everywhere in board shorts and slippers, even to tea at the luxe Kahala Hotel, arguably the island’s finest oasis for five star service (and the Obamas’ destination of choice).
One of the greatest parts of living in Kahala is beach access. Diamond Head Beach Park is fantastic for all manner of water adventures, from lazy sunning behind the shade and privacy of the large cliff bordering the ocean and windsurfing on days when it’s too gusty for other watersports, to the main event: surfing. Down the twisty path from Diamond Head Road, find two of the best breaks for summer surfing on the South Shore, where many local residents religiously paddle out every day.
Kahala is a draw for land based athletes as well. The four mile loop that wends along Diamond Head Road and toward Kapi‘olani Park is often crowded with runners (especially as marathon season approaches), and is in many ways the perfect run: challenging but accessible, with ample water stops, the occasional bathroom, and travel-mag-worthy views.
Protected from too much of the tourist action in nearby Waikiki by limited public-transpo access, Kahala nearly always feels serene—the notable exceptions being during the annual Honolulu Marathon, at the hectic weekly KCC Farmers Market, and anytime Hawai‘i 5-0 is filming. Residents tend to take these interruptions to their regularly scheduled routines with a good natured shrug and a trip to North Shore.
The weekly farmers market at Kapi‘olani Community College (one ‘hood over in Diamond Head) is a huge draw, with prepared food from all over the island on offer if you’re willing to brave the epic lines.
Kahala is primarily residential, with many older residents and a palpable emphasis on tranquility and calm, and few tourist-style amenities. If you love bumping beach parties and luaus, look elsewhere—there’s more of a book-on-the-beach vibe here.
Celebrities and business icons like to live discreetly in oceanfront mansions at Black Point and on the Gold Coast, two of Kahala’s ultra-exclusive micro-neighborhoods.
Kahala is small enough that you’ll know your barista by first name and have a regular order at your favorite of the many restaurants dotting the side streets and adjacent areas.