Once farmland owned by King Kalakaua, Kaimuki is a storied residential and small business area on southern O‘ahu that is now home to some of the island’s most beloved restaurants and historic buildings. Waialae Avenue is the spine of the hood, gently sloping east, with residential areas spreading north and south.
1. WHAT TO EXPECT
Amazing dining options and a great balance between hip youthful culture and rooted community, situated with convenient access to the highway, East Honolulu, and the beaches of Waikiki and Diamond Head.
2. THE LIFESTYLE
A hip, friendly, and nearly full-service neighborhood, where folks travel from points island-wide to shop and dine at the many locally-owned restaurants and boutiques, and many residents rarely find reason to leave the hood.
3. WHAT NOT TO EXPECT
Beach access—Kaimuki’s neighborhood boundary ends at the inland side of Diamond Head Road, so while the beach is just a quick drive away, you won’t find any oceanfront properties.
4. THE MARKET
Single family homes in the neighborhood range from modest to elaborate. The market here is somewhat competitive, but there is much value to be found: median price points trend lower than some of the surrounding neighborhoods, making Kaimuki a great area to focus on for value-minded buyers who want to stay in a prime location.
5. YOU’LL FALL IN LOVE WITH
The cafes and restaurants. It is genuinely possible to eat all your meals out, all on Waialae Ave: start the day with a takeout espresso at tiny French café Bean About Town, brunch on “Dumplings All Day Wong” at Top Chef alum Lee Anne Wong’s epic local-fusion spot Koko Head Cafe, and enjoy an elegant dinner at 12th Avenue Grill or at one of Ed Kenney’s beloved dinner spots (conveniently situated kitty-corner from each other on Waialae Ave.), Town and Mud Hen Water.
Not-So-Hidden Gem, For Foodies, Tight-Knit Community, Cozy, Historic, Walkable, Great for Families, Easy Commute, Bang for Your Buck
Airport: 20m by car
Downtown: 10m by car
Diamond Head: 7m by car
North Shore: 45m by car
Kapolei: 35m by car
East to West 22nd Ave to 10th Ave (north) and 5th Ave (south)
North to South top of Wilhelmina Rise to Alohea St. and Diamond Head Rd.
Nearby Neighborhoods Kahala, Diamond Head, Palolo, Manoa, Waikiki
Tucked behind Diamond Head Crater and stretching up into the ridge neighborhoods of Wilhelmina Rise and Maunalani Heights, Kaimuki contains multitudes. Spend time on Waialae Ave and it seems like the neighborhood is the ideal shopping village, with an eclectic mix of businesses and food spots.
Looking for artisanal pet products? Check out The Public Pet. A hipster haircut? The Black Cat Salon. A shop that only sells cheesecake? Otto Cake. Hot yoga? Yoga Room. A private movie theater? The Movie Museum. You get the point—Kaimuki has them all, and then some.
Veer north or south of Waialae, however, and it doesn’t take more than a block to feel ensconced in the quiet peace of the residential areas, where lawns and gardens are lovingly tended and children play in yards.
Kaimuki is great for families, with excellent public schools, plentiful parks, and the safety that comes with living in a tight knit community.
Pet parents love living in Kaimuki, too, for its walkability and the several dog parks around the ‘hood. Plus, many restaurants embrace canine companions at their outdoor cafes.
Life in Kaimuki is stylish without ever being pretentious, relaxed without lacking vibrance: a perfect balance of the social, the culinary, the cultural, and the outdoors.
At the top of the neighborhood’s boundary at Wilhelmina Rise, you’ll find the (easy to miss) trailhead to Mau‘umae Trail, also known as Lanipo. Nearly seven challenging roundtrip miles of constant ascents and descents are rewarded by a spectacular sweeping view (on clear days) and an astonishing array of plant life and flowers.
Living on the south side of Kaimuki, you may find yourself close enough to walk or jog to Diamond Head beach, while residents of the ridge neighborhoods quickly become accustomed to getting in the car every time they want to go “down the hill”.
Real estate in the ridge neighborhoods tends to run higher than on streets closer to Waialae, where there are occasional steals to be found by patient buyers.
It is genuinely possible to eat all your meals out, all right on Waialae Ave: start the day with a takeout espresso at tiny French café Bean About Town, brunch on “Dumplings All Day Wong” at Top Chef alum Lee Anne Wong’s epic local-fusion spot Koko Head Cafe, and enjoy an elegant dinner at 12thAvenue Grill or at one of Ed Kenney’s beloved dinner spots (conveniently situated kitty-corner from each other on Waialae Ave.), Town and Mud Hen Water.
As you walk around the neighborhood, keep an eye out for the quietly amazing collection of public art brought to Kaimuki by artist Jennifer Noel’s Street Art Hawai‘i project—you’ll find everything from full murals to adorned newspaper boxes, all created by local artists.