Once an industrial zone and now O‘ahu’s vivid arts area, Kaka‘ako is the south shore’s trendiest neighborhood. The feel in the nabe is reminiscent of Brooklyn, thanks to a mix of well curated boutique retail developments, working artists’ spaces, world class street murals, glassy high rises, and on-the-waterfront vibes. Come for a cappuccino or a tattoo, and you’ll find a diverse community of creative folks who make this hip urban neighborhood a true incubator for arts and culture.
1. WHAT TO EXPECT
Busy and highly walkable, with an abundance of excellent dining and retail plus a long stretch of beachfront: Honolulu for the urbanite.
2. THE LIFESTYLE
Honolulu city culture with beach access, chic & chill.
3. WHAT NOT TO EXPECT
Leafy jungle, empty beaches, quiet, anything from a dated tourist brochure.
4. THE MARKET
Mostly new luxury towers and condos close to the waterfront, along with some entry-level and affordable housing options within.
5. YOU’LL FALL IN LOVE WITH
The bright graphic murals adorning walls throughout the ‘hood, courtesy of arts org Pow!Wow! Hawai‘i, which invites artists from all over the world to visit and paint during their annual festival.
Artsy, Hip, Nightlife, Retail Paradise, Fun People Watching, Pricey, Sleek, Trendy, For Foodies, Fun for Kiddos, Beach
Airport: 15m by car
Downtown: 5m by car
Diamond Head: 15m by car
North Shore: 1hr by car
Kapolei: 30m by car
East to West Pensacola St. to South St.
North to South South Hotel St. to Ocean
Nearby Neighborhoods Ala Moana, Downtown Honolulu, Makiki
Once a Native Hawaiian agricultural community (and the site of one of Kamehameha I’s homes), Kaka‘ako is all about evolution. Its next chapter was as a gritty manufacturing district, and today it is a robust commercial area teeming with arts and creative businesses. As development has progressed, the DIY vibe has held fast, resulting in a special and exciting space where luxury and creativity comingle.
From dawn till last call, there is always a good time to be discovered in this ‘hood, between boutique shopping, foodie adventuring, outdoor activity, and a thriving nightlife and music scene.
With no-fuss access to H1, folks from all over the island make the mini-trek on a regular basis, and while pretty much everyone wishes there was more parking, those in the know like to hop on a Biki and cruise into the neighborhood sans stress.
Food-wise, Kaka‘ako has become a culinary hot zone, and there is truly something for everyone, from snacks at the weekly farmer's market to the ultra-casual but high concept Pig and The Lady spinoff Piggy Smalls to the venerable and schmancy 53 By the Sea.
Kaka’ako is a shopping destination with a decidedly un-mall-like atmosphere: locally owned and branded boutiques make up the majority of the retail offerings. Shopping centers SALT at Our Kaka'ako and South Shore Market bookend the east and west boundaries of the neighborhood; within and between them you will find an impressive range of niche merchants, eateries, and services, all carefully navigating the line between cool and too cool.
At SALT, you can get tattooed at 1 Point Tattoo, drink an artisanal latte at ARVO, find an obscure record at Hungry Ear Records, and have a great meal at MOKU.
Although many locals fondly remember the old days when the area was quieter and less glitzy, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a corner of Kaka‘ako that hasn’t been touched by change. Gone are the days of easy street parking or serene homestyle vibes—newness and change are palpable to all the senses, and the construction isn’t slated to quiet down anytime soon.
Still, Kaka‘ako is a distinctly Hawaiian feeling neighborhood, with great value placed on local and Native culture even within the new paradigm of modern Honolulu.
Kaka‘ako’s popularity as a residential area for young creative professionals has exploded in recent years, and development has surged to meet their needs.
The development of a series of high rises has changed both the horizon and the feel of the neighborhood, with amenity-heavy buildings like Symphony, Waihonua, and The Collection bringing sleek luxury vibes. The new crop of towers (Victoria Place, Ililani, and Ko‘ula) looking at completion by 2022 are sure to enhance that trend.
Whether you’re an artist, a collector, or just an appreciator, you’ll feel and respond to the creativity buzzing in these streets. Collectives like Lana Lane Studios and Fishcake incubate a wide range of artists, makers, and other creatives.
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