Nestled in a lush valley at the base of the Ko‘olau mountain range, Manoa is primarily residential, with the notable exception of the University of Hawai‘i campus, which is seated at the south border of the neighborhood.
1. WHAT TO EXPECT
Beautiful pre-1960s architecture with glorious views of the mountains, daily rain and accompanying rainbows, vibrant plants and flowers, a strong neighborhood feeling with little transience and many multi-generation residents.
2. THE LIFESTYLE
Laid-back, quiet, and community-oriented, with plentiful jungle hiking trails and regular sports entertainment at UH.
3. WHAT NOT TO EXPECT
The beach—Manoa is a landlocked neighborhood, so hiking is the primary outdoor activity on offer.
4. THE MARKET
Stately single family residences in traditional architectural styles, from plantation to mid century Modern, with rare new construction and significant renovation.
5. YOU’LL FALL IN LOVE WITH
The daily rainbows, which can be relied upon even during the dry(er) season, and which sometimes come in doubles!
Single Family Homes, Hiker’s Paradise, Unique Architecture, Outdoor Space, Tight-Knit Community, Escape From Town, Quiet & Serene
Airport: 20m by car
Downtown: 15m by car
Diamond Head: 20m by car
North Shore: 45m by car
Kapolei: 35m by car
East to West Wa‘ahila Ridge to Manoa Rd.
North to South Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve to Lunalilo Freeway
Nearby Neighborhoods Downtown Honolulu, McCully-Moiliili, Makikiki, Kaimuki, Ala Moana, Waikiki
Stretching deep into the jungly reaches of the Ko‘olaus, Manoa is a perfect combination of small town suburban feel and epic natural splendor, a truly a beautiful place to call home. Popular hikes abound, with trailheads hidden in the backs of residential streets where the single family homes built in classic island architectural styles are fronted by uniformly well-manicured lawns and gardens.
Horticulture is big here, with many homes fronted by magnificent fruit trees and tropical flower gardens. The near-daily rainfall often comes in the form of gentle mist (though downpours are not uncommon), making for easy tending of orchids and other delicate plants.
Manoa can be thought of as two distinct neighborhoods: Upper Manoa, which is comprised of residential streets and goes all the way back to the base of the mountains, and Lower Manoa, meaning the University of Hawai‘i campus and the small commercial area just north of it.
Upper Manoa is all about home vibes—here you’ll find your neighbors (who will know you by your first name) out gardening on their lawns, walking their dogs, and trying to quickly hang their laundry before the next rain comes. The vibe here is friendly and community oriented, never anonymous or transient like some of the bigger and more urban areas nearby.
Lower Manoa, on the other hand, is all about the university, and feels much busier. Between football, basketball, and beach volleyball seasons, there are always large sporting events to attend, and UH campus is a hub for cultural and artistic happenings, many of which are open to the public. You will, however, battle for street parking with several thousand students on this side of Manoa, so for true tranquility, it’s all about the upper valley.
Small businesses and community and cultural sites make up the core of Manoa life, from the excellent Morning Glass Coffee and the sweet Manoa Valley Theatre to the farmers market at Manoa Marketplace.
Near the university, streets are highly bikeable, walkable (and skate-boardable, if you’re brave and nimble enough), but up in the Valley a car that handles slippery roads is key.
Waikiki and Ala Moana beaches are a quick drive from the center of Manoa, but if your fantasy lifestyle includes walking to the surf with your board on your head, this is not your ‘hood.
The heavy influx of commuter students at UH starts in September and doesn’t dissipate until summer break, so some expectation management in terms of traffic and parking is necessary, especially in Lower Manoa and on UH game days.
Manoa is full of architectural jewels on the Hawai‘i Home and National Register of Historic Places, many tucked away behind twisty driveways and generous tree cover. A house tour—whether official or DIY—will include historic homes in styles like Queen Anne revival, Craftsman bungalow, and Prairie School. These historic homes don’t come on the market often, so when they do, it’s a hectic race from hip pocket to closing.
The popular Manoa Falls Trail, accessed through the back of upper Manoa Valley, is a quick, wet, and gorgeous jungle hike, accessible to moderately fit and mobile hikers, and ends with a stunning (and highly Instagrammable) waterfall with a small freshwater pool where some folks like to slough off their hiking clothes and take a dip.