O’ahu’s Kaimuki Neighborhood Offers Great Lifestyle and Investment Opportunities
If you’re looking for a home that provides convenient, easy access to tons of amenities—as well as a laid-back, active lifestyle—look no further than Kaimuki. Nestled cozily behind Diamond Head Crater, this desirable neighborhood offers proximity to great restaurants, beaches, Waikiki, and Honolulu’s downtown business district—not to mention loads of active, outdoor pursuits right at your doorstep.
Kaimuki sits at the epicenter of a foodie’s dream, bordered by bustling Kapahulu Avenue to the west, and intersected by Wai‘alae Avenue to the north. It is home to urban-chic eateries and a recent blossoming of food-focused bistros, bars, and cafés. If you’re a food lover, Kaimuki is a wonderful place to live, with culinary offerings to please just about every palate.
If you’re looking to invest in O‘ahu real estate, Kaimuki is one of the island’s most popular neighborhoods, due to its excellent schools, many amenities, and proximity to great beaches, surfing, and Waikiki. Best of all, it’s a super short commute (especially by Honolulu standards) to the downtown business center of Honolulu.
Farm-to-Table Casual & Fine Dining
But let’s start with the food scene, beginning with legendary local chef Ed Kenney’s Mud Hen Water, an intimate, local hang-out on Kaimuki’s main drag. It takes its unusual name from the literal translation of Kaimuki’s Wai‘alae Avenue, where it’s located. Wai‘alae Avenue is home to two more neighborhood favorites from Kenney, a leader in the farm-to-table movement on O‘ahu. He began a renaissance of the area when he opened Town to rave reviews in 2005. Following that success, Kenney subsequently launched Mud Hen Water, and more recently, his casual breakfast and lunch joint—Kaimuki Superette.
Since Kenney set the tone a dozen years ago, other notable restaurants have been popping up on both sides of this wide avenue, and on its side streets, too. 12th Avenue Grill serves up comfort food and a wonderful wine list, and you can enjoy great people watching around its lively bar. For the health conscious, there’s the newly opened Vegan Hills, as well as Leahi Health Bar and Sprout Sandwich Shop. If you’re looking to indulge your sweet tooth, you’ll find a proper French pâtisserie down the street at JJ’s French Pastry & Bistro.
To the west, Kapahulu Avenue is a treasure trove of yummy local treats and ethnic foods from around the globe. Sushi, Phở, Thai — the choice is yours! In Kaimuki, you can choose from authentic Jawaiian jerk chicken, Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and more.
Like it’s North Shore counterpart, Kapahulu’s outpost of Kono’s serves up Kalua pork and an array of tempting milkshake flavors (creamsicle, anyone?), as well as wraps, sandwiches, and burritos, called “breakfast bombers”, that are named after local surf spots. Along the Kapahulu strip, you’ll also find Sweet E’s Cafe, Big City Diner, and the ever-popular Side Street Inn on Da Strip, specializing in Asian-influenced dishes that are local faves.
When you’re ready to work off all those delicious meals, Diamond Head State Monument is sits at the heart of Kaimuki, with a short, steep hike that takes you up trails, through tunnels, up butt-busting stairs, and finally to a sweeping view of Waikiki, the foothills of the Ko‘olau Range, and the sparkling blue Pacific. Diamond Head Crater also offers a natural, scenic loop for runners that circles the bottom of the cone, meandering through the beautiful Kapi‘olani Park, around Diamond Head Road, skirting the luxe Black Point and Kahala neighborhoods, and back around to Monsarrat Avenue. Best of all, Kaimuki is a walk or a bike ride away from Hawaii’s favorite pastime. The neighborhood is encircled by beautiful shoreline, home to dozens of excellent surf breaks dotting the perimeter of Diamond Head and Black Point. This area boasts the biggest concentration of rideable waves on the island, outside of O‘ahu’s storied and legendary North Shore.
After your hike or run at Diamond Head, you can get lots of fresh local produce at O’ahu’s biggest farmers’ market, an enormous pop-up event that happens in the vast Kapi‘olani Community College parking lot on Sunday mornings, right at the bottom of the entrance to the state park. Many Kaimuki residents ride their bikes or walk, picking up their week’s worth of the freshest, locally grown and prepared foods for a fraction of the cost of local supermarkets. Red-faced runners and surfers can often be found at Monsarrat Avenue eateries like Bogart’s, renowned for their delicious, hearty breakfasts, or noshing on one the best açai bowls on the island at “Da Cove” Health Bar.
And then there’s’ the beaches…. Kaimuki has so many that are close at hand and each one has a different vibe. Kaimana Beach, fronting the skirt of Diamond Head, is full of families, surfers, and those getting their fitness on by swimming out to the flag and back for a relaxing loll on the powder sand. To the east, you can hike down behind Diamond Head Cliffs to Diamond Head Beach Park for a private, quiet day watching surfers riding the many breaks visible from the shoreline. Further along, towards Black Point and the Doris Duke’s Shangri-La, you’ll find Cromwell’s Cove. To the west, all of the many attractions of Waikiki Beach await and are just a short walk, bike, or UBER ride away for those that call Kaimuki home. For the kids, the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium are right on your doorstep, too.
For students, Kaimuki provides easy access to Chaminade University, UH Manoa, and Kapi‘olani Community College (KCC). Local public schools are some of the highest rated on the island, and for those who choose the private option, Kaimuki is about 15 minutes drive to both Punahou and ‘Iolani Schools. The neighborhood is also home to semi-private Catholic schools: Sacred Hearts Academy for girls and Saint Louis School for boys.
Theatre, Great Views, and Proximity to Waikiki and Downtown Honolulu
If all this weren’t enough, you can find live entertainment at Diamond Head Theatre, right in the heart of Kaimuki next to KCC, with several new plays and musicals every year. Ward’s Rafters is the hidden home of jazz and blues, tucked into a residential street behind KCC. Local musicians have made themselves at home in the attic of the Ward family home, with live performances on Thursdays through Sundays, at no cost (they pass a donation basket around for the band). O‘ahu residents come from across the island, bringing their own wine and snacks, to camp out and catch some live music in this most unique of venues, with a sweeping view of Hawai‘i Kai and Koko Crater from this Maunaloa Avenue home.
And this isn’t the only home with a gorgeous view. From the vantage point of the winding Sierra Drive and Wilhelmina Rise area, Kaimuki residents enjoy gorgeous ocean vistas and views of Diamond Head and Waikiki. Kaimuki is replete with older, plantation style-homes with character–with wood floors, board and batten construction, and beautiful, mature trees. Residents also enjoy fast access to Waikiki, to downtown Honolulu, to the many amenities and surf spots of nearby Hawai‘i Kai.
Kaimuki is noted as one of the hottest neighborhoods on O’ahu right now, and it’s proving to be a fantastic investment to buy here. Price points are now in the $1 million dollar range, and most homes are seeing multiple offers. With so many conveniences and amenities, Kaimuki is giving the posh Kahala area next door a run for its money.