Kakaʻako Neighborhood Guide

The newly revitalized neighborhood of Kaka‘ako is hip and hospitable – with beautiful apartments, a convenient waterfront location, excellent eats, fun festivals, and cultural events. Located between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu, the old warehouses of Kaka‘ako are adorned in extravagant murals, many which were painted by local and global artists during the yearly POW! WOW! festival.

There continues to be an influx of trendy businesses, like microbreweries, hidden speakeasies, luxury shops, and more. A range of apartment prices exists, from affordable housing studios to luxury penthouses, making Kaka‘ako one of the hottest neighborhoods on O‘ahu. 

Interesting Facts

  • Eat the Street and the Honolulu Night Market are lively neighborhood events which attract thousands of locals and visitors each month.
  • Kaka‘ako is home to the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine, which is named after Hawaii’s second governor. 
  • Kaka‘ako’s waters were once used by Native Hawaiians for fishing, cleansing, and religious practices.

Transportation

Commute Time. Walk or bike to downtown Honolulu from Kaka‘ako. When the train is completed, it will have a stop in Kaka‘ako. If you would like to hop in the car, it is about 5 minutes to downtown Honolulu from Ward Avenue or 30 minutes to Kapolei.

Buses. TheBUS serves Kaka‘ako with routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 13, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 40, 42, 51, 52, 55, 56, 57, and 57A.

History

Kaka‘ako’s land was once filled with fishing villages that not only cultivated fish but also salt – which was treasured like gold to Native Hawaiians. This important neighborhood was called Kaakaukukui, roughly translated to ‘the northern light,’ describing the pure black sky with its vibrant starlight. Starting in the 1800s, immigrants from around the world would move to camps in Kaka‘ako, creating a diverse community and establishing the neighborhood’s first churches, stores, parks, and even a school, Pohukaina School. In the early 1940s, the neighborhood’s zoning changed from residential to commercial, making Kaka‘ako home to Honolulu’s heavy industries. While iron factories, lumber yards, and shipping warehouses replaced family homes, many legacy families remained in the neighborhood, moving a few blocks away to Ward Avenue. The industrial aspects of Kaka‘ako can still be seen today, with a few functioning auto body shops and warehouse facades transformed into art pieces. The history of Kaka‘ako continues, as more apartments, a new school, and unique shops and restaurants are constructed.

Real Estate Statistics

Restaurants

La Cucina Ristorante Italiano. 725 Kapiolani Boulevard, Ste C112.  Smell the tantalizing aroma while savoring authentic Italian dishes in this cozy restaurant. It’s BYOB and reservations are recommended.

Moku Kitchen. 660 Ala Moana Boulevard. A great gathering spot – for a large group or an intimate date – with delicious island and Asian fusion food. It’s happening during happy hour and they often have live music. 

Highway Inn Kaka‘ako. 680 Ala Moana Boulevard, Ste 105. Local Hawaiian food featuring kālua pig, lomi-lomi salmon, squid lū'au, laulau, and more. They are open for breakfast and offer catering.

Piggy Smalls. 1200 Ala Moana Boulevard, Ste 665. Located in the Ward Village Shops, the popular Piggy Smalls has Vietnamese fusion dishes served in a pleasantly-decorated space. 

Arvo Café. 675 Auahi Street. Proving an aesthetically-pleasing atmosphere, Arvo Café serves beautiful breakfasts and lunches along with decadent drinks and deserts. Try the Loaded Avocado Toast, the Matcha Chia Seed Pudding, and the Lavender Latte!

Honolulu Beerworks. 328 Cooke Street Honolulu, HI 96813. Near to SALT at Kakaako is Honolulu Beerworks, a brew pub opened by Geoff Seideman and his wife Charmayne.

Vino. 500 Ala Moana Boulevard, Ste 6F. Located in Restaurant Row, Vino is a wine bar serving delectable Italian dishes in an ambient, cozy restaurant. In addition to dishes like gnocchi and ravioli, they serve dishes like Sizzling Hamakua Mushrooms and Smoked Pork Belly along with desserts like Vanilla Panna Cotta and Mango Coulis. 

Bevy. 675 Auahi Street, 130. Bevy is a hip, European-like bar that also serves tapas. With seating indoors and outdoors, it provides a great place to meet new or old friends or listen to live music.

The Boiling Crab. 330 Coral Street. Choose your catch: crab, shrimp, lobster, oysters, mussels, crawfish. Then choose your flavor and your spicy level – from non-spicy to XXX. The clean Boiling Crab, located in SALT, is a fun place to suffice your Cajun cravings.

Yanagi Sushi. 767 Kapiolani Boulevard. A huge menu filled with all the Japanese favorites – from sushi to pupus to nabe to noodles – Yanagi is arguably one of the top Japanese restaurants on the island. Stop by from 10:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. for late night specials.

53 by the Sea. 53 Ahui Street. Open the door to the elaborate double staircase and then sit down to a relaxing lunch or dinner with an astonishing view of Diamond Head and Waikiki. 53 by the Sea serves upscale dishes with fresh ingredients – making a meal to remember.

Shopping and Entertainment

Ala Moana Center. 1450 Ala Moana Boulevard. As the largest outdoor shopping mall in the United States, Ala Moana Center is a mecca for shopping and entertainment – from large department stores to local boutiques, a bowling alley to a spa, many sit-down restaurants to a food court with a beer garden.

Ward Village Shops. 1240 Ala Moana Boulevard. Ward Centre offers delicious restaurants for nearly every palate, shops for luxury or bargain buyers, and festivals for fun-goers. Like Kaka‘ako, the construction continues, with a recent addition of Whole Foods Marketplace. 

South Shore Market. 1170 Auahi Street. Located next to T.J.Maxx, Nordstrom Rack, and Pier 1 Imports, South Shore Market displays a variety of cute boutiques with spaces to sit and relax and enjoy a bite to eat. 

Ward Entertainment Center. 1030 Auahi Street. With reclining seats and Titan LUX sound, Consolidated Theatres Ward is a great place to relax and watch a movie. Ward Entertainment Center also houses Dave & Buster’s and Buca di Beppo along with several other restaurants to ensure a fabulous night out.

SALT At Our Kakaako. 691 Auahi Street. Be pampered at a beauty salon, divulge in ice cream, sip a latte, go to happy hour, or be inspired at a gallery – SALT is a modern shopping complex located in the heart of Kaka‘ako. SALT also host various events such as POW! WOW!, Yoga and Brunch, and Mom Made Market. 

Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center. 111 Ohe Street. With interactive exhibits exploring senses, cultures, and more, the Discovery Center is a great place for keiki and the “young-at-heart.”

Neal S. Blaisdell Center. 777 Ward Avenue. Cultural offerings abound at the Blaisdell Center with frequent concerts, comedies, operas, symphonies, and ballets. 

Parks

Kaka‘ako Waterfront Park. 102 Ohe Street. Walk along the promenade and enjoy the scenic ocean view – or throw a fishing pole in the water to try to catch ‘the big one.’ This park also has an amphitheater and areas for picnics. 

Kewalo Basin Park. 1125 Ala Moana Boulevard. This beautiful oceanfront park is a great place to have a BBQ, fish, or take a boat tour. There is plentiful parking along with bathrooms. 

Ala Moana Regional Park. 1201 Ala Moana Boulevard. This 100-acre park with a calm beach also boasts tennis courts and a pavilion. Cycle, skate, swim, frisbee, run, BBQ or have a wedding!

Surf Spots

Kewalos. Parking at Kewalo Basin Park or at the for-pay lot near Ala Moana Boulevard. Paddle out to this high-performance right and left break, and you may spot professional surfers Carissa Moore, Zeke Lau, Alessa Quizon, or Seth and Josh Moniz. Many call this wave “man-made,” as it has evolved over the years with dredging of the harbor. The reef is shallow, and south swells can produce a two to six-foot clean wave.

Biking

Ala Moana Park Path. Made for biking or walking, traveling down the Ala Moana Park Path will give you a view of the sandy beach on one side and lively Honolulu on the other. At either end of the trail are two busy boat harbors: Ala Wai Small Boat Basin to the east and Kewalo Basin to the west. The pathway loops around grassy areas, a promenade, picnic pavilions, restrooms, and drinking water.

Waterfront Park Path. Ride your bike along the Kaka‘ako waterfront, enjoying the views and ocean air and also the safety of the designated path. There are plans to add more bike paths to the Kaka‘ako area to more easily connect the neighborhood to downtown Honolulu and Waikiki.

Hawaii Department of Transportation Bike Map Oahu
Oahu Bicycling League Bike Map

Schools 

Royal Elementary (Public)
1519 Queen Emma Street 
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
808-587-4510
https://www.royalschoolk5.org/
 

“Student achievement in a caring environment remains a priority at Royal Elementary. The teaching staff provides a safe classroom environment that emphasizes the school behavioral expectations of the three B’s: Be Respectful, Be Safe, and Be Responsible. Student progress in reading and math is closely monitored, and students who need additional instruction have access to afterschool tutoring and intersession and summer programs. Royal Elementary holds community meetings to share achievement data and review the school’s academic and financial Plan,” according to hawaiipublicschools.org.

Queen Ka‘ahumanu Elementary (Public)
1141 Kinau Street 
Honolulu, Hawaii 96814
808-587-4414
https://www.qkes.us/
  

“In meeting the academic, cultural and socio-emotional needs of its students, Ka'ahumanu Elementary provides a comprehensive support system. It includes a federal Head Start preschool program; an English language learner program comprised of a Newcomer Support Center; School-Based Behavior Health and school counseling services; a Title I reading program; academic support and enrichment programs; and, an array of services to support a diverse learner. The Ka'ahumanu Parent Ohana, comprised of parents, community members, faculty and staff, provides personnel support and financial resources to sustain initiatives while promoting parent involvement. The School Community Council provides a forum for stakeholders to contribute and support efforts toward raising student achievement and schoolwide improvement,” according to hawaiipublicschools.org.

President George Washington Middle (Public)
1633 S. King Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96826
808-973-0177
https://sites.google.com/a/was...
  

“Washington Middle offers a variety of relevant and rigorous educational opportunities to meet the needs of its diverse population. Support programs provide services to the disadvantaged, second language, special needs, at-risk and academically gifted and talented students. Community service remains an integral part of the educational experience, with teachers planning service-learning opportunities for their students. The school is a state MATHCOUNTS champion and a national champion in chess. Students compete in science fairs, botball and first lego league robotics, spelling bee, video production, art and music competitions, and chess. Athletically, the school offers canoe paddling, wrestling, grade 6 track, cross country, an intramural and extramural program, and Special Olympics. Washington Middle is fortunate to have an active parent organization, the WMS Ohana, as well as the School Community Council to assist in school improvement initiatives,” according to hawaiipublicschools.org.

Central Middle (Public)
1302 Queen Emma Street 
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
808-587-4400
https://www.cmshnl.org/
  

“At Central Middle, educators believe the key to high academic achievement is through the implementation of evidence-based instructional practices in the classroom with fidelity, strong relationships between and among all our stakeholders, rigor and relevance in the curriculum and instruction, and a plethora of learning opportunities to prepare students for high school, college, career and life. In addition, the school values professional development activities that focus on using formative assessments to drive instruction and making informed decisions, implementing research-based instructional strategies, and using data teams and professional learning communities to analyze student work and achievement data,” according to hawaiipublicschools.org.

President William McKinley High (Public)
1039 S. King Street 
Honolulu, Hawaii 96814
808-594-0400
https://www.mckinley.k12.hi.us...
  

“McKinley High has smaller learning communities to support students' transition to high school, strengthen teaching and learning practices and ensure students graduate ready for college and careers. The school has established Freshman Houses where a team of teachers for different subjects share the same students. This places teachers in a stronger position to support their students' progress in all classes. In addition, all freshmen have an upper-class mentor. Students also have a designated time to receive additional instruction and guided support to master key skills and concepts for their classes. Work with teaching and learning strategies will continue with increased emphasis on the Common Core State Standards. Underlying all of the work at McKinley High has been an increased reliance on data,” according to hawaiipublicschools.org.

COMING SOON: Pohukaina Elementary (Public)
690 Pohukaina Street

Hospitals and Health Centers

Island Urgent Care Kakaako
400 Keawe Street #100
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
808-735-0007

The Queen’s Medical Center
1301 Punchbowl Street
Open 24 hours
808-691-1000

Straub Medical Center
888 South King Street
Open 24 hours
808-522-4000

Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women and Children
1319 Punahou Street
Open 24 hours
808-983-6000

Kaiser Permanente Honolulu Medical Office
1010 Pensacola Street
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday
808-432-2000

Kaiser Permanente Moanalua Medical Center
3288 Moanalua Rd, Honolulu, HI 96819
Open 24 hours
808-432-0000

Emergency Hurricane Shelters

The following hurricane evacuation shelters are provided by the City and Country of Honolulu Department of Emergency Management to offer some protection from high winds, flying debris, storm surges, and flooding. If possible, the Department of Emergency Management recommends the public to “Shelter-in-Place.” Note that more information about shelters will be broadcast over local media and official social media sites during an emergency. Also, you should bring a three-day supply of food, water, clothing, medication, personal hygiene items, and a mat or cot for sleeping, since the shelters are not stocked with supplies. 

President William McKinley High 
1039 S. King Street 
Honolulu, Hawaii 96814

Central Middle
1302 Queen Emma Street 
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813

Queen Ka‘ahumanu Elementary 
1141 Kinau Street 
Honolulu, Hawaii 96814

Royal Elementary 
1519 Queen Emma Street 
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813

Tsunami Evacuation Zone Map:
Airport to Waikiki

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