Kailua is best known for its natural beauty & outdoor activities.
For almost a century, Kahala has been the premier residential address for Hawaii’s iconic tropical paradise. Luxury oceanfront homes are legendary and often appear in the most fashionable design and decorator publications. Kahala townhouses and condos are the most “affordable” by Hawaii standards, but they are not on the market often. The same can be said of the sought-after 1,200 homes makai (oceanside) of Waialae Ave. Kahala’s residential luxury is a result of its scenic coastline and beachfront location and its lush, colorful tropical beauty.
Kahala is where the action is - and where it isn’t. Known worldwide to be an exclusive upscale neighborhood, Kahala homes on spacious lots exude mid-Pacific coastal elegance. Sheltered from the bustle of Waikiki by Diamond Head crater, the residential streets are quiet, the atmosphere is relaxed and unpretentious despite residential grandeur, and the beachfront is classic. All this, and yet, Kahala’s location puts it minutes away from all the amenities and attractions urban Honolulu has to offer.
The boundaries of Kahala are from the oceanfront to Waiʻalae Ave. and from the Waiʻalae Golf Course to Hunakai and Elepaio Sts. near Diamond Head. While homes may be demolished and new ones built or large lots combined for even more spaciousness, there is no further land for residential expansion.
Kahala is surrounded by elegant neighborhoods. If you're interested in living nearby, you'll want to look at the homes for sale in Diamond Head or the homes for sale in Hawaii Kai. Also, close to Kahala is the historic neighborhood of Kaimuki.
Although there was some residential development in the 1920s, Kahala was “country,” with livestock and dairy farmers, and even a forest. In 1927, the Waiʻalae Golf Course and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki were opened to attract more cruise ship passengers to Hawaii.
In the 1930s, among the Kahala farms were new streets lined with Hawaiian-style cottages and bungalows. In nearby Black Point below Diamond Head, American heiress Doris Duke was building her estate named Shangri-la.
In the late 1940s, the forest had been cleared, and the beautiful beachfronts and flat topography of Kahala became ever more popular. The farms were bought out to make way for more homes. Large lots were sold and housing styles of the era were built, mostly ranch styles for inland lots and numerous fashionable designer styles along the beachfront. The inland homes at this time were more affordable middle-class housing, partly owing to the leasehold status of the Kahala land, owned by the former Bishop Estate.
In the 1960s, though generally opposed by residents, the Kahala Hilton Hotel was built oceanside and nestled up against the golf course. However, despite opposition, the luxury hotel, The Kahala Hotel and Resort today, appears to have maintained and enhanced the exclusive image of Kahala.
In the 1980s, homeowners could purchase their leases and convert from leasehold to fee simple. The hotel, golf course, and the luxury Kahala Beach Apartments are still on lease land owned by Kamehameha Schools (formerly Bishop Estate). The lease for the apartments is expiring in 2027 and is not being renewed.
The demand in the second half of the century for Kahala properties continues today, reflected in the year-after-year appreciating values of lots and homes. A modest but charming 3-bedroom, 2-bath recently sold for over $2,000,000 and $100,000 over its list price.
Kahala’s culture is affluent but pleasingly relaxed. Kahala is a mix of longtime and prominent local residents and offshore second-home owners, often celebrities in their fields. However, all these residents come home to unwind and enjoy the beauty and tranquility Kahala affords.
Residents enjoy their privacy but are neighborly. They greet on the streets and support community events, from school fundraisers to two major televised events occurring in Kahala: the annual Sony Open golf tournament at the Waiʻalae Country Club and the annual Honolulu Marathon with almost 30,000 runners routed out and back through Kahala.
However, both the freeway and the city streets can be very slow during rush hour. The traffic can also be slow heading east on Kalaniana’ole Hwy. in the morning, but not as bad.
Even when it isn’t rush hour, Honolulu streets are crowded. Many people use a smartphone app to find the fastest route.
The Bus, public transportation, has routes from Kahala to downtown Honolulu, Waikiki, the University of Hawai’i, and other Central and Windward Oahu destinations.
The public schools serving Kahala are an elementary school (PK-5), middle school (6- 8), and high school (9-12). Kaimuki Middle School is a few blocks west of Hunakai St. It has a 9 out of 10 school rating according to Great Schools criteria. Kalani High School also rates 9 out of 10 and is far above the state average in preparing students for college. Though to the east of the Kahala boundary, the high school is just minutes away on Kalaniana’ole Hwy.
Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic School (K-8) is mauka of Waiʻalae Ave. on Malia St. Several private schools are located west of Kahala and easily accessed via the H-1 freeway.
Kahala and Kaimuki have pre-kindergarten schools.
University of Hawai’i Kapi’olani Community College is west of Kahala and just beyond Kaimuki Middle School.
Honolulu has several outstanding hospitals. Straub Medical Center, The Queen’s Medical Center, Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women and Children, and Shriners Children’s Hospital are all within minutes of Kahala via the H-1 Freeway.
Straub received the America’s 250 Best Hospital Award in 2020 and 2021 and the Outstanding Patient Experience Award for the past 12 years. Straub is currently working on the first phase of a new state-of-the-art hospital facility in the same area as its present facility. Kapi’olani Medical Center is a member of the Hawai’i Pacific Health system, which includes Straub.
The Queen’s Medical Center is recognized as a Magnet hospital, the highest national honor for nursing excellence.
On the western boundaries of Honolulu, Kaiser Permanente’s Moanalua Medical Center and Tripler Army Medical Center for military personnel, their dependents, and retirees are accessible via the H-1 Freeway.
Island Urgent Care is located across from the Kahala Mall. Straub and Kaiser also have urgent care medical centers in various Honolulu locations.
The Kahala lifestyle includes healthy activities, taking advantage of the glorious sunshine and beautiful weather afforded by this attractive location on the leeward coast.
While the ocean and its beaches are attractive aspects of living in Kahala, its natural landscapes along the streets and verdant growth surrounding beautiful homes are also attractions. Walking, jogging, or biking in Kahala is touring delightful streets of old and new, yesterday and today, and eras gone by and new eras reflecting today’s interpretation of tropical residential living.
With access to the beaches, surfers, kayakers, windsurfers, and canoe and stand-up paddlers all enjoy their activities. Other than Kahala Beach and the Kahala Hotel Beach, the beaches are not very wide and can be rocky, but sunbathers can relax on the sand and watch all the ocean action.
With country club membership, golfers play on Kahala’s course, the Waiʻalae Country Club, host of the Sony Open.
Kahala Community Park is a city and county park with tennis/pickleball, volleyball, and basketball courts and baseball diamonds. Other smaller parks are locally maintained for residents’ enjoyment.
Kahala Mall has Macy’s, Whole Foods, and 100 other stores and restaurants. Across from Kahala Mall on Waiʻalae Ave. is Ku’ono Marketplace, anchored by Foodland, a local grocery store chain. Across from Kahala Mall on Hunakai St. is Times Supermarket, another local grocery store chain. Three choices within minutes of one another for fresh organic foods highlights Kahala’s healthy lifestyle.
While Waikiki is only minutes away along scenic Diamond Head Rd., Kahala has a cornucopia of eating options, from snacks to fine dining. Both the Kahala Mall and the Ku’ono Marketplace have casual eating choices, including many of the popular franchises.
For fine dining, ocean views, and contemporary island cuisine with Hawaiian and Asian flavors, Hoku’s is in the Kahala Hotel and Resort. Hoku’s received the 2021 Ilima Awards: Critic’s Choice Best Restaurant Award from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The dress code is tropical Aloha wear (No T-shirts or athletic wear. No slippahs!)
Kailua is best known for its natural beauty & outdoor activities.
An older, charming neighborhood known for its quality schools.
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A mom-and-pop neighborhood evolving from historic to hip.
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Good local food, exceptional surf, and amazing ocean views.
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