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Fun Things to Do in Kakaʻako, Oahu

Beautiful aerial shot of Kakaʻako, Oahu

There’s never a dull moment when you live in beautiful Kakaʻako.

A lively, sun-drenched neighborhood, Kakaʻako is a former industrial district now famous for its stunning seaside views, upscale amenities and shopping, sought-after real estate properties, and its near-endless list of amazing activities.

Ready to spend your days in Kakaʻako? Here’s everything you need to know about life in this tropical paradise:

Kakaʻako, in a nutshell

Located in the heart of Honolulu, Kakaʻako started out as a collection of fishing villages, farms, and salt ponds before its industrialization in the 1800s. Its transformation into the forefront of Honolulu’s food, fashion, business, and culture scene can be credited to several developments. One was the Kamehameha Schools’ $60-million “Our Kaka‘ako” project; the other, the 60-acre master-planned Ward Village by the Howard Hughes Corporation.

A tropical paradise in every sense of the word, Kakaʻako’s consistently balmy weather – daily temperatures in the neighborhood usually range between 70°F and 85°F – makes it the perfect venue for activities like swimming and surfing at Waikiki Beach and outdoor yoga at Ward Village.

Students in Kakaʻako are usually enrolled in public schools operating under the Honolulu District of the Hawaii Department of Education. There are, however, private schools within Honolulu and its surrounding areas.

Because of developments in the general Honolulu area, Kakaʻako enjoys a relatively robust economy, with residents earning a median household income of around $76,000. This, coupled with the job opportunities in the city and its job-friendly atmosphere, allows residents to maintain a high quality of life.

Things to do in Kakaʻako

Deep Blue Waters of Kakaʻako with lots of surfers

As one of Hawaiʻi’s most famous destinations, there is no shortage of things to do in Kakaʻako. Here are some of them:

Dive into the deep blue waters of Kakaʻako

Given its location in beautiful Oahu, Kakaʻako is surrounded by gorgeous, sapphire waters boasting some of the best waves and swells in all of Hawaii. Which makes Kakaʻako one of the best places to live for surfers and adventurers.

Some of the most stunning beaches and surf spots near this neighborhood include the following:

  • Waikiki Beach. One of Hawaii’s most iconic landmarks, Waikiki Beach is best known for bodyboarding, surfing, and outrigger canoeing on its rolling waves.
  • Hanauma Bay. Located about 12 miles northeast from Kakaʻako, Hanauma Bay is a stunning marine life conservation area and underwater park. Observe an amazing array of colorful tropical fish, corals, and green sea turtles. Hanauma Bay is best for snorkeling and swimming.
  • Magic Island. The man-made peninsula of Magic Island lies between Ala Moana Beach Park and the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor. The site of a planned resort, the area has since found new life as a prime spot for scuba diving, fishing, and bodyboarding.

Explore the parks and nature reserves of Kakaʻako

Kakaʻako is located near nature reserves and public parks, making it the perfect neighborhood for those who wish to explore and enjoy nature while still living in an urban environment.

Some of the must-visit outdoor attractions that can be found near the area include the following:

  • Kaka‘ako Waterfront Park. Also known to locals as Point Panic Park, this 35-acre public park is located 1.4 miles south of downtown Honolulu. Residents consider it a good place for picnics and shoreline fishing, as well as accessing the island’s offshore surf and dive sites. Kaka‘ako Waterfront Park is also home to Eat The Street, a monthly culinary event that features some of Oahu’s tastiest culinary offerings.
  • Kewalo Basin Park. Just across Ward Village, this hidden park is known for its awesome views of the Diamond Head State Monument. Use the park steps to descend to the ocean waters instead of walking down rocks. Then enjoy long boarding, short boarding, and stand-up paddling.
  • Ala Moana Regional Park. Nestled between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu, this 100-acre park is famous for its stunning sunset views. It’s also a popular spot for friendly beach volleyball games, picnics, and short hikes.
  • Victoria Ward Park. If you are in the mood to work out under the sun, drop by Victoria Ward Park. Located near the urban core of Honolulu, Victoria Ward Park offers free classes from CorePower Yoga, an essential part of any fitness enthusiast’s “things to do in Kakaʻako” checklist.

Enjoy Kakaʻako’s vibrant food scene

a woman holding a Kakaʻako’s vibrant food

Reflecting the diversity of its population, Kakaʻako’s food scene is one of the most colorful in the entire state. So it comes as no surprise that tourists and new residents add food crawls to their list of things to do in Kakaʻako.

You can have a taste of Kakaʻako’s vibrant dining scene by visiting SALT, a sprawling commercial complex in the Our Kakaʻako area that houses some of the best restaurants and eateries in Honolulu.

Some of the must-try restaurants in Kakaʻako include:

  • Moku Kitchen. Located at SALT, Moku Kitchen prides itself in solely using locally sourced ingredients. It’s part of the restaurant’s goal of introducing the produce of Hawaii’s rich farming and ranching heritage to a modern, urban palate. Specialty dishes include fish tacos, steak frites, and saimin.
  • RedFish Poke Bar. A Kakaʻako favorite, Redfish Poke Bar is known for using only the freshest ahi, hamachi, salmon, shrimp, and other seafood for its bowls. All can be customized to the diner’s preference.
  • Highway Inn Kakaʻako. Founded in 1947, Highway Inn Kakaʻako is a no-frills restaurant serving traditional, homestyle Hawaiian fare. On its 75th year, Highway Inn Kakaʻako has embraced a farm-to-table philosophy and is especially famous for a tasting plate that brings together lomi salmon, lau lau, poi, squid luau, kalua pig, chicken long rice, and sweet potato in one sumptuous meal.
  • Scratch Kitchen & Meatery. Scratch Kitchen in South Shore Market is a staple of the Kakaʻako food scene. It specializes in giving a unique twist to local and Southern-inspired dishes like pork chop pasta, barbecued short rib, and milk ‘n’ cereal pancakes.
  • Thydas Tacos.Those looking to satisfy their cravings for Mexican street food should head over to Queen Street in Honolulu. Thyda’s Tacos is a brightly decorated food truck serving some of the best tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and rice bowls this side of Oahu.

Shop your way around Kakaʻako

Kakaʻako isn’t all about beaches and the great outdoors. This vibrant neighborhood is an equally great place for needed retail therapy. Make finding the best deals one of the things to do in Kakaʻako at:

  • Ala Moana Center. The largest open-air shopping center in the entire world, the Ala Moana Center is home to almost 350 stores, including those of luxury brands like Balenciaga, Bulgari, Chanel, and Dolce & Gabbana. This Honolulu landmark has top-notch restaurants and cinemas, as well. The mix of shops, eats, and entertainment cements the center’s status as a premier destination in Hawaii.
  • Kakaʻako Farmers Market. In Ward Village, Kaka‘ako Farmers Market is the go-to place for fresh, locally grown produce, baked goods, and home-cooked meals.
  • SALT At Our Kakaʻako. One of the newest additions to Kaka‘ako’s retail landscape, SALT At Our Kaka‘ako spans 85,000 square feet and offers shoppers a well-curated selection of boutiques, restaurants, retail outlets, and department stores. SALT At Our Kaka‘ako is also home to stunning art made by local and international artists, making it one of Honolulu’s must-visit sites.
  • Royal Hawaiian Center. At 310,000 square feet, the Royal Hawaiian Center is one of the premier shopping, dining, and entertainment destinations in Oahu. It’s 2.4 miles from Kaka‘ako.
  • Honolulu Night Market. Those looking for good deals on local goods and traditional Hawaiian street food can pay a visit to the Honolulu Night Market. This open-air event is set to make a triumphant return to Our Kaka‘ako with over 50 local food and retail vendors, local DJs and musicians, fashion designers, and artists.

Immerse yourself in Kakaʻako’s art and culture

Iolani Palace in Kakaʻako

Kakaʻako’s thriving art scene can be seen in the museums, galleries, music halls, and performance spaces dotted throughout the neighborhood. Check them out for some of the best local talent and artistry.

When it comes to annual events, “Pow! Wow! Hawaii” brings together artists from all over the world to create murals in public places.

Meanwhile, fans of outdoor concerts can find their spot at the South Shore Market Courtyard in Ward Village. The venue is launching the Aloha Friday Music Series, featuring local musicians in live performances scheduled throughout the month of July 2022.

Other important cultural landmarks near Kakaʻako include the following:

  • ʻIolani Palace. The royal residence of the rulers of the Kingdom of Hawaii, ʻIolani Palace is a National Historic Landmark noted for its grandeur and opulence. The only royal palace on US soil, ʻIolani Palace now serves as a museum featuring meticulously-restored grounds and interiors that showcase Hawaii’s royal heritage.
  • Neal S. Blaisdell Center. Located near downtown Honolulu, the Neal S. Blaisdell Center boasts an 8,800-seater arena and a 2,158-seater concert hall. Both stages have seen some of the world’s most legendary performers like Elvis Presley, Mariah Carey, Metallica, Elton John, Bruno Mars, No Doubt, and Janet Jackson.
  • Hawaii State Art Museum. The museum was once known as HiSam, a former hotel that’s a short walk from ʻIolani Palace. Its permanent exhibit showcases the work of Hawaiian artists, while the museum’s lush greenery boasts an amazing sculpture garden.
  • Honolulu Museum of Art. First opened in 1927, the museum is known for having one of the largest single collections of Asian and Pan-Pacific art in the country. It was formerly known as the Honolulu Academy of Arts but now hosts the Honolulu Museum of Art School, which holds studio art classes and workshops for children and adults, as well as the Doris Duke Theater, which screens movies, stages concerts, and holds lectures and presentations.
  • Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii. The nonprofit showcases the heritage of Hawaii’s Japanese community. First opened to the public in May of 1987, the center has a permanent exhibit entitled, “Okage Sama De: I Am What I Am Because of You.” The exhibit opened in 1995 and tells the history of Hawaii’s Japanese community, from the time they first set foot on the islands in 1868 to their post-war life in Hawaii.

Homes for sale or rent in Kakaʻako

If Kakaʻako sounds like the kind of neighborhood you’d like to be part of, begin by browsing luxury homes that don’t skimp on breathtaking mountain and ocean views or stellar amenities and luxurious interiors.

You’ll find large private estates, ultra-modern condos, and well-appointed beachfront properties, most of which are conveniently located near the downtown area.

All come in an impressive variety of architectural styles, including Territorial, Plantation, Hawaiian Romanesque, Spanish Mission, Shaker Style, Beaux-Arts and Art Deco, Mid-Century Modern, and Contemporary.

Whatever style you prefer, the substance of each home lies in their outstanding features. You’ll find lanais and other outdoor living spaces, open floor plans that ensure maximum natural ventilation and lighting, fully equipped professional kitchens, spa-style bathrooms, spacious bedrooms, multi-car garages, and swimming pools.

Condos in Kakaʻako are just as generously appointed. Expect spacious floor plans, large windows for unobstructed coastline and mountain views, high ceilings, late model appliances, and resort-style amenities.

The real estate market in Kakaʻako

Kakaʻako Beach in front of tall buildings

Like much of the United States, Kakaʻako’s real estate market is highly competitive.

In April 2022, homes for sale in Kakaʻako had a median price of about $748,000, or roughly $942 per square foot. Some homes in the area, however, have been known to sell for as much as $4.9 million. Prices for condos in Kakaʻako, meanwhile, tend to range from $500,000 to $1.5 million, depending on their location. Luxury condos, on the other hand, can easily fetch up to $5 million.

At present, homes in Kakaʻako tend to go under contract 44 days after being put on the market, a marked improvement compared to 2021, which saw homes spend 65 days on the market after being listed.

Given current home prices, it’s not surprising for Kakaʻako to have a robust rental market, with rents ranging from $1,700 to $6,000 per month.

Home values in Kakaʻako and the rest of Honolulu are expected to continue rising within the foreseeable future. This is because of the steady uptick in demand and low inventory. Borrowing costs are also seeing a hike, further adding to the increase in home values.

Another factor affecting Kakaʻako’s real estate market is the influx of foreign buyers, most of whom are on the lookout for vacation homes and investment properties. This increase is likely to drive up property values in the area.

Invest in Kakaʻako’s real estate with a trusted Realtor

Investing in an exquisite tropical paradise like Kakaʻako can be a seamless and stress-free real estate buying process – especially if you work with Marshall C. Mower.

One of Hawaii’s most sought-after real estate experts, Marshall C. Mower is an award-winning, well-respected, and trusted Realtor best known for helping buyers and investors zero in on luxury real estate properties that perfectly fit his clients’ lifestyle and investment goals.

Operating under Compass, Marshall C. Mower has more than 20 years of experience in the real estate industry. He has successfully carved a reputation for using his market expertise, professionalism, and expert-level negotiation and communication skills to secure good deals for all of his clients.

Said one long-time client of working with Marshall:

“Marshall has represented our family in three separate sales transactions over a 15-year period. His deep knowledge and experience in the business is undeniable, only overshadowed by the caring and compassion that he shows for his clients. Marshall is a skilled negotiator who will thoroughly research a situation before providing a recommendation. He has always been on point and unafraid to deal with any obstacle head on. His communication skills and unrelenting follow up is simply the BEST.” – Durwin T.

Read more Testimonials here.

No matter the state of the real estate market in Hawaii, Marshall C. Mower will find a solution that works for you. Give him a call today at 808.277.7878, or send him a message here to get things started.

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