Kaka’ako wraps up a royal past, a delicious present, and an exciting future into one beautiful package with a waterfront setting. It is the perfect place to learn more about Honolulu and Oahu’s history while embracing the neighborhood’s cultural, culinary, and artistic diversity.
Don a comfortable pair of walking shoes and prepare for an in-depth exploration of Honolulu’s hippest community.
Table of Contents
Kaka’ako: An introduction
Urban seaside living
Kaka’ako is the ideal option for those who want equal doses of exciting downtown life and laidback oceanfront living. It covers approximately 600 acres along Oahu’s southern shoreline, with the neighborhood neatly divided into nine blocks.
Although much of Kaka’ako looks fairly modern, the neighborhood has been around for hundreds of years. It used to be a collection of fishing villages but was especially prized for its salt production, which can be used in cooking and food preservation, to name a few. Kamehameha I, who united the Hawaiian islands under the Kingdom of Hawaii, had a residence in Kaka’ako that he shared with his family and household.
Modern development in Kaka’ako began sometime in the 19th century, when Honolulu Iron Works attracted more workers and their families to the area. In time, schools, churches, and other community amenities were built. By the 20th century, Kaka’ako completed its transformation from a residential and fishing area into an industrial hub. Today, these old warehouses have been converted into art spaces, restaurants, and other small businesses.
Of Kaka’ako’s 600-acre sprawl, 29 acres is dedicated to the Our Kaka’ako project. This master-planned community is being developed by Kamehameha Schools in partnership with stakeholders such as Stanford Carr. One section (Increment I) is already finished and another part (Increment II) is expected to break ground in 2023.
Our Kaka’ako is designed to be a highly walkable, mixed-use development with real estate options at the heart of the commune and approximately 50,000 square feet of public outdoor space. To date, there are at least 1,300 mixed-income housing options located in Increment I.
Kaka’ako is home to another master-planned community—Ward Village, which covers 60 acres of premium waterfront in the neighborhood. A project of the Howard Hughes Corporation, Ward Village is located directly across Kewalo Harbor and Ala Moana Beach Park.
Once completed, it will be a paragon of pedestrian-friendly mixed-use design inspired by traditional Hawaiian values and culture. Tree-lined walkways and dedicated bike paths weave around the community with the Central Plaza, a 1.5-acre green space, as its core. These two features are integral in Ward Village’s status as a LEED-ND Platinum-certified master-planned community and the only development with this certification in Hawaii.
While Ward Village is still under construction, several condominium complexes have been completed. These include Waiea, Anaha, Aeo, Aalii, Ililani, and Kekilohana. Currently under construction are Koula and Victoria Place.
On the map
Kaka’ako is one of the two neighborhoods tucked squarely between Downtown Honolulu and Waikiki (the other is Ala Moana, located east), fronting Māmala Bay. To its north is the sprawl that is the Makiki – Lower Punchbowl – Tantalus area and the famous Punchbowl Crater, an extinct volcano that now makes one of Honolulu’s most distinctive geographical features.
In total, Kaka’ako spreads across 88 city blocks. It is bordered on all sides by Ala Moana Boulevard, Punchbowl Street, Piikoi Street, and King Street.
How to get around
In Kaka’ako, most residents prefer to drive for work and leisure. But because of its proximity to Honolulu’s urban core, shorter commute times are the norm. On average, a person spends less than 20 minutes preparing to work if they are coming from Kaka’ako. Kaka’ako’s high walkability score also makes it a favorite among those who love to travel on foot.
Public transit is readily available in Kaka’ako. Several routes of TheBUS make stops in Kaka’ako, connecting the neighborhood to other parts of Honolulu. Once the Honolulu Rail Transit is completed, Kaka’ako will be served by the proposed Kukūluae’o or Station 20. Another proposed station, Kālia or Station 21 in Ala Moana Center, will also be accessible.
Where to live: Kaka’ako real estate
Kaka’ako’s urban nature has a significant impact on the local real estate. Options in the neighborhood consist mostly of condos that feature either views of the ocean, Downtown Honolulu, Waikiki, or a mixture of the three. These developments are relatively new and offer a string of high-end amenities.
Condominiums in Kaka’ako include:
Ililani is an under-construction mixed-use development set to tower over Kaka’ako at 42 stories tall. Once finished, the condo will add over 320 affordable (one-bedroom) and market (two-bedroom) residential units to Kaka’ako real estate. Its location in West Kaka’ako will mean easy access to the Honolulu Rail Transit and Downtown Honolulu.
Some of the amenities that will be available at Ililani include an amenity deck, parking, a dipping pool, a co-working space, an e-lounge, garden boxes, an “outdoor cinema experience,” and multi-purpose rooms. Private storage for bikes and surfboards will also be available.
From Ililani, Downtown Honolulu, Keauhou Lane, and SALT are all within walking distance.
Developed by Alexander & Baldwin, The Collection Honolulu is unique among developments in Kaka’ako for offering three different types of housing options under one umbrella.
Those who are interested in investing in Kaka’ako real estate can choose between high-rise condo units, mid-rise condo units, and townhomes with attached garages. Regardless of the property type they choose, they will get to enjoy gourmet kitchens, contemporary living spaces, and energy-saving features like floor-to-ceiling windows with low-e glass coatings.
The Collection Honolulu also offers an array of amenities. The development’s amenity deck is regarded as one of the best in Kaka’ako, featuring bike and surfboard storage, private BBQ cabanas, a pool overlooking Honolulu Harbor, poolside cabanas with accompanying lounge chairs, a pair of Jacuzzi tubs, and a recreation room. Apart from the amenity deck, The Collection Honolulu also has its own fully equipped kitchen.
Like Ililani, The Collection Honolulu is located in Kaka’ako’s western end. SALT and Downtown Honolulu are some of the nearby attractions.
Symphony Honolulu is one of Kaka’ako’s more distinctive sky-rises. Its glittering glass facade is hard to miss, reflecting its environment like a mirror. Located along 888 Kapiolani, it offers more than 380 luxury residential units and penthouses available in one- to three-bedroom floor plans. The entire project was developed by Oliver McMillan, the brains behind Pacifica Honolulu, another luxury high-rise also located in Kaka’ako.
High-end finishes elevate the residences at Symphony Honolulu whether buyers are looking into units or penthouses. These include floor-to-ceiling low-e dual pane windows that maximize the mountain or ocean views, engineered oak floors, Studio Becker kitchen cabinetry, Bosch stainless-steel and Energy Star-compliant appliances, quartz countertops, five-fixture master baths, designer wardrobes, private lanais, and more. In the penthouses, Gaggenau kitchen appliances, great rooms, separate utility rooms, and White Oak interior doors are staples.
Symphony Honolulu does not skimp on amenities. The experience starts at the porte cochère entrance and all the way up to the grand terrace, an open-air recreation area on the seventh floor of the building. Open for residents and their guests, the grand terrace features a fitness center and yoga studio, an infinity-edge pool, a Jacuzzi spa, shaded lounges, barbecue stations, saunas, and entertainment cabanas, to name just a few.
From Symphony Honolulu, Ala Moana Beach Park is a short walk away.
Synonymous with Kaka’ako real estate is Hokua, one of the most established luxury Hawaii condominiums complexes on the “front row” of the neighborhood. Hokua is considered a premier building, setting the standards very high and paving the way for the other high-rise residential projects that followed. Although it is older, Hokua remains a highly sought-after address. Its location right across Ala Moana Beach Park guarantees ocean views that will remain unobstructed for years to come.
Hokua was completed in 2006 and developed by the MacNaughton and Kobayashi groups along 1288 Ala Moana Boulevard. The building stands at 41 stories tall, with 2 floors dedicated to commercial and retail space. In total, Hokua has over 245 residential units laid out in a “V” configuration on each floor. Floor plans are named after letters in the alphabet— the A and G units typically offer the most space, while the D units, located at the center of the building’s “V” shape, are considered by many as the best with its Diamond Head and sunset vistas.
Timeless, elegant, and spacious are three words to describe the residences at Hokua. Built using some of the finest and most durable materials, each unit comes with high ceilings, quality flooring, and floor-to-ceiling windows to take in the incredible views.
The spotlight, however, belongs to Hokua’s amenity deck that dwarfs others in Kaka’ako. Like a private park, Hokua’s amenity deck features dedicated barbecue cabanas, a lap pool, a special events venue for large parties or gatherings, a newly renovated jungle gym for children, a tennis court, a dog park, and a 5,000-square-foot health club that is open 24/7. Residents are also free to reserve any of the five guest suites, which are fully furnished studio units.
Waiea is among the new condo developments in Kaka’ako, but it has firmly planted itself not only in the local real estate but in the entire Oahu and Hawaii housing market as one of the most luxurious residential buildings in the Aloha State.
Located in Ward Village, Waiea has an enviable “front row” location across Ala Moana Beach Park and Kewalo Harbor. It is considerably more exclusive than its neighbors with only 174 residences spread across 36 stories. These housing units include townhouses, penthouses, and “grand” penthouses. All of these residences feature high ceilings (ranging from nine to over ten feet in height), quartz countertops, custom European cabinetry, a complementary mix of hardwood and stone flooring, wine refrigerators, and Miele-equipped gourmet kitchens. Each bathroom features onyx walls, rain showers, and free-standing tubs for a spa-like experience.
Waiea also features a resort-style amenity deck that sets the new standard in Honolulu luxury condo living. At its heart is an infinity-edge pool overlooking the ocean and several private cabanas. Other amenities include a golf simulator, private guest suites, a dedicated dog park, a children’s area with a water feature, a sunset bar, and an elegant fitness and yoga studio. Residents who wish to entertain or indulge in a different dining experience are welcome to use Waiea’s private dining rooms that come with a chef’s kitchen and/or catering.
Would you like to learn more about your options in Kaka’ako real estate? Marshall Mower is your guide. Get in touch with Marshall today or browse this website for the latest luxury listings in Kaka’ako.
The Kaka’ako lifestyle: Dining, retail, events, and more
Kaka’ako is called Honolulu’s hippest neighborhood for a good reason. From a quiet fishing village into a bustling industrial zone, it has transformed into a modern community where residents and tourists can work, live, and play. Below are some of the top attractions one can find as they walk around Kaka’ako:
Residents look forward to Saturday mornings at the Ward Warehouse for Kaka’ako Farmers Market. Open from 8:00 AM until noon, the market gathers purveyors of local goods, from fresh produce to signature Hawaiian street food and more.
Some of the regular vendors at Kaka’ako Farmers Market include Fields of Aloha, well-known for their variety boxes that contain fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Forage Hawaii is another established presence at Kaka’ako Farmers Market, supplying sustainable and humanely obtained meats. Their selection includes beef, chicken, and venison, as well as specialty products like wild-caught Atlantic cod, ground bison, and even skincare made from tallow.
Fans of Pu’uwai Aloha Bakery can also get their share of gluten-free and vegan baked goods at Kaka’ako Farmers Market.
Every February, artists from all over the world gather in Kaka’ako to bring more color to the neighborhood through street murals. The festival, founded by Jasper Wong, began in 2010 and celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2020. For those who cannot make it for the upcoming festival, the legacy of POW! WOW! Hawai’i can easily be seen as one walks the streets of Kaka’ako. If you want to see some artists in action, POW! WOW! has their headquarters along Lana Lane.
SALT at Our Kaka’ako is an entire block composed of approximately 85,000 square feet of retail space. Here, visitors can experience the neighborhood’s coffee culture, sample the dishes from some of Kaka’ako’s finest restaurants, and support local businesses.
Merchants at SALT at Our Kaka’ako include:
- Moku Kitchen, a New American restaurant that showcases Hawaii’s rich upcountry and agricultural heritage. Seasonal plates, cocktails, and live music can all be enjoyed in a trendy setting.
- Hungry Ear Records, the oldest record store in the entire state of Hawaii, has an outpost at SALT at Our Kaka’ako. Visitors can browse their extensive vinyl and LP collection and take a record or two home with them.
- Highway Inn, a family-friendly eatery known throughout Oahu for their handmade lau lau—butterfish and pork seasoned then wrapped in lu’au and ti leaves. Guests can even watch Highway Inn’s staff make batches of lau lau from scratch every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday from 9:00 AM ’till 1:00 PM.
- Kahala, the home of the Aloha shirt, each one handcrafted for utmost comfort and style. At their Kaka’ako branch, Kahala also offers items from their Collector’s Edition. These feature vintage prints as well as original artwork from guest designers.
The micro craft brewery Honolulu Beerworks has the reputation for being the home of the best IPAs in the island, a claim that can easily be proven at their back beer garden along with some pub grub. Their location along Cooke Street sells their staple canned beers like Cocoweizen, Hop Island IPA, and Kewalos Cream Ale, as well as an incredible array of merchandise, for those who are on the go.
History is alive and well-documented in the Hawaii Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives along South King Street. The area is home to a 200-year-old cemetery and replicas of old artifacts, among other things. Visitors can join a guided tour or explore the grounds on their own. Just across the street is another historic Kaka’ako attraction: Kawaiaha’o Church, the oldest Christian in Hawaii.
Live in one of Honolulu’s most vibrant neighborhoods
Living in Kaka’ako is not only about enjoying the neighborhood’s lifestyle offerings. It is also being part of the next chapter of Kaka’ako’s long and storied history.
Make Kaka’ako your address in Honolulu and the island of Oahu. Marshall Mower can walk you through all the latest property developments in Kaka’ako real estate. Contact 808.277.7878 or email Marshall to schedule a private consultation.