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When anyone thinks of Hawai’i, they naturally think of Honolulu – the state’s capital, largest city and hub of one of the Hawai’ian islands – Oahu. The state of Hawai’i is made up of several small islands each with its own culture and vibe. Oahu is hugely popular because conveys the perceived idea of a tropical paradise offering a combination of a green and lush Hawai’i and the up-to-date, cosmopolitan feel that exudes from Honolulu. This is what makes Oahu such an oxymoron in terms of what the island is.
None the less, not only is it a fabulous place to visit (as noted by the millions of visitors each year), it is an even more magnificent place to live. Here are some tidbits of information about the Island of Oahu.
When moving to Oahu, it can be overwhelming in making a decision as to where to live. Most often people look in and around Honolulu but there is so much outside the confines of the metro area that is typically the area in which a job or other reason brings people to live on Oahu.
First and foremost, the island is only about 45 miles long; 30 miles at its widest point and a little over 110 miles around. It is divided into sections – each offering a different flavor that appeals to different people. Each section has activities and attractions that are popular with visitors and locals making living here equivalent to living on vacation. Following are the five sections of Oahu along with the main cities in each section:
· North Shore -- Haleiwa, Mokuleia, Waimea, Waialua
· Leeward Coast – Waianae, Makaha, Nanakuli, Ewa, Kapolei
· Central – Wahiawa, Mililani Town, Pearl City, Aiea
· Windward Coast – Kaneohe, Kailua, Kaaawa
· South Shore – Honolulu, Waikiki, Hawaii Kai, Kahala
As the third largest island in Hawai’i, Oahu has several claims to fame of which many people, including those who live here, are unaware such as:
· There are 128 beaches on Oahu although, for the most part, residents and visitors stick to the most popular ones including Kailua Beach, Lanikai Beach, Pokai Bay Beach Park, and Mokule'ia Beach Park
· Although Honolulu makes up most of the South Shore of Oahu, it dips into three sections of the island.
· Oahu is the home to the only royal palace in the entire United States. Iolani Palace is located in Downtown Honolulu. This historical landmark was the official residence of Hawaii’s last two monarchs, King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani, between 1882 and 1893
· The Paradise Cove Luau, located on the Windward Coast, hosts the largest luau in the entire State of Hawaii. It cooks 127.5 tons of kalua pig each year for the nightly luaus.
· Locals refer to Honolulu as “town” as it is really the only major metropolitan area on Oahu as well as the largest city in Hawaii.
· There are hundreds of surfing spots around the shores of Oahu but the most popular are in North Shore at Waimea Bay, Banzai Pipeline and Sunset Beach (experienced, professional) and the South Shore at Waikiki (beginners) and Ala Moana Bowls (moderate to experienced).
There is so much to do and see on Oahu. Most people immediately think of the Pearl Harbor Museum, the USS Arizona Memorial and Diamond Head. Yes, those are absolutely must-see’s for anyone moving to Oahu from other areas of the country or world, but, additionally, there is so much more to see – especially outside the Honolulu – South Shore area of the island.
For instance, the central area of Oahu is home to the world famous Dole plantation in Wahiawa as well as the NFL Pro Bowl at the Aloha Bowl on the northern outskirts of Honolulu. On the Windward Coast of Oahu sits the most beautiful beach in the entire United States – Kailua Beach – and one of the largest Marine Corps bases in the US – Marine Corp Base Hawai’i. The Leeward Coast is home to the Paradise Cove Luau (the largest luau on the island a must-see with visiting friends and family) and the Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park. The North Shore is known for its huge waves that draw professional surfers from all over the world. Finally, the South Shore is where most vacationers go for their first trips to Hawai’i. Here lie major tourist attractions like the Diamond Head Volcano National Park, Honolulu and all of its sights, the Polynesian Cultural Center and more.
Golf courses are abundant in Central Oahu. Set between the Waianae and Ko’olau Mountain ranges, the Mililani Golf Club is a beautiful course that attracts golfers of all levels. Another club, the Royal Kunia Country Club is located about 20 miles north of Waikiki and is an excellent course for beginners. Lastly, there are two others worth mentioning – Hawai’i Country Club and the Leilehua Golf Course. Both are popular with locals and those visiting on vacation.
The easiest way to look at Oahu real estate is by section since each one has its own appeal. The list prices also vary greatly so this way is less complicated and easier to understand.
Why not start at the top or the north of the island in this case – the North Shore. Famous for its superlative surfing, the North Shore consists mostly of single family homes that are smaller, understated and set back off the roads making them difficult to see when driving by. The people who live here like it this way and work hard to keep its charm and small size even though more and more people flock to the North Shore every winter to surf “the big one” at the Banzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay. Be that as it may, there is a small, local farming community deeper into the North Shore section of Oahu that grow pineapple, coffee and other produce native to the area.
There are many communities situated along the North Shore with the most prominent being Mokuleia, Sunset, Kawailoa, Pupukea, Kuilima, and Haleiwa. Most properties for sale in the North Shore fall between the low-$400s and the $10 million mark for a home with amazing ocean views. Haleiwa has probably grown the most as the tourist industry has boomed over time and also offers some of the most reasonably priced homes starting as low as the low $400s for a true “fixer upper” and can easily top $1 to $2 million. The most exclusive areas in the North Shore tend to be in Kawailoa with homes topping $10 million and Waimea where sale prices are typically between $1 and $4 million although it should be noted that there has not been a listing or sale since 2013 – people move here and stay here.
Moving around to the Leeward Coast, or the west side of Oahu, a whole other world seems to be tucked into the mountainside. On the west side of the island, you’ll find modest homes nestled along the Leeward Coast or tucked inconspicuously against the side of the Waianae Mountain Range. While this is a less popular area of Oahu when compared to the other areas of Oahu, it is a beautiful place to call home. Whether playing golf at one of the area golf courses or country clubs, hiking up to Kaena Point, or simply hanging out at one of the area beaches like Makaha Beach, Lanikuhonua Beach or the beaches at the Ko Olina Resort, there are plenty of activities for families so boredom is not a possibility.
The Leeward Coast of Oahu is a rural area of Oahu where families live for generations. It’s almost as if the people who are born in this part of Oahu, stay here. There are a number of communities scattered throughout the Leeward Coast each with its own influence and featuring a combination of condominiums and single family homes. List prices typically start under $100K for a one-bedroom at Pokai Beach Club or Makaha Surfside and climb to well over $2 million at the Ko Olina Resort Villas. As for single-family homes, list prices may start as low as $200K for homes in need of repair or renovations although those that are in good condition typically start in the low to mid-$400s. On the other end, they can top $3 million for a multi-acre property with lots of land and a single family dwelling on it.
Just as with any area of Hawai’i, the first thought about living here has to do with the view of the ocean. In reality, while there is a lot of shoreline, there is a central part of the island as well. The central section of Oahu is bustling with business and attractions. Some of the most notable attractions are the Dole Plantation with the world’s largest outdoor maze made out of shrubbery and the Hawai’i Plantation Village which showcases Hawai’i’s cultural history. And, even though it is technically located in Honolulu, Aloha Stadium, home of the NFL Pro Bowl, claims Central Oahu as its home. On top of that, The Naval Station Pearl Harbor as well as Hickman AFB are also located in the Central section.
As for real estate, list prices vary just as they do in any area of Oahu. Wahiawa features prices starting the low to mid-$400s and top $1 million with the primary neighborhood being Wahiawa Heights.
In Mililani, there is a combination of condominiums, townhomes and single-family homes. List prices start in the low to mid-$200s for condominium and townhome units while single family homes fall between about $500K and up to $10 million depending on the location.
In the southern portion of Central Oahu, Pearl City is an area around Pearl Harbor that features a mix of condominiums, townhomes and single-family homes. Condominiums and townhomes list prices fall between the low-$200s in communities such as Waiau Gardens Kai and the upper-$600s in Waialua. Those on the higher end often have beautiful Pearl Harbor views. As for single-family homes, list prices start in the low-$400s and top $1 million.
The Windward Coast lies along the eastern side of the island of O’ahu and includes the cities of Kahuku, Laie, Hauula, Punaluu, Waianae, Kaneohe, Kahalu’u, Heeia, Kailua, and Waimanalo. This side of Oahu showcases some of the most beautiful panoramic vistas, not to mention beaches, in the world. In fact, Kailua Beach is the most popular beach in Oahu not to mention the world.
With so much to do and some of the most beautiful homes in all of Oahu, it is no wonder people want to move here. In Laie, the Polynesian Cultural Center, attracts visitors and locals alike as does the Makapuu Lighthouse, Hanama Nature Preserve. As for Kailua Beach, there is nothing like it. It is the perfect spot for families with kids to spend the day just like Lanikai Beach situated a short distance from Kailua.
There are several shopping centers that combine retail, dining, grocery and even professional services scattered about the Windward Coast. Some of the more popular are the Windward Shopping Center and the Laie Shopping Center. In Kailua, the focus is on small, locally-owned boutiques and shops.
In terms of real estate, the cities located in the Windward Coast region of Oahu feature a combination of condominiums, townhomes and single-family homes and is all about location. While a condominium list price typically starts under $100K in areas close to Kaneohe and Punaluu, list prices can top $20 million for unbelievable beachfront estates in and around Kailua. In between there are numerous list prices that make it affordable for many buyers depending on where they want to buy. Lanikai is a beachside community just south of Kailua and features list prices between $1+ million and about $15 million; Kailua Town and Enchanted Lakes are situated inland just west of Kailua and has list prices from about $400K to $2 million.
The South Shore is the area of Oahu with which most people are familiar. It encompasses Honolulu, Waikiki, Kahala and Hawaii Kai. Surfers and other water sport enthusiasts and professionals dot the coast waiting for the next big wave while other residents enjoy all the many outdoor activities located in the South Shore of Oahu. There is so much to do that makes this such a fabulous area in which to reside.
Just like other areas, there is a combination of condominiums, townhomes, and single-family homes throughout the cities and neighborhoods around Honolulu with the condominiums being primarily in and around Honolulu. Ala Moana is a popular neighborhood in Honolulu with studios starting around $100K; one-bedrooms in the upper-$200s; two-bedrooms as low as the upper $400s and three-bedrooms starting at about $1 million. List prices typically top $5 million in Ala Moana; however, a new community, Park Lane, features list prices topping $10 million for penthouse-style residences of over 4,000 square feet with beautiful city and water views.
Symphony Honolulu, a newly constructed condominium this year, features a wide array of list prices for different residences between the mid-$700K and about $2 million. In downtown Honolulu, there are a ton of options with condominiums at communities like Ohana Kewalo, Executive Centre, and Harbor Square that have list prices from the low to mid-$200s to over $2 million.
Due east of Honolulu are other popular areas that cater to those who want to live the Hawai’ian lifestyle to its fullest. Waikiki is a popular tourist destination and offers real estate listings in condominium residences at Trump Tower Waikiki, the Ritz Carlton, and Waikiki Landmark to name a few. Depending on the location, list prices start in the mid to upper-$100s and top $12 million.
Single family homes are plentiful throughout the South Shore of Oahu. There are options as low as $200K for a home that needs a lot of attention and as high as $20 million in communities like Diamond Head, Kahala and Hawaii Kai.
There are so many reasons to consider a relocation to Oahu. First of all, the temperatures are ideal all year long – think 80 degrees and a constant breeze. Oahu’s population is diverse and includes those whose families go back generations along with those who have relocated to live the Hawai’ian lifestyle. They myriad of cultures is fascinating and wonderful to experience all around. Outdoor enthusiasts cannot find a better place to live with hiking, biking, swimming and other super watersports everywhere.
As for jobs, this is a heavily inundated area of jobs in tourism – restaurants, resorts, hotels, activities, etc. In addition, many people move to the area for jobs in the professional sector as well as government and military sectors.
Oahu is a great place to raise children. There are excellent public and private schools throughout the entire island with the top schools are located along the South Shore and up the Windward Coast. On top of that, raising children in an environment like Hawai’i is ideal because they develop a love of the outdoors and enjoy a simple life.Oahu offers something for everyone whether they want a more rural, laidback lifestyle or an urban, cosmopolitan life. With real estate, the values and list prices vary for homes that are small and in need of some repair or renovations as well as beautiful oceanfront estates with never ending views to die for. Oahu has it all.
Oahu Real Estate Articles, News & Relocation Information
Real Estate Areas on Oahu - From big cities (Honolulu and Waikiki) to small, laid back towns (Kailua, ....
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