What is the Best Place to Live on Oahu?

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There are many places to live in Oahu, but the question is, which one is best for you? You can choose Honolulu, Wahiawa, Kakaako, and the Manoa Valley. In this article, I’ll give you a short list of areas to consider when choosing where to live. You can also consider living on a rural island if you’re interested in a slower pace of life.


As the capital of the state of Hawaii, Honolulu offers a range of attractions and recreation to residents and visitors. The city enjoys a warm, tropical climate, numerous recreational opportunities, and a vibrant arts scene. Visitors can enjoy hiking the Leahi trail, which was built as part of the island’s coastal defense system. In addition to hiking, residents can enjoy the world-famous Waikiki beaches and world-class shopping.

The Leeward side of the island features several neighborhoods that are growing in popularity with visitors. Construction has sprung up in these areas, and many districts have better streets and sidewalks. On the west side, newer malls have popped up, and the population of military families means that these communities have an added advantage in a way that Oahu’s other neighborhoods do not have.

Although Oahu’s economy is centered on tourism and the industries that support it, there are still plenty of opportunities for individuals with experience in hospitality and food and beverage. In addition, Oahu is home to the state’s capital, Honolulu, and the largest concentration of military personnel in the Hawaiian Islands. Moreover, residents can find jobs in the city of Honolulu, which is the state’s capital.

For dining and nightlife, Honolulu is the best place on Oahu. You can enjoy exciting farm-to-table restaurants in the Kaimuki neighborhood or try the eclectic fare in Kapahulu. Downtown Honolulu offers more choices, while the North Shore has charming surf towns like Haleiwa, and the Leeward Coast is home to some of the island’s best surf spots.

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Located on the island’s famed North Shore, Wahiawa is home to over one thousand people. The local economy is based on the military presence, and many people live in Wahiawa and work in many businesses. Homes in Wahiawa are affordable; most were built in the 1950s and ’60s. Today, however, homes are more affordable than they were a decade ago.

As a result, Wahiawa houses were built more in the 1940s than in the 1990s, giving them a unique, Old Hawaii charm. Wahiawa is still relatively affordable, with the median home sale price being less than $400K. However, there are downsides to this. While Wahiawa is considered a desirable place to live, it is not suitable for everyone.

The atmosphere in Wahiawa is down-to-earth while offering the modern conveniences of suburban living. Residents are close to shops, restaurants, and attractions and can commute to urban areas easily. While the town is not a tourist destination, plenty of restaurants, stores, and cafes provide local cuisine and beverages. Whether looking for a quiet retreat or a thriving city, Wahiawa is a great place to call home.

Wahiawa may be the best place to live on Oahu if you’re looking for a lower-middle-class area. The area is less expensive than other parts of the island, and the commute is only 50-minutes to an hour. However, the roads can get very busy during rush hour, so it’s worth considering the commute before choosing a home.


The best neighborhoods on Oahu are on the west and leeward sides of the island. These areas have seen a recent commercial and residential development boom, leading to better roads and a more walkable environment. On the west side, you’ll find a high concentration of military families and newer homes. You’ll also find a suburban feel.

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The area is also undergoing a revitalization process. The city’s downtown mall and other buildings have been completely redone, making it a more walkable neighborhood than ever. There’s a significant body of water in the area where you can swim, with lots of sharks cruising by. This community has a military influence, as the Marine Corp base is in town.

Shopping is also a significant draw. The Salt at Kakaako shopping center has been named the 2018 Shopping Center of the Year. It’s an Instagram favorite and is threaded with impressive street murals. It’s like a walking art show. For dining, you’ll find South Shore Market, which has 18 artisanal boutiques and a Nalu Health Bar that serves some of the best Acai bowls in Honolulu.

Getting around Kakaako is easy. The streets are walkable and feature wide sidewalks. You can also rent bikes from the Kakaako Biki station and explore the Ala Moana Beach Path, Kewalo Basin, and Ala Wai Harbor. These paths provide breathtaking views of the island’s natural beauty and are a great way to get to work and play.

Manoa Valley

Located in the heart of Oahu, the Manoa Valley is home to many families and students. The neighborhood is a green valley that borders Makiki to the west and St. Louis Heights to the east. It is less than 2 miles from Waikiki, where you’ll find countless restaurants and shopping options. The community is well-known for its close-knit ties, and there are numerous private and highly-rated public schools.

The area is home to many local families and surfers, but it is also a popular place for retirees and vacationers. The scenery and tranquility are worth the slightly higher price tag. More infrastructure is on the island’s southwest side compared to the North Shore. The island also boasts more convenient access to the mainland than other parts of Oahu.

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The Manoa Valley is a lush, green valley that stretches from the Ko’olau Mountains to the coral reefs off Waikiki Beach. Although most visitors overlook this part of the island, locals have long recognized it as the best place to live on Oahu. The valley was once home to sugarcane and coffee plantations. The name, Manoa, means «thickness» in Hawaiian.

The historic John Guild House is a charming historic home in the Manoa Valley. The mansion was built in 1912 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. It has a charming, historical feel with seven air-conditioned guestrooms and a saltwater pool. The Manoa Valley Inn is near the University of Hawaii and offers a quaint atmosphere.


The neighborhood of Kahala is known for its low-rise homes, large parks, and gorgeous ocean views. It is also relatively affluent, with median home values averaging over $700,000. However, Kahala is far from the only upscale area on Oahu. Several other neighborhoods are also highly sought-after, including Waikiki, which has an upmarket vibe and is often filled with tourists.

The Mokuleia area offers many beachfront homes, some with lanais, and others are more isolated and exclusive. The site also has a high concentration of condominiums, but some are smaller, more affordable, and still have amazing views. Kahala offers residents privacy despite its quaint feel and is a great place to raise a family. Kahala has something for everyone, whether looking for a small town, a luxury community, or a quiet neighborhood with various restaurants and shops.

Buying real estate on Oahu is challenging if you’re not an expert. It’s best to use an experienced local agent who can navigate the island and help you find the perfect home. While the island’s population continues to grow, the city of Honolulu is shrinking, and lifelong residents are moving to the mainland, the real estate market is becoming a buyers’ market. Hiring an agent who knows the island’s neighborhoods can make the process simpler and more successful.

Another benefit of living in Kahala is the easy access to parks and beaches. The closest beaches are Kahala and Hunakai Beach, both accessible by bike. While Kahala is located near Waikiki, it’s far from the touristy action. This means that you don’t have to rush when exploring the city. While Kahala is near Waikiki, it offers a serene, quiet environment and easy access to local beaches.

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