Often when the best condos in Honolulu are listed, they lean mostly, or even completely, toward the latest buildings or those that, at most, opened in the last 10 or 20 years. This a short-sighted view, missing luxury condos that are older. They may have less of the expected modern extras, but they possess timeless features that have kept them at the top of the local real estate market. Not for years, but decades.
They can be compared to the classic vintage car that lacks the cutting-edge stereo or GPS. Its appeal instead comes from things this year’s models will never have. Here’s some classic luxury condos in Honolulu with those same enduring qualities that have kept them perpetually on a higher plane.
The luxury here doesn’t come from amenities, as there are few. Instead it’s, first, the land it occupies, on some of the most priceless real estate in the world, that give it top status. Diamond Head sits directly above you on one side, on the other lies the ocean, lapping up almost on your doorstep. There are only 2 units per floor, making your home even more exclusive. What takes this property to an even greater height is the fact that it is Fee Simple. You can now own the land beneath, making it not just a great place to live, but possibly an even greater investment.
How can you possibly compete with just 2 units per floor? How about 1 unit per floor? 3019 Kalakaua gives owners the entire floor on each level, so the elevator opens up right inside your unit. You’re home sweet home. Like 3003, there aren’t extra amenities. It’s all about that most important real estate element – Location. That’s why individual condos here typically go for $3M to $4M. When they are available, that is, which is rare. Gazing down on an ocean view once reserved for the homes of Hawaii’s Sugar Kings, you’ll know you’ve arrived.
Diamond Head Apartments
The Diamond Head Apartments is a CoOp with, uniquely for the Gold Coast, a heated pool that overlooks the ocean. It also has generous condo sizes, starting at 1,100 sq ft for a 1BR! All units have ocean views, although it is slightly obscured for the 2 mauka condos on each floor.
The Colony Surf is another of these Gold Coast buildings that were built when codes allowed them to go up closer to the ocean. Today you’d never live almost in spraying distance like they do here. The building is also known for what it doesn’t have – lanais. Instead the windows slide completely open at waist height so Diamond Head and the ocean are part of your daily life if you so choose. Condo owners can now enjoy Fee Simple land rights after a conversion a few years ago, though not all units have paid for it yet. Hard to beat holding title to beachfront like this!
This boutique condo was put up in 1963, right on the oceanfront under the gaze of Diamond Head. There are only 10 stories, with just 2 units per floor, for a total of 18 condos. Best of all, your home takes up either the East or the West side of the building, guaranteeing you an ocean view. However, some owners have actually bought both floor units, combining them into something truly special. Lastly, this is the only Gold Coast condo with wrap-around glass windows that let in sunlight and every other aspect of the beauty that surrounds this place. It also is Fee Simple, raising value to even greater heights.
Get in here and you’ll be just one of 10 lucky residents! This fee simple cooperative has just one unit per floor, each coming with a front seat on ocean, and ocean sunset, scenery that’s unbeatable. That layout also means full privacy, a luxury that is often in short supply in even the best condos in Honolulu. You are also at the very end, but one, of the Gold Coast beachfront condos here, so you get peace & quiet, without sacrificing the south shore views and landscape that attract tourists and locals both to the area.
Looking to live in a oceanfront condo in the heart of Waikiki? Your options are extremely slim, but one of them is the Foster Tower, which was actually the first high-rise built in Waikiki. It’s 25 stories all have forever unobstructed views of the most famous beach in the world. Though built around the same time (1962) as the others on this page, it has amenities they do not, such as a large, heated salt-water pool on the 4th floor, a gym and sauna. It’s Leasehold status can be discouraging for some, but it also makes it more affordable. Nothing, though, can beat the feeling of walking out your front door right onto Kalakaua Ave each day.
Live here and you’re on hallowed ground – Jack Lord was a resident of the Kahala Beach while starring in Hawaii Five-0. This leasehold condo is actually 4 interconnected buildings, all of them just 4 stories tall. This is in line with the oceanside Kahala neighborhood sensibility of a quieter, genteel lifestyle, which doesn’t lend itself to high-rises. To take full advantage of the views the lanais average an extremely large 297 sq ft, though some owners have enclosed them to expand the interiors further. Tucked away here by the Kahala Hotel and Waialae Golf Course, you’re in the cradle of comfort.
Actually a condotel, it is the ONLY Waikiki condo building that sits on the beach itself, making the Waikiki Shore a dream property for homebuyers. Buy here and you can either live in it, rent it out yourself as a vacation condo or put it into the pool of rooms for shorter stays. Several units in the building is managed by the Castle Hotels so you not only have them to book your rental to visitors, you also can use the hotel services, such as room service, just like guests. With Ft. Derussy Park on the Ewa side, you’re guaranteed a wide open space neighboring you for some time, along with the Pacific right at your back door, of course!
Don’t overlook the appeal of these properties merely because of the year they were built. There’s a lot to love and they bring things to the Honolulu real estate table that even the latest high-rised will never match. There’s more to luxury condos in Honolulu than what’s in the newspapers today. Go a little deeper and you’ll often find a home that’s much more rewarding than you ever imagined.