Overview of Waikiki Waikiki is located in Hawaii’s tourist mecca, easily its most popular resort district. The neighborhood lies along a 1.5 mile stretch of world class beach on the sunny southern shore of Oahu with some of the best and most consistent weather on the planet. Waikiki is bordered by Kapiolani Park and Diamond Head to the south-east and Ala Moana to the west, making for the ideal central location. Here is a video flying over Waikiki.
Waikiki is almost exclusively a dense high-rise neighborhood - a mini Manhattan - with many hotels, about 130 residential condos and just a few (old) single-family homes. The neighborhood is mostly surrounded by water, with the ocean to the south and the man-made Ala Wai canal to the north. Waikiki condos for sale range in price from about $150K for a 200 sf studio to more than $20M for the most stunning penthouse at the Ritz-Carlton Waikiki - that is fee simple condos.
Fee Simple vs Leasehold Fee Simple means you own the property outright (the most common form of ownership). Leasehold means you have the right to use - and even sell - the property, but you do not own the underlying land and upon expiration of the lease the property typically reverts back to the landowner. On rare occasions, the association of a condo may have acquired an interest in the land, in which case it isn't straight forward what will happen upon expiry of the lease - as if the case with Discovery Bay in Waikiki.
About 25% of the condos in Waikiki are leasehold. Reviewing all Honolulu real estate - excluding Waikiki - about 4.5% of properties are leasehold and on Oahu, excluding Honolulu city, just about 3% of properties are leasehold.
Short-term Vacation Rental Condos Some owners want the flexibility to stay in their unit while vacationing in Hawaii and otherwise rent out as a short term rental (just like a hotel), maximizing potential rental income. Please review our guide to short-term vacation rental condos in Waikiki, which outlines condos that allow short-term rentals, the restrictions, property tax matters & more.
The Views Several Waikiki condos offer spectacular ocean views and, best of all, every condominium is within 0.5 miles to the beach. Condos directly on the beach in Waikiki are very rare. In fact, there is only one – the Waikiki Shore, which is also zoned for hotel use. All other beachfront properties are almost exclusively major hotels.
Most condos in Waikiki command premium prices per sq ft and, as a general rule of thumb, the better the ocean view the higher the price. Very little land remains that can still be developed. This condition, together with tight zoning and development restrictions, may create good potential for long-term appreciation.
The Waikiki Neighborhood Waikiki is the biggest revenue source for the State of Hawaii. Nicely maintained by the City, State and the private tourism and retail sectors, hotels and shops spend millions in renovating and upgrading their properties, keeping a large portion of Waikiki real estate looking up-to-date and modern.
Beach replenishment and neighborhood beautification projects have created a stunning metropolitan tropical paradise. An eclectic and diverse mix of residents and tourists with a multitude of backgrounds and cultures come gather here from all over the world.
Three main traffic arteries, Kalakaua Ave, Kuhio Ave and Ala Wai Blvd run parallel through Waikiki.
Kalakaua Ave, a one-way street closest to the beach, with it’s Rodeo Drive feel, is home to high-end fashion stores as well as a number of world class luxury oceanfront hotels and restaurants.
Kuhio Ave is a busy two-way street running along the center of Waikiki with a mix of secondary hotels, condos and restaurants.
Ala Wai Blvd is a one way street that runs the whole length along the Ala Wai Canal with a number of high rise condos, most of them with great canal, golf course and mountain views.
Among the condos you'll find a few sparse older homes that perpetuate the original Hawaiian charm, but Waikiki real estate is, today, almost exclusively a high rise condo style neighborhood.
With the feel of being its own small city within Honolulu, Waikiki has much to offer. Fine dining for food and wine connoisseurs; world renowned galleries and crafts for art lovers; an Aquarium and Zoo for animal lovers; penguins and flamingos at the Hilton Hawaiian Village for families; submarine rides for the adventurous; plenty of surfing for the active; nightlife for the young and restless and endless possibilities to create romantic moments for honeymooners.
Start your weekend with Friday night’s fireworks and ‘Sunset on the Beach’, a free outdoor 30 foot screen movie theater that shows a wide range of award winning movies right on Waikiki beach.
Waikiki might be Hawaii’s most densely populated neighborhood, but with beautiful green parks, colorful tropical flowers and the surrounding crystal clear blue ocean, the spirit of Aloha prevails and the condos remain a commodity in high demand. With fun and balmy weather all year long, life in Waikiki is like one never-ending vacation.
Waikiki History Had it been left untouched, Waikiki would today be swampland, just as it was hundreds of years ago. It was clear to Native Hawaiians, however, that this land had great agricultural potential due to its abundant freshwater springs. It's believed that Oahu's Chief Kalamakua created an irrigation system in the 15th Century to take advantage of these assets. Soon, taro farming was in place along with newly built fishponds to feed his people.
These farmlands would be overrun 3 centuries later when King Kamehameha's armies landed here in 1794 on their way to conquering Oahu. His victory resulted in Waikiki becoming one of the new Kingdom's primary Royal Retreats, not only for Kamehameha, but also his successors on the throne. The beautiful beaches and waters of this district became the preferred hideaway for every ruler up to the last Queen, Liliuokalani.
The increasing importance of tourism in the early 1900's required firm land for building. For this reason the Ala Wai Canal was dug out in 1928 by Hawaiian Dredging. This drained the remaining swampland, creating the new, solid real estate that was needed.
The years following the Canal's building saw new buildings spring up to serve the visitor industry. This was slowed down only by the attack on Pearl Harbor. That event altered the neighborhood from a resort to something resembling a military base. Until the end of World War II the famous beaches were strung with barbed wire and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel was converted to soldiers' barracks.
Up into the early 1950's, there were still private homes on Kalakaua Ave and other beachfront streets. They'd all eventually give way to tourism properties. One exception was the 1st high-rise Waikiki condo, Foster Tower, which went up on Kalakaua in 1961 and remains a condominium today.
By the late 1960's the streets between Kuhio Ave and the Ala Wai had become widely known as 'The Jungle'. Due to deteriorating structures, crowded conditions and many colorful residents, this area had a reputation as a good place to avoid.
A solution was needed, especially in light of rising land values. This resulted in the demolishing of most of the old wooden homes, replaced by the condos that you see today.
Over 200 years after Kamehameha's landing, this land is now under siege by those looking to conquer their own slice of this part of Honolulu. We call them Waikiki condo buyers.
More About Waikiki Buying a home is always about far more than just acquiring property. You're also getting a lifestyle in the bargain. This key factor to real estate is probably more significant in Waikiki than anywhere else in Hawaii.
No other neighborhood has the same level of development, active street life or population density. Those facts bring both good and bad aspects to your life every single day. Before discussing the resources of the district, it's important to look at the Pros and Cons of being a resident here. Without understanding them, how can you really know this is the place for you?
Living in a Waikiki condo is almost the default choice today. Without question they make up the vast majority of the property supply. That's why we look at everything through that lens, because it will apply to almost every homebuyer here, including you.
In beginning with the Cons, it's inevitable that we start with the most prominent element – the price tag. Though not the most expensive zip code in Hawaii, condos for sale in Waikiki are always toward the top.
In addition, they're often smaller than their counterparts outside these 1.5 square miles, a product of both demand and land values. You probably will sacrifice at least some space landing here rather than somewhere else in Honolulu.
Your building, chances are, will be a little older, too. The primary residential area, between Kuhio Ave and the Ala Wai, saw its major build-up in the 60's to 80's, multi-story residences claiming lots that once held aging walk-ups and homes that were falling apart. Most of today's condominiums are from that era, so they date from at least a few decades past.
The Life Outside on Waikiki Streets Step outside the lobby door and you enter a world that has a little more pep than the rest of Oahu. With more people on its sidewalks and thicker traffic, the average volume of your environment might be a little higher than other parts of Honolulu.
The unique setting and conditions of Waikiki present their own challenges, but that's true of any place. Trade-offs are a part of any choice. After hearing about the possible drawbacks, the pivotal question now is – what are the benefits, the Pros, of settling down here? We're glad you asked.
Why Owning Real Estate in Waikiki Is THE Dream What's better than a Waikiki vacation? Living there year-round. The same attractions that draw visitors from around the world can be yours every day. Think about this – no matter where you are in the neighborhood, you can walk to a beach. Not just any beach, either. These are probably the most famous sands on Earth!
Joggers and Walkers, you've found Paradise. A circuit around the scenery of the Ala Wai Canal or Kapiolani Park attracts runners and strollers at all times of the day, and for good reason. Nothing makes a turn outside go easier or better than spending it in surroundings so beautiful, so calming and so awe-inspiring. Some even jog along, or even on, the beach at off-peak hours. It's therapy for your soul, open daily.
Activities? How about street fairs, like Spam Jam (a celebration of all things Spam), the Aloha Festivals and the Pan Pacific Festival that all spread out over a shut down Kalakaua Ave with delicious food and unbeatable entertainment. Plus that same street is the course for almost every major parade in Honolulu.
Diners and Shoppers will never go hungry for new tastes or irresistible buys. Indulge in tastes that range from fine dining to ramen shops that fill your stomach for a low price. The stores here have an equally broad span, from the most expensive designer offerings to discount bargains at Ross.
Waikiki is a feast for the senses, whether you want to indulge in man-made luxuries or in the free, yet priceless pleasures of just watching the waves roll in the shade of a palm tree. Now, no one place truly has it All, but this neighborhood comes tantalizingly close.
For some, the Cons will outweigh the Pros of this place, but they are a small minority. Buying a Waikiki condo is an ideal and a dream, held by people around the world. How many have done that very thing and come away disappointed? We can tell you – not very many at all.
The Future of Waikiki Real Estate In a word, the future is Up. The perpetually growing tourist arrivals and buyer demand has created a new boom in raising condo properties, of all types, all over Waikiki. With an extremely high financial & regulatory bar for building traditional hotels here, condotels have become an attractive path to make a profit. The large, front-loaded payoff from sales of these properties will result in new developments of this kind in the next few years, satisfying the needs of both the visitor industry and real estate buyers.
A prime reason behind the construction acceleration is that the special zoning laws governing Waikiki saw significant changes in late 2012. This included the merging of the once separate Resort Commercial Precinct & Resort Mixed Use Precinct. Resort Commercial did not allow visitor accommodations. Now, properties in those areas could be allowed to, which would possibly include condotels.
The strict height limitations have been given greater flexibility as well, opening the door to building higher than before, with more units. Another alteration, which could have the greatest potential for changing the skyline further, is language that makes it easier for smaller lots to combine so larger high-rises can be built there. Something that was not as easy to do before.
In short, the skyline will be getting higher and denser.
How will this impact Waikiki real estate prices? The smart bet is that they will continue to climb, aided by the ongoing improvement and seemingly no end to eager buyers.
Area Amenities Your experience living in Waikiki will be shaped most by a few factors. The leisure and recreation opportunities are always foremost in images of this area, but as a resident you have daily concerns that will impact you greatly. How does the area stack up in meeting those needs? Read on and learn about those factors and you'll soon understand why your life in Waikiki will be richly served in every aspect.
Schools & Childcare The benefits of being here go beyond waves and sand in Waikiki. Residents like you are within easy access of schools for almost every level, from Preschool to Post grad.
Preschool – The Waikiki Community Center provides Preschool for little ones from 18 Months to 5 years, right in the heart of the district.
Jefferson Elementary – Found right on Kapahulu Ave and Ala Wai Blvd, it serves 1st to 6th Grades and has an excellent reputation. NOTE: Older children are bussed to Washington Middle School on King St and McKinley High School, by the Blaisdell Center.
La Pietra School – This all-girls private school sits above Kapiolani Park on the side of Diamond Head, serving students from 6th to 12th Grade. Strong focus on College Prep.
Kapiolani Community College – Found just up the road on the back of Diamond Head, it offers a solid course list of Continuing Education, Academic Courses and training in a variety of Trades, including a well-known culinary program. An excellent resource for personal and professional growth.
UH-Manoa – Just 10 to 15 minutes drive from Waikiki is the largest university in Hawaii, providing almost limitless education possibilities for anyone seeking a 4 year degree, or beyond.
Public Transportation One of the benefits of living in the tourist center of Honolulu is the ready availability of public transportation. No other neighborhood on Oahu has so many routes serving it or as many stops, so getting around is as easy as it will ever get. The Bus can take you to Ala Moana, Downtown, the Airport or even around the Island on the famous Beach Bus. Check TheBus.Org for full timetables and routes.
Supermarkets & Groceries There are 2 grocery stores in Waikiki, both named Food Pantry. The main one stands on Kuhio Ave, near the International Marketplace. Its smaller sister is on Hobron Lane on the west side of the district. Prices are higher than outside the neighborhood, but they do offer convenience. Head up Kapahulu Ave to Safeway if time isn't as crucial to save yourself some money.
Shopping Alternatives As great as the shopping is in Waikiki, the average condo resident will want to explore other outlets as well.
Ala Moana Center – Not just the largest shopping center in Hawaii, this is the largest outdoor mall in the entire U.S. Everything from couture to t-shirts, fine dining to fast food, with more shops and diversions being added all the time.
McCully Shopping Center – A definitely smaller choice, it's just over McCully Bridge. The prime attraction here are the family restaurants that locals love, the kind of places Waikiki has lost in recent years.
King Street – All along King St you'll find small eateries that foodies love to discover, along with local stores that cater to residents. Drive along this road and take in the Hawaii that visitors never get to experience.
Hospitals & Health Care Waikiki Health Clinic – the last real healthcare center in Waikiki. Smaller, so appropriate more for check-ups and non-urgent health issues.
Queen's Medical Center – Probably the biggest non-military hospital in Hawaii. 20 minutes from Waikiki, with services that cover the full range of In & Out-Patient services for not only the body, but also mental health.
Straub Clinic & Hospital – From its location near the Blaisdell Center, this facility is also comprehensive in its services. In & Out Patient as well as Same Day appointments.
Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children – Specialized medical services and treatments focused on female & pediatric health. Known especially for its Maternity & Newborn Care areas.
Your Recreation & Leisure Options Waikiki Beaches The great thing about the beaches here is you can't go wrong, no matter where you lay your towel. Here, though, are a few that stand out even among the riches of Waikiki's coastline.
Ft. DeRussy Beach – the widest and deepest beach in all Waikiki, yet the least populated, too. Enjoy the peace & quiet that reigns here due to its location by the Hale Koa Hotel, away from the central area of Waikiki. It's a throwback to the beach experience of previous decades.
Kuhio Beach – These sands begin at the Duke Kahanamoku statue and ends at the Kapahulu Groin, which extends out into the ocean. Though it can be crowded, the 2 protected lagoons provide calm waters and rock-free beds, providing the best wading and float riding in all Waikiki. Come on in and have a soak!
Queen's Beach – Queen's begins on the other side of Kapahulu Groin and extends almost to the Waikiki Aquarium. The first part, next to the Groin, is the biggest, with a much larger space than Kuhio's next door. It's also the site of the outdoor movie screenings that happen periodically. Head to its east end on Friday evenings for a great view of the weekly fireworks show!
Sans Souci – Another one that offers an escape from tourist crowds. Just on the Diamond Head side of the Natatorium, locals love coming here, often barbecuing in the park just outside. Great waters and even dog-friendly, it's a place that's friendlier and more family-oriented than anywhere else within Waikiki.
Other Recreation What can you do in between trips to the beach? Plenty! Here's just a few of your options to get active, right in your home of Waikiki.
Kapiolani Park – 300 acres of open, green space with Diamond Head as its backdrop. On any given day you'll see soccer games, t-ball practice, joggers, baby luaus and plenty of people just enjoying the outdoors. You can't live in Waikiki without getting familiar with Kapiolani Park somehow.
Outrigger Paddling – Numerous clubs keep their boats on the Ala Wai, including Kamehameha, Waikiki Beach Boys, Lanikai and Outrigger Canoe Club. Join one and you'll not just get a great workout, you'll be a part of true Hawaiian culture.
Waikiki Community Center – Take classes here in martial arts, hula dancing or learn a new language! Seniors have a full roster of events as well to help them stay active and healthy.
Ala Wai Golf Course – Rumored to be the busiest municipal course in the U.S., you can still get a tee time with some planning. Or just walk over with a few clubs and work on your strokes at the driving range.
Dining & Restaurants Good food abounds in this district – and you can get it at a huge range of prices. If you like exploring new tastes, make it a point to seek out these restaurants and eateries around Waikiki. Guaranteed at least a few will become regular stops!
Marukame Udon – At certain times the line outside gets extremely long. Avoid the traditional dinner hour and you'll soon be diving into their simple, yet delicious and filling, noodle dishes, served cafeteria style. You can eat here for as little as $5!
Top of Waikiki – This is an Experience. A revolving restaurant high up above the street, you get a sweeping view of this part of Honolulu like nowhere else. Do it at least once.
La Mer – This is elegant dining defined, with pricing to match. The only 5 Diamond restaurant in all Hawaii. Close up ocean views, so you can enjoy the ultimate French cuisine with the sights and sounds of the waves as accompaniment.
Duke's – Right on the beach with live bands and DJs that supply 'Party Rock', so you can dance the night away or enjoy some beers with your meal and take it all in. Casual and fun, the pupus here are excellent!
Roy's Waikiki – Asian/Hawaiian cuisine from one of Hawaii's most famous chefs, this is a local institution. Definitely upscale, you get your money's worth here.
Hula Grill – Fans love all meals here – breakfast, lunch and dinner – at this seafood restaurant. Famous for their Macadamia Crusted Fish and the Hula Pie. Looks out on the beach below for great people watching.
Steak Shack – Tiny, but well worth the trip to the ocean side of the Outrigger Reef. Delicious local style plate lunches for just $7! The kind of place you can get hooked on.
Chuck's Cellar – Famous for its prime rib, this is an intimate joint in a room underneath the Ohana East Hotel. Enjoy your succulent steak to the sounds of live jazz.
Rainbow Drive Inn – Technically just outside of Waikiki, they've served up local kine food for over 50 years. Very popular, it's an authentic place that's kept the Drive Inn culture alive long after so many others have closed. Get the real Hawaii here.
Nobu Waikiki – Boasts a cuisine called New Style Japanese that's earned rave reviews around the world. Another one that is well on the pricey side, but delivers a full experience for the senses.
Parking Finding a place to leave your car in Waikiki affordably is a difficult job. Street spaces can fill up fast, but are worth checking first, so let's start with the Free options first.
Free Monsarrat Ave, along the side of Honolulu Zoo. Waikiki Shell parking lot. Canal side of Ala Wai Blvd, but towed for street sweeping Monday & Friday mornings. Mauka side of Kapiolani Park.
Paid If those fail, try these alternatives that beat Waikiki's standard $3 to $4 per 1/2 hour rates.
Honolulu Zoo - $1 per Hour meter spaces, 24 hours a day. Kapiolani Park – Spaces all along ocean side of park are .25/Half Hour, 24 Hours. Waikiki Shopping Plaza (2270 Kalakaua Ave) - $2.50/Half Hour most times, but on Sundays and from 6PM to Midnight the rest of the week it's $5 Flat. Waikiki Banyan (201 Ohua Ave) – Staying a while? Flat Rate of $15 per 24 Hours, which includes unlimited In & Out! King's Village (131 Kaiulani Ave) – Still just $10 Flat for all day, 6AM - Midnight. Royal Hawaiian - 1st Hour Free and $1/Hour for 3 hours, but you must buy something to get validation.
Distances From Waikiki to Other Parts of Oahu Honolulu Airport: 7.8 miles Downtown Honolulu: 3 miles Whole Foods Kahala Mall: 4 miles Costco Iwilei (close by Downtown): 4.4 miles Ala Moana Shopping Center: 0.6 miles Pearl Harbor/Hickam: 9.8 miles Pearlridge Shopping Center: 10.9 miles Mililani: 21.5 miles Kapolei: 23.2 miles Hawaii Kai: 10.5 miles Hanauma Bay: 10.7 miles Kaneohe: 12.7 miles Kailua: 14 miles Lanikai: 15 miles Waimanalo: 15.9 miles North Shore (Haleiwa): 32.1 miles Sunset Beach: 39.3 miles
We exclude Leasehold data from this market analysis because Leasehold properties do not compare with regular Fee Simple properties.
We use median instead of the average because it depicts more accurately a central tendency to the sample size. Example: Take 5 numbers - 3, 5, 7, 9, 21. The median is 7 (the middle number) and the average is 9 (sum of all divided by 5).
We count days on market from listing date through closing date.