Kailua, Hawaii

(Photo by Hamza ERBAY on Unsplash)

Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on earth, showcasing stunning beaches, crystal clear waters, and lush greenery. With a diverse population, rich culture, and spectacular natural scenery, Hawaii offers a unique lifestyle that attracts people from all over the world. But with so many islands and neighborhoods to choose from, it can be overwhelming to choose out of the best places to live in Hawaii. Whether you’re looking for a laid-back lifestyle or a bustling urban vibe, Hawaii has something for everyone. 

Deciding to leave the mainland and convert to island life in Hawaii is quite the commitment. Not only are you physically separated from the rest of the world, living in a paradise like Hawaii is often much more expensive and a harder move to manage logistically. However, where you live can greatly contribute to your overall happiness. A survey from Wallethub found that Hawaii ranked first as the happiest state in the United States. A number of factors were taken into consideration and scored, such as Emotional & Physical Well-Being; Work Environment; and Community & Environment. Hawaii wins the top cumulative score after being graded in these areas.

According to data from the US Census Bureau, California is the top state that has the most residents moving to Hawaii. The Golden State tops the list, perhaps because California is one of the most equivalent states to Hawaii in terms of living expenses. The housing market in Hawaii is becoming unattainable for locals in Hawaii, with many being bought out by buyers from the mainland in states like Hawaii. 

If you have the money and the resolve to set down new roots in the islands, it’s best to do your research before deciding to buy property or housing. StudyFinds researched the best of the internet to find the best places to live in Hawaii. Our recommendations are based on the top places that were mentioned across 8 expert websites. Already have a favorite neighborhood Hawaii? Let us know which one in the comments below!

Palm trees next to water in Hawaii
Hawaii living. (Photo by Recal Media on Pexels)

The List: Best Places to Live in Hawaii, According to Travel Experts

1. Maunawili

Maunawili is located on the northern side of Honolulu on the island of Oahu, and is perfect for those looking for a rural feel. Most residents own their own homes, and the area is seen as a great place to retire. Nomad Lawyer writes “You will easily get some of the best houses to live in here, as it gives a modern and radiant surrounded vibe, and also has an island of Oahu with looks so beautiful.”

The state capital is an easy commute, and both Kawainui Marsh and Kailua Beach Park are nearby. The community is a small one, and most homes have a value that hovers around $1 million. “The majority of homes in Maunawili are modern, light and spacious. Many come with their own private swimming pools, tennis courts, and vast garden areas.” says The Crazy Tourist. Maunawili is a tiny town located on southeast Oahu and northeast of the central hub of Honolulu.

Maunawili is the perfect place to raise a family, with a low crime rate and some of the best schools in the state. “The schools are also incredible. Almost 96% more of Maunawili’s students go on to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher when compared with the averages of the rest of the United States,” writes HomeIA.



2. Waikele

Also located in Honolulu on the island of Oahu, Waikele has no shortage of shopping centers or other amenities while still providing access to lush green spaces.“Waikele is known for activities like shopping, hiking, adventurous sports, and walking tours,” says Movingist.

Waikele is a great place to live if you’re looking for a suburban town feel. According to Auto Start Transport, “it is fast becoming a favorite among the millennial generation. Therefore, Waikele is considered to be one of the best places in Hawaii to raise a family.” The crime rate in this community is 3 percent below the national average and 14 percent below the Hawaiian average.

“There is great access to green spaces here in Waikele. The Waikele Golf Club is a popular hangout for many residents, as well as the Pasty T Mink Park. There is a big designer outlet mall here too, time to get grabbing some bargains!” says The Crazy Tourist.

3. Honolulu

If you’re a fan of urban living in the middle of an island paradise, living in the capital city of the Hawaiian islands might be for you. Honolulu is Hawaii‘s central hub for everything that connects the islands to the rest of the world, from tourism to commerce. Residents here will have no shortage of amenities and activities. HOMEiA explains “Healthcare is available and abundant, there are several public and private schools from which to choose, and the city boasts one of the best public transit systems in the world.”

East Honolulu is the perfect compromise if you‘re not looking to live directly in the middle of tourist spots. Kaimuki and Kapahulu are popular neighborhoods for residents but can be very expensive to live in. “These areas have a more suburban feel as they are away from the skyscrapers and tourists,” adds A Broken Backpack.

“The housing market is diverse, with single-family homes, estates, and beachfront condos constituting a large portion of available housing,” writes Auto Start Transport. “Schools, hospitals, and other services are located throughout the city.Overall, Honolulu is the perfect combination of local spirit and world-class attractions.”

4. Kailua

Located on the southeast shore of Oahu, Kailua is the neighborhood for you if you’re looking for more of a relaxed beach vibe.  Real Hawaii mentions “World-famous fine white sand beaches and majestic mountain views enable Kailua residents to enjoy its natural beauty and outdoor activities.”

Airbnb rentals are now illegal in the town of Kailua, and you’ll pay about 30% more than Oahu’s median housing price due to the demand for its scenic beauty. The town even has its own Whole Foods and Target along with other shops and restaurants. “Kailua is Oahu’s best beach town; with both the beach and town accessible to most residents by foot, bike, or skateboard. It’s one of the most active communities on Oahu as well,” adds Dwell Hawaii.

“Kailua’s pristine nature makes it one of the best places to live in Hawaii for adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts,” says A Broken Backpack. “Aside from the beaches, there are several fantastic outdoor attractions, such as the Kahana Pond State Wildlife Sanctuary. Moreover, Kailua is a hub for hiking and watersports. Kailua is one of the best places to live in Hawaii for families as there is a good choice of schools, a decent public transport system, and extremely low crime rates.”

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links. 

About Elsa Lee

Elsa is a freelance journalist, copywriter, and marketer based out of the Los Angeles area. She has been writing for 7 years.

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StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

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  1. Zyre says:

    💯.. and Waikele outlets aren’t in downtown Honolulu ..there in Waipahu 20-25min away 🤷🏾

  2. Rob says:

    You are right on the mark. Let’s all nod our heads in unison so all the readers move to Oahu and leave the “worst” to the other islands.

  3. Chris says:

    Geography is not correct. Look at Kailua on a map again.

  4. Kepola says:

    Umm…….Maui Nui Botanical Gardens are located on the island of MAUI, not Oahu, hence the name MAUI Nui Botanical Gardens.🙄