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25 Best Places to Live in Hawaii

One of the best places to travel in the world is the breathtaking Aloha state in the United States. The Hawaiian Islands are home to some of the most beautiful beaches and landscapes in the world with some of them carrying active volcanoes.

Depending on the island, there can be high-rise hotels along the beach or small bungalows and beach houses with their own private space.

Hawaii mountain and volcano landscape near blue water
Troy Squillaci

Hawaii is a great place to take part in outdoor activities, especially if you love spending time on golf courses, and tennis courts. The major islands also provide plenty of stunning waterfalls and hiking trails overlooking volcanic landscapes for nature lovers.

When it comes to the housing market in Hawaii it can seem quite expensive but it depends on the location.

Some of the volcanic islands are home to more locals than tourists with a strong sense of community drawing back to the values of the Hawaiian people.

Here’s the scoop on the best places to live in Hawaii!

Living in Hawaii Guide

1. Maunawili, Oahu

Maunawili, Oahu waterfall
vovamir

Maunawili is a peaceful neighborhood nestled against the Olomana section of the Koolau Mountains. The small neighborhood is made up of lush vegetation, tropical plants, and streams beside many homes. This secluded neighborhood in Oahu is purely residential with no hint of tourism.

However, the small residential community is only five minutes away from shops and restaurants in Kailua Town and 25 minutes from Downtown Honolulu. These single-family homes also have easy access to a golf course and a few hiking trails.

2. Waikele, Oahu

Live in the suburbs of Honolulu with Waikele! With an above-average school system, this dense town ensures kids receive some of the best education on the island. Most of the residents in Waikele own a home but some of them are listed as rental properties with fairly expensive monthly rates.

The family-oriented island has plenty of parks, a community center, and a swimming pool. The neighborhood is also one of the safest on the island with easy access to shops and restaurants.

3. Kailua, Oahu

Kailua Beach in Oahu
andykrackovski

Kailua is one of the best places to live in Hawaii and is located on the east coast of Oahu. This town is known for its sandy beaches on Kailua Bay with endless opportunities to try out water sports at Kailua Beach Park and Kalama Beach Park.

On the quieter side of the island, Kailua is a place that allows visitors to connect with nature and learn more about the town’s historic connection with World War II. The beachy town showcases the stunning cliffs of the Koolau Mountains and Kailua Bay with easy access to boutiques and restaurants.

4. Kapolei, Oahu

Known as the second city in Oahu, Kapolei has a seamless learning community as well as established healthcare places making it an ideal place for people looking to move to Hawaii. The city is also a shopping and dining haven with endless diverse activities.

The most exciting parts about Kapolei are a large water park, a beautiful golf course, and three lagoons at the Disney Aulani Resort.

5. Kula, Maui

Kula, Maui countryside
garysandywales

Experience a connection with nature in Kula, a district in Maui. This district is located in the scenic upcountry Maui region right on the hills of Haleakala Volcano. This region in Hawaii is home to colorful flower farms, farmland, and views of the Pacific Ocean.

The best things to do in Kula are Surfing Goat Dairy, Kula Botanical Gardens, and the Kula Country Farms.

6. Lahaina, Maui

A census-designated place in Hawaii, Lahaina in West Maui is a central hub for history, art galleries, restaurants, and beaches. Since Lahaina use to be the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom, the historic town is dripping with history dating back to the early 19th century.

Visitors can explore this Maui town and come across Maui’s oldest living banyan tree or the Pioneer Inn. This is a great place to immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture with a plethora of entertainment.

7. Princeville, Kauai

Princeville, Kauai
triggerphoto

Located on the north shore of Kauai, Princeville is one of the best places to live in Hawaii for people looking to escape the tourist areas of Hawaii. However, Princeville is on the pricey side with an exclusive resort and golf courses.

Choose between a condo or a home while diving into the area’s pristine natural beauty. Princeville is home to the gorgeous Queen’s Bath, Hanalei Bay, and Hideaways Beach.

8. Honolulu

Known as the capital of Hawaii, Honolulu is one of the most popular locations to relocate to due to the city being in close proximity to shopping, dining, and hiking.

Honolulu is famous for its bustling nightlife and breathtaking beaches backed by palm trees and high-rise hotels. The city also provides a view of Diamond Head. Compared to residential communities on the Hawaiian Islands, Honolulu is more tourist based and with fewer opportunities to soak in the local culture.

9. Pearl City, Oahu

pearl harbor memorial
candu

Time to relocate to the beautiful community of Pearl City along the north shore of Pearl Harbor. Other than the place drawing remembrance from the Japanese attack in 1941, Pearl City is a great location to stray away from tourists while also being within driving distance from Downtown Honolulu.

The family-friendly place is home to beautiful hiking trails, parks, parties, and shopping.

10. Hilo, Big Island

Hilo is a nature lover’s paradise with calming, lush landscapes that overlook Hilo Bay. This town is known as the capital of the Big Island and is often on the rainy side of the island. The charming town of Downtown Hilo has an array of shops, restaurants, and art galleries.

For a taste of the local culture, visit Hilo Farmer’s Market to buy produce and crafts. The best places to explore are the Rainbow Falls, Kaumana Caves, Liliuokalani Gardens, and the Pacific Tsunami Museum.

11. Mililani, Oahu

Mililani, Oahu
Matthias Boeke

Just like most places in Hawaii, Mililani is an expensive city to live in but boasts plenty of family-oriented activities like recreation centers and parks. The nightlife isn’t at the forefront of this city like in Honolulu, but visitors can still expect to come across one or two bars and restaurants.

12. Ocean Pointe, Oahu

Ocean Pointe is a housing development community in Oahu, specifically in the Ewa District. The modern housing area is a suburb with a population of over 15,000 people.

Ocean Pointe is one of the best places to live in Hawaii for adventurous people and is home to the Coral Crater Adventure Park, White Plains Beach, and Kahe Point Beach Park.

13. Waimea, Hawaii

Waimea, Hawaii
yu-ji

Take ranching style to the next level by relocating to Waimea! The town sticks to its cowboy culture laying out a list of activities like rodeos and horseback riding for visitors and locals. Besides the country-style living culture, the area is filled with rolling hills and green pastures for ranches and cattle.

However, Waimea is known for so much more than their paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy). This region of Hawaii has a thriving community blended with local food and culture. Visitors can also witness special performances by renowned musicians at the Kahilu Theatre.

14. Kealakekua, Big Island

A place meaning “the pathway of the God,” Kealakekua Bay is a small village bordered by volcanic mountains. The most famous aspect of this area is that it was the landing spot for Captain Cook who sailed into the bay back in 1779.

Moreover, at the base of the cliffs, Kealakekua has some of the best snorkeling and diving spots in all of Hawaii. It is also an ideal place to witness the beauty of wildlife in their natural habitats like sea turtles and dolphins.

15. Makawao, Maui

Maui landscape
fcarucci

One of the best places to live in Hawaii is the rural town of Makawao. Similar to other small towns, this region is also considered to be filled with paniolo and offers horseback riding and other upcountry activities.

The quaint town has a plethora of art galleries, and gift shops without having to travel for souvenirs for the local culture.

The best things to do in Makawao are the Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center, the Sacred Garden of Maliko, and the Makai Glass Maui.

16. Mililani Mauka, Hawaii

A community across from Mililani town, Mililani Mauka consists of a rural neighborhood and is known to be the crown jewel of central Oahu.

Since the area is located near Mililani, visitors and locals have access to the farmers market, Mari’s Gardens, the town center, and the Mililani Golf Club.

17. Kahuku, Oahu

Kahuku, Oahu with windmills
ehabaref

Relocate to the small island town of Kahuku on Oahu’s northeastern coast which is home to many native animal species. When visiting the town, make sure to book the 2-hour shark dive and the North Shore snorkeling tour.

This spot in Oahu is also popular with people who love to fish as well as beach lovers with its breathtaking selection of white sand beaches.

18. Kapa’a, Kauai

Away from the busy tourist areas, Kapa’a is a tight-knit community with plenty of white sand beaches and colorful storefronts. This laid-back place in Kauai brings in delicious local cuisine with several stunning resorts, waterfalls, and markets.

19. Wailuku, Maui

wailuku church
tropicalpixsingapore

Discover a charming town at the bottom of the West Maui mountains. Wailuku is the perfect place to explore Mom and Pops shops with a plethora of historical and cultural attractions.

This area in Maui also provides the ideal getaway with the lush, Iao Valley. The laid-back neighborhood is ideal for families but can be fairly expensive like other parts of the island.

20. Paia, Maui

Paia is a surf paradise that is geared toward tourists and offers beautiful boutiques and gift shops. If you want a simple lifestyle in Hawaii, Paia is one of the best places to live in the aloha state.

One that makes this region stand out amongst other areas is the Bohemian-style town with old, rustic storefronts. Connect with nature and the local culture when living in Paia.

21. Hanalei, Kauai

hanalei bay
Arus inc

A small town on the north shore of Kauai, Hanalei is home to a crescent-shaped beach with a great surf area for ambitious visitors and locals.

This charming town is also near Princeville with its own historic places and galleries. The Hanalei Pier is one of the best places for families who love swimming, fishing, and playing music.

22. Haleiwa, Oahu

Haleiwa gives visitors the opportunity to soak in local artists that are often free for the public.

The town also has a strong sense of history with several buildings dating back to when plantations were common. After exploring the history, spend the rest of the day laying on beautiful beaches like Laniakea Beach.

23. Waipahu, Oahu

oahu hammock
kamchatka

A plantation town in Oahu, Waipahu is famous for its sugar mill and Hans L’Orange Park. The town is located in the southern portion of Oahu and is home to middle-class families. If you live in Waipahu, you can visit Pearl Harbor and the Waikele Outlets.

24. Waimalu, Hawaii

Near Pearl City, Waimalu is one of the best places to live in Hawaii due to the inexpensive housing properties despite close proximity to Honolulu. The diverse set of residents and the outstanding historic landmarks keep the area vibrant and lively.

25. Laupahoehoe, Big Island

Laupahoehoe, Big Island beach
Alexey Kamenskiy

Find your own coastal paradise by relocating to Laupahoehoe. Tucked within green sea cliffs, Laupahoehoe Beach offers stunning views of the lush vegetation and ocean.

This place is also in the district of Hilo with plenty of outdoor and indoor activities. The close-knit community brings a welcoming atmosphere to visitors and is home to a few luxurious estates.

Final Thoughts

The US average for owning a home is much more expensive than in other parts of the world. In Hawaii, most locations have a high cost of living despite the number of tourists, so it is wise to choose the town or city that best fits your budget when moving to Hawaii. The average salary can vary depending on the area and island.

Even though Hawaii is not a state that is big on public transportation except for cities like Honolulu, most locations can be easily accessible with a vehicle and offer plenty of job opportunities.

The tropical climate brings visitors of all kinds to the popular tourist destination with enough outdoor activities to always discover something new whether it’s a popular waterfall or a rare hidden gem.

best places to live in hawaii

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Kiki Hanai

Wednesday 23rd of November 2022

It is incredibly expensive to live in Hawai'i. It can be very challenging to find affordable rental properties. On Maui, many of the landlords have kicked out their renters so they can sell or renovate and charge double or triple. It can also be challenging to earn a living on the islands. I've met PhDs cleaning vacation rentals for a living and MAs working as resort nannies. The islands are dependent on tourism, so when that crashed out during the pandemic, everything changed. These are the facts from an eight-year resident. It's not just pretty photos, folks. The history of colonialism and current-day land use violations should be understood by all before visiting or even thinking about moving here.

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