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Quick Guide to Honolulu Neighborhoods


Waikiki has the most options for hotels, food, drinks, shopping, nightlife, activities, you name it. Because of that, it's also the most crowded.

There's so much to do here — spas, shopping, beach, catamaran tours, surf lessons, you name it. There's even an aquarium and a zoo.

It's also got the most options for nightlife.

There's a little bit of everything and it's all close to the beach.


Kaka'ako is the coolest neighborhood in Oahu and shockingly still unknown to most tourists. This used to be just warehouses and auto body shops, but it's in the middle of a rebirth.

It's known for it's colorful street art. It's like walking through an outdoor public art gallery, where every street is covered in different murals.

Once a year, the Pow! Wow! Hawaii brings artists from all over the world to paint new murals right in front of you during the week long festival.

There's a burgeoning food scene here — great coffee shops, bars, fine dining, street food, and local microbreweries.

The Kaka'ako Farmers Market happens every Saturday. The Kaka'ako Waterfront Park is a great spot to picnic, barbecue, or watch the water.


Chinatown is gritty but also has some of the best food on the island (from high end Senia to humble Maguro Brothers). There are also some great bars.

First Fridays are a monthly block party on Hotel St. where you can pop into local galleries and boutiques and listen to live music. Nearby bars and restaurants usually have specials and discounts too.

There are also traditional Chinese markets and noodle factories.

Chinatown used to be one of the seediest parts of Honolulu. In the 80s and 90s, it was overrun with drugs, prostitution, and gambling, but the last 20 years have brought a lot of good change. Great restaurants, galleries, and shops have started to breathe new life into the neighborhood.


This is Oahu's main business district. This is where you'll find the Hawaii State Art Museum and Iolani Palace. The Aloha Tower Marketplace is the tallest structure in Honolulu.

Ala Moana

Ala Moana Beach is one of the best swimming beaches in Oahu because the water stays calm year round. The beach park has large grassy areas, paved walking paths, bbqs, and plenty of restrooms. Magic Island is a manmande lagoon on the Diamond Head side of the beach. It's almost like a pond — perfect for small kids to splash around or for night yoga on light up SUP boards.

The Ala Moana Shopping Center is right across from the beach. It's the largest open-air shopping center in the world (and the 9th largest shopping mall in the US).


Kaimuki has some great restaurants. (Especially for brunch.) We love Kaimuki Superette, Koko Head Cafe, Mud Hen Water, and The Surfing Pig.

The KCC Farmers Market is one of the biggest on the island. In addition to local produce, vendors sell dessert, plate lunches, tropical juices, and more.

It's a mostly residential neighborhood, but there's an eclectic mix of boutiques, bakeries, cafes and parks.

Diamond Head

Diamond Head is relaxed and peaceful. It's only a 20 minute walk to the center of Waikiki, but removed from the noise and the crowds.

There are big parks, walking trails, and beaches (which tend to be a little less crowded than Waikiki). Diamond Head is the most popular hike in Oahu.


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