It’s a pretty difficult question to answer simply because, unlike other states, Hawaii expands across eight separate islands – each island has its own personality, population density, topography, and culture. 

In order to make things difficult, each side of every island is different. While the Windward side exhibits rainier, cooler days mostly, the Leeward Side witnesses a sunnier, drier climate on average. 

Once you start moving towards the central part of these islands, the elevations start picking up, and the temperatures start cooling down, with several neighborhoods offering the most stunning sunsets or sunrises in Hawaii. 

Living in Hawaii has been my dream for a long time, and when I finally moved, I never looked back. If you are on the verge of moving to Hawaii – here’s what you need to know about the best place to live in Hawaii!

The Best Place To Live In Hawaii: There’s More Than One Option!

With plenty to offer, finding the best place to live in Hawaii can turn out to be pretty overwhelming, especially without the intimate experience of having lived or visited here before. One of the most vital things to know in this context is the real estate here – it might sound like a real estate cliche, but it’s so true when it comes to Hawaii. 

It’s all about the LOCATION!

The big swings in Hawaii rentals or home prices honestly depend upon the location. While not everyone wants the same things when it comes to picking a location, there are certain common factors that usually play a crucial role in terms of choosing a location. 

So when you are asking where to live in Hawaii, your decision will be heavily influenced by the following factors,

  • Jobs,
  • Food Culture,
  • Healthcare,
  • Proximity to Beaches, and
  • Luxury or exclusivity. 

Of course, the first element that anyone considers is usually how close they are located to the beach. If you are located within walking distance of a beach, then it is likely to cost you more than if you are located within biking distance of the same beach. 

Also, on average, 80% of a home’s value depends on both desirability and scarcity. At the end of the day, Hawaii is a tropical paradise with loads of natural beauty and stunning beaches. This obviously makes the location a major deciding factor in finding the best places to live in Hawaii.

The guide I have prepared below is aimed at helping you comprehend the intangibles of the many places in Hawaii – and you might just find the best place to live in Hawaii. Stay tuned!

1. Kailua: Oahu’s Best Beach Town


Arguably, the best place to live in Hawaii has to be Kailua, also known as the best beach town on Oahu. The most Instagrammable city in Hawaii has gained popularity over the past decade after the Obamas were frequently spotted spending time in the Kailua neighborhoods. 

Kailua is a charming Windward town featuring picturesque sandy beaches that are white and powdery, accompanied by gentle, shallow turquoise waters along Lanikai Beach. The 3-mile-long beach is a playground for boogie boarders, bodysurfers, and beachgoers. Plus, the beach also offers some of the best kitesurfing. 

Most Kailua homes are situated only a mile from the beach – the quaint town has dining, retail spaces, and shops, all of which are teeming with a vibe and character that is unique. 

The town is east-facing, and the Winward shores exposed the entire neighborhood to cool temperatures and more precipitation as compared to other Oahu neighborhoods. Plus, the green, lush Ko’olau Mountain Range acts as the perfect backdrop outside your window, making Kailua the best place to live on Oahu. 

Oahu’s best beach town also has a very community – you will come across people of different age groups engaged in different activities. The town is anchored by Whole Foods with a parking lot next door that hosts a Farmer’s Market every week. 

Undoubtedly, Kailua happens to be one of the best sports to witness a sunrise, or even a moonrise for that matter, in Oahu. This particular lunar experience is partly unique to the residents of this charming town. 

Kailua is a good fit for you if you,

  • are community-minded
  • are active,
  • have active kids,
  • love beaches,
  • love nature, 
  • enjoy biking
  • enjoy hiking,
  • have pets, and
  • want a slow-paced lifestyle. 

2. Haleiwa: Surfer’s Paradise In Oahu

The search for the best place to live in Hawaii is not an easy task. If Kailua is the best beach town in Oahu, then Haleiwa is a surfer’s paradise. Thanks to the iconic Haleiwa Town, North Shore Oahu happens to be one of the most popular tourist destinations in North Shore Oahu

The 7-mile-long beach is lined with white, sandy beaches, a lively food culture, and stimulating shops. Yes, you get to witness the world’s best surfing here! The Oahu North Shore is authentic – multiple remnants of pineapple fields, farmlands, sugar cane plantations, and some concrete jungle. 

If you do start spending time here, you will notice a bumper sticker with the words, ‘Keep the Country, Country.’ – this is the mantra of North Shore which indicates how this area strongly opposes any further resort or residential development. 

With a single hotel, North Shore is perhaps one isolated region in Oahu that seems keen on protecting as well as preserving the natural beauty of Hawaii. Don’t misunderstand me –  Haleiwa Town is a great place to live. It’s just that retail spaces and foot traffic are pretty limited here. 

If you are a fan of off-grid living options, then this is the perfect spot for you. It is very quiet and begs you to jump into the ocean, and encourages you to never leave the islands. The town will ask you to slow down – it’s not the mainland, as another well-known bumper sticker reads, ‘this ain’t the mainland.’ 

The Winter swells bring world-class surfing competitions, such as the Vans Triple Crown and Pipeline Pro, and the weekends attract bucketloads of tourists. The North Shore is only an hour from the Honolulu Airport and an extra 20 minutes without traffic from mainland Honolulu. The point of living on the North Shore is to be away from modern society and not really get along with it. This is where you live to wind down and lead a slow-paced life. 

North Shore  is a good fit for you if you,

  • love surfing,
  • want to enjoy an authentic Hawaiian experience,
  • are looking for a change of pace,
  • are perpetually in love with nature, 
  • appreciate a simple life, and 
  • want to enjoy Oahu’s best sunsets.

3. Kakaako: Hawaii’s New Urban Epicenter At Honolulu:

While the North Shore is the best place to live in Hawaii for retirees, Kakaako is the new urban epicenter of Hawaii. TBH, only a handful of people really want to live in Waikiki – it is not worth the annoying congestion, the transient vibe, and the outdated nature. 

The beach at Waikiki will always have a special place in my heart, but the neighborhood is not made for living – it’s ideal for a visit on the weekend instead. Kakaako, on the other hand, is the new Honolulu. 

This former fishing wharf and industrial zone turned into an ultimate urban-tropical living experience, the Kakaako neighborhood benefits from an invincible location oriented between Downtown Honolulu Business and Waikiki and fronted by a well-known beach park and surf spot, Ala Moana. 

The Kakaako transformation was actually spearheaded by Howard Hughes Corp, a developer, through the creation of the Ward Village Master Plan. This was a sixty-acre parcel that was anchoring a curated group of over twelve high-rise condos with ultra-luxury, luxury, and moderate residences. 

Only blocks away, there’s another community called ‘Our Kakaako,’ which is perfect at potraying an industrial-themed, artsier personality amidst its condos. 

The new condos at Kakaako are well-known for resort-style, incredible amenities, as well as ground-floor commercial spaces that actually anchor some of the best restaurants, stores, and cafes in Honolulu – the best part? It’s all within walking distance of each other. 

Kakaako is the best city in Hawaii and provides premier access to the island’s best entertainment, dining, and shopping venues, such as,

  • Kakaako Night Market,
  • Kakaako Farmer’s Market,
  • Ala Moana Center,
  • Southshore Market,
  • Ward Center, and
  • SALT at Kakaako

Kakaako is a good fit for you if you,

  • are a foodie,
  • are a shopaholic,
  • surf,
  • work in Honolulu,
  • love condos with ocean views,
  • prioritize amenities and convenience over space,
  • crave the city buzz, and
  • are social. 

4. Paia: Maui’s Lovely Village


If you are indeed looking for the best place to live in Hawaii and you are not a fan of an epicenter like Kakaako or beach towns like Kailua and Haleiwa, then Paia on the northern shore of Maui can be a good fit for you!

The lovely village of Paia is popular amongst both locals and tourists – you will come across an interesting assortment of eateries, art galleries, and stores. The two most stunning beaches at Maui is the Ho’okipa Beach and Baldwin Beach – both of these beaches are situated in the neighborhood of Paia, making it the best place in Hawaii to live!

You will not just come across some of the most breathtaking ocean views, but you can also enjoy plenty of activities like sunbathing, swimming, and surfing. 

Paia also happens to be an ideal place to settle down if you enjoy going on treks frequently, considering the whole village is surrounded by stunning waterfalls and verdant jungles. There are two really popular hikes – the Bamboo Forest Walk and the Twin Falls Trek. 

If you have been to the Stairway of Heaven in Hawaii, then you will definitely love the two treks I have mentioned above! Paia is well-known for its plethora of unique boutiques, art galleries, and stores that can be spotted across town. 

Downtown Paia is quaint and features everything from jewelry to boho clothing, all manufactured in the area. Plus, there is something or the other for everyone.

Paia is a pretty desirable place for people who are seeking a more comfortable and relaxed life on the beautiful, laid-back island. The prices for real estate in residential Paia can go upto anywhere between half a million dollars for a normal condo to over 10 million dollars for a luxury mansion by the sea. 

Paia is a relatively more wallet-friendly option as compared to some other high-end communities on Maui because of the simple fact that the average house value here is right around $1.5 million. 

While the expenses of real estate might appear to be exorbitant, Paia is a vibrant town in Maui ideal for individuals seeking the ultimate island living experience; well-known for its breathtaking natural beauty and laid-back lifestyle, making it a good destination for settling in. 

5. Kona: Hawaii’s Beautiful Big Island


While finding the best Hawaiian Island to live on, my priority was space, and the big beautiful island of Kona was the perfect option. The coastal community of Kona is located approximately twenty to thirty minutes from the Kona International Airport. 

Famous for its remarkable natural beauty, rich culture, and endless number of sunny days, Kona happens to be a tropical paradise for the ones seeking the ULTIMATE island lifestyle. 

Well-known for its sunny and warm weather all year round, accompanied by average temperatures ranging between the mid-70s to 80s, the dry and sunny weather conditions make Kona a popular tourist destination for the ones seeking a beach life. 

Life in Kona is relaxed and laid-back, with a solid emphasis on different outdoor activities such as golfing, hiking, fishing, and surfing. The town also has a pretty strong heritage culturally, with multiple festivals and events throughout the year celebrating traditions and local history. 

Some of the best beaches on the island are located close, though not as many as you would actually find in the other islands. Look to Makalawena Beach, Hapuna Beach, and Kua Bay for your sandiest options. These beaches are known for their pristine white sand, crystal-clear water, and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. 

If you are a fan of golfing, you will have a great time at Kona – Kona is home to some of the best golfing courses on these islands, including the Makalei Golf Club and the Kona Country Club. Experience golf while enjoying the beautiful views of the mountains and ocean. 

Additionally, if you love hiking, then there are a variety of trails that Kona has to offer. This includes the Pu’u Wa’awa’a Cinder Cone State Park and the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park. 

Small condos in Kona start from around $200,000, while ultra-luxury estates at Hualalai and Kukio can go up to tens of millions. The average home value in Kona is around $800,000 – this is a much more affordable alternative as compared to the Oahu, Maui, and Kauai real estate markets. 

And It’s A Wrap!

And that’s a wrap on the best place to live in Hawaii. Hawaii is a tropical paradise, and if you are planning to spend a major part of your life here, you are in for a relaxed, laid-back pace, a rich culture, some stunning views, and so much more. So what are your thoughts on the best places to live in this paradise, or do you have something else in mind?

Feel free to share your thoughts, stores, and, most importantly, experiences about living in Hawaii in the comments below.

Additional Reading:

Barsha Bhattacharya

Barsha Bhattacharya is a senior content writing executive. As a marketing enthusiast and professional for the past 4 years, writing is new to Barsha. And she is loving every bit of it. Her niches are marketing, lifestyle, wellness, travel and entertainment. Apart from writing, Barsha loves to travel, binge-watch, research conspiracy theories, Instagram and overthink.

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