The Honolulu Market remains hot, with condos and single family homes still spending an average of ~ 2 weeks on the market before selling at 99% of the listing price. Less than 3 months of an absorption rate for single family homes and condos indicates extremely high demand for the approximately 3,400 homes currently on the market, and both average and median sales prices have increased since this time last year: 10% and 5% respectively for single family homes, and 6% and 1% for Honolulu condos. Have a look below for the most recent market figures from the MLS.

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Boat Rides around Hawai‛i

The author Mark Twain called Hawai‛i “the loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean.” And one of the most memorable ways to view the islands is from the ocean. Distractions melt away. There’s only the seashore, the lapping waves, the mountain tops…and you. Each of the Hawaiian islands is unique. From the ocean you can see each island’s character and get a sense of its aura. Tour companies on each island offer visitors a wide assortment of ocean experiences. Here are a few of my favorite boat tours that will give you spectacular views of the islands as well as a stunning ride.

Oahu

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Photo courtesy of Hilton Hawaiian Village

There are no shortage of boat tours on O‛ahu. The Spirit of Aloha is a 54 foot catamaran that departs from Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. The catamaran offers lunchtime, dinner, and snorkel sails, along with the popular Sunset Fireworks Dinner Cruise on Friday nights.

The Atlantis Submarine tours are offered near Diamond Head, but also on Maui and Kona on the Big Island. The submarines descend to 100 feet underwater and give visitors a glimpse of the abundant marine life such as sea turtles, eels, and reef fish.

If you want to get out of the Waikiki area, Ocean Joy Cruise’s catamaran will take you to the Wai‛anae Coast on the west side of the island.  You will often spot dolphins, whales (in season), sea turtles, and flying fish along the way. After an hour of snorkeling in pristine ocean waters, you’ll enjoy their lunch buffet on the way back down the coast.

On the eastern side of the island, Kualoa Ranch offers a very popular 90 minute ocean voyage tour. It is a narrated tour of Kaneohe Bay, Mokoli‛i Island (Chinaman’s Hat) and more.  Knowledgeable guides provide the historic and cultural background of this area of O‛ahu, and the sublime blue-green waters and Koolau Mountain range provide a backdrop that is perfect for photos.

Big Island of Hawaii

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Photo courtesy of Lava Ocean Tours

There is no shortage of adventure in the waters of Hawai‛i’s youngest island. Boat tours offer night-time scuba diving, snorkeling, deep-sea marlin fishing, and whale-watching. There are also lava-viewing tours where you can be a witness to the spectacular ocean entry of flowing lava from Kilauea Volcano.

Boat tours off the Island of Hawai‛i leave from Hilo on the eastern side of the island or from world-famous Kailua-Kona on the western side.

Kailua Bay Charter’s Glass Bottom Reef Tour is the perfect adventure for families with young children, or those with mobility issues. You can explore the gorgeous Kona reefs and its marine life without even getting wet! View the underwater world from the comfort of your own seat.

Lava Ocean Tours offers first class seats to view lava entering the ocean. Kilauea Volcano is pumping lava and creating new land as lava sizzles into the sea and hardens. They offer sunrise, daytime, twilight and sunset tours, but this force of nature is exciting to witness no matter what time it is.

Maui

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Photo courtesy of Hawaiian Paddle Sports

To explore Maui by ocean, boat tours depart from Lahaina harbor and Kaanapali Beach on the west side, the more centrally-located Maalaea harbor between the Kahului Airport and Lahaina area, or Wailea Beach on the south shore. Smaller motorized vessels may use the Kihei boat ramp on the south side or Mala Wharf in Lahaina. During whale season on Maui, there are two-hour whale-watching trips in addition to the usual charters. Most of these trips will have narration by a naturalist onboard, along with a hydrophone so that you can hear the humpbacks singing on their way to warmer waters.

The Pride of Maui has been doing charter tours for a long time, and they offer an array of tours including snorkeling off the southern coast at Molokini Crater. In fact, they have a 5-hour snorkeling tour that takes you to Molokini and Turtle Town, which is a long stretch of coastline teeming with turtles.

If you want to experience more private boat travel, Hawaiian Paddle Sports offers outrigger canoe tours limited to just six on a canoe. The guides will keep you away from the crowded snorkel cruises, and it’ll be a much calmer ocean experience with narration about the cultural significance of the places you pass.

Kauai

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Photo courtesy of Captain Andy’s Na Pali Raft Cave Patrol

There are few sights more spectacular than the Na Pali Coast of Kaua‛i. And most boat tours will feature the Na Pali Coast from the ocean. Captain Andy’s has been doing ocean tours on Kaua‛i for decades, and they specialize in Na Pali Coast exploration. They offer lunch and dinner cruises, and snorkeling tours. But one of their more unique tours is the Na Pali Raft Cave Patrol. Departing from Kekaha on the west side of Kaua‛i, the 24 foot rigid hull raft takes visitors on a 3 hour adventure darting in and out of sea caves, plunging under cascading waterfalls and experiencing majestic Na Pali in a memorable way. There is no snorkeling on this tour.

Holo Holo Charters will not only take you to Na Pali, but they will also give you a glimpse of the Forbidden Island of Ni‛ihau from the ocean. Their 7-hour Super Tour includes exploring the Na Pali coastline, snorkeling in Ni‛ihau waters, a continental breakfast, and lunch buffet. Since Ni‛ihau, a privately-owned island, is only accessible by invitation, this snorkeling tour is a rare opportunity.

The beauty of the islands is that whichever boat ride you choose, you are in for an enjoyable and relaxing ride.

Neighborhood Spotlight: Kaka’ako

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Photo courtesy of Kaka‛ako Improvement Association

Kaka‛ako is one of O‛ahu’s most vibrant urban neighborhoods. Nestled on the south shore of O‛ahu between the financial hub of downtown Honolulu and the tourist hub of Waikiki, Kaka‛ako is an ideal location for the mix of high-rise condos and businesses developing to meet the needs of young professionals and local entrepreneurs. The main roads through Kaka‛ako are Ala Moana Boulevard and Kapi‛olani Boulevard and the area has been transforming from a commercial center that was filled with warehouses to a trendy residential community with social activism at its heart.

The vision for Kaka‛ako is to be a community with an epicenter of commercial businesses that will make cars optional for residents. With walkability as an amenity of Kaka‛ako living, it can become a model for urban island life. The Honolulu Rail Transit will have two stops in Kaka‛ako. There will also be a stop in Downtown Honolulu just 4 minutes away, and a stop at the Honolulu International Airport a mere 13 minute ride from Kaka‛ako.

History of Kaka‛ako

Returning Kaka‛ako to residential living is returning it to its historical roots. It was once a thriving Native Hawaiian community with fishing villages, wetland agricultural terraces, fishpond farming, and salt making. King Kamehameha had a residence in Kaka‛ako where he would live from time to time.

In the 1800’s, the immigrant population grew and Kaka‛ako became a mix of residences housing blue-collar workers alongside commercial and industrial businesses. By the mid-1900’s, zoning for Kaka‛ako changed from residential to commercial and those living in Kaka‛ako were displaced.

By the 1970’s, Kaka‛ako had become an industrial area that was often at the center of political feuds. As a result, in April 1976, Hawai‛i lawmakers founded the Hawai‛i Community Development Authority (HCDA) to establish community development plans in community development districts (like Kaka‛ako). It has not been without controversy over the years.

Land ownership in Kaka‛ako is a mixed bag. Nine city blocks in the heart of Kaka‛ako are owned by Kamehameha Schools, a private land trust founded by a Hawaiian princess. Its sole purpose is to benefit the private school set up in her will to educate Native Hawaiian children. In addition, thirty acres of waterfront property, known as Kaka‛ako Makai, were conveyed to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs by the State of Hawai‛i as part of a settlement over longstanding claims for past-due revenue owed to the Native Hawaiian people from the Public Land Trust.

If it sounds complicated, it is. But there is still a lot of land being developed by private developers and good things are happening in Kaka’ako!

Kaka‛ako Has A Lot to Crow About

Kaka‛ako is brimming with activity. It is on the threshold of transformative growth and change. Here are some of the best things happening today:

Our Kaka‛ako: A project of Kamehameha Schools and Castle & Cooke Homes Hawai‛i Inc. encompassing nine city blocks in the heart of Kaka‛ako centered on the arts, culture and a creative hub on Auahi, Coral and Keawe Streets. It is an emerging epicenter for an urban-island culture that will incubate innovation for a variety of artists, chefs, entrepreneurs and influencers. It is rooted in Hawaiian cultural values. Its vision is walkable, sustainable, people-friendly neighborhoods. Open-air gathering places, and homes for diverse income levels. Kamehameha Schools will develop 88 rental units, and Castle & Cooke will develop 95 units for buyers.

Kaka‛ako Makai: The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is developing a Conceptual Master Plan for 30 acres of largely waterfront property. The Plan’s purpose will be to develop a place where Hawaiian national identity can flourish, invest in native intellectual capital and innovation, and integrate a planned community that embraces live, work, and play ideals.

The HCDA is planning for up to 30 new buildings to be constructed in Kaka‛ako. Community residents have protested permitting which would allow some towers to reach 700 feet, twice as high as the city’s building height limit. The issue remains unsettled at this time.

Salt: A marketplace that houses a variety of local retailers and restaurants. Part of Kamehameha School’s master plan, they will reuse existing warehouses to preserve the feel of Kaka‛ako.

Six Eighty: An apartment structure named after its address at 680 Ala Moana Boulevard. The first installment of Kamehameha School’s nine-block master plan. It is an affordable housing complex offering studio and one-bedroom loft-style apartments. 54 units are reserved for median-income renters. Small retail shops and eateries like Highway Inn and Starbucks are on the ground floor and there is an open-air venue on the roof.

Pow! Wow! Street Art Festival: Every year in February, street artists from all over the world descend on Kaka‛ako to paint new murals on its old commercial buildings.

Pohukaina and Cooke Street Tracy Chan

Mural at corner of Pohukaina and Cooke Streets. Photo: Tracy Chan

Whole Foods Market opened its largest store in Hawai‛i in the Ward Village complex in May 2018 with 72,000 square feet under roof. It boasts the largest hot bar in the western region with 43 choices; a sugarcane juice press, Two Tides Bar that has 24 beers on tap, and self-serve stations for mochi ice cream and poke.

Ward Village: Developed by the Howard Hughes Corporation, Ward Village is a community of exceptional residences. It is a mix of urban and island living with retail stores and entertainment venues near residences, pedestrian walkways, and outdoor gathering (green) spaces.

Ward Village rendering

Please let me know if you would like to be a part of this vibrant community and I would be happy to show you available real estate for sale or rent, and be sure to read NY Mag’s 2018 article about Kaka’ako being the hippest neighborhood in Honolulu.