Set on a golden-sand beach just east of Diamond Head, sunny Kahala is one of Hawaii’s most opulent neighborhoods. With classic Island charm, elegant homes and a location only 15 minutes from downtown, Kahala fulfills the dream of paradise.
Although prominent local families had established upscale oceanfront bungalows on Black Point and Kahala Avenue as early as the 1920s, Kahala and in fact much of East Honolulu was still an almost country landscape of farms and rustic homes into the 1950s. By the 1960s, Kahala had transformed into a fashionable Honolulu suburb, earning it the nickname the Beverly Hills of Hawaii.
Kahala’s Black Point area is a haven of privacy, with most residences secured behind a community gate. Homes range from vintage bungalows to contemporary mansions, including a modernist masterpiece by architect Vladimir Ossipoff and heiress Doris Duke’s 5-acre Shangri La, today a museum of art. Notable Black Point homeowners have also included Tom Selleck, Martin Denny, John Kelly and Duke Kahanamoku.
Along Kahala Avenue, the ultimate address, mature coconut trees sway above multi-million-dollar beachfront estates owned by an international roster of celebrities and tycoons. Veiled behind its magnificent homes, Kahala Beach offers total tranquility with more than a mile of sand, shallow water protected by a reef and few visitors.
The avenue narrows at Waialae Beach Park and the members-only Waialae Country Club, home of the Sony Open PGA Tour golf event, and ends at the iconic Kahala Hotel & Resort. Opened in 1964, the five-star Kahala has hosted everyone who’s anyone from Queen Elizabeth II, President Bill Clinton and the Dalai Lama to Elton John and Johnny Depp.
Residential Kahala also features a small commercial zone. Tony Kahala Mall serves as the town square, with boutiques, cafes, a theater, a bank, a post office, a high-end grocer and more. The neighborhood also includes a YMCA and the top-ranked Kahala Elementary School.
Today’s Kahala residents are a mix of settled Hawaii families and newcomers mostly from the Mainland and Asia, all of whom treasure the neighborhood’s relaxed, Island-style ambience as much as its sophistication. Kahala’s nearly 1,250 single-family homes range in price from about $1.5 million for away-from-the-waterfront fixer-uppers to as much as $15 million or more on Kahala Avenue and Black Point. Kahala’s three condominiums offer fee simple and leasehold units starting under $1 million.
Kahala may not fit into everyone’s budget, but for those who can afford the dream, it’s worth every penny.