Straddling the length of Waialae Avenue next to Diamond Head lies the neighborhood of Kaimuki, a quiet residential area of historic plantation houses and with great sea- and city views. While it has always been a desirable place to live due to its proximity to both the ocean and downtown Honolulu, it has seen a rise in popularity in recent years with the opening of acclaimed restaurants and trendy boutiques along Waialae Avenue. Young creatives have breathed life into this sleepy area, while still maintaining its historic facades and charm.
While there may be new restaurants and shops to peruse, Kaimuki doesn’t have much in the way of coworking spaces. However, there are a few notable coffee shops in the area that make for a good place to work. Coffee Talk is a neighborhood mainstay with an alternative college-town vibe, delicious pastries, and ample seating. Pop into The Curb for their fresh weekly rotating selection of roasted coffee, while nearby on 12th Ave you’ll find Bean About Town, which offers European-style coffees and pastries.
Shopping in Kaimuki is limited to small, but unique, specialty stores. Sugarcane Shop is a one-stop-shop for island-inspired décor, trinkets, and souvenirs. Modern resort wear can be found at designer Summer Shiigi’s boutique Ten Tomorrow, housed in a cute cottage on 11th Avenue. Pick up a treat for your furry friend at The Public Pet, or a bouquet of locally-grown tropical flowers from Pua Hana. When it’s time to restock your makeup, the Awa and Olena shop has you covered for Hawaii-made clean beauty products.
Kaimuki has become somewhat of a dining destination with well-known local chefs opening notable eateries in the midcentury-modern buildings that line Waialae Avenue. Neighborhood bistro Mud Hen Water serves a creative take on Hawaiian-style tapas and artisanal cocktails from a bright, pretty bar. Across the street, Brew’d is a moody pub with craft beers on tap, while recent addition Miro boasts a fancy five-course prix fixe menu of French and Japanese-inspired cuisine. Health fanatics love Leahi Health for vegan bites and smoothies, while the ever-popular Koko Head Café always has a line for its creative local brunch menu. For authentic Hawaiian food and poke, pick up a selection to-go from Fort Ruger Market, a bare-bones market in the middle of a residential neighborhood.
Activities in the area are minimal, as Kaimuki is mostly a suburban neighborhood unless you count standing in the impressive line at Leonard’s—the island’s most popular bakery for “malasadas,” Portuguese-style doughnuts—an activity. Pick up a dozen before hiking Ka’au Crater, one of the island’s most arduous and rewarding hikes in the back of Palolo Valley.
A half-Dutch writer and photographer who grew up on Oahu, Hawaii. She has spent years exploring and enjoying the Hawaiian Islands for travel and lifestyle publications and assignments.
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