7 Best Places to Live in Hawaii

July 20th, 2023

7 Best Places to Live in Hawaii

Best Places to Live in Hawaii 

What are the best cities to live in the beautiful Island state of Hawaii?  

A popular tourist destination and tropical paradise, Hawaii is a fantastic place to live, full of beauty, adventure, and diverse culture. Located 2,000 miles from the U.S. mainland in the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii is a group of volcanic islands that became the 50th state on August 21st, 1959. 

Best known for its beautiful real estate, relaxed way of life, breathtaking beaches, top-rated restaurants, outdoor activities, breathtaking natural surroundings, and no shortage of things to do, it is no wonder that so many people want to call Hawaii home. If you are moving to Hawaii and still deciding where you should live, this is the guide for you. 

Check out Hawaii's seven best places to live with information on local favorites. 

Here are the best places to live in Hawaii 


Not only is Honolulu the state capital, but it is also the largest city in Hawaii. Located on the Island of Oahu and the south shore, Honolulu is best known for its tropical climate, diverse population, and beautiful landscape. Recognized as a center of business, finance, hospitality, and military defense, Honolulu does a great job blending Hawaiian tradition with the modern world. 

With a cost of living that is 84% higher than the national average, living in Honolulu is not cheap, but it is undoubtedly less expensive than living in Maui. As the heart of Hawaii, residents and visitors alike will find historic landmarks, fine dining, excellent neighborhoods, and world-class shopping all over the city. 

Home to the world-famous Waikiki Beach, many people love to spend their time in Honolulu surfing, swimming, and relaxing with friends and family. As one of the safest cities in the United States to live and visit, Honolulu is unique and exciting. 

Honolulu, HI Skyline on a sunny day near the water with buildings

Local Favorites: 

Lolani Palace: This beautiful 19th-century home was the official residence of the last reigning monarchs of Hawaii. Now a famous museum with tours and exhibits, the Lolani Palace symbolizes Hawaiian independence. 

Bishop Museum: As the designated Hawai'i State Museum of Natural and Clinical History, this is the largest museum in Hawaii dedicated to preserving Hawaiian and Pacific history. 

Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail: This scenic hiking area offers views of O'ahu's southern coastline, a paved trail, a lighthouse, and overlooks perfect for whale watching. 


Also referred to as the Big Island, the stunning city of Hilo is found on the northeastern side of the Island and is one of the best places to live in Hawaii. Best known for its breathtaking natural beauty, this vibrant and lively town is home to Wailuku River State Park and Rainbow Falls, which attracts many visitors for its colorful mist and perfect photography opportunities. 

Hilo is a beautiful place to call home, surrounded by cascading waterfalls, lush rainforests, and colorful gardens. Offering plenty of amenities from exciting museums and art galleries to highly-rated restaurants and shops, there are more ways than one to spend your time when in Hilo. 

Beautiful waterfall and lush forest with rainbow in Hilo, HI

Local Favorites:

Rainbow Falls: This 80-foot tall and almost 100-foot-in diameter waterfall is surrounded by rainforest and is known for its frequent rainbows on sunny days. Free to visit, Rainbow Falls is easily accessible and rushes into a large pool below. 

Hawai'i Tropical Biosphere and Garden: A great place for nature lovers and photographers, this 17-acre botanical garden is home to over 1,800 species of tropical plants, multiple walking trails, streams, waterfalls, and a bird aviary. 

Richardson Ocean Park: Recognized as the only black sand beach closest to Hilo, this beloved beach by locals is a perfect destination for the whole family for its excellent swimming, fishing, and snorkeling opportunities. 


As the third largest Island in Hawaii, O'ahu in Honolulu County is famous for its magnificent beaches, vibrant culture, and popular attractions. Found in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, O'ahu is one of the world's most popular and sought-after tourist attractions for its picturesque surroundings and offerings. 

Often referred to as "the gathering place," O'ahu is home to a diverse population of Native Hawaiians and cultures from the East and the West. Providing no shortage of excellent restaurants, amenities, and accommodations, many people are moving to O'ahu for its cheaper cost of living and laid-back way of life. 

Beautiful sunset with palm trees near the ocean in O'ahu, HI

Local Favorites:

Diamond Head: As one of the most recognized landmarks in Hawaii, this diamond head volcanic cone is a popular area for hiking and is known for its breathtaking ocean views and military history. 

Turtle Bay Resort: This 850-acre upscale resort is surrounded by beautiful scenery and offers fantastic beaches, fun experiences, airy rooms, a spa, two outdoor pools, two golf courses, two hot tubs, and seven restaurants and bars. 

Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa: The ideal place for a family vacation, this top-rated resort and spa is owned by Disney and is found directly on the waterfront. 


Found on the east coast of the Island of O'ahu lies the town of Kailua which in the Hawaiian language stands for "two seas" or "two currents." This growing beach town is home to more than 37,000 residents and is best known for its sandy beaches and high quality of life. 

Offering a dense suburban feel, Kailua is a great place to live since it is recognized as the quieter side of O'ahu. Found only 12 miles northeast of Honolulu, this friendly and welcoming community is considered one of the most beautiful in the world and provides sunny skies with endless ocean views. 

Kailua, HI beach with blue canoes

Local Favorites:

Lanikai Beach: Featuring miles of calm blue water, soft white sand, stunning sunrises, and spectacular views, this is one of the most sought-after beaches in the world. 

Kailua Beach Park: Offering clear blue water and fine white sand, many people love to visit this beach park to relax and participate in water sports activities. 

Lanikai Pill Box Hike: Also known as the Kaiwa Ridge Trail, this hiking trail is short and narrow and provides panoramic views of Lanikai Beach. 


As the cultural hub of the North Shore on the Island of O'ahu, the historic surf town and vibrant community of Haleiwa is a census-designated place in Honolulu County. Considered one of the most popular places to live and visit on the North Shore, Haleiwa is full of fantastic art galleries, surf shops, restaurants, and local boutiques that residents and travelers can explore. 

Located about a one-hour drive from Waikiki, many people come to Haleiwa for a relaxed and quiet atmosphere. Often referred to as the world's surf capital by surfers, there is no better place to catch a wave than in this charming Hawaiian community. Known to host primer surfing competitions in winter, including the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, the world's best surfers frequent Haleiwa and the North Shore. 

Big waves on the beach in Haleiwa, HI

Local Favorites:

Waimea Valley: This sacred historical site and nature preserve is worth visiting for its botanical garden, waterfall area, walking trails, and information on Native Hawaiian culture and history. 

Sharks Cove: Located on the world-famous North Shore and part of Pupukea Beach Park, this lava rock beach is home to diverse marine life and unique underwater rock formations. 

North Shore Shark Adventures: Known as the original shark adventure tour in Hawaii, operating safely since 2001, visitors will be offered a fun and fantastic experience to cage dive with sharks in their natural habitat. 

Pearl City 

Pearl City is found on the Island of O'ahu in Honolulu County and is an unincorporated community and census-designated place. Located along the North Shore of Pearl Harbor, Pearl City is best known for its centralized location, suburban lifestyle, diverse population, and many amenities. 

Only 11 miles from Downtown Honolulu, this thriving community has over 45,000 people and is one of the most essential suburbs in O'ahu. Named after the pearl-bearing oysters found along the harbor, Pearl City is a fantastic place to call home. As the site of the Japanese surprise attack during World War II on December 7th, 1941, the town's main attraction is the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. 

Aerial view of Pearl Harbor with battleship

Local Favorites:

Pearl Harbor National Memorial: Commemorating the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, this museum features exhibits, galleries, and the USS Arizona Memorial that can be accessed with no entry fee. 

Battleship Missouri Memorial: Built for the United States Navy in the 1940s, this is the site of the official Japanese surrender in World War II and is now used as a memorial with exhibits and tours. 

Kualoa Ranch: This 4,000-acre private nature preserve and working cattle ranch is the site of multiple Hollywood filming locations, including Jurrasic Park, Jumangi, and LOST. Ziplining, horseback riding tours, kayaking, and beautiful beaches can also be found here. 


The historic town of Paia is found along the northern coast of the Island of Maui. What was once a booming plantation town is now a thriving community full of boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants. Considered the "windsurfing capital of the world," many people travel here to check out the North Shore waves, which are ideal for surfing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing. 

Worth the visit and the move, Paia is the perfect embodiment of Hawaii's small-town charm since it is home to friendly residents, outdoor activities, and fun things to do for everyone. Generally considered the "hippiest place" on the Valley Isle, expect to find beautiful homes, health food stores, coffee shops, and surf shops all over town. 

Offering miles of serene white beaches and a high quality of life, it is no wonder that Paia is one of the best places to live in Hawaii. From spending the day near the ocean to eating dinner on the waterfront, Paia is a great place to call home for families, retirees, and adventurers. 

Blue Hawaii sign with palm fronds in the background

Local Favorites:

Baldwin Beach Park: A great place to spend the day or walk the dog, trees surround this long white sand public beach, and it features a sports field, picnic areas, and restroom facilities. 

Ho'okipa Beach Park: Recognized as a top spot for recreation, this popular state park and surfing destination offers a white sand beach, picnic areas, pavilions, and sightseeing opportunities. 

Mama's Fish House: Dine at this local favorite restaurant that serves fresh-caught seafood and Hawaiian cuisine alongside breathtaking ocean views. 


Here are some common questions about the best places to live in Hawaii. 

Which part of Hawaii is best to live in? 

Depending on your lifestyle, there are many great places to live in Hawaii. If you are searching for a laid-back way of life, then Kuai might be for you; if you are searching for urban life and plenty of amenities, you might enjoy living in Oahu. 

What is the safest Hawaiian Island to live on? 

Hawaii is one of the safest places to travel and live all year round. While Maui has the lowest violent crime rate, Kaui has the lowest property crime rate. 

Which Hawaiian Island has the best cost of living? 

The Big Island of Hawaii offers the best cost of living since it is 25% lower than the Hawaiian average. 

What is the friendliest place in Hawaii? 

Also known as the "Friendly Isle," the Island of Molokai is a great place to live for its friendly and nice residents, making it a great place to call home for families. 

The Best Places to Live in Hawaii - The Bottom Line 

Hawaii is a fantastic place to live, with many safe and sought-after cities and towns. Whether you are moving to Hawaii for its peaceful way of life or beautiful surroundings, there is bound to be a place for you that best fits your lifestyle. Find your dream home in Hawaii in no time, from single-family homes in Honolulu to waterfront homes in O'ahu. Please contact the experts at UpHomes to start your home search in Hawaii. 

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Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I am a REALTOR®. My goal is to help you learn more about real estate through our Real Estate Blog! Hopefully, you enjoyed the above blog post and it found a way to provide help or value to you. When you're ready to buy or sell a home of your own let us know here. Please feel free to join the conversation by dropping us a comment below.

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