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Best Places To Live in Hawaii

Pondering a move to paradise? Here's where to live.

By Kevin Litwin on December 9, 2021

iStock/Paul Dionne

The Aloha State has many cities that provide residents with a good quality of life and are fun places for tourists to visit. Here are our top picks for the best places to live in Hawaii.


The capital of Hawaii, Honolulu is on the island of Oahu and a major tourist destination, especially along Waikiki Beach with its many hotels, shops and nightlife spots. Tourism contributes $10 billion annually to the economy, and Honolulu is also a major hub for banking, manufacturing, international business and military defense.


The largest city on the big island of Hawaii is Hilo, which overlooks volcanoes named Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. Tourism is a prime industry, and city amenities include Hilo International Airport, the University of Hawaii at Hilo, Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and a number of museums, art galleries and unique shops.


Located on the island of Maui, Kahului is the retail hub for Maui residents thanks to several malls and major stores. Kahului Airport accommodates residents and thousands of visitors each year, and a good public school system is in place led by high-achieving Maui High School and Maui Waena Intermediate School.


The beautiful city of Kailua has attractions like Kahana Beach, Kahana Pond State Wildlife Sanctuary and Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, while Maui Arts & Cultural Center hosts more than 1,800 events annually. Education options include Maui Community College, and the campus also hosts an Aloha Friday Farmers Market every Friday of the year.


The residential community of Kaneohe offers three golf courses, boating opportunities on Kanoehe Bay, and the award-winning Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden. Higher education choices include Windward Community College and a campus of Hawaii Pacific University, and the city’s acclaimed seafood cuisine scene includes restaurants like Haleiwa Joe’s and Fresh Catch.

Pearl City

Along Oahu’s south shore is Pearl City, whose main attraction is Pearl Harbor where the Japanese military surprise-attacked in 1941. Pearl City has a good public school system and the University of Hawaii-Leeward Community College, while a popular three-mile Waimano Pool Hiking Trail is graced by a shimmering waterfall and two small ponds.


Several research facilities are in Kihei, including the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and the Maui High Performance Computing Center. The city features six miles of beaches along Maui’s southwest shore, and attractions include Kalama Beach Park and Maalaea Bay along with small shopping malls and fine restaurants.

East Honolulu

East Honolulu is made up of several neighborhoods near the Diamond Head crater in Oahu’s southeastern corner. Neighborhoods are considered upper middle class, and attractions include Waialae Country Club, Sea Life Park, Lanai Lookout and Sandy Beach. Several shopping options and top restaurants contribute to East Honolulu’s quality of life.


Near the center of Oahu is Mililani, a city whose older portion located west of Interstate H-2 is known as Mililani Town. Almost all of the community’s commercial and retail centers are in Mililani Town, where the median income for a family is about $100,000.


In the southern portion of Oahu is Waipahu, a city known for sugar cane production along with a popular outlet shopping center called Waikele Outlets. Two public school districts serve residents, and a popular tourism attraction is the Hawaii Plantation Village outdoor museum that showcases the state’s agriculture from 1840 to 1940.

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