Learn About the Kalihi Neighborhood in Honolulu

Kalihi is one of the least safe neighborhoods on O'ahu

Sunset at Kaka'ako, O'ahu
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Kalihi is a region of Honolulu, Hawaii, on the island of O'ahu. If you are planning a trip to Honolulu or considering moving to the Kalihi neighborhood, here is a closer look at the area.

Highlights of Kalihi

Kalihi is close to downtown and the airport. The neighbors can be close-knit (as long as you're on their good side). It's one of the most diverse areas of O'ahu. The easy access via public transportation and lower cost of living are also drawn for businesses in the area.

Kalihi also has Saturday markets in the Kalihi Elementary parking lot, little vegetable sidewalk sales that crop up from time to time (think: a mini garage sale with produce) and the frequent waft of delicious (or interesting) things cooking all the way up and down the block.

Downside of Kalihi

Kalihi is purported to be one of the least safe neighborhoods on O'ahu. The bad rap that the neighborhood carries is due to crime.

A Colorful History

The history of Kalihi is also colorful. Kalihi has a history of a large population of roosters that were raised for cock fighting. Kalihi Valley is split by the Likelike Highway, with Honolulu to the east and Salt Lake to the west. The neighborhood once housed leprosy receiving station, where suspected leprosy patients were triaged before going to Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai. During the early development of Honolulu, Kalihi was also a neighborhood notorious for prostitution.

Since then, the city has worked to make Kalihi more family friendly and wholesomely prosperous. Though the neighborhood is not without its challenges, it is one of the most economical areas on the island and can provide a positive experience.

The People of Kalihi

The Kalihi neighborhood of Honolulu is mostly comprised of hard-working families with a great sense of community.

The median household income here is much lower than Hawaii, overall. The Kalihi-Palama area has twice as many people living below the poverty level as Hawaii's average, according to City-Data.com.

The majority of the population identifies with Asian ancestry. Tagalog is a hugely important language here, and many Kalihi residents speak it as their primary language. About 19 percent of the residents don't speak English well or at all, City-Data.com says. This is significantly higher than throughout Hawaii (4.7 percent).

A high population of children, according to City-Data.com, equates to several elementary schools and brings a youthful feel to the neighborhood.

Due to Kalihi's somewhat rural and uninhabited sections, the population density is reported to be less than Hawaii's average.

Apartments and Real Estate in Kalihi

Despite its history and reputation, detached houses in the Kalihi-Palama area are actually more expensive (about $894,000) than the Hawaii average *($685,000), according to City-Data.com's 2015 numbers. But that flips when you look at apartments: Kalihi's 2015 average was around $263,000, whereas Hawaii's was $424,000.

The median rent in Kalihi-Palama was $865 in 2015, compared to the Hawaii average of $1,361.

Kalihi is home to many bargains, and great deals can be found on both apartments (where you'll also get more square footage for your buck) and rentals.

Services in Kalihi

  • There are several hospitals within a short distance of the neighborhood: Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children at 1319 Punahou St., The Queen's Medical Center at 1301 Punchbowl, and Shriners Hospital for Children at 1310 Punahou St.

  • There's also the Kalihi-Palama Health Center, Kuakini Medical Center and the Lanakila Health Center, to name a few other health care offerings in the area.

  • Kalihi schools are housed within the Farrington complex of the Hawaii School District. There are nine elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school within the Kalihi boundaries. For the Hawaii State Department of Education School Finder tool, click here.

    Amenities in Kalihi

    • As with most neighborhoods in Honolulu, there are several local parks that are easily accessible. Two parks worth checking out directly in Kalihi are Kunawai Park and Pu'unui Community Park. 

    • The closest public library is located at 1325 Kalihi St.

    • No matter where you're at in Kalihi, there are plenty of shopping centers nearby. For starters, Waiakamilo Shopping Plaza Shopping Center, Nimitz Center and Kingsgate Plaza all have grocery stores and plenty of plate lunch eateries. Additionally, Kmart, Costco and Home Depot are located right on the outskirts of the neighborhood.  Young's Fish Market is a constant award winner for fresh fish and is a perennial favorite among island residents all over. For restaurant reviews, check out ​`Ono Kine Grindz's Kalihi section.