Owning a Wahiawa home is a dream come true for those who have their heart set on a vintage plantation home. Famous as the site of the first Dole farmlands, this is a place steeped in the agricultural era of Hawaii's history. For that reason you still regularly find enchanting homes from the 1930's to 50's on the market that look like an old picture postcard come to life.
North of Mililani, Wahiawa is in the center of Oahu, cradled between the peaks of two different mountain ranges. The town is also uniquely surrounded on 3 sides by the fresh waters of Lake Wilson, one of the reasons it was a prime location for the Dole company's operations for so long.
Just up the road from your hometown is the world-renowned North Shore, with all of its beaches and surfing spots waiting for you whenever free time arrives. It's close enough for even a shave ice run!
Although the lands in Wahiawa no longer hold the fields of pineapple and other crops, the local economy has remained steady, changing to center on the nearby military presence at Schofield Barracks and Wheeler Air Force Base. Many of the residents work on one of the two installations or at businesses that benefit from their communities.
That stability has resulted in many longtime, even multi-generational, resident families, who have remained in the original homes purchased decades ago. That continuity has preserved numerous older, now vintage, residences like few other neighborhoods. For example:
There are 1,232 Wahiawa homes that were built in the 1950's, over 4 times the number built here since 2000.
The following decade, the 1960's, contributes another 1,018 homes to today's landscape.
More existing Wahiawa houses went up in the 1940's than the 1990's (511 vs 487).
The picture is crystal clear. The houses in the Wahiawa area are a time-capsule of Old Hawaii charm that is almost impossible to find elsewhere in Oahu real estate – and certainly not on this scale or as affordable. The median sale price currently falls in the low $400K, even in the currently heated Oahu market.
Take a look at the current listings and you'll probably find classic plantation-era homes elevated from the street level on a band of volcanic rock wall. Or undeniably mid-Century houses with large picture windows and sleek lines, yet still rooted in the Island style. Many eras, all contained in this one town.
If you're willing to do some work you can get an even better deal. Often there are period diamonds in the rough for sale that need maintenance or even renovation. Beautiful properties that can shine again with your help.
Though the homes are from years ago, the rest of the area's amenities and resources are distinctly moving toward modern urbanization. Nothing that would make you think you're in Downtown, of course, but all the conveniences are in town. The Wahiawa Shopping Center & Town Center, for example, has all the essentials with Foodland & Long's, plus numerous eateries, shops & salons as well.
In spite of that buildup, Wahiawa, especially the eastern areas, have preserved green spaces across the entire town. Concrete sprawl has not taken over, by any means.
What you do have here is a wonderful opportunity to inhabit a Hawaii that has been wiped out in too many neighborhoods on Oahu. With the flurry of new condos and rapid change on this Island, it's good to know that the romance of those vintage local homes is not only alive somewhere, but well. Take a look at and just try not to fall in love. It won't be easy.
Homes close by those in Wahiawa can be found in: Mililani Town
& Mililani Mauka
More About Wahiawa
Wahiawa real estate is often a mystery to even other locals. For many, it's just a place they pass through on the way to the North Shore. That's why both the Pros and Cons of living here can be elusive to prospective homeowners.
Our goal is to give you each of those sides so you can be fully informed as you make that most important of decisions – buying a home. Like any other neighborhood on Oahu, Wahiawa won't be the right place for every single person. Then again, it might be just right for you.
One issue that affects a lot of residents is that it is at the outer limits of commuting distance to Downtown Honolulu, even a little farther than the trip Kapolei residents must make to work. That will require extra time from your day getting both there and back. Traffic can be thick, so you must be ready for that if you're traveling at the times around rush hour.
That commuting requirement ties in to another challenge locally, which is a lack of real career and job opportunities within Wahiawa. The town is a small community, its economy mainly built on serving the needs of the military stationed at Schofield Barracks. Though that can present some business opportunities, the shops and services that tap into that market primarily provide only retail and food service positions or jobs with limited upward movement.
Ultimately, what you have here is a real small town, Hawaii style. For those who like to shop beyond the daily requirements, you'll have to drive south to do so, to Waikele or Pearlridge, most likely. Nightlife in Wahiawa, meanwhile, is restricted to just a few small bars. For anything beyond that, you'll again need to jump into your car and drive to take advantage of anything larger than that.
WAHIAWA – THE ADVANTAGES OF A SMALL TOWN LIFE
On the other hand, that size can also be one for the Pro side, because it means a slower pace, quieter environment and the kind of place where structures very rarely go above 2 or 3 stories. On Oahu, these elements are all becoming endangered - and most are usually found only on the high side of the market. Wahiawa offers those uncrowded conditions that often cost a premium, at affordable prices.
As discussed before, this is also a place you can still find vintage houses that offer not just curb appeal, but also interiors that are irresistible to a lot of homebuyers. There's something truly reassuring and welcoming about them and few Oahu communities have as many of these today. If that is your taste in houses, Wahiawa should be on your watch list.
Finally, you have one of the greatest of advantages of all – the weather. Wahiawa's site in the northern part of central Oahu has a generally cooler climate due to the elevation and the presence of both mountain ranges enclosing it on either side.
Though it can still get warm, your average temperature will be lower on average compared to most of the rest of the Island. That means your outdoors is a more comfortable environment than your neighbors' nearer the ocean. It can result in smaller bills, too, as the AC won't need to be run as long or as often. That's never a bad thing in Hawaii's high cost of living.
Owning a home in Wahiawa does have some challenges that come with a community fully outside the developed areas, which can boast more leisure options. It isn't the right real estate choice for all. If, however, you're one who values the simpler things in life and relish diving into a lifestyle that's something of a throwback to Hawaii's pre-build up past, you should be looking at Wahiawa's properties for sale. You just might find your diamond in the rough up here.
THE FUTURE OF WAHIAWA REAL ESTATE
Wahiawa real estate occupies its own space. The wide scale development of Oahu hasn't touched it, ending its reach with the creation of Mililani just below. That lack of build up, along with its location at the outer reaches of commuting to the main job center of Honolulu and other factors have kept it affordable.
With no changes in sight, for better or worse, Wahiawa homes will chart a course that will probably rise with the rest of the properties on Oahu, but at a clip that's on the slower side of the Island market.
Its appeal isn't as broad, being farther from the coastline and without the kind of shopping and social outlets that other communities have either themselves or close by.
Wahiawa certainly has its own unique strengths, but they don't translate as clearly to rising property values. That's fine with most residents because it preserves the local feel that they love.
Purchasing a home in Wahiawa probably won't produce a big payoff in the short term. Instead, it's an affordable option in a region that doesn't have many. One that will see rises come, but more patience will be needed than other Oahu neighborhoods.
As we've acknowledge, Wahiawa isn't as rich in amenities compared to the towns to its south, but for the elements that are real Needs, you've got them all in easy reach. Schools, groceries and essential services like medical facilities can be found within the city limits. In addition, you get a few of the 'Nice to Have' places, too, like a wealth of local food places you need to check out.
Schools & Childcare
Wahiawa has a full slate of public schools, from Elementary to High School, so your keiki's ride won't be a long one, eliminating one common headache. The town is especially rich in Elementary Schools. For those who want to extend their schooling or gain skills for a career/trade, you do have a little more distance to drive, but it's still a very reasonable trip.
Trinity Lutheran School
– Pre-School to 8th Grade. Students averaged 83rd Percentile for Stanford 10 Achievement Test. Strong Christian emphasis.
– Emphasizes parent participation, including a very involved PTA. Teaches Kindergarten through 5th Grade.
– Has one of the best Student:Teacher ratios in Hawaii, 13:1. Serves Kindergarten to 5th Grade.
Hale Kula Elementary
– Located on Schofield Barracks, almost every students comes from families stationed there. Going through extensive construction as older buildings are renovated over next few years.
– Program centers around 'Professional Learning Communities' in which teachers closely collaborate to improve learning and curriculum.
– Recently scored 302 (out of 400) on Hawaii's Strive Report. Both Math & Reading scores have steadily climbed over the last few years.
Wahiawa Middle School
– Cited as probably the best Middle School in Leeward Oahu, it sits right in the middle of Wahiawa.
Wheeler Middle School
– Has 2 focus programs – Step Up to Writing, which uses writing to enhance learning, and AVID, their college preparation track with advanced classes. Grades 6 to 8.
Leilehua High School
– Large student body of over 1,800. A US Dept of Education Blue Ribbon School, serving 9th to 12th Grades.
Leeward Community College
(Pearl City) – Requires a drive south, but not a long one. Get training in industrial & construction trades, nursing and other skills. Full academic classes as well.
It's easy to remember The Bus lines that come through Wahiawa – 52, 62 & 72. 52 goes north to Haleiwa and south through town, ending at Ala Moana Center, where a huge number of lines also stop, allowing you to transfer and get around to anywhere on Oahu. 62 begins in Wahiawa, running the same route as 52 southward between there to Pearl City, Downtown and Ala Moana. 72 is strictly local, circling around town between Whitmore Village and Schofield. All can be accessed at the Wahiawa Transit Center, right in the middle of the town.
Supermarkets & Groceries
Living in Wahiawa, you can take care of almost every food staple at the Foodland supermarket
. You also have a unique and longstanding option in Tamura's
, an Old School Hawaii place which carries a lot of local foods and has prices that are excellent. Many come for their poke bowls alone. They're that good.
Though Wahiawa isn't where you'll find the big malls, you can take care of all your daily needs, and some leisure shopping as well, without leaving town.
Wahiawa Shopping Center
– The main shopping stop in Wahiawa. Anchored by Foodland and Long's, there are 30 stores, services and food options to try out. Eateries are almost exclusively local, with a lot of variety.
Hospitals & Health Care
Medical facilities aren't extensive, but you do have the only hospital in the immediate area, a comforting presence should something come up. There are also individual practitioners' offices around town so you're never far from attention in less urgent situations.
Wahiawa General Hospital
– Residents rate this facility & its staff highly, especially the ER. Serves all of Central Oahu so can be a busy place. Full Out & In Patient services.
Medical Arts Clinic
– Group Practice with Family Medicine practitioners, Internists, Pediatrician, Emergency Medicine as well as a General Surgeon.
Your Recreation & Leisure Options
The very center of Wahiawa is taken up by a huge park and recreation center, so it's equally near the entire area, including your new address. What is surprising for some is that there's more beyond that, including a couple of very unique options for those who love the outdoors.
Wahiawa District Park & Recreation Center
– Large recreational facilities and park right in central Wahiawa. Pool, gym, multi-purpose building and sports field with scheduled classes, activities and programs that run throughout the year.
Wahiawa Freshwater State Park
– Perfect place for a peaceful picnic by the water with woods surrounding you. Anglers love it even more for the freshwater shore and boat fishing you can do here. No swimming or boating, unless you're fishing, of course!
Wahiawa Botanical Garden
– Stroll around in 27 acres of rainforest and soothing plant life everywhere you look. The big draw is the Rainbow Eucalyptus tree, near the entrance. Free entry.
Dining & Restaurants
Wahiawa's taste in food is all about simple, filling and ono. There are no name chefs here, just the kind of cooking that creates loyal customers who keep coming back for years. You'll find a surprising variety in cuisines served around town, but they're united by 2 things – they're delicious and they're affordable.
- Local chain that’s affordable and part of the landscape of Hawaii. The chili is well-loved and so well known that it’s a common fundraiser for groups. Local and American mixed menu. Also try the Zip Pac bento - chicken, beef, spam & fish plus rice.
- Excellent Korean food, but one dish gets extra special notice. Not a few diners say the meat jun at Dong Yang is the best on Oahu. With so many places serving it, that’s high, high praise. Their kim chee also gets attention for tasting fresh every time. One Warning: Often noted that the service level isn’t the highest, unfortunately.
– If you like your Subs not just tasty, but BIG, make your way here now. Many sandwiches named after famous surfers and surfing spots in Hawaii. The 'Adam Sando' is a big favorite. Prices hard to beat, too.
Maui Mike's Fire Roasted Chicken
– Locals love Maui Mike's rotisserie chicken! So much that they sometimes run out and close for the day. Definitely upgrade to the Cajun fries, then dive in.
– Breakfast is a standout here, most notably the fried rice special. What really brings the traffic, though, is their pies. Chocolate Cream is the #1 seller, but the other flavors will have you smacking your lips, too. A Wahiawa institution. Cash Only.
Shige's Saimin Stand
– As you can imagine the saimin is fantastic, hands down. What you might not know is that their burgers get 5 stars as well. Some claim they make the best cheeseburger on the Island. Try and decide.
– Local and Hawaiian food, so bring an appetite for these filling dishes. Teri lovers will have much to enjoy, like the Teri Chicken which gets a lot of foodie attention. Plate Lunch Paradise.
– Italian restaurant that is said to be the Real Thing. Live music on some nights. Whole menu deserves a try, but the Fettucine Marbella & Fruitti de Mare is a good start. Mid-level pricing, but on affordable side.
– Small Mexican place with just 6 tables. Their famous Carne Asada Fries should be tried your 1st visit. Salsa can be very spicy so go slow. Otherwise, order freely and enjoy.
– May not be the King, but definitely a contender for the throne! Very large servings of pho so good, it has many driving from other parts of Oahu to have it. That should tell you everything you need to know.
– Tiny Filipino restaurant with big reviews from customers. Very affordable prices so you get a lot for your money. The kind of place Filipinos flock to for a real taste of home.
Plumeria Thai Cafe
– Open only from 8:30AM – 2:00PM. Preparation can be slower since it's literally just Mom & Pop. It's worth the wait. Chicken Pad Thai is their #1 ordered dish and it tastes like a winner should. Prepares vegan options, too.
Distances From Wahiawa to Other Parts of Oahu
Ko Olina: 18.7 miles
Waikiki: 24 miles
Honolulu Airport: 16.7 miles
Downtown Honolulu: 21.3 miles
Ala Moana Shopping Center: 23 miles
Pearl Harbor/Hickam: 15.1 miles
Pearlridge Shopping Center: 12 miles
Mililani: 4.7 miles
Kaneohe: 25.5 miles
Kailua: 30.4 miles
Lanikai: 32.3 miles
Waimanalo: 31.5 miles
(Haleiwa): 10 miles
Sunset Beach: 17.2 miles