view from Waiahole Beach Park, Windward Oahu, Honolulu Directions, Oahu, November 2006
Greg Ward—Getty Images/Dorling Kindersley
September 17, 2016
AT A GLANCE
Population 118,326
Median Home Price $766,500
Property Tax $2,364
Unemployment rate 3.6%
Commute time 26 minutes

If you think of Hawaii as just a vacation destination, Koolaupoko might surprise you. This southeastern district off the windward coast of Oahu has the lush valleys, gorgeous beaches, and barrier reefs that the 50th state is known, along with a lesser-known but rich history. Koolaupoko (“Ko’olau” means “windward”; “poko” means “small”) supported one of the largest populations in the islands prior to British explorer James Cook’s arrival in 1778. Its proximity to downtown Honolulu—a 30-minute drive to hotels, resorts, and restaurants—means there are tons of jobs nearby. (Koolaupoko boasts a low 3.6% unemployment rate.) And the new Windward Mall in Kaneohe gives locals plenty of shopping and dining options, as well as a two-days-per-week farmers’ market.

One caveat: Housing costs take a serious bite of Koolaupoko residents’ earnings. The median home price through July 2016 was a steep $766,500. Median household income is $87,342.

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