Consisting of eight islands, Hawaii is a state with more than 750 miles of ocean-splashed coastline. Needless to say, retiring in Hawaii and enjoying its beauty all day long would be living the dream. But sadly, it remains a fantasy for most.
Some might get a chance to go there for a vacation. Even then, they’ll have a tough decision to make—which cities to visit? From big cities, such as Honolulu and Pearl City, to small ones, such as Aiea and Nanakuli, there’s a place for everyone, depending on their preferences.
For those considering something longer term, we’ve compiled this list of the safest cities in Hawaii to help answer some of the questions people might have. The available amenities, the property values, and the cost of living, not to mention the crime rates, are all important deciding factors when choosing a new place to move. The text below addresses all of these particular factors, having been researching and compiled for the purpose of making your potential move or visit to Hawaii easier.
Is Hawaii a safe state? This question is asked frequently, and we’ll give you a long answer throughout the following list of Hawaii’s safest cities. But if you’re looking for a shorter reply, then our answer is yes. Hawaii is as safe as any other state in the US, if not safer. But even if the stats and crimes rates are in your favor, just remember that even in Hawaii, home security systems are always an option to improve your safety.
Note: The state of Hawaii doesn’t publish its cities’ individual crime data, but rather the data by county. The numbers given are experts’ estimates for every city’s property and violent crimes, derived from the previous year’s data.
(Property: 1,223; Violent: 108)
Starting this list is East Honolulu, the second most populated city on Oahu and in Hawaii. Along with being the absolute safest place to live in Hawaii, the city offers tourists numerous beaches and hiking trails to enjoy, together with all the fun that comes with visiting the tropical paradise. The restaurants available in the city, ranging from barbecue shacks to fine dining establishments, will provide more than enough food variety for your stay.
East Honolulu has a population of 48,926. The median income in the city is $111,000, the median age is 47.3 years, and an average house costs $1,125,000. This city easily answers the question, What is the best city to live in Hawaii?
Those who decide to stay in East Honolulu on a more permanent basis will be glad to learn that finding a job in the city is not a difficult endeavor, as the unemployment rate is just 3.6%, well below the US average of 5.2%. Even though it’s one of the most popular tourist cities in Hawaii, the population of the city has increased by just 4.7% since 2000.
Crime rates are East Honolulu’s biggest advantage, as the city takes first place on our list, making it the safest place in Hawaii. Last year’s estimates show that East Honolulu had 1,223 property and 108 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
We’ve established that not many people move to this city, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get its share of traffic and activity. Tourists come flooding to East Honolulu, so it definitely can’t be considered a peaceful town. The main reason people choose not to stay here permanently is the cost of living, which is 177.2% higher than the national average.
(Property: 1,352; Violent: 120)
Kailua is East Honolulu’s neighboring city, confirming our positive answer to the question, Is Oahu a safe place to live? Nature enthusiasts will find their heaven here, with multiple sunny beaches and the hiking trails that overlook them. You’ll never run out of things to do here.
The city is home to 39,353 people, and their median income is $105,000. The median age in Kailua is 42.7 years, while an average home sells for $1,033,000.
Kailua shares most of its positive traits with the previous city on the list: it’s one of the safest cities in Hawaii, the unemployment rate is just 3.6%, the population growth is fairly low (7.8% since 2000), and education investments are slightly above the national average.
Low crime rates are another thing the cities share; estimates show that Kailua had 1,352 property and 120 violent crimes per 100,000 people last year. All of these stats together point to Kailua being one of the best places to live in Hawaii.
Even though it costs slightly less to live in Kailua compared to the previous city, the cost of living is still high, sitting at 154.3% above the US average.
(Property: 1,797; Violent: 159)
Another Oahu city, Aiea is one of the places that shaped American history. It is the home to Pearl Harbor, as well as the several museums and monuments that stand to remind us of the sacrifices made during World War II. Aiea is also the cheapest place to live in Hawaii on this list so far.
Aiea has a population of 9,181. The median income is around $100,000, and the median age of the residents is 42.7 years. An average home is priced at $700,000.
Sharing an unemployment rate with the two cities before, Aiea’s rate is 3.6%. The city’s population grew even slower in the last 19 years, increasing by only 1.8%.
The estimated Aiea crime numbers qualify the city for the title of the best place to live in Hawaii with a family. For 2018, the numbers looked like this: 1,797 property crimes, as well as 159 violent crimes per 100,000 people, both numbers staying well below the state and national averages.
Despite the fact that it’s the cheapest city on the list so far, life in Aiea is far from inexpensive. The cost of living is 108.3% above the average values for the US.
(Property: 2,049; Violent: 182)
Ahuimanu once more reassures us that the answer to the question Is Oahu safe to live? will be a positive one. Just like the rest of Oahu and Hawaii, Ahuimanu has gorgeous beaches, trails, and even a Buddhist temple. The city is small, but it’s well connected to the rest of the island, so tourists can never get bored.
8,728 people live permanently in Ahuimanu. Their median income is $92,000, the median age is 37.2 years, while buying an average house in this city costs $680,000.
The unemployment rate of 3.6% is consistent with the rest of the island, which makes moving to Hawaii an easier decision for some. The population in Ahuimanu is not increasing as rapidly as the rest of the US, having risen by only 2.6% since 2000.
Annual crime estimates show that there were 2,049 property and 182 violent crimes in Ahuimanu last year.
A cost of living that’s 106% higher than the national average represents Ahuimanu’s main downside. Those living in the city commonly complain about crowded streets and commute times that are six minutes higher than the US average. But the safest island to live on in Hawaii comes with these drawbacks.
(Property: 2,226; Violent: 197)
Located in the middle of the Oahu island, Mililani Mauka is our first city without its own beaches. Not to worry, the closest ones are less than 20 minutes away. Even though it’s not a beach town, there’s plenty to do in Mililani.
Mililani Mauka has 21,051 residents. Their median income is $101,000, and they are 35.3 years old, according to median age data. Those planning on buying a property in this city should be ready to pay $688,000 on average. Let’s see why Mililani is often considered the best place to retire in Hawaii.
Due to its seclusion from the beaches, Mililani is not heavily impacted by tourists, making it a much more peaceful Hawaiian city and a perfect retirement spot. The houses aren’t insanely expensive, and they are on par with most major mainland cities. Young people are still moving there, as evident by the median age. The city shares its unemployment rate with the rest of the island (3.6%).
When it comes to crime, Mililani Mauka is where we start getting closer to the national averages for property crimes, as estimates show there were 2,226 of those per 100,000 inhabitants in the city. The violent crime rate of 197 per 100,000 people is what still keeps Mililani on the list of the best neighborhoods in Oahu.
As with most cities in Hawaii, Mililani is an expensive city to live in. The cost of living is 107.5% higher than the US average, or roughly the same as New York, one of the most expensive cities in the world.
(Property: 2,304; Violent: 204)
Once the center of Hawaii’s sugarcane production, the area in which Ocean Pointe is situated has since turned into a residential center for Oahu. This is also, by far, the fastest-growing city in Hawaii.
Ocean Pointe’s community consists of 10,502 individuals. Their median income is $108,000, and they are fairly young, as the median age is just 30.8 years. When it comes to real estate prices, an average home price sits at $652,000.
This city’s main advantage is its proximity to Honolulu. Just 20 miles separate the two cities. Job opportunities and a low unemployment rate (3.6%, as with the rest of the cities so far) is what attracts young people to Ocean Pointe and makes it one of the best places to live on Oahu.
Crime rates are another point in favor of moving to Ocean Pointe: estimates for 2018 put the number of property crimes at 2,304 per 100,000 people, and violent crimes at 204.
The cost of living is a major point against moving to any Hawaiian city, and the same applies to Ocean Pointe. Living here is 103.4% more expensive than living in most of the US. Ocean Pointe is a residential area that attracts an insane number of new inhabitants every year. Housing issues in Hawaii were resolved by creating communities like this one, and it had a population growth of a whopping 874% since 2000, driving real estate prices way up.
(Property: 2,395; Violent: 212)
Halawa, or at least the area the city is located in, is sacred to Kanaka Maoli, the natives of Hawaii. This area is now the home of the most expensive freeway per mile in human history. The freeway build is still a cause of a great divide in the community, as multiple religious and ecological sights were destroyed in the process. But the area remains one of the best places Hawaii has to offer.
There are 14,363 people living in Halawa. Their median income is around $90,000, and the median age is 42.1 years. An average house costs $715,000.
A part of Pearl Harbor is shared between Halawa and Aiea, so those visiting the city shouldn’t miss out on seeing this historic spot. For those moving here, low unemployment and crime rates await.
Halawa is estimated to have had 2,395 property and 212 violent crimes per 100,000 people during 2018.
This city is definitely not one of the right places to live in Hawaii if you’re on a budget unless that budget is 109.5% higher than the average cost of living in the US. There also are no world-famous, gorgeous beaches on this part of the island, so those looking for them will need to go for a 30-minute drive in order to reach them.
(Property: 2,532; Violent: 225)
Once a prosperous agricultural area, Kaneohe has turned into a tourism-oriented city that produces some bananas on the side. Those visiting the city will be glad to find a botanical garden, golf courses, beaches, and more. If you’re planning to retire in Hawaii, this might be the place for you.
The population of the city is 33,443. The median income is $82,000, and the median age is 42.6 years. Set aside $828,000 if you plan on buying a house here, as this is the average home value in Kaneohe.
Young people are also welcome to move to Kaneohe, and this is encouraged by a low unemployment rate and positive job growth. Families with children will be glad to learn that the city invests a lot in public education, just like the other entries in our list of cities in Hawaii.
Estimates show that Kaneohe had 2,532 property crimes, as well as 225 violent ones, per 100,000 people during the last year.
In addition to the cost of living, which is 123.4% higher than average, the main negative side of living in Kaneohe is the tourist activity, bringing with it an increase in property crime.
(Property: 2,602; Violent: 231)
Royal Kunia is another landlocked city on the list, with just a few miles separating it from the nearest one. Located on Oahu, the best Hawaiian island to live on, Royal Kunia has it all: from historic monuments to rum distilleries. Fun island tours, either via helicopter or a luxury convertible, are also available from this city.
14,779 people are lucky enough to have a permanent residence in Royal Kunia. The median income of the residents is $109,000, and their median age is 35.5 years. The average value of their homes is $640,000.
Royal Kunia has a low unemployment rate, positive job growth, and above-average investments in public schools. However, what makes it one of the most desirable towns on the island is its proximity to the largest cities in Hawaii, Honolulu and East Honolulu.
Crime rate estimates for 2018 show the following figures: 2,602 property crimes, accompanied by 231 violent crimes per 100,000 people.
The cost of living in Royal Kunia is 99.4% higher than the national average, which, even though it’s the lowest on the list so far, is still not something most of us can afford. The tourists appear to willfully ignore the law here, causing property crime rates to exceed the national average. Compromises are necessary when living in Hawaii, that’s for sure.
(Property: 2,626; Violent: 233)
Holualoa is the city that moves us to the Island of Hawaii, otherwise known as the Big Island. The island has over 1.5 million visitors, and Holualoa doesn’t get much of their attention. Those who do decide to visit this city will not be disappointed, however. There’s a ton of things to do, and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world are less than an hour away.
The city has a population of 9,098, a median income of $65,000, while the median age is 44. Those who decide to move to Hawaii and buy a house in Holualoa should prepare a check for $630,000, average home prices show.
Finding work here is slightly easier than in most of the US, as the unemployment rate is 0.2% lower. There’s no reason to worry about education for those moving here with children, as the city invests slightly more than the national average in public schools.
Crime in Holualoa has been on the rise recently; last year’s estimates show that there were 2,626 property crimes, plus 233 of the violent variety, per 100,000 people in the city.
The typical Hawaii cost of living applies to the Big Island as well, although it’s slightly less. The cost of living in Holualoa is 87.1% above average. In addition, the population of the city is increasing (49% since 2000), making it more and more expensive to buy a house.
(Property: 2,708; Violent: 240)
Waipio, whose name means “curved water,” shouldn’t be mistaken for Waipio Valley, one of the most visited spots in Hawaii located on the Big Island. Waipio brings us back to Oahu, Hawaii. The city is located on the grounds of one of Ancient Hawaii’s major battles, the stories from the area say.
There are 11,424 people living in Waipio. Their median income is $74,000, the median age is 36.3 years, and an average home in the city is valued at $551,000.
Those who decide to move here can expect to find low unemployment and reasonable crime rates. And those who want to limit their spending as much as possible will find Waipio especially interesting, as it’s one of the best places to live in Hawaii on a budget. It is the cheapest city on the list so far, both in terms of property prices and the cost of living (84.3% higher than the US average).
Crime in Waipio is estimated at 2,708 property crimes and 240 violent crimes per 100,000 people.
Waipio shows the lowest cost of living numbers on the list, for now, but it is by no means a cheap city. In addition to property crime rates that are above the national average, this is the city’s biggest disadvantage.
(Property: 2,759; Violent: 245)
Kalaoa is definitely one of the safest cities in Hawaii located on the Big Island. This one is loved by tourists, and it is the center of activity in the eastern part of the island. Dozens of beaches can be found on the city’s coast, as well as an international airport, probably the main reason the city is so popular.
10,257 is the number of residents of Kalaoa. The median income in the city is $62,000, while the median age is 37.7 years. The average property price is $550,000. What makes one of the best vacation spots in Hawaii suitable for long-term living?
First, the unemployment rate in Hawaii county is 5%—or 0.2% below the US average. New jobs are being created every year, as evident by 2018’s positive job growth of 2.45%. Second, Hawaii invests more than an average American state in public education, and there are fewer students per teacher than you’ll find in most of the US.
Finally, the crime rates that Kalaoa experiences are extraordinary, considering how much tourist traffic the city gets. It could easily compete for the title of the safest place to live in Hawaii. Estimates for 2018 show that Kalaoa had 2,759 property and 245 violent crimes per 100,000 people.
The drop in the cost of living is noticeable in Kalao (75.7% above average), but it still remains more expensive than Miami, Florida, or Austin, Texas. The property crime rates, mostly influenced by tourists, are another issue that those moving to Kalao must learn to live with.
(Property: 2,783; Violent: 247)
And we’re back on the Island of Oahu, in Pearl City, the third city sharing the historical site of Pearl Harbor. Proclaimed the 13th best place to live in Hawaii in 2018, Pearl City is close to all the WWII sites, as well as to some of the most beautiful parks, trails, and waterfalls in the world.
Pearl City has 47,277 inhabitants, and the median income in the city is $83,000. The median age is 40.7, while a house can be acquired for $717,000, according to the average home value data.
This is one of the largest cities in Hawaii, and it brings all of the benefits of living in a city of its size. As one of the best places in Hawaii, it has restaurants, shopping centers, and cultural amenities available on every corner. The unemployment rate of 3.6%, consistent with the County of Honolulu, is what brings young people to Pearl City.
Property and violent crimes are estimated at 2,783 and 247 per 100,000 people, respectively.
The cost of living in Pearl City is 110.8% higher than average, which is typical for Oahu. Property crime is also above the national average, but it still remains below the typical crime rate in Hawaii. Those who dislike crowds should definitely look elsewhere, as Pearl City’s population increases by 50% every 20 years.
(Property: 2,861; Violent: 254)
Lahaina is our first city from the Hawaiian island of Maui. Once upon a time a royal capital, then the center of the global whaling industry, Lahaina has switched its focus to tourism during the last few years. The magic of this city is its small-town vibe, as most of the activity is centered around Front Street, recognized as one of the Top Ten Greatest Streets.
The city has a population of 11,841, while the entire Maui population amounted to 144,400 in 2018. Lahaina has a median income of $62,000 and a median age of 36.8 years. The value of an average property in the city is $641,000.
Tourists will find there’s a lot to do in Lahaina. Those staying long term will appreciate the unemployment rate of just 3.9%, as well as the cost of living (81.8% above the US average), which is much lower than what you find on Oahu.
Lahaina crime estimates for 2018 show 2,861 property crimes, as well as 254 violent crimes per 100,000 people. The Maui crime rate is the price that comes with a slightly lowered cost of living.
You can’t really call Lahaina a cheap city to live in, even though the cost of living is 30% lower than many other Hawaiian cities. The crime numbers for both property and violent crimes, which are above state averages, show us that there are safer alternatives to this city.
(Property: 2,863; Violent: 254)
Makakilo, or “observing eyes,” is a city on Oahu. It is located on a hill, just miles away from the ocean, and it has a typical American suburban feel to it, making it not especially attractive to tourists. It’s close to other cities, so you can find lots of things to do nearby. Wondering where is the safest place to live in Hawaii? Makakilo just might be your answer.
19,819 people make up the community of Makakilo. The median income in the city is $105,000, the median age is 34.3 years, and an average house costs $640,000.
There are just 21 miles between Makakilo and Honolulu, which is this city’s biggest advantage. Moving here means that you’re just 30 minutes away from one of the most vibrant and fun places on Earth. Additionally, the low unemployment rate is an encouraging factor for young people moving.
Makakilo had 2,863 property and 254 violent crimes last year, according to estimates.
The typically high cost of living in Hawaii is applied to this city, as well. It is 101% more expensive to live in Makakilo than it is in most of the US. Regardless of the high cost of living, Makakilo has experienced a population increase of 63.8% since 2000.
Bonus: The 5 Most Popular Cities in Hawaii Ranked by Safety
(Property: 2,775; Violent: 246)
We’ve finally arrived at the capital of Hawaii, as well as the largest city in the state, Honolulu. It is also the most popular city in Hawaii, and it holds one of the state’s highest crime rates. It’s beauty, however, is something that hundreds of thousands of people are willing to take a risk for by coming to visit Honolulu.
The city has a population of 352,769. The median income is $60,000, and the median age is 40.5 years. Buying a house in Honolulu, Hawaii, typically costs around $670,000.
Honolulu is a dream home for millions of people, which is more than justified by the nature that surrounds the city in every direction you turn. Even though we tend to view Hawaii as the place that rich people retire if they hate Florida’s humidity, the reality is that it’s filled with a younger crowd, mostly due to an abundance of available jobs. With all the tourists and over 350,000 residents, Honolulu still manages to keep commute times below the national average.
The Honolulu crime rate, on the other hand, is something that repels and discourages people from staying too long. Estimates show that there were 2,774 property and 246 violent crimes per 100,000 people in the city last year.
The cost of living in Honolulu is 101.1% higher than the US average, and it is the main reason why the city hasn’t filled the entire island of Oahu yet.
(Property: 3,350; Violent: 297)
Makaha, the city whose name means “fierce” or “savage,” was named after a group of bandits living and pillaging in the area. This city of Makaha, Hawaii, has a higher percentage of Native Hawaiians than most other cities in the state, with more than 26% of the population belonging to this ethnic group. That’s not the only thing that makes Makaha interesting, as evident by the number of tourists who decide to spend their vacations here.
The city has 8,663 inhabitants, a median income of $43,000, and a median age of 30.9. Real estate data shows that an average house in this part of Oahu costs $395,000. But how well does it answer the question, What is the best place to live in Hawaii?
Following the rest of Honolulu County, Makaha has low unemployment rates, positive job growth, high public education investments, and an acceptable crime rate. To add to the benefits of living in or visiting this city, it’s just 35 miles away from Honolulu.
Makaha crime estimates for last year show that there’s some room for improvement: 3,350 property crimes, along with 297 violent crimes, were committed on the island, according to educated guesses by experts.
Living in this Hawaii city is not as expensive as one might think, but it still exceeds the national average by 64.1%. What does exceed anyone’s wildest imagination is the discovery that the average commute in Makaha lasts for 44 minutes, while the national average is 26.
(Property: 3,383; Violent: 300)
Ewa Beach, or “crooked stone,” is one of the most popular holiday destinations on Oahu island. Numerous beaches and parks surround the area that was once a plantation. It’s not the safest place to live in Hawaii from natural disasters, as the area is often impacted by hurricanes.
There are 14,291 people living in Ewa Beach. Their median income is $78,000, the median age is 36.2, and an average home can be bought for $622,000.
The city again shares Honolulu County’s unemployment rate of 3.6%, creating one of the main employment centers in Hawaii. This city’s crime rates are also a positive—even though it might appear otherwise—especially when compared to living in Honolulu, which you’ll find at the bottom of this list.
Last year’s estimates show that there were 3,383 property crimes, as well as 300 crimes classified as violent, in Ewa Beach.
Living in Ewa Beach costs a pretty penny, or 100.4% more than the cost of living in most of the US. The cost of living has increased so much in the last 20 years that it caused a drop in population of 2.4%, something that’s not common in Hawaii’s gorgeous beach towns. A rise in population is projected to occur soon, so this city might be the best place to buy property in Hawaii right now.
(Property: 3,786; Violent: 336)
Situated on the eastern end of Oahu island, Waianae is another major tourist destination in Hawaii. Beaches, whale watching opportunities, and numerous other things to do draw in thousands of people to this city every year.
When it comes to those who live here permanently, there’s 12,694 of them. Their median income is $68,000, and their median age is 32.8 years. Those who want to move to one of the best places in Hawaii and buy a home in Waianae will have to spend around $420,000, real estate statistics show.
The ability to find work in the city is the main reason its population has increased in recent years, apart from Waianae’s scenic beauty. Education expenditures are high, as with the rest of Honolulu County and Hawaii.
Crime in Waianae is far from ideal, but it’s a definite improvement over similar vacation spots around the world. One of the most popular spots in Oahu, Hawaii, Waianae is estimated to have had 3,786 property crimes, as well as 336 violent crimes per 100,000 people.
Waianae is not as pricey to live in as the rest of Oahu, but the cost of living is still 67.7% above the national average. The commute times, which are 43 minutes long on average, are a major complaint among the locals.
(Property: 3,873; Violent: 344)
Nanakuli reassures us that Oahu has some of the prettiest cities and that the answer to the question, Is Hawaii safe for tourists? is, undeniably, positive. Snorkeling, sunbathing, or exploring nearby beaches and caverns are just some of the things you can enjoy while staying in Nanakuli.
This is a city with 12,181 people living in it. They have a median income of $59,000, and they belong to one of the youngest communities in the US, with a median age of 29.3 years. An average home in Nanakuli can be acquired for $330,000. Crime estimates for 2018 show that 3,873 property and 344 violent crimes occurred in Nanakuli.
Nanakuli is a heaven for those who like seeing new faces every day and interacting with new people. Thousands of tourists come to the city every week, making Nanakuli, Hawaii, one of the most fun cities in the state.
The tourist activity can be hell for those who dislike crowds, but those people probably shouldn’t be moving to Hawaii, as there aren’t many places that tourism doesn’t impact. Those who can handle the volume of people moving through the town might have an issue with the cost of living—it’s 51.2% above the average values. This is the lowest number on the list, so some might find Nanakuli the best place to live in Hawaii with a family.
Moving to Hawaii would be a dream come true for most of us. Sandy beaches, tropical waterfalls, and Mai Tais throughout the day don’t seem like a hard life. However, the reality is far from the fantasy we’ve seen in the movies. It costs a lot to live on any island, let alone a popular one. Living here means paying double for everything, and those who decide to make the move need to be prepared for this.
Whether you’re moving here, looking for a city to spend your vacation in, or just scrolling to pass the time, we hope that you found this list of the safest cities in Hawaii helpful.