Paradise on a Budget: A Slice of Oahu for $700,000 to $1,000,000

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The Gold Coast: Full of Condo Gold
The Gold Coast: Full of Condo Gold

If you can scare up the down payment on any of these condos, you’ve been quite lucky in life or inheritance. The units in this group continue to follow the formula of location, location, and size set out in the previous two installments (here, here). There are a few options in oceanfront buildings (my ‘hood), but they’ll be smaller units than those further away or with less of a view. But there’s something about being an elevator ride from the beach at sunset that makes less space palatable for many (including me). But enough waxing…


Lanikea 1

Lanikea At Waikiki
421 Olohana St #702, Honolulu

In 2005, the Lanikea became one of the first condominium buildings built in Waikiki in decades. As expected, this 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom unit with 1,023 square feet and 93-square-foot lanai still shows well and is not in need of renovation. But to get this larger, good condition unit, you give a little on views. That blue strip in the distance a sliver of ocean in an otherwise urban view. HOA fees are $1,087 a month with taxes of $2,256 annually.

Lukepane Court 1

Lukepane Court
717 Lukepane Ave #C, Honolulu

Built in 1988, this fully remodeled 3-bedroom, 2.5 bathroom TOWNHOUSE spans 1,124 square feet. This small development doesn’t give much by way of a view but it’s a half block from the golf course. It’s located on the other side of the Ala Wai Canal from Waikiki in the Kapahulu neighborhood with a quick walk to (non-touristy) restaurants and Safeway. HOA dues of $571 a month with $1,860 in annual property taxes. Definitely move-in ready and in a pretty easy rental area.

Waikiki Landmark: Left Foreground
Waikiki Landmark: Left Foreground

Waikiki Landmark
1888 Kalakaua Ave #2803, Honolulu

Built in 1992, this was an unloved building considered ugly by many and slow to fill. But a lot has changed with this gateway to Waikiki building, offering larger units with great views from the upper floors and plenty of amenities (you can see the expansive pool deck in the picture). This 1,111-square-foot, 2-bed, 2-bath unit features gleaming wood floors, lots of window space and enough marble in the baths to be confused with a Ritz property. The downside is a pokey envelope of a kitchen that I’m not sure could be opened up. HOA dues of $1,265 a month and annual taxes of $2,604

Liliuokalani Gardens 1

Liliuokalani Gardens
300 Wai Nani Way #II-1912, Honolulu

Great views sap unit size in this 944-square-foot, 2-bed, 2-bath unit. All the rooms are pretty small with the kitchen island acting as sofa end table. Built in 1984, this unit has been completely renovated with a light color palate. The grounds of this complex are extensive with lush gardens and a very nice pool area and tennis court. It has everything you need, including in-unit washer and dryer. At this price, it wouldn’t be my first choice, but it’s perfect for those who are OK with the small spaces in exchange for a fully renovated property. HOA dues are $974 per month with annual taxes of $1,980.



Waikiki Shore 1

Waikiki Shore
2161 Kalia Rd #415, Honolulu

The 1960 Waikiki Shore is one of the buildings that prevents the Trump from being oceanfront. It’s also one of the buildings that leaves me scratching my head at their prices. Even though it’s freshly remodeled, this hotel-room sized 356-square-foot studio with a 61-square-foot lanai boggles the pocketbook. It’s in the chic area of Waikiki near Trump, Nobu and the Halekulani Hotel … but still, $837,000? The HOAs are a minimal $205 a month, but this is another property categorized as a hotel and so annual taxes are a wallet-withering $8,064. I guess you can tell I don’t think there’s value for the money here, but the right buyer will have totally different views.

Harbor Court 1

Harbor Court
66 Queen St #2005, Honolulu

Granted, you’re not on Waikiki Beach, but for $11,000 more a buyer could get this 1,509-square-foot, 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom 20th floor home with a 142-square-foot lanai overlooking Aloha Tower in downtown Honolulu. Watch the cruise ships some in and the container ships almost pass by your windows in a never-ending ballet. You’re also walking distance to Chinatown, Safeway, Walmart, and the Honolulu Theater. Costco is almost around the corner and the downtown restaurant scene is on your doorstep. There’s no beach, but there’s a nice pool and fitness center. Built in 1994, the finishes are beginning to show their age, but a new owner could get away with a mild appliance, faucet and countertop re-do. HOAs are $1,360 a month but include utilities and annual taxes are $2,496.

Pinnacle 1

The Pinnacle Honolulu
1199 Bishop St #14A, Honolulu

You’d think you were in a Dallas-sized downtown apartment with this 2-bedroom, 3-bathroom condo measuring 1,423 square feet with 104 square feet of outdoor lanai space … until you looked outside to see vintage Honolulu outside. Built in 2008, there’s not a lot to do but move into this open-concept home. The kitchen is my speed with Viking appliances and a wine fridge. HOAs are $1,053 a month with $2,700 in annual property taxes.

Imperial Plaza 1

Imperial Plaza
725 Kapiolani Blvd #3703, Honolulu

This may be the sleeper property of the bunch. It’s a mainland-sized 2,133-square-foot, two-story, sub-penthouse with 3-bedrooms and 3-bathrooms. Built in 1991 and renovated in 2008, this home, located near downtown, is still move-in ready (perhaps some refurnishing?). Views are a combination of ocean and urban. The HOA fees are a choking $2,604 a month (which likely explains why it’s lingering on the market) with annual taxes of $2,808. I seem to recall some issues with the building’s construction that I’d want to ferret out before buying – but those are the sorts of questions buyers need to ask of any property.

Peninsula at Hawaii Kai 1

Peninsula At Hawaii Kai 1
520 Lunalilo Home Rd #325, Honolulu

A trip out to Hawaii Kai (Oahu’s first planned suburb) nets another townhouse. This 1,582-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom home has an actual 2-car attached garage and a small yard! The whole development is surrounded by the lagoons of Hawaii Kai so residents can paddle canoes right out to the ocean from their back door. This is a gated community with a pool, fitness center, meeting room and cabana. HOAs are $563 per month and annual taxes are $2,736.



Marco Polo 1

Marco Polo Apts
2333 Kapiolani Blvd #PH3511, Honolulu

This split-level penthouse bordering a park offers wonderful views of the Ala Wai Canal, Waikiki and the Pacific Ocean beyond. Built in 1971 but partly renovated in 2005, the kitchen is done but the bathrooms and flooring need a complete re-do. Drop ceilings would have to be taken care of too to maximize ceiling heights. At 1,661 square feet, with a huge lanai measuring 243 square feet, this is a great first or second home. HOAs are $1,167 per month with annual taxes of $2,196.

DH Vista 1

Diamond Head Vista
2600 Pualani Way #2101, Honolulu

This building is aptly named with the cliché-est of cliché views of famous Diamond Head crater and Kapiolani Park. For these views, you sacrifice space with this 1,096-square-foot, 2-bed, 2-bath 21st floor unit. The unit is freshly painted with great wood floors but while certainly serviceable, the big ticket kitchen and baths need to be renovated in this 1971 building. HOA dues are $744 a month with annual property taxes of $2,640.

DH Apartments 1

Diamond Head Apartments
2969 Kalakaua Ave #306, Honolulu

Back to the Gold Coast for this big 952-square-foot, 1-bedroom in an oceanfront building. While this unit doesn’t face the ocean, it does have a great view of the park and Diamond Head from the 148-square-foot lanai. The kitchen and baths are in good shape and won’t need major work for a few years. The Diamond Head Apartments is known as one of the premier buildings in the area. But if you’re planning to rent this unit while you’re not here, be aware this building has more restrictive rental policies. The building also has a pool adjacent to the ocean. Monthly fees are $1,127 and include utilities and taxes (it’s a co-op).

Tahitienne 1

Tahitienne Inc
2999 Kalakaua Ave #202, Honolulu

Finally, a completely oceanfront unit in an oceanfront building in the Gold Coast. This reasonably-sized 1-bedroom unit is 759 square feet (lanai has been enclosed). Tahitienne, built in 1957, is the first building on the Gold Coast with just four units per floor. The bedroom is on the Diamond Head side, which during high surf evenings you’ll be happy for (crashing waves can be quite noisy). This unit was renovated in 2001, but is showing its age. A renovation would not be amiss. HOA fees are $725 per month and include utilities and because this is a co-op, it also includes property taxes.

Ala Wai East 1

Ala Wai East
2547 Ala Wai Blvd #1001, Honolulu

Sizeable 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom penthouse sprawling over 2,012 square feet overlooking the Ala Wai Canal, golf course and mountains. Built in 1969 and renovated in 2005, everything’s move-in ready and not in need of expensive renovations. While the 10th floor isn’t the highest penthouse in town, but being the whole floor, there are 360-degree views including the ocean (one side has a taller building hemming views). HOAs are $829 monthly with property taxes of $2,472.

Whew! That’s a lot of condos to see!

But there we are. A selected tour of Honolulu condos and townhouses under $1-million (with $2k to spare!). Certainly there are more options in Hawaii and even Honolulu, but this gives a taste of what money will buy (or won’t buy) for second home buyers on a budget. You can get ocean frontage but it will cost you in home size. You can live downtown away from Waikiki’s tourists (like living off The Strip in Las Vegas).

Like all purchases, buyers need to research their options and be realistic on what they’re looking for. In aging buildings, buyers need to understand building finances and condition. Honolulu has very mineral-filled water which has caused some older buildings to replace their water supply lines (costly). Buyer be aware, and be happier in the end.


Remember: Do you have a location you’d like to see featured?  I travel quite a bit and enjoy poking around real estate.  Realtors, have clients who’d like to document their second home journey?  Shoot Jon an email. Marriage proposals accepted (they’re legal)!