HONOLULU | The Hawaiian capital has a vibrant street art scene. Local artists and international artists are always painting new murals. Murals that are personal to them, that tell a story, and are uniquely linked to their experience and impressions of Hawaii.
There are several neighbourhoods in which to find street art in Honolulu. The most well known is Kaka’ako, however you should also make an effort to visit Kaimuki. This residential neighbourhood is home to several historic buildings, a few restaurants, bars, and cafes that are well worth checking out, and several murals to see.
It’s all centred along Waialae Avenue, making exploring and discovering Kaimuki’s street art murals a breeze.
In this Kaimuki street art guide, I’ll tell you about some of my favourite spots in which you can find Kaimuki’s best street art. I’ve also included the neighbouring neighbourhood of Kapahulu, which Waialae Avenue continues through. They’re listed alphabetically, and will help you discover the best street art that the area has to offer.
Kaimuki High School
Something that’s very noticeable while walking the streets of Honolulu, is the amount of street art that graces the walls of the city’s schools. So many times, I’d pass a striking mural, and soon realise that it was one of several on the walls of what we’re school buildings.
One of the driving forces behind this is Mele Murals. They’re a community organisation that affords a platform to teach young people to become storytellers, painters, and community leaders. Through the creation of large-scale outdoor murals, Hawaiian lyrics (mele), mo’olelo ‘aina (stories of place), cultural, and historical heritage are explored and shared.
Some of the best examples of the street art that’s been created through this platform, can be found at Kaimuki High School.
Kapahulu Avenue is a haven for those looking for a good eat close to Waikiki, but away from the tourist traps. Along with great food (try Ono Seafood, Rainbow Drive-In, and Leonard’s Bakery), there are a whole lot of brilliant murals to discover. The street art along the avenue is a mixture of pieces commissioned by, and created for, local businesses, and other pieces dealing with a variety of topics.
Walking east along Waialae Avenue, the road bends under the Lunalilo Freeway and becomes Kapiolani Boulevard. It’s a busy street that will eventually take you past the northern tip of Waikiki, and popular shopping mall, the Ala Moana Centre. The boulevard is nothing special per-se, however there are several murals dotted amongst the diverse residential architecture.
The main street that cuts through Kaimuki is Waialae Avenue. The first thing you’ll notice is that all of the electrical boxes and traffic signal boxes that dot the sidewalk are painted. This stems from an initiative that began in 2018, as a way to deter those who were tagging the boxes. About half of the artworks have been painted by people who live, work, or go to school in the neighbourhood.
Many of the murals street art pieces in Kaimuki have been painted by locals, in fact. From the smaller pieces to the larger scale murals, you’ll more often than not find artworks that speak to the area, its history, and the people who live there. In this way, it’s an important part of the community, and a great way to encourage visitors to want to learn more about the area.
Visit Kaimuki for street art, and stay for food and a drink (check out Mud Hen Water, The Curb Kaimuku, and BREW’d Craft Pub).
Identified artists featured in the image gallery include:
Happy discoveries on your walk through Kaimuki using my Kaimuki street art guide. What are your favourites places for street art in Kaimuki? Have you found any other pieces outside of these street art hotspots that you love?