Kaka’ako Street Art Guide, Honolulu

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.

One of the best neighbourhoods for street art in Honolulu is Kaka’ako. Located between Waikiki and Downtown Honolulu, Kaka’ako was primarily an industrial neighbourhood of warehouses and workshop. Today, it’s one of the trendiest parts of Honolulu, with a vibrant food, drink, and arts scene.

Street art is a big part of what makes Kaka’ako special. There’s street art on seemly every corner, and one can easily spend and entire day mural hunting. A big driver of the neighbourhood’s street art scene is driven by POW! WOW! Hawaii. Founded in 2010 by artists Jasper Wong and Kamea Hadar, POW! WOW! sees artists from across the globe converge on Honolulu in February each year to paint the streets of Kaka’ako. It’s a festival complete with workshops, lectures, exhibitions, demos, block parties and artists Q&A sessions.

Beyond POW! WOW!, there’s community projects and collaborations with non-profit organisations like 808 Urban, private commissions, and commissions funded by the City and County of Honolulu. There’s also the Kamehameha Schools’ Kaiāulu ‘O Kaka’ako Master Plan, which involves, amongst other things, the area’s school kids learning about Hawaiian art and creating murals.

In this Kaka’ako street art guide, I’ll tell you about some of my favourite spots in which you can find Kaka’ako’s best street art. They’re listed alphabetically, and range from the popular and well known, to the more obscure. There’s good stuff all over the neighbourhood, and the scene is constantly evolving. Be sure to not just explore the main streets, but side streets, parking lots, and more.

Ahuahi Street

Running parallel to the main thoroughfare that is Ala Moana Boulevard, Ahuahi Street is a less hectic street that takes you almost all the way from the Ala Moana Centre into downtown. It’s a great anchor for your street walk, with lots of large scale murals to be found on the sides of the street’s taller buildings.

Cooke Street

Cooke Street runs from the North of Kaka’ako, down to the waterfront. It’s in the heart of the most industrial part of the neighbourhood, so make sure you walk around the smaller side streets to find some of the area’s more hidden murals.

Koula Street

More than home to a large concertation of car dealerships, Koula Street (and adjacent Ohe Street) is where you’ll find several great Kaka’ako murals.

Mother Waldron Neighbourhood Park

While walking along Cooke Street you’ll come across Mother Waldron Neighbourhood Park. It’s a popular park with lots of space, a children’s playground, and basketball courts. Grab a refreshing Taiwanese iced snack of bubble tea from Milky Way Hawaii Ice, while you walk through the park and admire the murals that grace the buildings of, and around, the park.

Queen Street

This long street spans the entirety of Kaka’ako and is where you’ll find a lot of great murals. As with the other main streets I’ve mentioned on here, be sure to check out the smaller streets that run off Queen Street for some of the more hidden murals. If you’re into craft beer, Queen Street is a great anchor for a bit of a brewery crawl too. Hana Koa Brewing Co., Aloha Beer Company, and Waikiki Brewing Company are all on or just off Queen Street.

SALT at Our Kaka‘ako

Named after the pa’akai (‘Ōlelo Hawaii for “salt”) ponds that once dotted the low-lying wetlands of the area, SALT at Our Kaka’ako features 85,000 square-feet of curated retail, restaurant and mixed-use space. It’s not only a great area to stop for a bite and a drink while doing your street art walk (check out Highway Inn and Village Bottle Shop & Tasting Room), but home itself to several fantastic murals.

Identified artists featured in the image gallery include:

Happy discoveries on your walk through Kaka’ako using my Kaka’ako street art guide. What are your favourites places for street art in Kaka’ako? Have you found any other pieces outside of these street art hotspots that you love?

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