What is Luxury when it comes to Oahu Real Estate?

Luxury real estate typically evokes images of sprawling mansions in some of the world’s best locations, manicured grounds, white-gloved staff, and amenities that would put most five-star resorts to shame. While that does exist for those who prefer that lifestyle, it’s far from being the only form of luxury real estate. 

Interior of a luxury home in Kahala, Diamond Head

Like beauty, luxury is also subjective. Luxury appeals differently to different people, and that’s especially true in real estate. For some buyers, luxury is having a big lanai with sweeping views of the ocean where they can see the sun set every day with its rays bouncing off the shimmering waves. Others might prefer seclusion and acres of open space surrounding their property.

Oahu is a diverse real estate market with a wealth of options ranging from attainable luxury to the truly ultra-luxury. What defines a property as “luxurious” in such a distinct market? Is it the location or the amenities? Unobstructed views or the use of premium materials?

Let’s dive into the various facets of Oahu’s luxury real estate market so you can benefit from our expert insights on how to pick the best luxury properties for your lifestyle.

Related: Oahu Luxury Condos | Lifestyle Guide

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Defining Luxury

The term “luxury” is prone to misuse and mischaracterization. In some aspects, it’s simply become a label that people slap on expensive things to justify the price. Just because something’s expensive doesn’t mean it’s better, more specifically, better for you. 

Luxury can’t exist in isolation. It must make a contribution to your lifestyle, elevate it and provide you with a sense of satisfaction. True luxury is extracting the benefit from what you’ve acquired so that it enriches your life and the lives of people you love.

That’s precisely why at its core, luxury is a very subjective concept. It’s deeply influenced by personal values and perspectives. You may not find certain things luxurious that others do and it’s not necessarily always found in tangible things. Something as simple as a picnic on the beach with your family can be the most luxurious thing. Becoming successful and having the luxury of time to do what you want is firmly on that list as well. On the other hand, luxury can also be designer clothing, first-class travel, and high-end cars. 

A group of people sitting on a grassy hillside overlooking the city

It’s a mix of cultural, socioeconomic, and personal preferences that develop our perception of what luxury is and how it elevates our lives. These factors are individually unique to us all hence the reason why we all perceive luxury so differently. Luxury should fundamentally bring feelings of ease and great comfort, fill our hearts with immense joy and our lives with color.

What Luxury Means On Oahu

So, how does that translate to real estate? What are the factors that make a property on Oahu truly “luxurious” ? The very obvious ones include the build quality of the home itself, the quality of materials, fixtures, and appliances, views, on-site amenities and other community facilities, privacy, level of service, and the surrounding locality. 

Amenity deck in Waiea

For example, If your perception of luxury prioritizes privacy, then a development like Waiea will tick all the boxes. Not only is it a bona fide luxury tower with world-class finishes and amenities, it also has half the number of units as the other towers in Ward Village. This means fewer people in and around the tower compared to others, providing you with a more discrete yet high-end lifestyle.

Additionally, you’ll typically find some unique design touches that highlight that the property is meant to deliver a high standard of luxury.


There’s an old saying in real estate: Location, location, location. There’s always a location premium in real estate as that is one of the main characteristics of a luxury property. There are very few places that can match Oahu’s diverse geography. For example, if you’re buying a luxury condo in New York City, you’ll be surrounded by a concrete jungle anyway regardless of whether you’re buying in Manhattan or Brooklyn. On Oahu, you can choose to be right by the beach on the North Shore, in the middle of the action in Waikiki, or in the bustling yet walkable Ward Village. You get to live life against a backdrop of stunning landscapes with the convenience of modern, urban living never far away. 

Aerial shot of Kaka'ako in Honolulu, showing Ala Moana Beach Park with high rise luxury towers in the background

Each area of Oahu has a unique setting that influences what luxury means there. Take Kahala with its mixture of modern estate homes and traditional Hawaiian beach bungalows. Oceanfront properties here will have the beach literally a few feet away from your home, providing you with the luxury of hearing the waves wash up on the shore from your patio.

Kaneohe is perfect for those who want a small town vibe with the epic backdrop of Ko’olau Mountains. The luxurious estates here have acres of space, allowing for high-end living in a tranquil and discrete environment. Waikiki puts you right in the beating heart of the urban core, with designer brands, high-end boutiques, world-class restaurants and clubs within easy reach of your luxury condo.

What you buy and where you buy has to align with your interests. You could buy an oceanfront mansion but if you don’t like waking up to the sounds of the ocean, that level of luxury does little to enrich your lifestyle.

Related: What You Should Know About Oahu Beachfront & Oceanfront Homes


In Oahu's diverse real estate landscape, what is considered a luxury amenity can vary widely depending on individual lifestyles and preferences. For example, someone who values relaxation and natural beauty might define walking distance beach access or panoramic ocean views as a luxury amenity. For those who prioritize convenience and entertainment, luxury amenities could mean state-of-the-art home theaters, smart home technology, or proximity to vibrant city life and cultural hotspots.

Amenities are a major consideration for buyers of luxury properties, but what could be considered a luxury amenity is going to depend on your lifestyle and preference. For example, if you prefer easy access to nature and a calm, tranquil environment, you’d say that having the beach right outside your door or unobstructed views of the ocean is a luxury. If you want a metropolitan lifestyle with a big city vibe and electric atmosphere, you’d call being in close proximity to the best retail, dining, and entertainment venues on the island a luxury.

View of Ala Moana and beach

How ambitious your luxury desires are will naturally vary depending on each person - ranging from multiple pools, a state-of-the-art home theater, and smart home technology to penthouse views, on-site staff, and a spa.

Condo buyers are increasingly basing their purchase decisions on availability of amenities. Developers understand that, and they particularly focus on providing as many amenities as possible in their new development projects. In Kalae, a new development coming to Ward Village, there will be private reservable courtyards with pools for entertaining, which are basically luxury homes minus the bedroom. In currently existing and recently finished ultra-luxury buildings like Park Lane and Waiea, you can expect exclusive resort-like amenities for residents that vary from tower to tower. Park Lane, for example, contains a wine cellar and valet parking for both owners and guests, while Waiea has the Owner's Sunset Bar & Lounge.

Craftsmanship & Quality Of Materials

You’ll notice some common elements in all luxury properties. Exceptional craftsmanship is typically very apparent. It doesn’t take long to figure out that the work was done by professionals to the highest standard. The fit and finish doesn’t leave much to be desired and you don’t feel things would break or fail because only the finest quality of materials are used.

Exterior of a luxury home in Kahala, Diamond Head

High-end materials are also preferred to elevate the entire look and feel of the property. Whether that’s rare marble, beautiful wooden floors, designer fixtures and fittings, or beautiful landscaping, no expense is spared in preparing a truly world-class living experience.  For example, Fleetwood Aluminum Sliding Doors are made of a high quality material. They’re complex to manufacture so it’s also a sign of craftsmanship. Other design elements may include pocket recess sliders, pocket sliding doors or hidden sliding doors that blend well with the overall aesthetic of the property.

Purchasing a luxury home is a major financial decision and you’d want to be sure that everything you get with it is top-notch and provides the best bang for your buck. Quality stands out and can’t be obscured, so you’ll know when things feel just right. 

Related: Top 10 Luxury Condos In Honolulu


For some people, privacy is what they consider to be a true luxury. It’s the freedom to live without having prying eyes around them, shielded from those that may want to monetize the breach of their privacy. Ask any celebrity what it feels like to be hounded by paparazzi who leave no stone unturned to catch them off guard to sell their photos and videos to the highest bidder. It’s a gross violation of privacy that’s put up for the world to see. For them, simply being able to take a walk in their backyard without being photographed would be a luxury.

A person in a hammock with the sun in the background low in the sky

Many famous individuals have chosen to buy properties on Oahu because they can get that level of privacy here. From major celebrities to multi-billionaire business moguls to even former US presidents, they’ve all bought homes on Oahu because they want that luxury. Even as they jet around the world making movies and signing deals, they come back here to get away from it all and unwind in the spectacular surroundings of Oahu with the utmost privacy. Now that’s peace of mind you can’t put a price tag on.


Provenance in real estate refers to the unique story or history behind a property. It usually adds a price premium to the property as buyers have a chance of acquiring a piece of history. A luxury property’s provenance can further add to its allure and distinctiveness, making it truly one of a kind. For example, homes on Oahu designed by Vladimir Ossipoff are highly coveted, as he was a prominent architect that was known as the “master of Hawaiian architecture.” Born in Russia in 1907 and moving to Hawaii in the 1930s, Ossipoff’s work is celebrated for its seamless integration of nature and living spaces, embracing the local climate and landscape to enhance the living experience.

Such properties are few and far between. They tend to get snapped up fairly quickly when they do come on the market. Being able to acquire one is certainly a luxury for history lovers who connect with the story and history of that property. The more storied the provenance, the more likely it’s going to have an outsized impact on the value.

The Full Package - Multi-Faceted Luxury Neighborhoods

Some neighborhoods overwhelmingly come to be known as luxury neighborhoods because they tick a lot of the boxes. They’ll have luxurious properties with excellent craftsmanship, premium finishes, and amazing amenities in an upscale community with easy access to nature and modern conveniences. So even as luxury remains subjective these neighborhoods are quite capable of being, to a large extent, all things to all people. 

A patio overlooking lush vegetation with the sunset imminent

Oahu has several such neighborhoods. Hawaii Loa Ridge is on the southern shore of Oahu with Waikiki just a short drive away. It’s highly regarded as one of the best gated communities on Oahu. Luxurious homes, with a median price of $3,395,000, are thoughtfully designed with breathtaking views of the ocean as far as the eye can see. A wealth of exclusive community amenities also means that there’s not much you need to leave the privacy of this gated community for.

Beachside is one of the most expensive neighborhoods on Oahu. Located in the beach town of Kailua on the eastern shore of Oahu, this is as close to beachfront living as you'll get on the island. Experience the small town charm while having prime access to the quietest section of the beach. Homes here have a median price of $16,880,000.

View of the ocean from patio

Diamond Head's prime location between Waikiki and the Diamond Head crater make it a very desirable place to live and the average prices from $2,160,000 reflect that. Kahala, affectionately known as the Beverly Hills of Hawaii, is on the eastern end of Diamond Head. Here you'll find opulent mansions with commanding oceanfront views, coming in at a median price of $5,700,000.

Also located in the Diamond Head area, Black Point is an exclusive gated community with homes here offering incredible views of the coastline and the ocean. Residents love the privacy and seclusion here as the neighborhood only has about 75 homes. There's even a salt water pool on the ocean's edge exclusively for residents. Median price $4,875,000.

Lanikai Beach has been voted the best beach in the US multiple times, which makes beachfront residences here some of the most sought after on the island. Lanikai is a small community with around 500 residences on the eastern shore of Oahu. Residents love it for the seclusion it provides as there's only one road in and out of the area, with no sidewalk. The overarching theme here is one of understated luxury as the homes are undeniably high-end, but not flashy at all. Median list price $3,400,000.

Portlock comprises three separate neighborhoods that provide an elevated, family-friendly lifestyle. Residences here have some of the best views of Diamond Head and the coastline. Beach access is easy, with stunning views all around. The median price here is $6,999,500.

Related: What Are The Most Luxurious Neighborhoods on Oahu?

Reach Out

It’s abundantly clear by now that luxury in real estate is a multifaceted concept that’s influenced heavily by several elements, of which your vision for the perfect Hawaii lifestyle is the most important. There’s no shortage of options in Oahu luxury real estate, but you’ll need expert assistance in sorting through the many options to find options that tick all the boxes for you. 

Reach out today via the contact form below or give us a call at 1-(808) 698-6100. We have decades of experience helping clients like you find their dream luxury home on Oahu, one that fulfills their dream of luxury living while enabling them to live their lives to the maximum potential.

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