Hawaii Travel Tips

Exploring the Kakaako Mural Art Scene: A Vibrant Kaleidoscope of Urban Artistry

Share this article

Sharing is caring!

hawaii mural scene
hawaii kakaako mural art scene:  strong hawaiian woman mural

Exploring the Kakaako Mural Art Scene: A Vibrant Kaleidoscope of Urban Artistry

Hawaii is not normally known for its mural art scene. Kakaako mural art scene changed that.

Kakaako is a district nestled between Ala Moana and Downtown Honolulu that been transformed from an industrial district full of non-descript warehouses, into vibrant street art scene and trendy community.

From abstract designs to nature-inspired creations, these Hawaii mural art- scapes create a vibrant kaleidoscope of wild visual experiences and dynamic artistry. The district’s murals not only beautify the urban landscape but also serve as a celebration of community, culture, and the boundless possibilities of artistic imagination.

The History of  Hawaii Murals at Kakaako & art scene

The Hawaii murals movement in Kakaako began around 2011 with non-profit organizations like  808 Urban and Pow Wow Hawaii wanting to redecorate Hawaii’s bleh industrial desert into a vibrant and colorful art scene in an effort to beautify the urban landscape, but also inspire the artist community.

Hawaii’s local art scene has hit peaks and valleys over the decades.

Famous Hawaii local artists like Wyland, Peggy Hopper, Kim Taylor Reese have forged paths in Hawaii’s commercial art scene with their celebration of Hawaiian culture, lifestyle and marine life.

But outside of the commercial realm, the local Hawaii artist community was always struggling in downtown Honolulu’s Chinatown crawl spaces to build its presence in performance and artistic innovation and gallery space.

With Kakaako, the youth and urban arts have a revival. The Pow Wow Hawaii event is an annual event that brings over 100 local and international artist together to collaborate and transform meh building warehouse walls into a part of this free, open-air, public space gallery.

Since the inception, it has grown a hip, fresh and youthful urban spirit of celebration to what would otherwise be a district few locals entered.  Kakaako is now one of the trendier communities on the island and finding murals are a bit of a fun scavenger hunt!

The types of Kakaako Mural art

1. Abstract designs

Some murals in Kakaako feature abstract and geometric designs, adding a contemporary and visually striking element to the urban environment. These murals often play with shapes, colors, and perspectives.


2. Hawaii nature-inspired murals

Celebrating Hawaii’s lush natural beauty, some murals incorporate images of marine life, flora and fauna.

These nature-inspired artworks bring a touch of the islands to the concrete walls of Kakaako to remind onlookers of how Hawaii island lifestyles keep nature and nature’s spirit close to the heart. In Hawaiian culture, marine animals and wildlife that cross your path are considered aumakua or Hawaiian spirit guardians.  Every native Hawaiian family has their own aumakua and it is considered auspicious to sight them.

My favorite is the Hawaiian green turtle, which is is common to our ocean waters but is an endangered species that is against the law to touch.

Read Hawaii’s endangered species you can go to jail for!
Kakaako Murals Hawaii_hawaiian green turtles endangered
Kakaako Murals Hawaii_hawaiian green turtles endangered

My dad with my dog Tinker (during Halloween)

hawaii kakaako murals birds. hawaii mural art scene
hawaii kakaako murals birds. I love this mural! : Oiwi birds
hawaii kakaako murals birds
hawaii mural art: Hawaii’s oiwi birds. I love this mural!

3. Cultural and historical themes

Some murals pay homage to Hawaii’s rich cultural and historical heritage. From depictions of ancient Hawaiian legends to modern cultural symbols, these artworks serve as visual narratives of Hawaii’s past and present culture.

Kakaako Murals Hawaii_21hawaii_culture
Kakaako Murals Hawaii_21hawaii_culture
hawaii kakaako mural morning brew
hawaii kakaako mural morning brew

4. Portraits and faces of Hawaii

Kakaako mural art also includes portraits of diverse faces, both fictional and real. These murals capture the essence of humanity, indigenous Hawaiian people, local faces and showcases the diversity and interconnectedness of the community.

hawaii mural scene
hawaii kakaako mural strong hawaiian woman
hawaii kakaako mural hawaiian girl parking lot
Hula Wall:  kakaako mural hawaiian girl parking lot of Salt at Our Kakaako
Kakaako Murals Hawaii_portraits
Kakaako Murals Hawaii_portraits
hawaii mural art scene: kakaako woman looks up
ABC Stores Wall:  hawaii mural art scene: kakaako woman looks up
hawaii mural art scene
Obama: hawaii mural art scene

5. Interactive and 3D Murals:

Adding an extra layer of engagement, a few murals in Kakaako are designed to be interactive or create a 3D illusion. These pieces invite viewers to actively participate in the art experience.

One mural I love is created entirely of dots. The one below stretches an entire building next to a car dealer lot.

kakaako murals surreal futuristic blue mural
kakaako murals surreal futuristic blue mural


Where to Find Kakaako’s Murals

1. SALT at Our Kakaako:

The SALT at Our Kakaako complex is full of eateries and boasts a concentration of murals, with each building telling a unique visual story. Explore this area for a diverse showcase of street art. My favorite Hula wall is on the exterior of their parking lot.

2. Pow! Wow! Mural Map

Pow! Wow! Hawaii provides an interactive mural map on its website, guiding enthusiasts to the locations of various murals. This tool ensures a comprehensive and self-guided tour of Kakaako’s street art.  Check out this page for specific artists and their wall locations.

3. Kakaako Streets and Alleyways

Wander through the streets and alleyways of Kakaako to stumble upon hidden gems. Many murals are scattered throughout the district, waiting to be discovered around unexpected corners.

4. Ward Village

Ward Village, adjacent to Kakaako, features a collection of murals that contribute to the area’s artistic ambiance. Take a stroll through this vibrant community to encounter unique artworks.

5. Kakaako Waterfront Park

Kakaako Waterfront Park is not only a scenic spot but also home to a few captivating murals. Combine a relaxing day at the park with an exploration of its artistic offerings.

Is Kakaako safe to travel alone?

Oahu is overall one of the safest states in the United States. However, one should always practice street smarts. Kakaako’s real estate development and location to downtown Honolulu offices makes it one of the most expensive places to buy property.

However, it’s still primarily industrial and occasionally feels deserted, outside of the occasional restaurant, business, etc…

When is the best time to visit Kakaako?

Daylight hours are best. Avoid evenings as the warehouse areas get desolate, dark and you cannot see the murals in their full glory.

Saturdays there’s Kakaako farmer’s market, so it gets crowded and parking can be occasionally challenging to find unless you don’t mind walking. So this could be a prime time to explore with a boba tea in hand.

Kakaako also occasional houses art, community, night market and popup events in this area, so check Our Kakaako for the event calendar.

What do you think of Hawaii murals? Will you be exploring Kakaako’s mural art scene on your next trip? 

Hawaii vacation trip planning resources

Hawaii mural art
Hawaii mural art
20 Top Hawaii Beach Tips: Hawaii Beach DO’s and DON’Ts
Iconic Hawaii Souvenir Guide: 16 Best Hawaii Souvenirs you Cannot Miss!

Hawaii Trip Planning Resources

You May Also Like

Tags: honolulu, kakaako

©GRRRLTRAVELER LLC 2021  All Rights Limited.