Kahala debuted as an open-air center in 1954, pre-dating the venerable Ala Moana Center by one year. It was, and still is for the most part, an eclectic combination of five & dimes, full line department stores, grocery stores and even a bowling alley. In 1970, the mall was enclosed and became Hawai'i's first air conditioned shopping center. It's been attracting the crowds ever since. Much like Pearlridge, it is tailored to the local population. The very well off local population.
The mall had a much more Hawai'i flavor when I was last living on the island. Since then, however, Liberty House has become Macy's, Star Market has become Whole Foods and Long's Drugs has been taken over by CVS (although it still operates under the Long's name.) But Kahala has always worked very well in its niche and as it nears its 55th birthday, it's well positioned to see many more.
-7 March 2023
Although hardly ever visited at all when I lived in Hawai’i, as an adult, Kahala Mall’s proximity to Waikiki means that I have walked its corridors on a much more consistent basis in recent years. It’s quite the scenic ride to the retail hub on the #14 Bus as the route runs between the makai slopes of Diamond Head and the Pacific Ocean below. The mall itself rises up amongst the beautiful homes of one of Honolulu’s most prestigious neighborhoods just before the viaduct of the Lunalilo Freeway of H1 behind it.