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Palolo is a community found in Palolo Valley to the east of downtown Honolulu. Palolo was originally settled before Honolulu became almost entirely urbanized, leading to the unique culture and feel of the valley community. Palolo includes a broad variety of different residential properties, including some condominiums and multi-family homes, although the strong majority of residences in Palolo Valley are single family homes. Palolo is less expensive than many surrounding towns such as Kaimuki and Kahala. This means that prospective residents can enjoy the same convenience of these communities without investing the same amount of body. Palolo is located less than five miles from downtown Honolulu, and only about two miles away from Waikiki. Depending on traffic levels, this means that one can make a trip from downtown Honolulu to Palolo in about ten minutes. Palolo is a rather dense community, meaning that lot sizes are generally small in Palolo Valley. This fact is best understood in the context of the region’s history. Palolo’s location just ten minutes away from the commercial center of the state, especially after several decades of increasing population levels, resulted in increasing demand for housing in the region. As a result of this driver, the number of houses and residents increased drastically.
Palolo is unique in terms of its mixture of properties. In addition to apartments, condominiums, and single family homes, there are commercial lots and even agricultural lots. These agricultural areas are particularly interesting because of their location so close to downtown Honolulu. These farms and horticultural areas are concentrated to the rear of the valley, and have largely maintained their character and territorial boundaries despite increased demands for housing. Agricultural properties have been a long term focus of efforts by both the City Council and State Legislature to improve sustainability, and Palolo is easily the closest farmland to the urban core. One of the defining geographical features of Palolo is the Palolo Stream, which divides the Valley and eventually flows into the Manoa-Palolo drainage canal and the Ala Wai Canal after combining with Manoa Stream. Palolo’s northern boundary is the Ko’olau Mountain Range, its southern edge is Kaimuki, and its western and eastern edges are defined by Waahila Ridge and Wilhemina Rise, respectively. Palolo Valley actually includes an extinct volcanic crater, Kaau Crater, which is found in the mountainous area to the rear of Palolo Valley behind the agricultural areas. Palolo’s name literally means “clay” when translated from traditional Native Hawaiian into English.
Although there are few commercial properties or shopping centers in Palolo Valley itself, there are a considerable number of shopping opportunities in the immediately surrounding area. One valley over, in the town of Manoa, there are a number of businesses which cater to the large student population of the University of Hawaii at Manoa as well as a supermarket and an outstanding sushi restaurant called Waipuna Sushi. To the south of Palolo, in the town of Kahala, Kahala Mall provides the most comprehensive shopping experience in the eastern section of Oahu. There are several schools in the Palolo area, including Palolo Elementary School and Jarrett Middle School. The most notable recreational facility in Palolo is the Mau Umae Nature Park, found towards the base of Palolo Valley near Kalanianaole Highway. Palolo is also home to a variety of other open spaces, smaller parks, and playgrounds, which are scattered throughout the Valley. There are a number of independent athletic groups in Palolo Valley, including neighborhood basketball and volleyball leagues as well as soccer programs. Chaminade University is found just over the border with Kaimuki, while Midpacific Institute and Punahou Schools are just a short drive away.