Aliamanu Military Reservation (AMR)
On the island of O'ahu, just north of Honolulu in the town of Salt Lake, there are several military bases located close together. AMR is in between the much larger and well-known Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to the west, and Fort Shafter to the east. This base has several nice housing neighborhoods and some of its own amenitites, but it shares many amenitites with Fort Shafter.
Fun fact: This military base is located inside a volcanic crater! Don't worry, the volcano is no longer active, but it is important to ancient Hawaiian cultural history.
Ewa Beach: 5 Miles,
Ewa by Gentry: 5 miles,
Ko Olina: 11 miles,
Kailua: 13 miles,
Hawaii Kai: 10 miles Most homes in the Honolulu area, especially downtown, are older homes and original to O'ahu. Most are built in the 1940s- 1970s without AC. Newer construction is found at Ewa by Gentry, however Ewa Beach still remains with the older homes. Ko Olina has condos built in the 90s to 2000s. Oahu is not known for having upscale homes unless you are on the North Shore. Waikiki, south of Honolulu, is the multi-million dollar beach front properties in the tourist districts. 80% of homes do come with solar power because electricity is so expensive, but most of the air conditioners are window units. Yards are scarce and home buying is a bit of an art. If you're looking for land, there are stipulations in place to stay true to Native Hawaiians.
On Base Housing
Island Palm Communities runs the on-base housing neighborhoods for AMR and the surrounding military bases. Their website includes listings for numerous base neighborhoods, and allows you to do 3D tours of some housing layouts.
Aliamanu Military Reservation (AMR) Housing is centrally located in Salt Lake. The neighborhood has a gas station, shoppette, CDC, splash park, skate park, plus a community center and a pool. It is 10-12 min to downtown Waikiki. and 10 minutes from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
AMR Rim housing is nearby, but on the outskirts--the rim--of AMR. The primary amenities are playgrounds and basketball courts. Something to note about AMR is that it’s gates are not constantly manned. Sometimes this is causes concern for families moving in.
Red Hill neighborhood is located next to AMR, to the north. It has a community center with a basketball court and a splash pad/ playground.
Note that you can apply for housing at any of the nearby bases, such as Fort Shafter, Tripler Medical Center, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, and the other military bases on Oahu, but you will want to check commute times to the service member's command on AMR.
Grades K - 6 attend Makalapa, Red Hill, Pearl Harbor or Webling Elementary School (depending on home address) Grades 7 & 8 may be sent to Aliamanu or Moanalua Middle, or Aiea Intermediate School (depending on home address) Grades 9 - 12 may be zoned for Radford, Moanalua or Aiea High School (depending on home address)
Note that these schools are not on base and are not DoD schools. They are Hawaii public schools. However, because of the large number of military families in the area, you can expect to find numerous military kids, a knowledgeable School Liaison, and active military kid programs. There will also be a very transient population in local schools, meaning that students will move away often and class lists will constantly change.
Cost of Living and BAH
Island living, in general, is very expensive. The average housing sale is now over $1 million! BAH in Hawaii varies depending on rank and whether or not you have dependents. To determine your BAH at Aliamanu Military Reservation, use our BAH calculator. Service members, whether they live on base or off base, will also receive COLA (Cost of Living Allowance) to adjust for the higher cost of gas and groceries in Hawaii.
The average cost of a single-family home on the island is now $1,050,000. This is a new record high! The state of Hawaii has the lowest property tax rate in the nation at 0.28%. Despite this, the median annual tax payment in the state is $1,871, which is much higher. This is because Hawaii has the highest median home value in the U.S.
There are only two seasons in O'ahu but there is no temperature change. It's a constant 85 degrees year around. Between the months of November and March, we do experience more rain than usual, which is considered Rainy Season.
The landscape across the island varies significantly depending on location. On the Leeward (West) side of O’ahu, you will find a drier, more desert-like environment, while the Windward (East) side is home to the lush Ko’olau Mountains. Much of central O’ahu is farmland, and the North Shore consists of a rocky shoreline with higher surf. Many popular surfing competitions are held there.
AMR base amenities include the gym, shopette, Domino’s, Childcare center, teen center/rec center, skate park, pool/splash pad (these are mostly closed during COVID and the pool has a fee since it is run by MWR), chapel, sports field and different playgrounds throughout the housing community.
O'ahu is known for epic beaches and amazing hikes with incredible views. Island hopping is considered quite easy as you can do it easily by purchasing Southwest flights for as low as $37 for a 30 minute flight to any island. The other islands are all unique. Volcanoes Park on the Big Island is a place to behold, and military members can rent cabins at the park. Also, don’t forget to register for your free National Park military pass so your $25 vehicle admission will be waived.
Hawaii boasts AMAZING hiking. Trails range from paved and stroller-friendly (but steep!) Makapu’u trail on the eastern end of the island, to lush and tropical trails in Manoa Valley, to the dormant Koko Head and Diamond Head volcano crater trails.
Kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling, spearfishing, and diving are just a few ways to enjoy the warm water and 271 days of sunshine per year.
Kailua’s beaches are almost as crowded than the more touristy Waikiki. Traffic and parking can be difficult. Be aware, the deep ocean currents can be extremely strong even near shore. Many beaches also experience shore break. Search “Sandy’s Beach” on Youtube to get a glimpse of the power of the ocean here. Parents with little children may want to check out the lagoons at Ko’olina for gentler waters.
Surfing is the signature sport of Hawaii. Duke Kahanamoku and Eddie Aikau are local legends and surf icons. Surf lessons are available around the island. If you want to get into surfing, there is no shame in purchasing a $100 eight-foot foam board from Costco. Pros on the North Shore, water patrol, and surf school students all surf them with joy. Surf competitions are community events for surfers of all ages and skill levels.
The Macadamia Nut Farm does a tour called the Ali'i tour which is a small tour of the farm along with teaching about the Samoan Culture and a lot is centered around the Coconut Tree. Kualoa Ranch offers a tour that is more befitting a crash course for “Survivor” contestants than a farm tour. It is both educational and entertaining. Your host will highlight various film locations on the property as you ride on crew buses used in the original “Jurassic Park.” They also have ATV tours, zip lining and horse back riding.
Grand luaus are available on the leeward side of the island, the Polynesian Cultural Center on the North Shore, and also Sea Life Park on the east end. The Hale Koa luau in Waikiki is a less costly, shorter luau option open to service members, retirees, and their guests.
The North Shore is the most rural part of the island. There are lots of food trucks including shrimp trucks up on the north shore with Kahuku shrimp. Ted’s Bakery near Pipeline is worth the stop on your drive along the Seven Mile Miracle. Waves can reach 40 feet during the winter months. Helemano Farms in Wahiawa grows sustainable Norfolk pines for cutting at Christmas.
And if there's a particular time of year to come, you don't want to miss the Waikiki Spam Jam, King Kamehameha Day on June 11th and the Lantern Floating Festival.
Food and Drink
There is no shortage of incredible cuisine from 5 star restaurants to side of the beach food trucks. Food is also essential to Hawaiian culture. School cafeterias serve local favorites like kalua pork, haupia (coconut) pudding, and poi (pureed taro root). Poke (raw, marinated tuna), shave ice (don’t call it “shaved” ice), and Spam musubi (Spam and rice wrapped in seaweed) can be found in every corner store. Loco Moco is a popular Hawaiian dish made of rice, burger patty, gravy and fried eggs.
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