This Town Has Been Named The Most Depressed City In Hawaii

Hawaii is known for its tropical climate, stunning beaches, and diverse culture. But not all places in the Aloha State are equally happy and prosperous. According to a 2023 study by SmartAsset, one town in Hawaii has the highest depression rate in the state and among the five worst in the country. That town is Makaha, located on the western shore of O’ahu.

What makes Makaha so depressed?

Makaha is a seaside community with a population of about 9,710 people. It has a rich history and culture, as it was once the home of the ancient Hawaiian chiefs and warriors. It is also known for its surfing scene, as it hosts the annual Makaha International Surfing Championship.

However, Makaha also faces many challenges that contribute to its low quality of life and high depression rate. Some of these challenges are:

Poverty: Nearly a third of the residents live below the poverty line, which is much higher than the state average of 9.3%. The median household income is $47,470, which is lower than the state median of $83,102. Many people struggle to afford the basic necessities of life, such as food, housing, and health care.

Cost of living: Hawaii is one of the most expensive states to live in, and Makaha is no exception. The cost of living in Makaha is 50% above the national average, while the median home price is $386,900. This makes it hard for many people to save money or invest in their future.

Education: The quality of education in Makaha is poor, as the town’s elementary school received a 2/10 rating on Greatschools. The graduation rate is 79%, which is lower than the state average of 86%. The lack of educational opportunities and resources limits the potential of the students and their career prospects.

Crime: Makaha has a high crime rate, as it ranks as the 10th most dangerous place to live in Hawaii. The violent crime rate is 5.6 per 1,000 residents, which is higher than the state average of 2.5. The property crime rate is 34.8 per 1,000 residents, which is also higher than the state average of 28.6. The residents face a constant threat of theft, vandalism, assault, and robbery.

What can be done to improve Makaha’s situation?

Makaha is not a hopeless case, as there are some positive aspects and potential solutions to its problems. Some of these are:

Community: Makaha has a strong sense of community and culture, as the residents share a common heritage and identity. The town has a vibrant arts and music scene, as well as a tradition of surfing and fishing. The community also supports each other through various programs and initiatives, such as the Makaha Community Association, the Makaha Cultural Learning Center, and the Makaha Surf Club.

Tourism: Makaha has a lot of natural beauty and attractions, such as the Makaha Beach Park, the Makaha Valley, and the Ka’ena Point State Park. The town can leverage its tourism potential to generate more income and jobs for the locals, as well as to showcase its culture and history to the visitors. The town can also improve its infrastructure and amenities to make it more appealing and accessible to tourists.

Mental health: Makaha has a high need for mental health services, as many people suffer from depression, anxiety, stress, and trauma. The town can increase the availability and affordability of mental health care, such as counseling, therapy, medication, and support groups. The town can also promote awareness and education about mental health issues, as well as to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with them.


Makaha is a town that has been named the most depressed city in Hawaii, due to its high poverty, cost of living, crime, and low education. However, Makaha also has a lot of strengths and opportunities, such as its community, culture, tourism, and mental health. By addressing its challenges and enhancing its assets, Makaha can improve its quality of life and happiness for its residents and visitors.

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