Oahu Private Schools

If you are moving  to Oahu or already living on Oahu, and looking for Oahu private schools to which to send your child, you are in luck! There are many Oahu private schools. Most of these are located in Honolulu, but there are some in other areas of the island, as well.

You may have heard of some of the more well-known Oahu private schools in Honolulu, such as Punahou School, K-12 (which was attended by President Obama and Steve Case, founder of AOL), Iolani School, K-12, and Mid-Pacific Institute, PS-12 . Or there is  Le Jardin Academy, PS-12, a Private School on the Windward side of Oahu, in Kailua. There are many other Oahu private schools, some with religious affiliations and others without. 

There is also, perhaps the most prolific of Hawaii private schools, Kamehameha Schools, K-12. Kamehameha Schools was founded by the will of Bernice Pauhai Bishop, a descendant of King Kamehameha the Great. Kamehameha Schools is one of the richest schools in the country, with an annual endowment unparalleled by any other private high school/lower school in the country, and less than only major private universities such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton and MIT.  Kamehameha Schools has a unique focus on Hawaiian history, Hawaiian language, and the perpetuation of Hawaiian cultural activites such as voyaging canoes, taro patches, and restoration of heiau, fishponds, and ahupua’a.  

Admission to Kamehameha Schools is all but restricted to those of non-Hawaiian ancestry, however. Things at Kamehameha schools are pretty quiet now and it is definitely still a very highly-favored and competitive school, but the school has had much controversy in past decades. There have been constitutional law claims of discrimination based upon race, as well as religion, and law suits based upon mis-management and breach of fiduciary responsibility of the school’s highly-paid trustees. There is much history and a book could be written on this topic.

Oahu private schools are expensive, as would be expected.  In the lower grades, prices start at around $5,000 per year and in high school, the most expensive schools are ranging up to about $25,000 per year. The only consolation to the high expense of private schools on Oahu is that real property taxes on Oahu are relatively inexpensive. Most schools also offer limited scholarships based on various factors including need and/or merit.

The admissions process for private schools on Oahu starts early, about a year before the anticipated fall admission date. There may be testing, as well as interviews, even at the pre-school and elementary levels. Each private school is different and has different deadlines, so check far in advance with the schools you are interested in. Also, some Oahu private schools allow entry at only certain grade levels. For example, a school may enroll new kids only at K, 4th, 6th, and 9th grade levels. Admissions directors are usually pretty informative and easy to get in touch with, and school websites also have lots of information.

On Oahu, it is often joked that it does not matter which college from which you graduated after high school, but only which high school you attended before you left. There is some truth to that. The private schools on Oahu offer some pretty good networking opportunities, if you plan to make a life on Oahu.


Hawaii Association of Independent Schools - Comprehensive list of member private schools, not all Oahu private schools may be members - Has lots of other good information on Oahu private schools

Hawaii Parent Magazine - Has some information of private schools each year

Honolulu Family - Search their site for the phrase “private schools” and you will find many articles on the topic

Honolulu Magazine Private School Guide - Special issue of Honolulu Magazine published every year or two regarding various topics involving Honolulu Private Schools - do a key word search to find many articles on Honolulu private schools and private schools in other parts of the island of Oahu.

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