Coworking in Hawai’i

It’s been quite some time now that I’ve returned to Oahu from Indonesia. These days I work from home on a daily basis, but on some days I itch to work elsewhere despite the coziness of the house (or maybe precisely because of it). This is how I found out about Oahu’s first and largest coworking space: The Box Jelly.

For those of you unfamiliar with coworking, it is a style of work that involves a shared working environment, often an office, and independent activity. But it’s a highly untraditional office: both a physical space and community of like-minded professionals that typically work independently from one another, but have many opportunities within the coworking space to collaborate and mingle. As you can imagine, coworking spaces are popular across the globe especially for startup entrepreneurs and freelancers; nowadays you can find coworking spaces in practically every destination in the world. Between my coworkers and me, we’ve now trialed coworking spaces in San Francisco, Seattle, Kampala (all part of Impact Hub), and Honolulu.

If you want to understand better what coworking is like, here’s a cutely animated video on coworking.

Now on to The Box Jelly. First off, it is located in the Kaka’ako district—a section of Honolulu that’s quickly urbanizing and teeming with the city’s newest hotspots and trendy scenes, like the Honolulu Night Market monthly block party I’ve blogged about. Because of that, several things: the first being that the crowd that the Box Jelly attracts is generally younger and leaning to the creative or tech side of work, because you know, those are the cool careers to have. And since The Box Jelly shares space with HICapacity, Honolulu’s makerspace, it is a great place to connect with local designers and innovative entrepreneurs. It is also a resourceful spot to find out about alternative happenings that take place around town.

Two, the space is conducive for unboring work and very much brings out your creativity. I appreciate that they play music that doesn’t interfere with concentration. However, the space is a little bit small because their community has grown so quickly over the past year, so on some days you might not even be able to find desk space. There are amenities like printing and faxing you can take advantage of, two conference rooms that can be reserved and used throughout the day, and a small kitchenette for you to store your lunch if you wish. The kitchenette is probably the one thing they can definitely spend time to upgrade, but it’s not that big of a deal since there are plenty of places to grab food and coffee nearby, which brings me to point three.

There are a number of excellent lunch choices in close proximity, which is important in my list of priorities for selecting a place to work in. Obviously, if I worked for a traditional employer in a regular office this wouldn’t be up to me to choose, but since I get to call the shots as a remote employee, lunch options matter greatly. For recommendations within walking distance, I’d check out Pa’ina Cafe for poke bowls and Asahi Grill for oxtail soup. Depending on how far within your radius walking distance is, I’d also check out The Whole Ox, Taste Table, and Fresh Cafe. These three are very well-known in the Kaka’ako culinary and community scene.

My last point will be the cons for The Box Jelly, though they’re pretty weak in comparison to the pros. First, parking can be difficult around the area. It doesn’t seem problematic to park in the lot of nearby Bank of Hawaii, but I’d be wary the whole day about it because that’s the type of person I am. Second, their membership fees don’t give much flexibility at all. Daily passes are $15 and a monthly unlimited membership is $150, and there’s nothing in between. If anything, they have another monthly membership where you get a permanent desk, but these desks are not quite permanent either as they get moved around as the space expands. I’ve suggested to them to offer halftime membership for people looking to work 2-3 days a week from the space, or maybe even 1-2 week passes for people who want to get some work done while traveling.

In any case, The Box Jelly is still pretty new and I am sure they will expand soon. I am sure they will also fix the parking issue if it ever becomes unbearable for its members (I think they might already have). I highly recommend The Box Jelly to anyone living here looking for an alternative space to work or for visitors who need space to get some work done while you travel.

The Box Jelly
307A Kamani Street Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone 808.769.6921
Email [email protected]


Photos by The Box Jelly.

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