Buying Property in Lava Hazard Zones 1 & 2

This majestic Big Island of Hawaii consists of five volcanos, Kohala, Hualalai, Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Kilauea. Kilauea is the most active, with a large eruption in 2018 and a current eruption that began December 21, 2021. Mauna Loa and Hualalai are both active as well and could erupt at any time. Mauna Kea is dormant, and Kohala is considered inactive. For this reason, homeowners of Hawaii Island face both environmental hazards and insurance restrictions that are associated with living on the slopes of active volcanos.

volcanoes on big island hawaii

Lava Zones on the Big Island

Back in 1974, the USGS prepared a map categorizing 9 Lava Hazard Zones on the Island of Hawaii. Lava Hazard Zones 1 and 2 are where flows are most likely to occur, with Zone 9 the least likely to occur. The Zones were established based on the location and frequency of historic and prehistoric eruptions. Zones also take into account topographical features that could affect the direction and distribution of future lava flows. Decades ago, county supervisors, council members, and State Land Commission members approved subdivisions in the highest risk zones. From 1954 to 1973, Big Island developers were granted permission to establish thousands of acres of subdivisions in Lava Hazard Zones 1 & 2 and sell them off as more than 12,000 individual lots. Puna is seeing a huge increase in growth in these high-risk areas as a result of the build-out in these existing subdivisions.

big island lava zones

Although it may be difficult to understand why one would risk having a home near an active volcano, Lava Hazard Zone 2 offers some of the most affordable homes on the Big Island. With this in mind, the Puna District has become the fastest-growing region on the Big Island, offering affordable homes to first-time home buyers and baby boomers. Some of my favorite Zone 2 subdivisions include Hawaiian Shores Recreational Estates, Hawaiian Beaches, Hawaiian Parks, and Nanawale Estates. Check out my listing in Hawaiian Shores Recreational Estates (MLS# 643804), featuring a brand new contractor-built home consisting of 1608 sqft. with 3 BR/2BA on almost 1/2 acre listed at $324,000. If this home were located outside of Lava Hazard Zone 2 and into Zone 3, it would likely be priced about $100,000 more.

big island home for sale in the puna district

kitchen in big island home for sale

Homeowner’s Insurance in Lava Zones

Homeowner’s insurance is certainly a factor to consider for anybody looking at purchasing in a high-risk area. In 1991 the Hawaii Property Insurance Association was founded by an act of the state legislature. According to the HPIA website, HPIA was established to provide basic property insurance for persons unable to purchase homeowners coverage in the private market due to ongoing volcanic eruptions in certain lava zones on the island of Hawaii. If considering a purchase in Lava Hazard Zones 1 & 2, be sure to consult a licensed insurance agent who will check with HPIA to see if the property is eligible for coverage. The property must have been declined coverage for basic property insurance by at least two licensed insurers, must be a residential dwelling no more than the two family type, or an individual condominium. A licensed insurance agent can explain the complete submission guidelines.

big island lava zones

So now that you understand that homeowner’s insurance can be had, perhaps you should consider taking a look at what Lava Hazard Zone 2’s subdivisions have to offer! Consider looking at homes in Nanawale Estates, Hawaiian Shores, Hawaiian Beaches, and Hawaiian Parks. All are located in the Puna District of Hawaii, are just minutes to Pahoa town, and approximately 35 minutes from the Hilo airport. Here you will find fully permitted homes listed for sale at under $200,000! You can also find oceanfront homes, with one currently listed at $574,000 in Hawaiian Beaches. Although not without risk, I am seeing more buyers seeking properties in these areas because of the reasonable prices, nice communities, and some of the finest weather on the island.

Want to Know More?

Feel free to reach out with any questions you may have regarding homes and land currently available in the Puna District. I look forward to helping you find the perfect property on the Big Island of Hawaii.

About the Author

Lisa Heaviside

Lisa Heaviside is a REALTOR Salesperson with Hawai'i Life. I have over 20years of experience as a licensed Realtor in the state of Hawaii since 2003. When you choose me to help you Sell or Buy your Big Island Property, you can be confident you are dealing with a knowledgeable and experienced professional who consistently delivers an exemplary level of service. Throughout my career, I have refined my skills as a savvy negotiator and strive to deliver maximum value for my clients. I seek to create lasting relationships with each client I meet with and advise. Consequently, I have turned many satisfied clients into great friends. Please keep me in mind if you should ever decide to sell your Big Island property or looking to purchase. I offer excellent communication skills with a commitment to personal excellence and client satisfaction. You can email me at lisaheaviside@hawaiilife.com or via phone at (808) 987-3791.

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February 25, 2021

Thank you, very useful info as I’ll be looking to purchase on the west side of the island out in the “up-country.”

Lisa Heaviside

February 25, 2021

> Let me know if I can be of any help.


February 27, 2021

Can you refer me to a couple of companies that will insure in Lava 2 zone? We are building in HOVE.

Thank you,


Brian Paris

October 28, 2021

Are there lenders that will lend in lava zone 1 or 2?


October 11, 2022

Hello Lisa,
I am studying the Island of Hawai’i as I am planning on completing the mortgage loan officer course (and I’m very interested in the Island as a passion of mine). Do you know what lava zones were Leilani Estates and Vacation Land prior to the 2018 eruption?
I have visited Leilani/Fissure 8 lava flow and Pohoiki a few times since the 2018 eruption and it’s just absolutely mind blowing to see the magnitude of the eruption.
Thank you in advance for your help!

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