Big Island

If the Slipper Fits… Buy It! | Finding the Right Big Island Location

The first detail a buyer and their agent must address is location. To a large extent, pricing drives location. Buyers envision finding their piece of paradise quickly. This rarely happens because, as they say, it’s a very “Big” Island.

A Matter of Perception

Even discussions about location differences can be challenging. For instance, take the concept of a “subdivision.” Off-island buyers assume streetlights, curbs, gutters, and sidewalks. For East Hawai`i Kama`aina, the term is just as likely to conjure images of spaghetti lots in sprawling agricultural subdivisions where unpaved roads, catchment tanks, and agricultural pursuits are the norm and where only the moon and night stars light the drive home.

Life’s a Beach

Those seeking all things familiar and affordable often find it in the four contiguous subdivisions running mauka/makai and on both sides of Kahakai Blvd. With approximately 3,100 lots, the subdivisions of Hawaiian Beaches, Hawaiian Parks, Hawaiian Shores and Hawaiian Shores Recreational Estates (HSRE) have paved roads, mail delivery, and all utilities. For the most part (with the exception of HSRE), it’s impossible to tell where each area begins and ends.

Hawaiian Beaches home MLS #631680

Locals generically lump the 4 under the umbrella of “Hawaiian Beaches,” and while they all terminate at the ocean, there is no “beach” in Hawaiian Beaches. There is, however, much to like and a few challenges when it comes to buying and selling in any of these areas.

Several parks, “da Ssore,” mail delivery, piped water, an elementary school, and good roads all enhance the quality of life. All parcels are zoned agricultural, and except for HSRE where protective covenants prohibit farm use, owners can engage in limited agricultural activities.

Owning Cheaper Than Renting?

HSRE, with thoughtful protective covenants and restrictions, provides excellent recreational facilities and a strong association. Most happily pay the reasonable association fee that helps ensure that property values remain strong. Roads in HSRE are privately maintained, and when you enter HSRE, there is a definite difference. Homes in these areas currently average around $220,000 which, at today’s rates, mean that owning is probably cheaper than renting.

But here’s the thing. You will sometimes need to shop lenders to find one that offers the most desirable loan programs due to the lava zone 2 designation. Insurance options are limited, and some mainstream insurers (State Farm, Allstate, and USAA to name a few) do not insure in these areas at all. Despite limitations, these subdivisions are attractive options with a lot to offer. It all leaves many of us scratching our heads regarding long-standing lending and insurance restrictions.

The Right Fit?

Traffic to Hilo can be heavy, but shopping and commercial improvements in the immediate area have helped reduce trips to town. Ingress and egress into Hawaiian Beaches are basically limited to a single road which can be problematic when accidents occur. Pricing and availability make vacant land a real opportunity right now.

In Hawaii, there’s a slipper for every foot and a property for every buyer. So, if your slipper tends toward the familiar, Hawaiian Beaches is definitely an area you’ll want to consider before you purchase your place in paradise!

About the Author

Denise Nakanishi

Denise Nakanishi is a REALTOR Broker with Hawai'i Life. Denise Nakanishi is one of Hilo's most acclaimed real estate agents. She reached the rank of Major in the US Army and is now known by many as "Major Mom." The nickname fits–not only does Denise bring the discipline and mission-oriented attitude you'd expect, she's also caring and compassionate, always looking out for her clients like they're her own family. Having made the Big Island her home since 1987, Denise combines her extensive knowledge of the area with a sharp focus on customer service and the results speak for themselves. She's the recent recipient of the Best East Hawai`i, Best of Zillow, Chairman's Circle Award, President's Circle, Top Producing Agent since 2001, and Realtor of the Year awards. Denise stays ahead of the curve because she's passionate about education–she served as Education Chair for Hawaii Island REALTORS® for many years. She's one of Big Island's best real estate resources, known for her weekly article in the Hawaii Tribune Herald. Denise leads Team Nakanishi for Hawai`i Life, who is committed to their family, work, and community. In her little time away from work, Denise is a committed runner and Grandy. She also devotes many hours to various Veterans' Organizations, the East Hawaii Cultural Center, and the Hawaii Island REALTORS®. You can email me at or via phone at (808) 936-5100.

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