Big Island

Puakea Bay Ranch Oceanfront Estate…Going, Going….

A Saturday Open House at the Puakea Bay Ranch oceanfront estate (MLS# 232548) was a surprising success, with a number of qualified prospective buyers (at the $13,750,000 asking price) mingling with the merely curious. It was a stunning day that found the crowd glued to the 1,000 square foot lanai, awestruck at a newborn whale calf’s antics a few hundred yards offshore.

Home is sited correctly to maximize sunset, Maui view and whale-watching from many rooms

Regulations No Longer Allow Building This Close to the Ocean

I’ve written before about this home, in the context that the regulations for building on oceanfront properties now require larger setbacks than were in place at the time it was built. The only way to describe the feeling standing on the lanai or looking out the corner glass windows of the master bedroom is that one is living on a cruise ship.

The North Kohala coast near Hawi is known for its dramatic cliffs rather than for its swimming beaches. Like the north-facing shores of Oahu or Kauai, waves are high in the winter season and only the most adventurous of surfers venture in. The coast is actively used by the local community for fishing and gathering opihi, and as in all of Hawai’i, the public has lateral shoreline access. At one point on Saturday, locals were casting nets from the trail below the home.

Given the success of the North Kohala community at protecting large stretches of the coastline via public purchase or easement, as directed in the North Kohala Community Development Plan, there are fewer oceanfront building sites available. The basic principle of supply-and-demand suggests the result will be an increase in value for the remaining oceanfront properties.

Aerial view of Puakea Bay Ranch with the oceanfront estate at far right (MLS# 232548)

A Home Worthy of its Waterfront Setting

Several prospective buyers were refreshing their memories, having viewed the Puakea Bay Ranch oceanfront property on previous visits to the Island. Not at all a distressed property, despite 6 years on market through several listing agents, the owner is clearly spending the half-million annually it takes to properly maintain an estate of this magnitude. Set in a beautifully landscaped oasis, the main home plus guest house total over 11,000 sq. ft. of living space.

Homes at this price point outside of the “name” resorts (Kukio, Hualalai, Mauna Kea) have the advantage of serenity and privacy. The trade-off is that there are no common amenities available for use. This oceanfront home compensates with its own amenities. In addition to the obligatory pool, there is a work-out room off the master bedroom, an entertainment suite with 2,000-bottle wine cellar, a tennis court, and a separate 3-bedroom guest house with its own kitchen.

The home is offered for sale together with two additional 10-acre parcels for a total of 25 acres. The gated Puakea Bay Ranch community consists of just over 30 homes and vacant lots (some compounds are already built on multiple lots). This is the only truly oceanfront property within the community, and with its extra acreage and separate gate, it’s like a “secret garden” hidden within a windswept, dry cattle ranch.

What’s an Oceanfront Estate Property in Hawi Worth?

It takes a leap of faith to step out of the “known world” of the Kohala Coast resorts to consider a property such as this one. The present owners purchased in 2000 for $8.7 million and immediately began renovations to take it to the level you see today. One might get the impression that it is the only $10+ million property in the Hawi area, but that would be erroneous. 

There are a number of high net worth individuals who have fallen in love with the area and built fabulous estates, both oceanfront properties and mauka ranches. Unlike homes at Kukio or Hualalai which are most frequently built on “spec” to be offered for sale, the luxury land buyers outside of the resorts are building for themselves.

What attracts someone to build or buy this far up the coast? First, it takes a 5-acre parcel to hold a compound of these dimensions…and the three parcels total more than 25 acres, which represents an opportunity to add equestrian facilities (riding trails ring the entire Puakea Bay Ranch) or simply ensure one’s privacy. Luxury resort or Puako lots are usually under one acre.

Second, many people choose Kohala for its character of “old Hawaii,” the chance to be part of a diverse established community, a true sense of place resonant with what can only be described as the listing does: a spiritual haven. If you’ve seen the movie The Descendants, recall what they experience returning to the family land on Kauai’s north shore.

One could calculate replacement cost or compare with current front row or oceanfront listings along the Kohala Coast. But to go back to my first heading…this home could not be replaced in its current location. A year ago maybe a $10 million offer would have taken it. In today’s more optimistic market, asking price is beginning to look like a value.

Call or email if you want more details on the property, the Hawi lifestyle, or oceanfront public access and building requirements.

A hui hou,

Beth Thoma Robinson, R(B)
Direct: 808.443.4588

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