Big Island

Wind-Friendly North Kohala Homes For Sale

A post I wrote in 2012 described how savvy builders would orient and design features of a North Kohala home to provide protection from the occasional heavy trade winds, as well as encouraging natural ventilation from the friendly mauka-makai breezes. The homes in that post sold of course, so as I sit listening to the wind pick up outside, possibly from a hurricane passing south of the Big Island, Iʻm thinking about well-oriented, wind-friendly homes for sale currently in North Kohala.

Aerial of windbreak and orientation

Two wind-savvy homes at Puakea Bay Ranch near Hawi. Note the trees planted for windbreak on the mauka side, and the orientation of the pool/lanai area to the west-southwest. Property in the foreground of photo is for sale (MLS 622473)

Tradewinds versus “Sun Setting into the Ocean”  Views – Kohala Ranch

The examples Iʻm using in this post are all homes on enough acreage to have flexibility in their orientation on the lot, and they all have ocean and sunset views.  What that means is that homes have been designed so the side of the house where people spend most of their time — the lanai, the pool, the great room, usually the master bedroom — face the west to have ocean and sunset views.

Our trade winds come from the northeast, so slightly different orientations can make a big difference in how much the bulk of the home protects the outdoor living space so it can be used on the many windy days.

outdoor dining towards ocean

This Kohala Ranch Heathers home has its outdoor living areas oriented southwest to shelter from trade winds and large overhangs for protection from the afternoon sun (MLS 627506)

Orienting towards the southwest means you will pick up more coastline, Hualalai, and often Mauna Loa and Mauka Kea views. On the other hand, facing southwest sometimes means you wonʻt see Maui across the channel, or the “ball drop” for part of the year as the sunset moves north in the summer months. Still, this orientation has the great advantage of offering the best trade wind protection without additional design tactics. It’s also cooler in the hot summer months than it would be if facing directly into the sun.

Mauka-Makai Breezes versus Trade Wind Gusts – Kaiholena

Sailors along the Kohala Coast like to go out in the afternoon when the on-shore breezes pick up. To keep your home cool without the need for air conditioning, it helps to provide cross-ventilation so that air can travel into the home from the makai (ocean facing) side and exit on the mauka (upland facing) side. However, the question is how to achieve cross-ventilation without too much exposure to gusty or howling trade winds.

Front entrance with courtyard

This courtyard entrance is stylish and slows down the winds (and chi) entering the home.  The other side of this home at Kaiholena on the Kohala Coast opens to ocean, sunset, and Maui views (MLS 622675)

One home design solution that also is aesthetically pleasing and good feng shui is to create a courtyard at the entrance to the house. That way you can keep the front door (at least the screen door) open without getting blasted from trade winds. Nothing worse than struggling to open your front door for guests!

Create a U- or L-shape Around Your Outdoor Living Spaces – Puakea Bay Ranch

Another way to protect outdoor living areas from the trade winds is to build a home with some components on the side that would be most exposed to the winds (north, northeast, or east). A garage might protect the front entrance. The master bedroom or guest quarters could be located to create an L-shape around the outdoor living areas, with those rooms benefitting from the ocean and coastline views.

Home for sale at Puakea Bay Ranch

Aerial shows the intelligent design of this Puakea Bay Ranch home to create sheltered space for outdoor living (MLS 622473)

The Puakea Bay Ranch home in the photo above illustrates a number of features that address the famous Kohala winds: orientation to the southwest, L-shape design to protect the outdoor living space, mature trees providing windbreak—and tropical fruit for your breakfast!

Using the Natural Topography of the Land Wisely – Maliu Ridge

Maliu Ridge above Hawi has west-facing homes in the Maliu Ridge II section of the subdivision, with views almost identical to those of Puakea Bay Ranch, but on smaller lots at a higher elevation. Some of the lots are pretty wind-exposed, but others offer a gentle slope, which can be used for natural wind protection if the home is sited correctly.

Kualapa Maliu RIdge home for sale

This aerial photo of a Maliu Ridge home for sale illustrates how the gentle slope allows the house to nestle into the lee. Note also the wind-friendly courtyard entrance and the windbreak plantings (MLS 625821)

Sometimes the best solution for wind protection is a direct one. The Maliu Ridge home has an outdoor dining area on the lanai between the main house and the guest suite. It has the ocean, sunset and Maui views, but no part of the home at its rear. Tempered glass panels on the windward side keep your dinner on the table!

Outdoor dining area protected by glass

Of course, these are only four examples. If you are looking for a home on acreage in North Kohala — from the lower gated communities all the way around the corner to Hawi, Kapaau, and beyond — I would be happy to discuss the wind-friendly options.

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Janet Howard

January 27, 2021

Good advice

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