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Ka Makani O Kohala (The Winds of Kohala)

“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,” as Bob Dylan said. Oddly enough, for a solid 10 days prior to this year’s Kona Ironman World Championships, I actually had buyers asking me “Which way does the wind blow?” as our famous Big Island tradewinds were absent. Completely still.

Kohala’s wind-sculpted trees answer the question of “which way” it blows, even on a calm day

Why We Like the Winds of Kohala

The triathletes declared Saturday’s race a particularly tough one, and the wind they experienced on the bicycle portion from Kailua Kona to the turnaround in Hawi was one of the big factors. We’ve actually sold a lovely ocean view acreage below Hawi to a triathlete who specifically was looking for a windy location, but more commonly we are asked whether the wind bothers us in Kohala, and how we live with it.

Wind can be a pain if you are on the golf courses at Mauna Kea or Mauna Lani Resorts. It can be annoying if your horses are Arabians or Fresians with flowing manes in need of daily de-tangling. If you build a pod-style home without considering the direction of the prevailing winds, you might find yourself constantly sweeping debris from between your living areas and sleeping areas.

But my stock answer to the question of whether the wind bothers us in North Kohala or the Kohala Coast is, “I am almost always asked that question by prospective real estate buyers. But local residents tend only to talk about the wind when it is absent! Then we start complaining about how muggy and voggy it is.”

After a week without the trades, we can no longer see Maui across the channel or the sun drop into the Pacific at sunset…because of the layer of vog (volcanic smog) across the horizon. The air feels heavy; people feel cranky. That’s why we turn sentimental when we hear the mele (songs) written about the winds of Kohala. The most famous of these is a love song whose title refers to the good winds of Kohala.

Minimizing the Impact of Kohala’s Wind on your Lifestyle

Here are ways in which you can obtain the benefits of Kohala’s wind (cleaner air, less mildew, clear views) while minimizing the negatives (champagne glasses tumbling off the dining table on your lanai).

1. Build your house with the side or back to the prevailing wind.

Your swimming pool and the lanai accessed by pocket doors should be sheltered by the bulk of your home…or better still, a courtyard. For example, here is a home for sale at Puakea Bay Ranch near Hawi (MLS# 251087, $1,599,000), an area known for steady to fierce winds.

Look at the angle of the palm trees in the photo above…and note how the garage protects the entrance.

Now from the other side, note how the home is oriented to shelter the pool and lanai. Buyers of lots building at Puakea Bay Ranch and Ranch at Puakea have their job made easier, as their sunset ocean views are on the leeward side of their residence.

2. Plant windbreaks.

Houses and vacant land for sale from Hawi to Niulii have their ocean views to the North, which means a combination of smart design and siting with smart landscaping provides the best wind solution. Here’s an example from an iconic property that will undoubtedly catch your eye if you drive to the end of the road at Pololu Valley (MLS# 254132, $3,800,000).

Living areas feature floor to ceiling glass to bring in the wide ocean views to north and east, while blocking out the wind.

On the entry side of the home is a swimming pool, with bamboo screening on the windward side.

3. Window details make the difference in providing air flow without discomfort.

If you look at the older plantation homes, you’ll find ample use of louvered (jalousie) and casement windows, a solution incorporated into newer homes as well. The glass in these windows can be angled to provide ventilation without direct wind.

Here is an example from my listing at Puakea Bay Ranch (MLS# 253892, $1,750,000).

Note the windows in the master bathroom, which face the prevailing wind, can be cranked upon to get fresh air without dust or howling wind. (I understand that technically a window hinged from below is called a hopper not casement and one hinged from the top an awning window).

Another clever solution I saw for the first time in a Hawi home on 5 acres I have listed (MLS# 256840, $887,000). This home overlooks its macadamia nut orchard, which has ample established windbreak landscaping on the windward side. Here is a photo of the dining room:

Look carefully below the windows. The windows are in a bay, with louvers along the lower edge. These louvers are kept open in even wild weather, as neither wind nor rain disturbs the home’s occupants while fresh air circulates.

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Chris Gamby

October 17, 2012

Awesome post Beth. We recently designed and built a house, and planning for wind and weather was crucial in all of our decisions. We are on the east side of Kauai, so we definitely know about the trades. I think it is super important for buyers to understand this information. You can find the home of your dreams, but without proper consideration for all of the external factors (wind, rain, sun, views, etc.), it can end up being a living nightmare.

Chris Gamby

October 17, 2012

Awesome post Beth. We recently designed and built a house, and planning for wind and weather was crucial in all of our decisions. We are on the east side of Kauai, so we definitely know about the trades. I think it is super important for buyers to understand this information. You can find the home of your dreams, but without proper consideration for all of the external factors (wind, rain, sun, views, etc.), it can end up being a living nightmare.

Beth Thoma Robinson, R(B)

October 17, 2012

Hey Chris, thanks for sharing your experience. Maybe a Kona resident would like to comment about building for mauka-makai breezes?

Beth Thoma Robinson, R(B)

October 17, 2012

Hey Chris, thanks for sharing your experience. Maybe a Kona resident would like to comment about building for mauka-makai breezes?

Pam Deery

October 25, 2012

Great info Beth. One of the first things we learn living on the island is orientation to the wind and sun. Once again you’ve given invaluable information to assist in strategic shopping!

Pam Deery

October 25, 2012

Great info Beth. One of the first things we learn living on the island is orientation to the wind and sun. Once again you’ve given invaluable information to assist in strategic shopping!

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