Ocean Home: Paradise in the Pacific


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The islands of Hawaii continue to grow in appeal to oceanfront home buyers.

Whether it is the mild and breezy year-round climate, lush and beautiful tropical setting, pleasant Polynesian culture or world-class beaches and resorts, the Aloha State has a certain allure that resonates on all senses. More than six million tourists flock annually to the archipelago, which actually comprises 137 islands and 6,423 square miles.

The key attractions with the best opportunities to purchase luxury real estate are of course, Hawaii's four main islands—Hawaii, or the Big Island, as its commonly called, Maui, Oahu and Kauai. The coolest aspect of this Hawaiian foursome, located about 2,400 miles from California, is that each has its own distinctive characteristics.

On Oahu, for instance, there is the beachside metropolis of Honolulu, comprising nearly 75 percent of the state's 1.26 million population and bustling Waikiki Beach. Then, within just a 45-minute drive are the famous big-wave beaches on the North Shore (Sunset, Pipeline and Waimea Bay) and the sobering history found at Pearl Harbor.

For a more relaxed Hawaiian experience, a trip to Kauai is ideal. Known as the Garden Island, Kauai is the greenest of Hawaii's major islands and is home to 3,000-foot-deep Waimea Canyon, also known as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific." Kauai is so stunning that it has served as the backdrop for more than 70 television shows and films, including Jurassic Park.

Another island equally as breathtaking is the Big Island, the site of the planet's most active volcano, Kilauea— which continues to spew lave 25 years after it first erupted—and the world's tallest mountain, Mauna Kea (as measured from the ocean floor). Roughly the size of Connecticut at 4,028 square miles, the big Island also boasts most of the world's climate zones (12 in all) and a low-density population of just 158,400 residents.

Meanwhile, Maui, that state's second-largest island at 727 square miles, features its own magical mix—offering small-town charm, awe-inspiring beauty at towing Mount Haleakala and big-city sophistication courtesy of Wailea's resort row and the additional resort areas of Kapalua and Kaanapali.

If the former Sandwich Isles are starting to whet your appetite for a more permanent piece of paradise, we offer up and island-hopping tour featuring Hawaii's hottest new real estate opportunities.

Despite its size, the Big Island has long played in the shadows of the smaller, neighboring islands of Oahu and Maui. To some respect, the Big Island has been a sleeping giant, but this is no longer the case, as the Big Island has seen a boom in luxury resort developments over the past few years. These developments are especially prominent along the Kona-Kohala coast that stretches about 25 miles from the Kona International Airport north to Mauna Kea Resort. Two of the most exclusive communities are Kuki'o and Four Seasons Resort Hualalai.

Kuki'o, a 1,000-acre exclusive private club community develop by Scottsdale-based Discovery Land Company, was the first equity golf and beach club developed on the Big Island. Members pay a $250,000 fee to join, and enjoy access to a private members' beach clubhouse/dining pavilion and Hawaii's only Tom Fazio-de-signed course—a 10-hole short course near the beach club and the upland 18-hole layout.

More than two-thirds of the 375 custom estate residences and cottages have been sold with lot prices ranging from $1 million to more than $15 million. Two one-acre oceanfront home sites sold for $20 million apiece and computer mogul Michael Dell reportedly acquired three oceanfront lots for $10 million each before building his 330,000-plus-square-foot home.

The adjacent Four Season Resort Hualalai has taken its renowned resort to a whole new level with the opening of its private Hualalai Club. Located within the confines of the 856-acre resort, the private club community features the newly opened Tom Weiskopf-designed Ke'olu golf course, the magnificent Hualalai sports Club & Spa, an open-air Canoe club facility and a 14,000-square-foot clubhouse highlighted by celebrity chef Alan Wong's Hualalai Grille. Memberships costs $200,000.

According to Rob Kildow, Hualalai's director of residential sales, the main appeal of Hualalai's new private lifestyle is the unique blend of the luxury resort environment with the amenities and exclusivity of a top private club.

"The buyers in our market belong to a number of private clubs, so they are used to the private experience," says Kidow. "They want their 7 p.m. sunset seat at the restaurant, and they like the luxury of the energy of the resort. So we can give them both at the highest level imaginable."

Currently, private real estate offerings include condominium villas from $2.5 million, custom home sites from $2 million and estates homes that exceed $20 million. One of the most exquisite Hualalai properties for sale is he $24.9 million oceanfront home in Waiulu Estates. Located on the southeastern point of Hualalai, the 11,288-square-foot home fronts the signature oceanfront par-three 17th hole of the Jack Nicklaus resort course and features seven bedrooms, seven baths, teak doors, trim and cabinets, solid granite counters and French limestone flooring.

Between the contiguous Kukio and Hualalai communities, where limited one-acre oceanfront parcels start at $10 million, a number of business tycoons share this special zip code. These include the like of Dell, Charles Schwab, Cisco CEO John Chambers and George Roberts of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts fame, to name just a few.