In my last blog post about the new retreat land listings available in the historic Halawa area of North Kohala, I mentioned a buyer could add the oceanfront parcel if purchasing the parcels above it. There is another way to think of this opportunity: buy an oceanfront parcel, with one or two of the agricultural-zoned parcels adjoining it.
This 50-acre stretch of historic oceanfront is on the market for $3.5 million (MLS# 273948)
How Shoreline Public Access Rights Affect Oceanfront Owners in Kohala
If you have stayed at any of the resorts from Hualalai and Kukio north to Mauna Kea Beach, you are familiar with the rights of the public to use beaches in Hawai’i. While there are no big white sand beaches on the north facing shores of Kohala, there are two court decisions dated 1982 and 2002 that require deeded pedestrian public access along the shoreline and specify mauka-makai access routes the public can use to reach the lateral shoreline trail. These public access easements will appear in your title report when you purchase an oceanfront property.
County, state, and federal employees walk shoreline easement with landowner representatives
In addition, your title report will have an exception for “Claims arising out of customary and traditional rights and practices, including without limitation those exercised for subsistence, cultural, religious, access or gathering purposes, as provided for in the Hawaii Constitution or the Hawaii Revised Statutes.” Cultural practitioners have the right to continue to gather food or materials along the shoreline and to access significant historic sites.
The benefit to the oceanfront owner from all this is that from your own oceanfront property, you can continue walking for miles along the shoreline!
How Oceanfront Public Purchases Affect the Market and this Listing
There is a second important bit of context to considering an oceanfront real estate purchase on the Big Island, especially in North Kohala. That would be the number of oceanfront parcels that in recent years have been acquired for preservation with County, State, or a combination of funding with the help of organizations such as Trust for Public Lands and Hawaiian Islands Land Trust.
What that means for a private buyer looking for an oceanfront home or retreat is that large portions of the oceanfront have been removed from the market – in perpetuity.
In the case of the 50-acre parcel (MLS# 273948), the adjacent Kauhola Point land to the west was already purchased for a local non-profit to steward…and to the east is the Hapu’u to Kapanaia Cultural Corridor that is ranked #3 on the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Commission’s list of purchases to be made with the County’s “2% fund.” In other words, you won’t have immediate oceanfront neighbors building homes in this stretch of Kohala.
Conclusion: The Smart Way to Purchasing Oceanfront Property
In my opinion, given the restrictions and additional costs of building on an oceanfront parcel, the real opportunity here is to buy one or both almost-oceanfront parcels together with the oceanfront. That would give the buyer the ability to build one or a compound of single family homes with fabulous ocean and Maui views, direct oceanfront access, and a whole lot more privacy than someone owning oceanfront only would have given the public shoreline access.
Almost-oceanfront parcels would allow you to tuck your residence into a secluded site
Lots 2 and 3 are currently being grazed by a local rancher, and have deep fertile soil for farming – or use the acreage to create an equestrian facility for your horses.
I have one other important idea about the combined purchase, but for that you’ll need to contact me directly!
A hui hou,
Beth Thoma Robinson, R(B)