Swiss Alps or Mauna Kea
Our Big Island (Hawaii) broker-in-charge, Katie Minkus, lives in Puako, and when she went on vacation in September, she wrote a blog post about the question we get: where do you vacation when your home is in Paradise?
My home is in North Kohala, and the day I left on holiday in October, colleague Lucy Clark wrote about its charm. My husband is Swiss, and we took three weeks–in what turned out NOT to be the slow season for Big Island real estate–to visit his family in Switzerland. Going to visit family and friends often determines where we vacation, regardless of whether we live in Hawaii or Minnesota!
Another question I often get from prospective buyers of Big Island real estate is why I chose to live in the North Kohala district (what visitors usually refer to as Hawi and locals call simply “Kohala”). I think one of the reasons people travel away from a place they love is to get perspective, and coming home to the Big Island gave me a chance to reflect.
Some of the things we love about Switzerland are its rural character, the availability of delicious locally grown food, the beauty of its landscape, the diversity of its people (did you know the Swiss have FOUR official languages?), the open spaces to enjoy Nature, and the sense of community participation and self-sufficiency.
Lighthouse Liquors opens in Hawi
Replace “Switzerland” with “North Kohala” in the last sentence, and you have a pretty good idea of why we chose our home in Kohala. Just as on vacation we loved to see the snow-capped Alps, we returned to see the first traces of snow on Mauna Kea–but with temperatures hovering around 80 degrees. We arrived too late to buy groceries in Kona, so we picked up local eggs, milk, beef and greens at Takata Store in Kapaau…and our neighbor came by with oranges off his trees. My horses seemed to have survived my absence quite happily grazing in on their ocean view acreage. And on Saturday morning, eager to reconnect with our community, we headed for beautiful downtown Hawi.
At the Farmer’s Market under the Banyan Tree, there were fall specialties available: breadfruit and breadfruit chips, for example. It was hard to focus on our purchases, as people kept calling our names, eager to hear about our trip and welcome us home with invitations, news, and tips on possible new listings. We didn’t linger too long at the market because the highlight of the day was the grand opening of Lighthouse Liquors, bringing a fine selection of beer, wine and spirits to the neighborhood. North Kohala attracts people with a lot of entrepreneurial spirit and talent. Despite the supposedly wretched economy, each piece of vacant commercial real estate on the streets of Hawi and Kapaau seems to quickly get filled.
Some wonderful new properties came on the market in North Kohala, at prices from $300,000 to $3 million. If a lifestyle that is rural but sophisticated appeals to you, check out my gallery of favorite properties.
A hui hou,
Beth Thoma Robinson, R(S)