Finding Your Hawai’i Island Home | Part 1

Hawaii Island – aka the Big Island – is big in size and big on diversity. The key to finding your perfect place to call home is exploration – coastal enclaves, charming upcountry hamlets, resort residential communities as well as more traditional suburban residential neighborhoods. With all but two of the world’s microclimates, environments including dramatic lavascapes to tropical rain forests and elevations ranging from sea level to more than 13,000 feet, you will truly find it all here.

The decision to make Hawaii Island home is also a big leap for current mainland and international residents. The indisputable initial draw is the natural beauty found here – spectacular coastlines and beaches, deep, verdant valleys and waterfalls, and majestic mountains among them. 

What better way to discover everything this unique island has to offer – and perhaps discover the precise area you’d like to make home – than exploring the incredible sights from north to south and east to west?

I’m more than happy to share my must-see destination in each of these regions together with brief descriptions of the surrounding residential communities. What follows below is part one in a four part series that will do just that. Beginning with North and South Kohala.

North and South Kohala

green mountains and ocean in hawaii

Polulu Valley Hike

The trailhead is located at the very northern end of the island just past the historic towns of Hawi and Kohala at the end of Highway 270. The Polulu Valley Overlook provides stunning views, but if the conditions are right, take the Awini Trail, a short but steep descent into the lush deep valley below. It carves its way along the northern side of Kohala Mountain – the oldest part of Hawaii Island – offering up stunning coastal views. It leads to a wild, scenic beach; however, swimming is not recommended due to heavy surf, strong currents and riptides. Relax and enjoy the beauty of the place before heading back up. Be sure to pack a camera, water and sturdy walking shoes for this adventure.

Residential properties are scattered throughout this rural area which was once home to large sugar cane plantations. Ranching and farming are big here so many homes come with a substantial amount of land. Opportunities are plentiful for gentleman farmers and equestrian lovers. The town of Hawi attracts an eclectic mix of artists, musicians, gallery owners and those seeking a laid back lifestyle. Further south along the North Kohala Coast, you’ll find a number of gated hillside and ocean side luxury residential communities. 

white sand beach in hawaii

Spencer Beach Park to Waiulaula Beach

This short Kohala coast hike (1.8 miles roundtrip) leads you to two remote sandy beaches with the trail beginning at Spencer Beach Park. Spencer itself boasts a sheltered, gently sloping, broad white sand beach – perfect for a cooling swim on your return. The hike travels along the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail to Mau’umae Beach, a pristine sandy jewel, and ends at scenic Waiulaula Beach. The Waiulaula Stream empties into the ocean here so it’s not a great place to swim. Runoff from the stream often leads to murky conditions – just relax while enjoying the seaside and lavascape views. Find the trailhead at Spencer Beach Park just south of Kawaihae on Highway 270 (just north of the intersection of Highways 19 and 270).

hike in waimea big island

Returning to that same intersection after the hike, turn left on Kawaihae Road, making your way from sea level to 3,000 feet and the charming upcountry town of Waimea. This is paniolo (cowboy) country punctuated by rolling hills, expansive green pastures and wide open spaces. Ranching and farming dominate the scene here, while performing arts, fine dining, art galleries and boutiques are also a big part of the mix. Saturday farmers’ markets draw visitors and residents alike from all parts of the island. Families are drawn to this area by two of the best schools on the island – Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA) and Parker School. Residential properties range from ranches and farms to gracious estates (such as those found in the Nob Hill and Anekona neighborhoods) and renovated plantation homes. Or opt to purchase vacant land here and build your dream home in paradise.  

petroglyphs on big island hawaii

Petroglyph Fields

Petroglyphs date back thousands of years to ancient Hawaiian times, offering insight into the history of the islands. Known as K‘i‘pohaku in the native language, the word petroglyph comes from the Greek words petros for rock and glyphein for carving rock art or images in stone. The preserves described below offer easy access and some of the best preserved petroglyphs on Hawaii Island. The carvings are most easily viewed when the sun is low – early morning or dusk. Hiking through the arid lava fields also is much cooler at those times. 

Puako Petroglyph Preserve

More than 1200 petroglyphs populate this preserve and images include paddlers, sails, marchers, dancers, and dog, chicken, turtle and deity symbols. The 1 1/2 mile Malama Trail begins just north of Mauna Lani Resort. Enter the resort from Highway 19 and follow North Kaniku Drive to the parking lot, the trailhead is marked by a sign.

petroglyph trail in north kohala big island

Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve

The Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve is found along the historic King’s Trail within Waikoloa Beach Resort. Just ½ mile roundtrip, the trail is more of a walk than a hike. The extensive field of rock art is situated between one of the resort’s golf courses and hotels with the trail head found at the eastern end of the Kings’ Shops parking lot. One of the most unique petroglyphs here is a post-western-contact warrior on horseback. Several lava tube cave shelters and some additional archaeological ruins also are found here.

Several real estate opportunities are available in this area: coastline homes in the cherished Puako community – a few humble kama’aina beach cottages remain as well as vacant land, but the majority of properties feature large, two-story luxury homes; condos, single family homes and home sites are found within both resorts, as well as in nearby Waikoloa Village. 

More Information

For information on these attractions or about Hawaii Island real estate opportunities, please contact Ben Slough (S), Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers, (808) 854-3375 or 

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June 29, 2022

Thanks for sharing this info… I look forward to reading the next blog in your series!


July 2, 2022

Excellent blog! Mahalo

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