View from our listing in Kapoho. MLS # 611867 Asking $1,590,000
My Childhood in Puna
I spent part of my childhood in Puna. I enjoyed playing in the bushes; building forts and bridges across puddles in my yard; I had 3 dogs and some cats. I’m certain my friends and I had THE BEST hide-n-go-seek games on the planet. And, I often explored our 3-acre lot, imagining I was a character in “The Never Ending Story.” No one ever worried about me. It was a child’s dream.
I never realized how “mysterious” Puna was until I got into real estate — I always liked living there and a lot of my friends lived, and still live, there. But, there are all sorts of funny ideas about the place; I’ve even heard the term “Punatic” thrown around- referring to the people that live in Puna. Even funnier is, when you ask people why they think the way they do, they’ll often tell you they’ve never been to the area.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Puna is a perfect oasis. Like anywhere else, it has its negative points. But it’s also got so many incredible gems to discover.
Not much has changed in Puna since the ’90s
Maybe there are more houses these days. There’s also a McDonald’s, a Coffee Bean, and more grocery shopping opportunities in Pahoa.
For those who love to “support local,” there are two amazing farmers markets in the area: Makuu Market, on Sunday mornings and Uncle Roberts Farmers Market and Kava Bar, popular on Wednesday evenings. The last time I went to Uncle Roberts, I stuffed my face with all sorts of local favorites, drank kombucha and kava, and my niece got painted with Henna. Uncle Robert’s is a good time. My favorite new additions to the market are the Left Point Pizza (coal-fired pizza) and Kula Shave Ice (organic shave ice flavors) food trucks.
If you like to surf, you’ll be a happy clam. There are a few good surfing beaches to check out in Pohoiki. Or, if you’re not into surfing, you can lounge in one of the area’s “hot ponds” — natural springs warmed from the earth’s magma. One of the most popular of these is Ahalanui Hot Pond. Pohoiki is also home to the only boat ramp in Puna, so boaters, you’re welcome here too. Snorkeling Anyone? Check out Kapoho’s tide pools.
The little town of Pahoa (about 4o mins. outside of Hilo), features some eclectic people, but also some of my favorite restaurants on the entire island: From Thai food at Ning’s Thai Cuisine to Italian at Paulo’s Bistro (my 12-year-old nephew loves the lamb chops!), to Hawaiian-Asian fusion at Kaleo’s (the blackened Mahi wrap = so ono!), to Mexican at Luquin’s Mexican food truck.
Besides all the eating, the Puna district of the Big Island offers tons of gorgeous ocean views! Where else in the world can you buy nearly .5 acres of oceanfront land for under $300k; or, a turn-key oceanfront single-family home for under $1 million. Oh, and did I mention whale watching in the winter? It’s spectacular.
Prices for single-family homes in the Puna range from under $100k to just under $6 million (and, we’re talking about 16 acres of oceanfront gorgeousness), depending on the neighborhood and location.
Okay, since I promised some negatives, here goes:
Negative #1: The irony is, many people have never been to Puna, but A LOT of people live there; which means traffic can get heavy during typical rush- hour times. This doesn’t seem to bother people moving from the mainland or Oahu (as much) since they’re used to much heavier traffic; but, for local people, the traffic feels horrendous.
Negative #2: (Negative only depending on how you look at it.) Many of the neighborhoods don’t have CC&Rs; ie, restrictions on what you can, and can’t do, on your land. This is good for those who might want to raise farm animals, or live in an unconventional style home; but, chickens and goats make noise, and some people find these noises disturbing.
Negative #3: Some of the roads in Puna are not paved. If you see an exceptionally amazing deal, you might want to ask your realtor about the roads- the price could be an indication it’s on a bad one. Some areas can get pretty rough, especially during heavy rain. That said, many of the subdivisions are paving their roads, slowly but surely, so they won’t be that way forever.
Map of lava zones: Zones are ranked from 1-9; with 1 being the most at- risk for lava flows.
Negative #4: While not all of Puna is located in Lava zones 1 and 2, a good bit of it is. Zones 1 and 2 are situated in the rift zones of Kilauea and Mauna Loa, or adjacent to these rift zones. This makes it slightly harder to finance properties in the area (you probably need a larger down payment and FHA is a no-go here). It also means higher insurance rates. But, most experts will tell you Hawaii lava moves slow and is not life-threatening in Puna. I’m not saying you can get near it, so please don’t try to touch, or jump, in it! In that case, it will kill you! But, assuming you live on earth, you’re at risk of some sort of natural catastrophe no matter where you are. Hawaii lava is at the bottom of my “worry list” when it comes to “mother nature’s wrath.”
Personally, I think the “Puna-pros” far outweigh the “Puna-cons.” Seems like the “Punaticks” might be on to something, doesn’t it? If you’re curious to know if one of Puna’s neighborhoods might be a fit for you, feel free to call or email me for a free consultation. I’ll give you the rundown on neighborhood pros, cons, average lot sizes, CC&Rs, road conditions, etc.
But for now, mahalo for reading and a hui hou! Until we meet again!