Finding Hawaii’s Affordable Condos
Buyers in the market for a remote Neighbor Island condo getaway that offers oceanfront living, privacy, and affordable prices will find this and more at East Molokai’s Wavecrest.
The surrounding countryside is pristine and unspoiled with opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, and hunting in season. Local guides familiar with the lore and history of the area are available for personalized treks into forested regions and uninhabited valleys. Fishing and diving expeditions can be arranged through several vendors.
East Molokai has been aptly described as a “step back in time.” It is the least developed sector of the most sparsely developed Neighbor Island, with a population that has remained at approximately 7,000 for the past 50 years.
Visitor industry development got a late start on Molokai and was focused on the western part of the island. The first and only resort, Kaluakoi, a joint venture of Molokai Ranch, Limited and Louisiana Land & Exploration Company, began receiving visitors in the late 1960s when resorts on Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island were already well established destinations.
The Ranch and its partners also created large residential subdivisions on portions of the Ranch’s vast acreage in west and central Molokai, but East Molokai remained virtually untouched, protected by special zoning ordinances that limit the extent and type of growth allowable.
Visitors looking for an “off-the-beaten-track” experience favor Molokai, best known for Kalaupapa, site of Father Damien’s ministry.
Tropical Island Properties owners Diane Swenson CCIM, CRB, CRS, Principal Broker, and Larry Swenson CIPS, a Certified General Appraiser, moved to Hawaii from Southern California in 1982. They traveled around the islands looking for the perfect spot to build their dream home and found it at Pukoo in East Molokai, just “down the road” from Wavecrest.
“We fell in love with the area and were fortunate to find 3.9 acres of raw land fronting a sandy beach. The water is clean and crystal clear and there was a mature palm grove on the property. It was perfect in every way.
“For anyone who wants the quiet country life, it doesn’t get any better than East Molokai. There is virtually no traffic on the two-lane highway that spans the island. There’s enough rain for gardening and to support pastureland, in fact the countryside is lush and green most of the year. Fishing is good, too…both from the shore and in deep water. You can motor out to the reef in a flat bottom boat, and there are several channels that provide ocean access for large boats. Diving, kayaking, paddle boarding, kite and wind surfing are the best.”
Over the years their real estate brokerage has listed and sold hundreds of condos on the island, both in East and West Molokai, where the majority have been developed. Wavecrest has East Molokai to itself.
The five plus acre oceanfront Wavecrest complex built in 1975 consists of three three-story buildings with 126 units, a recently resurfaced swimming pool, pavilion with kitchen facilities, gas barbecues, and picnic tables, a meeting room, two tennis courts, open parking, a laundry, and manicured landscaping consisting of a variety of flowering plants and shrubs. The buildings have been upgraded with new roofing and internet access via cable. As a condominium hotel, rentals are allowed including short term. According to Swenson, approximately 70 percent of the units are used as second homes or vacation homes by their owners, a large percentage of whom are Canadians. The property is managed by the Apartment Owners Association.
Tropical Island Properties Realtor Lisa Willing is currently listing a one bedroom, one bath ground floor unit steps away from the ocean for $164,900 and a one bedroom, one bath second floor unit for $89,500. Both are 720 square feet, including a 116 square foot usable covered lanai overlooking the ocean and the islands of Maui, Lanai, and Kahoolawe across the channel. The ground floor unit is unfurnished with a remodeled kitchen and bath and ceramic tile floors. The second floor unit is being sold fully furnished.
Willing noted that, although Wavecrest is rural and secluded, it is only about 13 miles from the main town of Kaunakakai with its collection of shops, restaurants, and boutiques. A convenience/ grocery story is about a mile and a half from Wavecrest. A bus shuttle that serves both East and West Molokai operates twice a day.
Several airlines offer direct daily flights to Honolulu and Maui from the airport, which is 20 miles from Wavecrest; daily ferry service to Maui is available at the Kaunakakai Pier via the Maui Princess.