Hawaii’s Heavenly Heights
“Land for those who love it” was the theme of the Cooke Land Co. marketing campaign when lots in the 6,000-acre Kawela Plantation ag-residential subdivision were first offered in 1982. Open space and sweeping views of the coast and countryside are still the main attractions of the Molokai development, which includes only 210 two-acre, fee simple lots, with the remaining land dedicated as open space and held in common by owners.
This vast, open countryside with its indigenous vegetation, wildlife, and archeological sites is a rare resource utilized by Kawela Plantation residents for hiking, horseback riding, and four-wheel-drive exploring. At its uppermost boundary, Kawela Plantation borders the Nature Conservancy’s 2,774-acre Kamakou Preserve, home to rare plants and birds found nowhere else on earth.
Located in southeastern Molokai, this unique development spreads across three ridges of the East Molokai Mountains and is accessed by paved roads that wind upward from the coastal highway to an elevation of approximately 500 feet. The subdivision was designed to preserve view channels for all homesites, which overlook the picturesque coastline with its ancient Hawaiian fishponds and wildlife preserve, as well as the islands of Lanai, Maui, and Kahoolawe across the channels.
Realtor Diane Swenson CCIM, Principal Broker of Molokai-based Tropical Island Properties, has represented clients in purchases and sales of numerous Kawela Plantation properties since the project was first launched.
“Kawela Plantation is a unique development…there is nothing quite like it anywhere else in Hawaii and most of the properties there have been excellent buys,” Swenson said. “Approximately 55 percent of the lots have been built out over the years, and about half of the owners are full-time residents. Others who have purchased or built second homes or vacation retreats at Kawela include a mix of Canadians, Alaskans, and people from all over the U. S., primarily the West Coast.
“The property I’m currently offering includes a two-acre lot with a home built in 2004 by the current owner and a vacant two-acre lot just below it priced, respectively, at $519,000 and $175,000. Applicable zoning in the subdivision allows for one primary residence and one caretaker’s home per parcel. The three-bedroom home has 830 square feet of interior living space that opens to an additional 800 square feet of covered, sheltered deck space. The listed price of the residence is inclusive of the furnishings and the owner’s Jeep Wrangler.”
Swenson noted that the home is a pole house structure, a popular style of architecture on the island and particularly suitable for sloping, rugged terrain. Features of the design include wraparound decks, open floor plans, and high ceilings, maximizing views and natural light and ventilation. The rustic, heavy timber structural components and natural wood finishes are compatible with the rural Molokai setting.
“The property is located at the top of the road in Unit II of the development at an elevation of approximately 500 feet, so nothing can be built above or to the west of it,” Swenson said. “The 360-degree view takes in mountains, ocean, coastline, neighbor islands, and both sunrise and sunset.”
Swenson added that a sandy beach and lagoon are a 15 minute drive to the east at Pukoo. Shops and restaurants are 15 minutes in the other direction in the main town of Kaunakakai. The Maui Princess ferry to Lahaina calls several times a week at the Kaunakakai Wharf, where fishing charters are also available. Several airlines provide service to Honolulu and Maui from the main airport located approximately 14 miles west of Kawela.