Hawaii’s Heavenly Heights
Second in a series
The appeal of Maunalani Heights — one of the first of the East Oahu ridges to be developed with homes and infrastructure — is much more than just the panoramic views of ocean and coastline with Diamond Head just below. The distinctive homes, many designed by prominent architects of the past and present, towering shade trees and lush foliage, as well as the cool micro-climate at the upper elevations, all contribute to the unique ambiance of the neighborhood.
Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties Realtor John Peterson has been a resident of Maunalani Heights for over 15 years and has sold dozens of properties in the area. He notes that convenience to the ever expanding shopping and dining options in Kaimuki plus easy access to Waikiki through Kapahulu and to downtown via the H-1 Freeway, are other features that have become increasingly important to buyers.
“There’s a sense of community in Maunalani that you don’t always find elsewhere,” Peterson said. “People know and greet each other when they’re out walking the dog or gardening. It’s also a great family neighborhood. The Maunalani Community Park has tennis and basketball courts and a recreation center. Hiking trails emanate from Maunalani Circle.
“People tend to become attached to this neighborhood and it’s not uncommon for residents to remain for long periods, or for several generations to grow up in a home and pass it along to family members. I’m aware of numerous instances where residents have sold one home here and then bought another.”
He recently listed a contemporary, view home located on a rim lot at the top of Maunalani Heights for $1,598,000. The current owner has lived in the home for more than 25 years, but is now relocating to be close to family. “The home has unobstructed sunrise views across Waialae Nui valley and ridge and down to the Kahala coastline,” Peterson said. “The floor plan works well for entertaining with a newly remodeled kitchen which opens to a private courtyard, large living room with soaring ceilings, and a huge master suite. There are three additional bedrooms on the lower level. It’s like living in a tree house at the top of the mountain with cool tradewinds and a peaceful serene setting”.
Peterson has also listed two vacant lots nearby that are located in a three-unit gated community. “One parcel is over an acre and probably one of the largest and best sited ridge lots available in urban Honolulu and the other is 10,000 plus square feet. They are priced at $1,995,000 and $845,000, respectively, and offer a great opportunity to build a dream home…a private, personal retreat.”
He noted that several recently built contemporary homes have joined the classic vintage homes, creating a new landscape along the ridge and on the hillsides. The most prominent structure on the hill, Maunalani Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, was the former estate of Ethelwyn Castle, a descendant of the 19th Century missionary couple Samuel Northrup Castle and Mary Tenney Castle. The Castle home was the work of noted architect Claude Albon Stiehl, who designed numerous distinguished Honolulu buildings in the 1930s. Most of Maunalani’s larger properties are located in the area extending from Lurline and Sierra Drive to Maunalani Circle, where the prevailing zoning requires a minimum of 10,000 square feet per single family dwelling. Some of the earliest residential development was undertaken by Matson Navigation Company, hence such street names as Lurline, Matsonia, Sierra, Monterey, Mariposa and Wilhelmina, all of which were ships in the Matson fleet.
“Thanks to the vision of the original developers, who created the winding roads and large contoured lots, the view channels and rural ambiance that distinguish Maunalani have been preserved in perpetuity and continue to make the neighborhood one of the most desirable in East Oahu,” Peterson added.