Hawaii’s Ranch Lifestyle
With uninterrupted vistas of rangeland stretching from coast to coast, webbed by rural highways and dirt roads that disappear into the landscape or at the edge of rugged shoreline cliffs, rising from the dry lowlands of the western sector to the verdant peaks of the Kohala Mountains in the East, North Kohala satisfi es a passion for open space like no other region in Hawaii.
Numerous ancient Hawaiian temples and house sites testify to Kohala’s past as a well-populated area settled by voyagers from the South Pacifi c as early as the 5th century and favored by royalty, including Kamehameha the Great, who was born here. The Puakea area was held as crown lands by Kamehameha’s granddaughter, Kekauonohi until 1870 when it was acquired by Dr. James Wight, an entrepreneur who established a cattle ranch and a sugar plantation operated until 1930.
Portions of the Wight Estate were later leased and eventually purchased by Parker Ranch, which had begun acquiring large tracts of ranch and agricultural land in North Kohala. Over the years, Parker Ranch sold much of its North Kohala landholdings to developers who have continued to subdivide and develop small ranch estates.
One such subdivision is Puakea Bay Ranch, a 400-acre rural gated community developed in 1984 by well-known Hawaii businessman and patron of the arts George Isaacs. Located three miles south of the historic town of Hawi and 17 miles north of Kawaihae Harbor, the development is now about half built out. The owners’ association maintains a gatehouse at the entrance to the property and an oceanfront park for the use of residents. A riding and walking trail follows the entire perimeter of the community. Cattle and horses graze on vacant parcels.
Hawaii Life Real Estate Realtor and Broker-in-Charge Beth Thoma Robinson, a specialist in Big Island ranch properties, has listed a 40-acre equestrian estate at Puakea Bay Ranch at $3,495,000. She notes that it is no longer possible to put together a parcel of this size within the community, as the original owner bought four contiguous lots and, aside from the oceanfront estate, there are no two adjoining lots remaining in single ownership.
Originally designed for a horse-breeding operation, the property includes a 3,602 square foot main house, a 1,830 square foot guest house, over 5,000 square feet of covered lanai, a swimming pool and pool house, and two two-car garages, all located on the upper portion of the four lots. Ranch facilities include the three-barn complex with seven stalls, an office with bath, six fenced paddocks served by five automatic waterers, equipment storage, an arena, and roundpen.
“The main house – which is modeled on the fl oor plan of the Villas at Mauna Kea -has three bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths, a great room with wet bar, and a formal dining room. All major living areas open to the lanai,” Robinson said. “The two-bedroom, two-bath guest house is connected by a covered walkway with tropical landscaping and a lava rock water feature. The residence is designed for indoor-outdoor living and sited for sweeping views of the ocean, the coastline, Maui, and sunsets. The equestrian facilities are near the community’s riding trails and enjoy compelling views of the lush Kohala Mountains.
“Recent upgrades include reconstruction of the bar on the lanai of the main house with custom mango cabinets and Cartier green granite countertops…a great venue for outdoor dining and entertaining. The pool house and bath have also been renovated and solar pool heating added.
“This is one of the few true equestrian estates on the Big Island…a unique setting that supports the best of resort and rural lifestyles. The towns of Hawi and Kapaau are a fi ve minute drive to the north while the upscale resorts, golf courses, and beaches of Mauna Kea and Mauna Lani are about 20 minutes to the south on the scenic coastal highway.
“Most of the necessities of life, such as grocery and hardware stores, as well as restaurants, boutiques, galleries, and a farmer’s market, can be found in the charming small towns of North Kohala. Although this home offers the sense of serenity and solitude of an isolated retreat, it is very accessible. It takes about 50 minutes to drive to the Kona International Airport with frequent daily flights to Honolulu and direct fl ights to many Mainland cities. The nearby Upolu Airport has limited facilities but suffi cient runway to accommodate small aircraft, a great convenience for residents with private planes.”
Robinson is showing the property by appointment.