How is luxury is defined in Hawaii and should you buy or build?
“Describing a luxury home in Hawaii would be painting a masterpiece that seamlessly marries the island's breathtaking natural beauty with exquisite design, unparalleled comfort and a profound sense of place,” states Stacey Agmata, founder of the luxury concierge company, Seva Hawaii, whose services include managing estate homes.
“In the most coveted neighborhoods and developments, luxury homes stand as architectural marvels that pay homage to their surroundings. With expansive oceanfront and mountain views, residents bask in Hawaii's idyllic vistas from the comfort of their own private hale (house),” Agamata continues.
Hawaii luxury homes can be found throughout the Hawaiian Islands, and some homes encompass thousands of acres in exclusive and remote areas. Many neighborhoods on Oahu, Maui, Hawaii Island (the “Big Island”) and Kauai also cater to luxury lifestyles – with extraordinary architecture, upscale amenities and easy access to desired accommodates while also ensuring space to enjoy peaceful paradise.
Oahu is the most populous island and also has the most Hawaii luxury home sales when compared to the other inhabited islands. Oahu luxury homes are found in the hillsides and at the oceanfront. A variety of architectural styles and amenities are included in Oahu luxury home. And, compared to the Neighbor Islands, each home will have convenient access to Hawaii’s best medical facilities and shopping and entertainment centers.
The Hawaii Kai oceanfront neighborhood of Portlock has some of the most sought-after luxury Honolulu real estate. Nearly every Portlock home offers an incredible sunset view across Maunalua Bay – with dramatic views of Koko Head and the iconic Diamond Head in the distance. The adjacent neighborhoods of Koko Kai and Triangle offer more Hawaii luxury home options, with all three neighborhoods enjoying wide, rolling streets in the quiet community.
From stunning luxury estates with direct ocean access to fixer-upper investment properties, Portlock homes all have larger lots (from 11,000 square feet to 1 acre). Most of the original Portlock homes were built in the 1950s. The 5.5-acre Kaiser Estate is one of Portluck’s premier properties, which was owned by Hawaii Kai’s developer Henry Kaiser. Kaiser’s home entertained many celebrities and was designed to please Mrs. Kaiser – with a pink mansion, pink poodles and pink roses.
While the Kaisers no longer reside in Portlock, the high-profile neighborhood is home now home to other high-profile homeowners. Portlock residents enjoy a park, picnic places (China Walls) and all the nearby Hawaii Kai conveniences, including marina-front restaurants, shopping centers and almost any watersport option imaginable.
A premier gated community nestled in the hillside between the towns of Hawaii Kai and Kahala, Hawaii Loa Ridge offers stunning 180-degree ocean views from Diamond Head in the west to Koko Head in the east. This exclusive gated community only has 500 single-family homes with architectural styles and designs that maximize the views; think multiple lanais, large windows and infinity pools.
First developed in the 1980s, Hawaii Loa Ridge offers larger lot sizes (8,000 to 30,000 square feet) and comfortably-sized homes (3,500 to 5,000 square feet). Every home is custom designed. And, within Hawaii Loa Ridge, there is another exclusive enclave community called The Pointe, with around 40 homes protected by their own security guard.
Living in Hawaii Loa Ridge includes 24/7 security by a security guard at the gate, tennis courts, a park, picnic tables, a private clubhouse and a hiking trail. Residents of The Pointe enjoy their own clubhouse and tennis courts.
The well-known luxury neighborhood of Kahala offers the best of Hawaii luxury homes. Situated between the beach and the Waialae Golf Course – as well as the outstanding waves of Diamond Head – Kahala offers easy access to all of Honolulu’s amenities and the Kahala Mall and the Kahala Hotel and Resort.
About 40 Kahala homes sit on the white sandy beach, and about 110 luxury Oahu homes sit on the hillside inside the gated community of Kahala Kua. Kahala homes have large lots (10,000 square feet to 1 acre). And, strict zoning laws and a neighborhood association help to protect the spacious feel of the neighborhood and low building density.
Architectural styles of Kahala homes vary. Some Kahala homes are modern, with award-winning architecture while others are older – often attracting investors or ambitious home buyers. Within the gated community of Kahala Kua, homes must abide by design guidelines to ensure a modern, clean look as well as a protected ocean view.
One of Honolulu’s original luxury hillside neighborhoods, Waialae Iki overlooks the prestigious Waialae Golf Course and the incredible Pacific Ocean in the distance. The views and serenity often draw Hawaii luxury homebuyers to Waialae Iki.
Waialae Iki development began in the 1960s, with multiple construction phases over the past decades. Now around 600 custom-built homes comprise the neighborhood on lots ranging from 7,500 to 15,000 square feet. Parks and open spaces along with association rules restricting tree overgrowth and home heights ensure Waialae Iki homeowners continue to enjoy the stunning views and upscale appearance that the neighborhood is known for.
Waialae Iki’s main road of Laukahi Street leads to the exclusive enclave community of Waialae Iki V, which has its own 24/7 manned security gate, tennis courts and private club. The dozen Waialae Iki V homes sit on one-acre estate lots.
Between Waikiki and Kahala lies the luxury Oahu neighborhood where Hawaii’s royalty once spent their leisure days. On the slopes of iconic Diamond Head crater, Diamond Head offers an abundance of options for the Hawaii luxury real estate buyer – with around 60 beachfront homes and grand hillside estates sitting on more than one-acre lots.
Diamond Head homes were built as early as the 1920s, with some homes being newly built with the most modern amenities. Diamond Head is considered a Special District, ensuring height limits and design standards have lasting appeal for all of the community’s residents. Within the Diamond Head community, the gated Black Point community appeals to ultra luxury homeowners – offering additional privacy, dramatic ocean views and a private salt water pool built into the slopes.
Accessible to the ocean, hikes and pristine parks as well as Honolulu’s best restaurants, shopping and medical facilities, Diamond Head is definitely a desirable place to purchase a luxury Hawaii home. However, despite the short distance to Hawaii’s most urban center, Diamond Head is a peaceful community – with often only the sounds of the breaking waves to be heard.
Kailua’s beachfront neighborhood of Lanikai is considered one of the most luxurious neighborhoods on Oahu – attracting many celebrities for vacations and high-end homeowners. Lanikai means ‘sea heaven’ in Hawaiian, and Lanikai residents enjoy its world-renowned soft white sand and small neighborhood feel with only one road past Kailua Beach Park bringing residents to the enclave.
500 single-family luxury Hawaii homes comprise the Lanikai neighborhood, with around 100 of those homes fronting the peaceful Kailua oceanside. Lots average 10,000 square feet with some homes sitting on more than two acres of land. And, all Lanikai homes are custom built, with some being new and modern and others reminiscent of Lanikai’s early origins in the 1920s.
Homes in Lanikai have a view like no other place on Earth. Soft white sand leads to calm turquoise waters and views of the iconic twin Mokulua Islands (“the Mokes”). The Mid-Pacific Country Club, where Barak Obama likes to golf, is also a feature of the quaint beachside community. A luxury Lanikai home provides both beauty and tranquility as well as endless ocean and beach activities.
Home to some of the world’s most famous waves – Pipeline, Sunset and Haleiwa – Oahu’s North Shore offers a peaceful country lifestyle. North Shore Oahu real estate offers some opulent mansions along with smaller multi-generational homes. From the town of Mokuleia that has estates with large plots of land to the town of Laie with oceanfront retreats, unique Hawaii luxury homes in Oahu’s slower, more secluded countryside offer a variety of options.
The most exclusive neighborhoods on Oahu’s North Shore include Kuilima and Pupukea. These communities offer both beachside estates – with easy access to the world-renowned surf breaks – as well as hilltop luxury homes – maximizing expansive views of the breathtaking Pacific waters below. Unique architectural styles that maximize the mesmerizing views and lush landscapes are staple features in most North Shore homes.
And, with the town of Haleiwa nearby and the world-class resort of Turtle Bay in the neighborhood, North Shore residents enjoy frequent festivals, farmers markets, an array of eateries and top golf courses.
Maui’s lush landscapes – from the sparkling sea to Haleakala Crater more than 10,000 feet above sea level – has attracted Hawaii luxury real estate buyers from around the world for decades. In the past, Maui luxury home sales have occurred throughout the island, including in the towns of Lahaina, Kaanapali, Kapalua and Kula; however, recent fires on Maui destroyed hundreds of homes, historical sites and businesses in these neighborhoods, creating uncertainty in the luxury real estate market.
Despite the recent Maui fires, in the past few years, the town of Wailea in South Maui has had the most Maui luxury home sales – mostly because of its new developments. And, the recent Maui fires did not affect the planned resort community of Wailea. Situated between the towns of Kihei and Makena, Wailea offers five white sand beaches and an abundance of sunshine – attracting affluent homeowners from around the world.
Beachfront mansions, gated communities, state-of-the-art low-rise condos, world-class golf courses, walking trails, carefully curated lush landscapes: These are a few of the features that Wailea luxury real estate homeowners enjoy. And, nearby fine dining, high-end boutiques and night life in Kihei along with an abundance of ocean activities – make Wailea a desirable destination to own a Hawaii luxury home.
When asked about the most luxurious Hawaii home that she has witnessed, Seva Hawaii concierge service founder Stacey Agmata says it was on Hawaii Island’s Kona coast, in the exclusive enclave community of Kukio.
Agamata reminisces, “Kukio is an architectural marvel that harmoniously incorporates the rugged beauty of the surrounding lava rock terrain into its design. Built on the historic foundation of ancient Hawaiian fishing grounds, the energy and beauty of it all overwhelms me each time I get a chance to visit.”
“Homes here are crafted to complement the natural landscape of lava rock. Many structures feature lava rock walls and accents like flowing waterfalls, seamlessly merging the traditional aesthetics of Hawaii with contemporary design elements. Architecturally, these homes often incorporate native materials such as Koa wood and lava rock,” she continues.
“Smart home technology is seamlessly integrated to provide effortless control of lighting, climate, and entertainment systems. Some of these residences offer lavish amenities such as private theaters, wine cellars, and spa-like bathrooms; you can’t help but feel steeped in a luxurious dream.”
Luxury Hawaii home sales on the Big Island are predominately found in Kailua-Kona. On the western slopes of Hualalai volcano, Kailua-Kona real estate ranges in size and price. However, the luxury Hawaii Island homes offer expansive views from the mountains to the sea with convenient amenities and privacy features. Luxury Kailua-Kona properties are large and modern – with the vast majority of them built within the last decade.
The community boasts world-famous golf courses, gorgeous beaches and mesmerizing snorkeling spots – as well as world-famous Kona coffee plantations. And, living in Kailua-Kona is quiet, exclusive and almost always filled with their signature sunshine.
On the western side of Hawaii Island, the South Kohala District boasts planned luxury communities and resorts – often overlooking beautiful beaches from cliffside perks. This area is stepped in ranching history, with Parker Ranch and King Kamehameha the Great’s cattle playing pivotal roles. Now a number of communities grace the pastures and peaks, including Waikoloa Village, Mauna Kea, Waikoloa Beach and Mauna Lani.
South Kohala and Waimea have a number of nearby resorts, restaurants, shops, golf courses, spas and other entertainment options – as well as historical Hawaiian archaeological sites – available to explore. And, unbelievable multi-million-dollar properties with expansive land and finishes add to the allure of South Kohala’s real estate market.
Attracting well-known celebrities and billionaires like Mark Zukerberg, Kauai has always been an exclusive destination for the rich and famous. Hawaii’s flora and fauna as well as finite real estate market are showcased on the Hawaii island of Kauai. And, the communities of Koloa, Kilauea and Princeville often attract the most astute luxury Hawaii home shoppers.
Located on Kauai’s south shore, Koloa real estate offers the perfect location to live a luxurious life. White sandy beaches, five-star resorts, golfing, beautiful boutiques: Koloa is the main Kauai community catering to luxury real estate.
Luxury beachfront and inland estates are newly built – many with large lots, expansive ocean views and custom features. Koloa luxury low-rise condos, including in the town of Poipu, are also an option, and many of the single-family homes are also located in planned resort communities – offering additional security and amenities.
Home to the breathtaking Napali Coast and the town of Hanalei, Kauai’s North Shore is filled with lush greenery, sandy beaches, ocean activities, art galleries, boutiques and history. Kauai luxury real estate sales are often made in the North Shore towns of Kilauea and Princeville.
Modern Hawaii mansions surrounded by Kauai’s lush greenery can be expected when living in a home on Kauai’s North Shore. And, privacy is also valued in this area of the island, with many estates having large lots and famous neighbors.
Whether on Oahu, Maui, Hawaii Island or Kauai, luxury Hawaii homes are the epitome of opulence and elegance. Basking in magnificent views, breathing the fresh ocean-kissed air, enjoying serenity as well as modern amenities: A high-end Hawaii home can suit even the most luxurious lifestyle.
“This is where contemporary sophistication converges with authentic island spirit, resulting in a lifestyle that is nothing short of extraordinary,” Agamata concludes.
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