What’s the difference between luxury-living off the grid in dry areas of the Big Island vs. wet areas? Good question!
In an earlier blog post about living off-grid on the Big Island of Hawaii, we focused on a property along the dry area North Kohala Coast. To reach the upcountry property pictured here, we travel Kawaihae Road from the Kohala Coast, through the cowboy town of Waimea and then a few miles down the Mamalohoa Highway on the Hilo side of town – to the wet, or “green” side of the Kohala Mountain.
A short two mile drive down the paved eucalyptus-lined Mud Lane, which runs behind the Waimea Country Club (a popular jogging spot), takes us to one of the most beautiful parts of the Hawaiian Islands. The first thing you notice when you drive into Waikoekoe, a gated community perched above magnificent Waipio Valley, is the smoothness of the rolling hills. Although, technically, all homes in Hawaii are built on old lava flows, areas like this with abundant green growth have had plenty of time to create soil which has filled in the crevices and holes, creating an “Ireland-like” setting, ideal for horses, cattle or for easy hiking on the forty-acre parcels in this community.
The abundant growth, of course, comes from abundant rainfall, which combined with an Ag-40 zoning means raising crops or animals for self-sufficiency is a genuine option. Additionally, and this is an important economic consideration, drilling a well is not necessary at Waikoekoe. Like in all wetter areas of the Big Island, a relatively simple water catchment system is more that adequate for human and animal needs. (In Waikoekoe, there is also county water back-up – seldom used, however, by those on catchment.)
One might think that with all the available rain, the sun would not shine often enough to power a solar voltaic system, but weather in Hawaii, especially around Waimea, is very changeable on an hour by hour basis. It will often rain for an hour and be sunny an hour later and change back again and again like that all day long. (Remember the “It’s a Beautiful Day” album cover? That photo could easily have been shot at Waikoekoe, the only difference being that there would also be a misty rainfall visible arching over a nearby pu’u.) On occasion, months of sunny days in a row even require irrigation for the garden and orchard trees, but a large enough catchment tank adequately prepares one for these sunny stretches.
A rare luxury property, MLS 239295, is now on the market in Waikoekoe with state-of-the-art water catchment and photovoltaic electric systems already in place. This 3,820 foot Japanese-inspired three bedroom, four bathroom home has happily served a large “green” family without a hitch since 2005, including holidays when dozens of family members converge and use power like mad.
As you can see from the photos, this is a private Hawaiian paradise fit for royalty – in fact, Waikoekoe was one of the favorite homes of King Lunalilo before “modern” Waimea existed, only eight miles away, with Starbucks, astro-scientists, shopping and great private schools!