How to Find Cheap Land in Hawaii?

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How to Find Cheap Land in Hawaii?

Bart Waldon

Hawaii is known around the world for its beaches, surf, and island lifestyle. However, the high cost of living and real estate prices make it seem out of reach for many hoping to buy property or land. While land in popular tourist destinations like Honolulu or Maui comes with an expensive price tag, there are still opportunities across the Hawaiian Islands to purchase affordable vacant land if you know where to look.

Overview of Hawaii's Real Estate Market

The state of Hawaii consists of 8 major islands - Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Niihau, and Kahoolawe. Nearly 70% of Hawaii's residents live on Oahu, the most populous island and location of state capital Honolulu and popular Waikiki Beach. Hawaii real estate sales reached record highs in 2021, with median sales prices up 20% across the state. Prices continue climbing due to high demand and low inventory. Finding affordable land in Hawaii takes effort and flexibility regarding location and amenities. While beachfront parcels are out of reach for most buyers, inexpensive land can still be found on the Big Island of Hawaii or more rural parts of Maui, Kauai, Molokai or Lanai.

Locating Cheap, Vacant Land for Sale in Hawaii

The first step is deciding which Hawaiian island best aligns with your goals and budget for buying land.

The Island of Hawaii

Known as the Big Island, Hawaii Island offers the most affordable land prices due to its size and rural landscapes outside main towns like Kailua-Kona and Hilo. With active ranches and farms, it’s easier to find vacant parcels for sale at lower costs compared to the smaller islands. Beachfront land is still expensive, but many mountainous inland lots allow for self-sustainable living at an affordable rate.


Kauai features lush tropical landscapes perfect for nature lovers. While beach parcels are out of reach for most, there’s affordable vacant lots inland near Lihue, Koloa or Waimea. The rural feel appeals to those seeking privacy and seclusion. However, infrastructure like roads and electricity may not reach remote properties.


Parts of East Maui with its small, historical towns have inexpensive land further from the swanky resorts and golf courses that attract wealthy second homeowners and tourists. Look for pockets of affordability in Paia, Makawao or Hana for agricultural and residential lots averaging $50,000 to $75,000 depending on acreage.

Molokai & Lanai

Pristine and secluded, islands like Molokai and Lanai restrict tourism development meaning their vacant land sells for a fraction of the cost of other islands. Rural living dominates, so amenities are limited but island life can be very peaceful. Expect costs from $30,000 onwards depending on lot size and location.


As Hawaii's most populated island, beachfront land on Oahu sells for many millions making it unattainable for average buyers. However, small residential lots located 30+ miles from Honolulu in areas like Waianae and Makaha can cost between $50,000 to $150,000. Infrastructure is better on Oahu, but lots are still small.

Tips for Finding Cheap Land Listings

The high demand for Hawaii real estate means affordable land gets scooped up quickly. Use these tips to stay on top of the newest listings before others snatch them:

  • Check listing sites like Zillow, Redfin and LandWatch for new lots priced below market averages. Sort by island, acreage and cost to spot deals.
  • Work with a knowledgeable local real estate agent focused on land sales. They can set up custom property alerts matching your wishlist.
  • Expand your geography. Search for vacant land in rural areas and remote towns to find better deals. Avoid tourist hotspots.
  • Consider buying land at auction. Hawaii holds property auctions allowing buyers to bid on discounted foreclosure properties in a fast-paced environment.
  • Time listings carefully using market patterns. New listings get more traction early spring while late fall sees less competitor buyers.
  • Compare similar lots to accurately gauge property values when cost seems too low or high. What characteristics make it higher or lower than average?

Financing Your Hawaii Land Purchase

With the right financing, buying affordable land in Hawaii is possible even with a modest budget. Beyond conventional mortgages, consider these financing options to make ownership attainable:

Owner Financing - Some sellers provide direct lending where you make payments to them over time rather than paying lump sum. This creative option opens doors for buyers with less funds available.

USDA Loans - For Hawaii's rural areas, USDA home loans offer 100% financing requiring no down payment. Low interest rates and income-based eligibility ease budgets.

Crowdfunding - Crowdfunding platforms allow buyers to pool money from multiple sources including friends, family, even strangers to achieve goals - like purchasing land. It popularizes new models.

Hard Money Loans - Asset-based lending from private investors instead of banks/credit checks. Higher rates but quicker approvals make these ideal for land buyers needing fast financing.

** seller Contributions** - During negotiations, ask sellers to “credit” part of the purchase price to cover closing costs/fees so your out-of-pocket cash needs stay low.

Grants - State/federal grants for infrastructure, agriculture, conservation or rural development projects may apply to certain Hawaii land purchases if used for approved purposes.

Retirement Funds - Certain retirement accounts like IRAs let you invest directly in tangible land assets while keeping tax deferred status - making smart use of existing funds.

Determining Usage and Zoning Requirements

Knowing the designated use parameters for your Hawaii land keeps surprises at bay. Each island has its own zoning rules and regulations determining what you can build on vacant property so do your homework early.

Check county zoning board websites for interactive GIS maps detailing parcel zoning codes. If undeveloped, the listing should indicate intended land usage - residential, agricultural, conservation or commercial/industrial. Zoning also impacts utility access and density factors controlling structure size, height allowances, setback minimums, appropriate wastewater options and more. Interpreting zoning codes yourself proves difficult, so consult with area planners to clarify metrics for using your land. Proactively resolving usage questions eliminates hassles later!

Rural Agricultural zoning offers the most flexibility for owners wanting options - farming, modest dwellings, even supplemental tiny home “ohana” units. But any plans for larger-scale housing or tourist accommodations on Agricultural land requires permitting approval first. Alternatively, land zoned specifically Residential signals higher density build-out potential. Clarity around designated use gets your purchase started on the best footing!

Buying Land for the Future

Part of land ownership in Hawaii is accepting infrastructure limitations in more remote, rural areas of the islands in order to pay an affordable price now for property you can build on later down the road. Electrical access, water lines, road grading, telephone wires and sewer systems may not service inland lots in early development phases. While frustrating, enterprising buyers see the investment potential once infrastructure catches up. Be sure to research the area,local zoning restrictions and utility access thoroughly before purchasing so there's no confusion about what you can build. Patience and vision are key when planning for the long-term with land investments in Hawaii.

The Aloha State offers incredible diversity across its eight major islands, meaning those willing to forego oceanfront views or popular tourist destinations can still find vacant land at reasonable costs suitable for homes, farmsteads or even commercial projects. Strategic searching, flexible criteria and swift action on new listings can help determined buyers attain an affordable slice of paradise.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the most affordable islands to buy land in Hawaii?

The most affordable islands to buy land in Hawaii are typically the Island of Hawaii, Molokai, Lanai and rural parts of Maui and Kauai. Islands like Oahu with popular tourist spots boast high priced real estate, putting affordable land out of reach for many buyers.

What should I expect to pay per acre for inexpensive land?

Pricing varies greatly, but you can expect to find lots for $30,000 to $100,000 per acre on the more affordable Hawaiian Islands for undeveloped, rural or agriculturally zoned parcels located away from high end resorts and prime beaches.

What are the main costs with purchasing Hawaii land beyond the list price?

In addition to your purchase costs, factor closing fees of about 2-5% of total price including legal transfers, title insurance, loan costs and conveyance taxes. Also budget for infrastructure requirements like clearing land, basic utilities, driveways and site prep.

What financing options help buyers on a budget?

Look into owner financing where the seller helps provide lending terms to purchase the land, USDA zero down payment loans, crowdfunding, hard money lending, grants and self-directed IRA investments as pathways accessible to buyers with smaller budgets.

Can I build my dream home on inexpensive rural land?

Inexpensive land often means more restrictions, mainly relating to infrastructure/utility access or zoning allowances. Research intended use codes, density factors and development roadmaps to understand what types of structures or dwellings you can build before purchasing a specific lot. Rural areas encourage modest buildings with care taken to preserve natural habitats.

About The Author

Bart Waldon

Bart, co-founder of Land Boss with wife Dallas Waldon, boasts over half a decade in real estate. With 100+ successful land transactions nationwide, his expertise and hands-on approach solidify Land Boss as a leading player in land investment.


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