The Best Counties to Buy Land in Hawaii

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The Best Counties to Buy Land in Hawaii

Bart Waldon

Given Hawaii contains just 10,931 combined square miles of total land spanning all islands according to state agriculture data – deciding which specific counties focus property investments in becomes paramount distilling such limited real estate down further. Between 2017-2022 alone, average farm real estate values grew over 13%, tallying north of $6.8 billion highlighting immense demand against severely constrained housing supplies long-term. Yet drill-down data shows Honolulu County on Oahu and Maui County unsurprisingly commanding highest median home pricing and fastest valuation appreciation trajectories currently. 

While Hawaii and Kauai Counties contain alluring lifestyle options themselves, greater population densification pressures stack favorably for owners in metro Honolulu or Maui’s Valley Isle thanks to outsized business formation and tourism catalysts lifting values higher faster. For buy-and-hold investors with 5-10+ year time horizons, acquiring designated “urban” tracts in approved development regions across Oahu especially near planned rail lines and transit centers or along Maui’s prized coastlines offers wealth compounding potential exceeding all other neighbouring island selections combined if entering positions before market peak euphoria hits.

The Diverse Regions of the Hawaiian Islands

The Hawaiian archipelago stretches across 1,500 miles in the central Pacific Ocean. The eight main islands fall into five unique counties, each with vastly different geography, climate, infrastructure, economy, and culture.

Oahu and Honolulu County

Home to the state’s bustling capital and 70% of Hawaii’s population, Honolulu County on the island of Oahu blends cosmopolitan city life with pristine beaches and natural landscapes. As the most populated area, Honolulu offers convenience and career opportunities combined with some of Hawaii’s highest real estate prices.

Maui County – Maui, Lanai, and Molokai

Maui is the second largest Hawaiian island after the Big Island of Hawaii. Maui County also includes the rural islands of Lanai and Molokai. With its mix of resort towns, small communities, lush rainforests, and beautiful coastlines, Maui offers diverse land investment opportunities.

Kauai County

Lush, green Kauai is nicknamed “The Garden Island” for its abundance of tropical flora, waterfalls, and rainforests. With its laidback small towns and open spaces, Kauai appeals to those looking for privacy and seclusion when buying land.

Hawaii County

Stretching across the Big Island of Hawaii, Hawaii County includes rural farmland, rainforests, black sand beaches, and active volcanoes. Real estate here can range from resort communities to large agricultural lots over 100 acres.

Best Hawaii Counties for Land Investments

Maui County

For those looking to buy land in Hawaii, Maui County tops the list for several reasons. Maui real estate experts have found robust investment opportunities across Maui, Lanai, and Molokai islands.

Thriving Tourism Economy – Over 3 million visitors flock to Maui every year, fueling demand for lodging, dining, retail, transportation, tours, events, and other hospitality services. Maui tourism supports a strong island economy ideal for entrepreneurial land endeavors.

Infrastructure Improvements – Maui is undergoing major infrastructure expansions, including roads, water systems, transit options, power grids, emergency services, air travel, harbors, and connectivity. This facilitates development potential across the county.

Lifestyle Appeal – From the stunning Wailea resort area to historic small towns like Makawao and Paia to Upcountry farmlands, Maui offers diverse communities attracting full-time and part-time residents from around the world.

Attractive Price Points – While not cheap, Maui land prices tend to be more affordable than Oahu. There are options for buyers at various budgets seeking vacant land, agricultural acreage, residential lots, and commercial property.

Growing Industries – Medical, tech, finance, real estate, sustainability, agriculture, renewable energy, aerospace, film production, and small business are all expanding on Maui, bringing good-paying jobs.

Ideal Climate Variety – Maui has areas with nearly any climate type – from wet to dry and hot to cool – spread across its 728 square miles, providing environmental options when selecting land.

Outdoor Recreation – Beaches, hiking trails, waterfalls, surfing spots, calm bays, forests, valleys and volcanoes cater to every outdoor enthusiast passion, fueling visitation and resident desire to live an island lifestyle.

Kauai County

Peaceful Kauai County comes in second for desirable Hawaii land investments for these advantages:

Room to Grow – Compared to crowded Oahu, Kauai offers space and seclusion with ample vacant land opportunities across the island for development or privacy. Agricultural lots are also widely available.

Increasing Infrastructure – Long restricted due to limited infrastructure, Kauai now has increasing support systems, like improved roads and utilities, enabling more areas for construction and housing projects.

Appealing Lifestyle – Kauai is a magnet for those seeking sanctuary from urban life. The island offers small community living, outdoor recreation, and off-the-grid tranquility second to none in Hawaii.

Surfing Hotspot – For surfers, Kauai’s beaches and waves make it a world class destination. Surf culture drives tourism and fuels a niche economy suited to those involved in board-sports retail, rentals, lessons, competitions, and hospitality.

TV and Film Location Site – Major Hollywood blockbusters, like Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean, have filmed on Kauai. Ongoing production brings a steady media industry and part-time celebrity residents.

Agricultural Hub – Beyond tropical beauty, Kauai has fertile lands used for major coffee, fruit, dairy, livestock, seed and nursery production, presenting agribusiness opportunities.

Lush Beauty – As the oldest main island in Hawaii, Kauai has had time for forests, rivers and waterfalls to mature, blanketing the island in more abundant emerald flora than any other Hawaiian land mass.

Key Factors When Choosing Land in Hawaii

Zoning Restrictions

Permitted uses for property in Hawaii depends on complex zoning laws regulating residential, agricultural, industrial, resort/hotel, and land conservation districts. Research zoning carefully before purchasing land.

Water Access Rights

Water scarcity can severely limit land use in Hawaii’s arid regions. Ensure any property under consideration has verified legal access to public or private water systems for needs like farming, housing, or commercial endeavors.

Elevation and Climate

Hawaii’s microclimates vary greatly from wet windward mountainsides to dry leeward areas. Consider elevation, rainfall, winds, and sunlight access based on location for intended use.

Road Infrastructure

While Oahu and Maui have well-developed roads, more rural areas can have remote, poorly maintained dirt roads hampering accessibility. Evaluate if roads allow needed access.

Permitting Process

Getting construction permits or zoning changes approved in Hawaii involves extensive bureaucratic red tape. Factor long complex permitting into timelines and expenses.

Natural Hazards

Hawaii’s lands hold volcanic, flood, tsunami, hurricane, and earthquake risks varying by location. Research history and mitigation strategies for any property of interest. Consider proximity to emergency services.

Agricultural Viability

Those seeking farmland should analyze soil content, drainage, irrigation access, sunlight and other factors to determine if a parcel can support planned crops or livestock. Confirm agricultural use rights.

Native Species Protection

Hawaii has over 10,000 native species, some found nowhere else on Earth. Buying land with ecosystems requiring conservation comes with environmental stewardship responsibilities.

Cultural Heritage Sites

Some areas of spiritual or historical importance to native Hawaiians may restrict development or access for cultural preservation, which could affect land use.

By taking advantage of expert local Hawaii real estate knowledge when researching counties and specific parcels, prospective buyers can gain invaluable guidance when seeking to find the ideal investment property to fulfill island living dreams. Whether seeking acreage, a home lot, vacation rental site, farm estate or commercial opportunity, certain locales within these premier counties truly offer the best settings to buy land in scenic Hawaii.

Final Thoughts

Hawaii presents idyllic settings, acclaimed as paradise on Earth for good reason. Within Hawaii’s famously breathtaking landscape soaked in rainbows, waterfalls and ocean vistas, the lush tropical islands hold great potential for land ownership. For those ready to stake their claim on a slice of island life through Hawaiian land investments, weighing the distinguishing advantages of premier counties against individual needs and plans can uncover destination gems tailored to match interests and dreams. Focusing on standout areas like dynamic Maui County and serene Kauai County as prime launch pads to put down roots and grow a vision in Hawaii allows the state’s one-of-a-kind sparkle to enrich future days. Ultimately, properly aligned passions, purposes and resources matched to the islands’ diverse locales and offerings will write the recipe for finding fulfilling land rich in natural beauty and opportunity across Hawaii.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the main factors to consider when buying land in Hawaii?

Some key considerations are zoning restrictions, water access rights, elevation and microclimates, road infrastructure, the permitting process, natural hazards risks, agricultural viability if farming, native species protections, and cultural heritage site regulations. Research all aspects thoroughly.

Which Hawaiian Island is the best option for buying affordable land?

The Big Island of Hawaii tends to have more affordable land for sale compared to the other islands. Undeveloped large acreages and agricultural lots able to support farming are potential good value options.

Is financing available for buying land in Hawaii?

Yes, financing can be obtained. Banks offer loans for real estate purchases in Hawaii similar to the U.S. mainland. Financing costs may be higher compared to mortgage rates.

Are there any first-time home buyer programs specific to Hawaii?

Yes, for qualifying residents looking for their first primary home, the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation administers down payment loans and development financing programs to promote broader island home ownership.

Besides cost, what should be weighed when choosing land to buy in Hawaii?

Carefully consider lifestyle goals, employment opportunities if relocating full-time, natural environments preferred, access needs, economic growth projections by region, and current infrastructure plus future development plans for areas of interest to make the best Hawaii land investment. Consulting local real estate professionals is highly advisable.

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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