Ocean Views from Everywhere. Second floor shows Master Bedroom.

Ocean Views from Everywhere. Second floor shows Master Bedroom.

Talk about location, location, location — 202 Kaikuono Place in Honolulu is two doors away from what’s arguably the most famous piece of residential property in Hawaii, Doris Duke’s Shangri-La estate.  Both are located on the ancient lava flow “toe” that juts out into the Pacific called Black Point.  It’s one thing to say you live in Diamond Head, but to call Black Point home raises your cred exponentially. It’s been estimated that were Duke’s five-acre oceanfront estate ever to make it to market, it would be the most expensive piece of residential real estate in the state. And it’s two doors down.

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Sand Castle White House 1

For each year of his presidency, President Obama spent the holidays on the same stretch of Kailua beach, near the Marine base at Kaneohe.  Rumors continue to swirl on which home exactly the president is in.  Partly for security reasons and partly because several of the homes in the area have changed hands during his presidency.  At any rate, this year, as has been tradition, several friends drive over to the long expanse of beach for a Christmas morning walk.  The 3.5 mile round trip’s turn around has been the Secret Service tent at the far end of Kailua beach to keep looky loos away.

This year, in addition to the tent, was this White House replica in sand with a message from the people of Hawaii to the outgoing President.

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Today, when locals hear “Kahuku” they often think of Kahuku sweet corn or shrimp from this agriculture-heavy area. But for over a century, one stretch of Kahuku was smack in the middle of history.  Now, over 28 acres of beachfront land and historic … proper historic … buildings are up for sale for $18 million by Julia Napua Fetzer of Hawaii Life Real Estate. It is by far the most fascinating piece of property on the market in Hawaii.

After researching the history of the place, friends and I dropped the top on the car and headed up north to see it in person.  What a treat to share with you …

It all began in 1899, when a group of investors at the behest of the Hawaiian King (Texas ain’t the only state that was a country!) brought Marconi wireless telegraph stations to Hawaii and formed the Inter-Island Telegraph Company. At the time it was UK-based Marconi’s first major order.  They’d read of the Marconi demonstration sending wireless Morse code signals across the English Channel. The purpose was to provide real-time communications between the Hawaiian Islands.

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The Backyard View at 61-753 Papailoa Road

The Backyard View at 61-753 Papailoa Road

Paradises the world over are littered with stories of people who packed up their hum-drum lives and moved to paradise only to discover it was quite different from the post cards.  Certainly a good rule of thumb for any move — “Rent first” — is doubly important when moving to costly locales you’ve not spent enough time in to really understand whether you’d be happy there.

Before I purchased my second home, I’d spent many months over several years renting in the building before the stars aligned and I purchased.  If your second home will ultimately be your post-retirement home, you owe it to yourself to thoroughly investigate.

These cautions bring me to 61-753 Papailoa Road.  Far from a typical rental at $30,000 per month, it’s the most expensive home for lease on the island. But it’s a beachfront single-family home located on the famed North Shore of Oahu … and you pay for that. The home is only available from December through March (when I assume the owners are off elsewhere). It’s also month-to-month, so don’t be pestering the agent (Kimo Smigielski of Sandwich Isles Realty) with your 2-day rental requests.

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When I say “old Hawaii,” I mean places where locals have lived for decades.  These are not the new flashy high-rises in Kaka’ako, but rather buildings like this one that rose from the ground in 1969.  The Regency at Kahala is a tall, 20-plus-story slice of Hawaii.

There are four units per floor … a one-bedroom, two two-bedrooms, and a three-bedroom unit.  There are minor differences in square footage in the same floor plan due to some units having enclosed their patios (and you know how I feel about that!).

Sunday, I braved sheets of rain to walk over to a quadruple open house that featured two one-bedroom units and one example each of two- and three-bedroom units.  My favorites were the one-bedroom and the three-bedroom units, which mostly came down to view.  These two face the water, though on Sunday they all faced the rain.

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Hawaii conjures up images of sun, sand, surf, and sky-high real estate prices.  All are pretty true.  But if you’re willing to get off the beaten path, there are, dare I say, reasonably priced options.  Take the Makaha Surfside condos located on the Waianae (why-a-nigh) coast.

The west side of Oahu is more rural, away from the tourist trap of Waikiki and the bustle Honolulu. And so, offers bargains for buyers who believe paradise is about slowing down and getting away, but still like to be driving versus flying distance from a good restaurant.  It’s also where an oceanfront condo is available for $360 per square foot versus $1,600 in Diamond Head.

There are nine units available in this 1974 complex of three low-rise buildings (A, B, C) that range from $65,000 for a 361-square-foot studio ($180 per square foot) to $150,000 for a 412-square-foot one bedroom.  Obviously no mansion these, but then the prices reflect that. Also, not all units face the ocean, so the biggest consideration in price is view.

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Views of Waikiki exactly where you want them ... over there.

Views of Waikiki exactly where you want them … over there.

While the views above are truly million dollar, they’re not wildly more expensive than during last year’s Hawaii special edition.  Once again, I’m taking one for the team to scope out a favorite place for Texas second home buyers.  In 2015, the state reported that 2.3 percent of all Hawaiian real estate was purchased by Texans and represents 10 percent of the total mainland buyer’s market (the top slot goes to California of course … they’re closer and have tech money to spend).

For the record, the views above belong to a 1,000-square-foot studio condominium that would sell for about $1.6 million. Heart-stopping for most, oceanfront condos are in terrifically short supply on Oahu with nearly all built before 1970.  With scarcity comes demand and cost.

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The image that turns beachfront dreams into nightmares

The image that turns beachfront dreams into nightmares

With Darby in the rear-view mirror, it seemed an appropriate time to remind readers that second homes aren’t all worry-free fabulousness.  If you can’t bear the thought of seeing this picture aimed at your vacation paradise, renting may be the way to go.

Second home living is almost always wonderful, but you have to understand what Mother Nature can toss your way … be that hurricane, earthquake, forest fire, blizzard, flood, tornado, or even a volcano. I say this because many popular vacation home locales are in more precarious areas than our main homes … because often these precarious settings are also beautiful.

What’s “lucky” for Hawai’i is that Darby  dropped from hurricane to tropical storm and only drenched Hawai’i with flooding and minimal power outages. When Darby passed my home Sunday night, it produced a ton of rain, nearby minor power outages, and definitely a day of window-rattling, but being a solid concrete structure, it didn’t sustain significant damage.

Thankfully, it’s not 1992’s hurricane Iniki which was the most powerful hurricane to hit Hawai’i in recorded history. It’s also important to realize sometimes damage goes deep.  It’s only been in the last few months that the Coco Palms resort on Kaua’i, destroyed by Iniki, was demolished with a plan to rebuild … 24 years later.

Sun, surf and sand are enticing, but as Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting said …

Be Prepared.

Remember: When I’m not stirring up trouble in Dallas, Texas or Honolulu, Hawaii for Candysdirt.com and SecondShelters.com, I’m off scouting interesting locations for a second home.  In 2016, my writing was recognized with Bronze and Silver awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors. If you’re a Realtor with second home clients who’d like me to feature their journey, shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com