As the old adage goes, “All good things take time.” Nowhere is this more evident than Kohanaiki—one of Hawaii’s most extraordinary new enclaves. The 450 acres of land on which Kohanaiki has been carefully planned and built make up the ocean side of an ancient Hawaiian ahupua’a—a pie-shaped land division that runs from the mauka (mountains) to the makai (sea). It is a fascinating parcel, carved from volcanic rock, with a coastline of staggering beauty. It beckons visitors to run, play, surf, and sail through the waves. Indeed, locals have revered this land, fished in its waters and carved petroglyphs representing their life in the coastal stone—for centuries. Kohanaiki’s developers have not taken the lands importance lightly.
The Kohanaiki team prides itself on being stewards of something extremely special, extremely rare. Ensuring that this gem of a private residential community lives up to the special heritage of the Big Island and simultaneously meets the discerning needs of its homeowners has been the mission of the Kohanaiki team for over a decade. Joe Root, Kohanaikis President, looks out over the property from the terrace of Kohanaikis Beach Restaurant and smiles. It took years to get here, but the fruit of Roots labor has been worth the effort. As he sits back to dig into an award-winning meal prepared by Chef Patrick Heymann (a colleague since Root oversaw the launch of Cordevalle in the Bay Area), Root explains the journey of Kohanaiki and the vision for what it will become.
“You must think of Kohanaiki as more than finding your dream home—it’s really all about discovering more than you ever dreamed of at your doorstep,” he relates. To bring that reality to life, Root and his team enlisted the help of world-renowned architects, including Shay Zak, Warren Sunnland, Jim McLaughlin, and Khoi Le. Each architect drew on his own personal interpretation of Hawaii’s natural beauty to create contemporary residences that embody the spirit of Kohanaikis beachside luxury Attention to detail, top-of-the-line materials, and expert craftsmanship have gone into each thoughtful residence. The homes offer views of the Pacific, Mount Hualalai, and the spectacular Rees Jones golf course complete with organic gardens dotting the fairways. Even non-golfers will find something to love on this course. Kohanaiki’s Golf Pro Marty Keiter is a charming guide.
“Rees wanted to make this a course for every caliber of player/’ says Keiter. “You play through a valley past ancient lava flows, and then you make the best left hand turn in golf.” As Keiter hits the pedal, the electric golf cart (Kohanaiki’s preferred mode of transport) swings round on a velvety green, and the unbelievably blue Pacific stares you straight in the face. You’ll want to take a few minutes to soak in this scene and the Kohanaiki team has anticipated that by adding one of their signature “comfort stations” at the end of the hole.
The charming bungalow is stocked with gourmet treats, libations, and snacks that would make a kid of any age swoon. The station entices you to select a frosty drink and take a little time out on the lanai to savor the view of “Ono Lane”—one of the Big Island’s most abundant fishing and diving regions. Back on the course, the ocean front holes (12 – 17) challenge players with natural terrain, including century’s-old anchialine ponds that have been carefully restored.
The course swings by Kohanaiki’s beautiful Beach Restaurant perched on the rocks above the waves and swimming pools. Finally, the 18th hole turns around and the majesty of Kohanaiki’s new 67,000-square-foot clubhouse beckons. One of the largest clubhouses built by a privately owned club, Kohanaiki’s Shay Zak-designed clubhouse is a stunning achievement with a world-class spa designed by Tracy Lee (the woman behind some of Auberge Resorts’ fabulous spas), swimming pools, plunge pools, saunas, a state-of-the-art fitness center, restaurants, a bowling alley, theater, and plenty of game rooms. While the diversions on land are myriad, the diversions by sea are equally enticing.
Kohanaiki’s Adventure Team, headed up by local water sport enthusiast Ikaika Kanuha, is at the residents’ beck and call. Kanuha will have sea kayaks ready for you at dawn to paddle alongside dolphins down the Kona Coast; surf boards to catch the best waves; vessels ready for a day of deep water fishing, or Kohanaiki’s sleek speed boat ready to zip you to marvelous spots for snorkeling and diving. After a day of exploration and adventure, enjoying a sunset cocktail on your home’s private patio surrounded by family will make any pressures and stress fade away, thus revealing why this special place is so tempting to call your home away from home.