Mauka or Makai: Choosing Between Coastal or Mountain Living in Hawaii

by | May 21, 2021 | Hawaii Real Estate

When planning a move to or within Hawaii, one of the initial considerations you will be faced with when narrowing down the location of your home is the choice between mauka or makai living.

Hawaii is one of the most ecologically diverse places on the planet and is home to 10 of the world’s 14 climate zones—Hawaii Island claims 8 of these zones alone! With so many microclimates and beautiful locations to choose from, it can be both exciting and overwhelming to decide what region of the island is right for you. 

If your dream home consists of ocean views and sea breezes, makai (near the sea) living is the place to start your home search. If lush, tropical foliage and rainforest weather is what you’re after in Hawaii, mauka (toward the mountain) living may be suitable for you. 

Whether you choose mauka or makai living, there are important factors to each style of living to consider when planning your move. 

r Makai: Choosing between oceanside or mountain living in Hawaii

Mauka – Upcountry Living

If you imagine living on wide-open spaces away from crowds and enjoying cooler temperatures and a mountain breeze, country living may be the way to go. As you travel up the mountain away from the island’s coastlines, land can be more affordable and more spacious than at sea level, and often comes with spectacular ocean views and sunsets.  

On this is the “quiet side” of Hawaii, the higher elevations are cooler, and the rainier climate makes mauka ideal for agriculture where crops and animals can thrive. Living upcountry on the Big Island you might even decide to grow your own world-famous Kona Coffee!

r Makai: Choosing between oceanside or mountain living in Hawaii

A few considerations for mauka living: 
This is rural living. You will need to drive longer distances to the beach, stores, and to other amenities. Heavy rain and harsher weather conditions can affect commutes in some areas. For some, mold could be an issue. Those with allergies might consider staying at sea level where it is drier and warmer. 

However, the benefits of mauka living are bountiful. More acreage can mean more space for gardening and growing your food. Fruit trees, such as avocados, mangos, and a variety of citrus, are abundant up the mountain. Privacy is a plus when compared to living near the water in the coastal towns. For peace, beauty, and space, you can’t beat living ‘up mauka.’  

r Makai: Choosing between oceanside or mountain living in Hawaii

Makai – Oceanside Living

For most, the dream of living in Hawaii is sun, sea, pristine beaches, cool clear water, and spectacular sunsets enjoyed over tropical cocktails.  What’s not to like?  That dream is within reach!

There are a few things to consider when choosing coastal living on the Big Island. In general, the closer you get to the beach the higher the property price. If you are looking for peace and privacy, be aware that there are no private beaches in Hawaii; all ocean front property is required to offer public access. So, beachfront properties are generally expensive and may attract crowds. However, since much of Hawaii’s coastline tends to be rocky and inaccessible, homes close to the sea offering relative privacy and limited foot traffic are not hard to find. 

A perfect beach day on the Big Island of Hawaii | Julie Edens Coldwell Banker Island Properties

Living near the ocean can present unique challenges—storms and tsunamis are not unheard of.  And while close proximity to stunning beaches and the beautiful Pacific Ocean offers obvious perks, living in a damp location where salt is ever-present might shorten the lifespan of clothing, furniture, electronics, and even cars.  

Challenges aside, a home close to the beach on the Big Island of Hawaii is truly living the dream. For water enthusiasts, living close to shore can mean more time spent in the water. For those looking to spend their time under the sun, coastal living is the way to go to maximize beach days.

So mauka or makai?  Whatever your Hawaii dream, let Julie help you decide!