Maui Real Estate Blog

Walkable Maui

Rising gas prices. A more chaotic climate. Improved health and wellness. There are a lot of reasons why driving less has more appeal these days. Maui is a pretty rural place. As a result, it is not exactly an easy place to live car free. That said, there are parts of the island where there are more conveniences and amenities accessible by foot or by bike. We recently created a handful of Walkable community pages on MauiRealEstate.com that highlight areas within a higher concentration of amenities within walking distance. This is a quick overview of those new pages on the site and a few communities that are worth an honorable mention.

Featured Walkable Areas of Maui

  • Walkable Paia : For a small town, Paia has a lot going on. It has restaurants, a great grocery store, a Bank of Hawaii Branch, a yoga studio, massage studios, coffee shops, a post office, the beach and more all in and around town. If you live in the neighborhoods to the East and North of town, almost all of this is accessible via your own two feet. As an added bonus, the North Shore bike path runs to the West of town, through Spreckelsville and into Kahului. Paia is the one area of the island where you really could go for longer stretches without driving.
  • Walkable Wailuku : Downtown Wailuku is the seat of Maui County Government. It is also home to federal and state agencies, medical facilities, law offices and other professional services. The homes and condos in the downtown area give options to those who work downtown that want to avoid commuting by car. Add in restaurants, the Iao Theater, shops, a library and other amenities and there are plenty of things accessible by foot. While you will still find yourself driving to some amenities, your odometer is less likely to get a workout.
  • Walkable Makawao : Upcountry Maui may not be the first place you think of when it comes to walkability. That said, downtown Makawao is another small town with a lot going on. There are restaurants, a public library, Eddie Tam Park, a post office, shops, coffee, yoga and more. There are quite a few neighborhoods within walking distance of these attractions. Again, this is a place where it may be difficult to completely avoid car dependence, but you could get away with driving less when you live close to Makawao.
  • Walkable Lahaina : Front Street is a renowned tourist destination. That said, residents living in the neighborhoods close to Front Street are located close to restaurants, shops, grocery stores, the beach, surfing and more. Put on your walking shoes or grab your cruiser bike. This is an area where you can leave your car parked in the driveway more often than not.

Honorable Mention

The Kulamalu area of Pukalani wouldn’t have received a mention 10 years ago. While there was a Long’s Drugs and a Fitness Center, this was a convenient but car dependent community. Then came the Saturday’s Farmer’s Market, followed by Food Trucks. A new brewery and a great pizza place in the last year are two great new additions. The Cottages at Kulamalu and Kulamalu Hilltop are now two neighborhoods where owners now have some great amenities within walking distance.

There are parts of Kihei where you may not need a car as much depending on your lifestyle. Areas of South Kihei and Central Kihei offer restaurants, shops, grocery stores and beaches within walking distance.

Contact The Maui Real Estate Team

Contact The Maui Real Estate Team if you are looking for a home that decreases your car dependence. We would welcome the chance to help you find a home or condo that might help change your lifestyle.

Pete Jalbert

Maui Real Estate Blog

Five Tips When Shopping for a Mini Maui Homestead

We regularly field inquiries from buyers who are looking to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. Typically, that translates to finding acreage for the prospective buyers to grow their own food. The market conditions of the last 24 months means the entry point for acreage is higher and the inventory of these properties is substantially lower. If the shift in the market put acreage out of the reach of your budget, it is worth considering the food production and sustainability potential of smaller parcels.

I can speak to this from personal experience. My home sits on less than a quarter of an acre. Despite its size, it generates a pretty substantial amount of food. I can’t claim that it is due to my own efforts. I consider myself fortunate that I bought a property where previous owners planted quite a few fruit and nut trees. The trees growing including Avocado, Lemon, Macadamia Nut, Mango, Jaboticaba, Surinam Cherry, Malabar Chestnut, Noni, Guava, Banana, and Papaya. I also grow vegetables and herbs in a few raise beds and pots. I am about to put up a trellis for growing Lilikoi (Passion Fruit) Vines. Future ambitions include more raised beds, growing mushrooms, additional fruit trees, and chickens or quail.

Backyard avocados with my hand for scale.
Avocados from the backyard with my hand for scale.

I can’t say that I am an expert gardener. Far from it. That said, I think there are some insights from my own experiences worth sharing if you are in the market for your own little homestead on Maui. Here are 5 things to consider when purchasing a smaller property with food production in mind.

What’s the Waste Water System for the Property?

That may seem like a head scratcher for my first bit of advice, but it’s important to know the type of waste water system of the properties you consider for purchase. Not all areas on island are on municipal or private sewer systems. Other homes rely on cess pools or septic systems. This is particularly the case in some of the rural areas of the North Shore and Upcountry.The type of waste water system may well impact your growing area and/or lead to future disruptions in your growing area.

The property I bought in Makawao came with two cesspools. One for the house and one for the cottage. If you aren’t familiar with cesspools, they are basically deep pits where waste collects. If they work well, liquids eventually percolate out of the bottom while microbes break down solid waste over time. Well functioning cesspools do not require pumping. The good news is cesspools have relatively small footprints. While you don’t want to plant trees too close to a cesspool, they shouldn’t limit your planting areas too much.

I learned first hand the downside of cesspools. Plain and simple, they can fail. A few years back, I kept seeing septic trucks come and go from my neighborhood after a prolonged period of heavy rain. I decided to check my cesspool and it was full. I pumped it and hoped that it was the end of my issues. Two years later, I had to pump it again. Within a few months, it was almost full again and it was time for a septic system. That entailed digging up my backyard including my in-ground vegetable beds and a large banana patch.

If you plan to move forward with a cesspool property, it’s important to have the cesspool inspected during your due diligence process. Local septic pumping companies offer inspections as a service. The cost varies depending on whether the location is known and the lid is exposed for access. Regardless, it is a worthwhile investment to know if any troubles might be looming. It might also be worth asking about the number of people who experience issues with their cesspools in the immediate area. While the cesspool may look ok during inspection, a high number of cesspools failures in the area may speak to the potential for future problems.

Now that I have a septic system in place, it comes with its own limitations and challenges. The biggest being that the leech field takes up a significant portion of my back yard. You can’t plant trees over a leech field. You may want to put root barriers up for trees planted in close proximity to the leech field. I received mixed messages on how much I gardening I could over my leech field. While some told me I should grow grass over the entirety of the leech field. Others, including the installer for the septic system, said garden beds are fine.

I compromised by putting raised beds at the far end of the leech field. Growing dwarf fruit trees in large pots may be another option in areas where septic tanks constrain tree growth. Another option is to put in a chicken run over the leech field. There are ways to work around the limitations imposed by the septic system.

It is also worth noting that septic tanks take some care and maintenance. That includes periodic pumping. Make sure that when you plant gardens beds or add trees outside the periphery of the septic system, that they do not limit access to the lids of your septic tanks for future pumping.

Municipal or private sewer is the most friendly waste water system for maximizing the area of your yard for growing. That said, It is worth knowing where the sewer line is on the property. You don’t want to plant trees where the roots might damage the sewer line.

Conspicuous in its absence is the combination of composting toilets and grey water systems. That is arguably the most sustainable solution. At this point in time, the county does not permit compositing toilets.

Make Sure Your Potential Growing Areas Get Plenty of Sun

I feel incredibly fortunate to have so many fruit trees on my property. The two avocado trees in particular provide abundant harvests for both family and friends. That said, they are both huge trees that shade my backyard until about 9:00 in the morning. My neighbors to the South also have large avocado trees that tend to shade my yard a little earlier in the afternoon. This means my veggie garden doesn’t get quite as much sun as I would like.

If you want to focus on growing vegetables, it’s imperative that your garden areas get more sun. Not enough sun means growing shade tolerant veggies and herbs and/or lesser yields. While it’s great to find a place with existing fruit trees, there is something to be said for starting with a clean slate. It puts you in a position to plant things strategically so they don’t shade garden beds. That also allows you the option to plant and grow varieties of fruit trees that you want and will use the most.

Sun exposure is also a consideration if you want to add a photovoltaic system to the roof of your home. Too many large trees shading your roof may limit the effectiveness of a PV system.

How is the Soil?

If you are growing on a smaller lot, that often means growing closer to your home itself. Homes built prior to 1978 may have used lead based paint. It might be worth testing your soil for lead if you plan to use in ground beds close to older homes. A general soil test may also tell you if there are any deficiencies in your soil and if you need more amendments.

While less likely to be an issue on smaller residential lots, lots located in areas where pineapple and sugar cane grew may pose their own set of challenges. Sugar Cane and Pineapple were intensive agricultural practices that depended heavily on fertilizer and pesticides. A lot of the old fields are devoid of the nutrients and microbial life that make plants happy. Regenerative practices such as extensive composting or korean natural farming practices are imperative to restore life to the soil.

Will CCRs Impact Your Plans?

If you are buying in a subdivision, make sure that there aren’t any CCRs that might block your plans. For example, if you want to keep hens, make sure that there are no restrictions on keeping poultry in your yards. If you want to tear up your entire front yard and plant a garden, make sure there are no landscaping requirements.

Consider Your Microclimate

For a relatively small island, Maui offers many different microclimates. Make sure you chose the right things to grow for your particular part of the island. For example, Mangoes tend to thrive in the warmer and drier parts of the island while only select varieties will grow in windward areas or Upcountry. Bananas and Papaya may not grow as well in the higher elevations of Kula. That said, higher elevations may support fruit trees like apples, peaches and persimmons that don’t grow as well at lower elevations. Areas with higher humidity may mean more vulnerability to powdery mildew with your veggies.

Backyard
Backyard raised bed

Sustainability on An Even Smaller Scale

As mentioned above, the Covid real estate boom pushed up prices on island substantially. Even smaller homes may be prohibitively expensive for prospective buyers. There are condos on island that offer small back yard areas. Places like Keonekai Villages, Kihei Villages, Southpointe at Waikoa and Iao Parkside all feature yards for ground floor locations. While visiting these properties, I’ve observed a number of back yards with impressive gardens and dwarf fruit trees. Combine backyard produce with what’s available through local farmer’s markets and CSAs and you can significantly reduce your reliance on imported food.

Additional Resources

I am constantly trying to learn more and improve my knowledge about growing food in smaller spaces. Here are some resources that helped me and may be of value to you.

Hawaii Home Gardens – This is a great book for learning more about gardening in the subtropics.

Epic Homestead – I frequently watch Kevin’s Youtube videos for inspiration and tips as he transforms his property in San Diego. He also runs the epic gardening channel with all kinds of advice on vegetable gardening.

Charles Dowding – Ok, the UK is a far different climate zone from Maui, but Charles is still a great resource on gardening at all scales.

Social media is a great resource. There are too many good Instagram and Youtube accounts to list off the top of my head. Search gardening or homesteading and you will find a treasure trove of information.

Finally, reach out to the community. Talk to nurseries. Speak to growers at the local farmer’s market. Those that sell vegetable starts can be particularly helpful.

Contact The Maui Real Estate Team

Contact The Maui Real Estate Team if you are in search of your own little homestead on Maui. We would welcome the opportunity to help you find a property that will fit your gardening and growing needs.

Pete Jalbert

Maui Real Estate Blog

Hana Permaculture Property

Growing your own food. Living sustainably. Reducing your footprint. In today’s world, there are many who find the appeal of all of the above undeniable. With it’s mix of rain and sun and year round growing season, there are few places that compare to Hana if you want to live a sustainable lifestyle. You would be hard pressed to find a better opportunity to get started on your new lifestyle than this property listed for sale in Hana.

Aerial View of a property in Hana with extensive orchard.
Looking over the orchards and out towards the ocean.

A Decade of Hard Work

While Hana is a great place for a sustainable lifestyle and growing your own food. It isn’t always easy to start from scratch. Land needs to be cleared, soil augmented, structures need to be built, energy systems set up and of course orchards need to be planted. There is a lot of trial and error. This 2.78 acre parcel provides an opportunity to reap the literal fruit of the seller’s labors. Over the last decade, the owners thoughtfully and lovingly planted the property with hundreds of fruit trees, flowers and foliage. They used permaculture principles while farming. The farm received organic certification for three years before being discontinued last year due to a lack of need.

Another aerial view showing the green house, barn and other structures at this Hana Permaculture Property
The garage, barn and other structures shown from above.

Plantings on the Property

The property includes hundreds of edibles, timber bamboo and a variety of understory crops and mulching plants.

A partial list of edibles includes:

  • Hundreds of Bananas including Ice Cream, Apple and Williams varieties.
  • Sour Sap
  • Durian
  • 6 Avocado Trees
  • Star Apple
  • Mangosteen
  • Jack fruit
  • Eleven Coconut Plams
  • A variety of citrus including Lime, Grapefruit, Myers Lemon and Oranges
  • 20 Cacao
  • 100’s of Pineapple
  • Papaya
  • Taro

There is also a 42′ x 20′ green house for growing vegetables, greens and herbs. There is plenty more space for planting additional fruit trees. Contact The Maui Real Estate Team for the full list of edibles.

Bananas line the driveway
Some of the over 100 plus Banana Trees on the property lining the driveway.
Citrus in the foreground with an apiary in the background
Citrus in the foreground with an apiary in the background.

Structures

There is a barn on the property going through the after the fact permit process. It has a completely separated upstairs area. There is a small garage for a mower and farming tools, a cement compost pad, geodesic dome with covered work space and an ag shed. There are three ideal building sites on the property with ocean, sunrise and moonrise views. Zoning allows for the potential to build a cottage with upto 1,000 square feet of living space. There is a large capacity septic system already installed for a future cottage.

The Barn of the Hana Permaculture Property
The barn of the property with Haleakala in the background.

Utilities

This is the last property in Hana serviced by the Hana Ranch water system. Everything to the North uses catchment or well water. The owners installed underground water throughout the property to water crops and trees as needed. Maui Electric and high speed cable internet are available at the property. The current owners powered the property using a 27 panel outback solar system with an 8 battery power bank.

An Outback Solar System provides power for off the grid living.
An Outback Solar System powers the property with 27 solar panels and an 8 battery power pack.

Find out More about This Hana Permaculture Property

If you are in the market for a permaculture property on Maui, check out this video that the seller’s put together a few years ago about the property. It is a great chance to see more of the beautiful property, the food being grown and the lifestyle offered.

This is unit B of a two unit residential condominium. The asking price for the property is $549,000. This property sold in 2020. Contact The Maui Real Estate Team for assistance finding other small scale farms or Hana Properties. You can find all of the current Hana Real Estate Listings on our site.

Pete Jalbert

Maui Real Estate Blog

Haiku Off The Grid Lot

People have been living off the grid in Maui for decades. In rural parts of our island, electrical and water infrastructure can be limited. That means people may need to use catchment systems to capture their water supply and photovoltaic panels to generate power. While off the grid living may be the norm for some island residents, it is something that is getting more and more discussion and interest from the general public. PV systems have become more advanced and less expensive to install. We are also appear to be on the cusp of seeing some exciting advances in home energy storage. On a recent investor call, Elon Musk announced that Tesla will be entering the home energy storage market. Tesla batteries are supposed to start production in as soon as six months.

With off the grid becoming more accessible, it is a particularly exciting time to bring an off the grid land listing to market. This lot in Haiku is .7 acres of flat and usable land. The ocean views from the building site are truly stunning.

The lot is located near the end of a quiet country road. It overlooks Opana Gulch. Opana stream runs through the gulch and can sometimes be heard from the lot. Looking across the gulch, there is nothing but forest views extending up towards the Koolau gap of Haleakala. This is truly a place of quiet that brings you back to nature.


Opana Gulch includes areas of Bamboo Forest.


Opana Stream running through the gulch near the property.

There is nothing but forest land when you get to the end of the road. This is a view from off the property looking up Opana Gulch towards the Koolau Gap on Haleakala.

This Haiku off the grid lot is listed for $357,500.  This property sold in 2015. Contact The Maui Real Estate Team for assistance with other Haiku land listings.

Pete Jalbert

Maui Real Estate Blog

Earth Day Tribute to Maui

To celebrate Earth Day, I wanted to post a tribute to the natural beauty of Maui. This is a compilation of 10 photos and videos from around Maui and its surrounding ocean waters. I have also included links to five organizations that are working to protect and preserve the environment of Hawaii through conservation and education.


The East Maui coastline where Jungle Meets the Ocean


Haleakala Crater


The rough and rugged coastline just south of Hana


The view from a North Shore tide pool looking towards the West Maui Mountains


A rainbow and a passing rain squall along the North Shore of Maui


The Waihee Valley in the West Maui Mountains


The tail of a humpback whale offshore from Lahaina Maui


The Waters around Black Rock in Ka’anapali


Honolua Bay Marine Preserve near Kapalua


The waters off of Palauea Beach in Makena

Here are the five environmental not for profits that work in Maui County that would welcome your support on Earth Day!

Donate to the Hawaiian Island Land Trust to support their efforts to preserve land around Maui and the rest of the Hawaiian Islands.

Support The Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project and their efforts to preserve Maui’s Native Bird Species and their native forest habitats.

Join or donate to The Maui Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation for the preservation of local surf breaks, clean ocean water and beaches.

Help the Maui Huliau Foundation with their environmental education Efforts for Maui Youth.

Support The Nature Conservancy Hawaii and their projects that preserve, protect and restore the Natural Environment of Hawaii.

Pete Jalbert

Maui Real Estate Blog

Eco Friendly Cottage with Room to Grow in Haiku

We have a great new listing out in Haiku on Maui’s North Shore. This two bedroom, one bath cottage is situated on a 1/2 acre of well landscaped property. The charming cottage was recently reroofed and has a leased photovoltaic system. The yard is filled with a variety of ornamental plants and assorted edibles. The list of edibles includes bananas, papayas, lemon grass, Kaffir Lime, mint, rosemary, bay leaf, mango, avocado, a curry leaf tree and more!

The western Haiku location is close to Hookipa Beach Park, Makawao Town and Paia. You are just a few blocks uphill from the Haiku Cannery and restaurants like Hana Hou, Colleens, Lilikoi Grill and Veg Out. The Haiku Fitness Center and Haiku Grocery Store are also attractions. Zoning allows for the construction of a main home on the property.

This Haiku Cottage is offered for $590,000. This home sold in 2013. Contact The Maui Real Estate Team for assistance with other homes in Haiku.

Pete Jalbert