My postage-stamp sized piece of Hawaii

Movies, Photos and stories from my Bike Friday visits on the Internet archive: What a Gal does in Hawaii

Me and UH Forestry Professor JB Friday nip an ablaze tree in the bud on my land

Some shots of the area exhumed from my old website: 


Visiting my land in Dec 2014:  1 | 2 | 3

UPDATE DEC 2014: As you may have read, Pele has stirred from his/her long siesta and is heading toward the little hippie town of Pahoa, a couple of miles from my land. Today, they opened up the backroad, Railroad Avenue, a formerly boggy trail that I got stuck in while biking through it with my friend Ann Kobsa. What a ride that was ... darkness fell like an axe, and as we neared the house we heard shuffling and grunting. "Wild boar," said Ann, who left my jaw agape when she told me she hunted them and made sausages from the meat and soap from the fat. "I'll go inside and get a gun. You can go inside or come along if you like." Needless to say I beat it up the stairs faster than you can say "Miss Piggy..."

UPDATE MARCH DECEMBER 2010: Holy helmet redux! The prices of land in Nanawale has fallen to around 5-6K a lot. Even better! About time land was priced knowing that you can never really "own it" - because it will outlive you. Nanawale Estates Site lets you check out the links to past month-by-month house/land sales.

Yes, stuff does grow in lava. All by itself too ... March 2008

Planting a black sugar cane on my little piece of Hawaii ... March 2008

So what to build on a postage stamp? I know the picture below is totally at odds with the rest of the shots on this page, but I totally love it - the Weehouse by Alchemy Architects:

And I'm dreaming about this one too: the Zenkaya house:

UPDATE, September 2007: Holy helmet! The prices of land in Nanawale have fallen to around $13-15K a lot. This is wonderful news. Perhaps more of my friends will actually buy up postage stamp of their own so they can paste themselves right next to me ...

That's The Gal Esq. to you. I am now officially the owner of a postage-stamp sized piece of turf - or rather, lava, fern and ohia tree - on the Big Island, Hawaii. It's in the Nanawale Estates subdivision in the far east region of the island, about 18 flat bikeable miles south of the clapboard town of Hilo and about just over a mile from the cool hippie pueblo of Pahoa, off Hwy 130 (click on color map).

I looked at land in the Big Island 2005 when prices were more like $5-10K a sliver, but kept procrastinating until they rose to around $20-30K in the cheapest areas. This time I thought, I can't retire on 20kbin the white western world - what the heck, I'll buy it. Now I can tell myself 'I own a piece of land in Hawaii' even though I have no immediate plans to move there. Think of it as forced savings. Property tax is just $100 a year, there's no time limit to build. 

My dear friend "99% Sustainable Ann Kobsa" who "wrote the book" on living a lush life on lava .
Read about Ann Kobsa
The lot is in a largely undeveloped, unmanicured (thank Bhudda) and admittedly, the area got a bad rap at one time for its lowlife. But, as my real estate savvy biker friend Charles said, good deals usually have to come up from somewhere less salubrious - if it's already yuppified, it's already unaffordable. (I think the correct word is 'emerging' as in 'emerging markets'). It reminds me of Costa Rica where I lived for 2 years. Just down the road in a more southerly direction you can, for $15-20K, purchase a cheapish slab of solid, unspadeable lava in the nearby Kalapana region to erect your architecturally significant, Gehry-inspired yurt-on-stilts. That same money can buy you an acre of windswept wilderness in the frontiering southern Kau region of the island. See this website for this week's cooled magma deals.
A lava flow map of the Puna region of the Big Island, showing the Nanawale Estates Subdivision.
Showing the exact location of my land. Note that the light purple areas in the middle are
the most forested - "old growth".

But what about da volcano (visions of Pompeii scroll beneath swaying palms and pina coladas)? Well, it's not like the Big Island is Mt Etna - for the most part its eruptions are slow flowing, and in the past there's been plenty of time to back up your laptop, feed the cat and drive to a higher place. But then again, you never know and that's what keeps prices down. 

What I do notice is that there is a bouyant calm about people there, not the paved-in quiet desperation of the average urban man on the mainland. Perhaps the hot, churning movement deep underfoot, and the solid wall of lava covering the double-yellow lines of a former main road make us appreciate that end of the day, you own nothing. And there's something thrilling about the very basic ingredients needed to sustain life - sun and water - falling freely out of the sky into your back yard for you to use (many here have solar panels and catchment tanks) and no oil consortium or government or utitility company can stop it. 

Down in the south the lava is pouring into the sea, day and night, making new land. If it covers my yurt, wait til it cools, come back, dig it up or build right over the top just like everyone else. See the volcano movies and photo galleries in my Hawaii Chronicles.

Click on map for an exploded and zoomable PDF view of the neighborhood (if you view it in Acrobat). Mine's the pizza-slice circled 785 and underlined "15"

Why The Big Island? Just take a look at the way my car-free friend Ann Kobsa lives, 99% self-sustainable, in my Hawaii Chronicles and you'll see why, thanks to that sun and rain falling freely and copiously in Hawaii. I plan to maybe cut a little trail into it, camp on it, grow some papaya trees and vanilla ... 

I do believe that if everyone had a little piece of land to put up a roof and grow a papaya tree, there'd be less war. Look the misery in the world - much of it is about not not having a place for your footprint, fighting over a slivers of land. The notion of even having to buy a piece of land is bizarre; it will survive every puny body on this planet. Even the chunk of Maui owned by the mighty Oprah (who felt the need to buy up and fence off an entire hunk of coastline because "god's not making it anymore"). We're only borrowing it; the native Indians knew all about that, but that's whole other philosophical discussion.

I'd love it if people I knew bought a lot near me ... to be part of my community. 

For those who want to buy a similar, 8400 sq ft (1/5 acre) lot near the really neat, hippie-ish town of Pahoa (good internet, library, wholefoods store, Thai restaurant etc) you can contact two nice realtors below Wally Chastain or Geri Tolchin, and study this site.

Click on photo below to wander around my postage stamp piece of Hawaii (3.5 Mb Quicktime movie clip)
View from the road - the land is right on the "bend"

The funky hippie town of Pahoa, about a mile away
The disused Railroad Avenue at the back of the subdivision, a street away from my lot. It's a former railroad track now earmarked for development as a dedicated bike path, which will offer quicker access to the coast by bike than the10 miles on the main road. Yay! Those are rose apple trees.


  • Photo Gallery of the approach to the subdivision by bicycle
  • This is how my friend 99% Sustainable Ann Kobsa lives off the grid nearby
  • Two realtors I really like who can sell you this stuff - they live in the subdivision, not far from me, and I have even stayed with them:
    1. A he: Wally Chastin wally at wallywchastain dot com
    2. A she: Geri Tolchin tolchina at msn dot com


Anonymous said…
Oh hi! I'm looking at land in Nanawale! I'm looking at it as a now and future investment. Maybe put a little vacation or permanent home there one day. Is there any input you can give about your experience there?
Anonymous said…
loose lips sink ships. please don't advertise, i've lived
on are better off with less . including neighbors. no-one shows up without baggage.
peace and love, aloha
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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