Big Island of Hawaii: Eastern Neighborhoods

A vibe guide!

Pahoa, August 2019

I’m thinking about moving to the Big Island. Growing up on Oʻahu, I only ever visited Kilauea Military Camp with school. The memory I have is that during senior camp, we actually got a little lost while hiking.

Volcanoes is my aunt & uncle’s favorite national park (they’ve been to pretty much all of them!). I really expect the areas surrounding our national parks to become very robust in the future, as Americans have fallen back in love with the simple, wholesome, and wonderful things in life. Additionally, it is possible that this sphere will receive focus from the hospitality industry in a Disney-like way.

It was only when I traveled to the island on my own that I realized how much I liked it. It was the perfect place and had managed to remain untouched, with choice selection of course. I decided that I wanted to move there after graduating from law school. Luckily, the perfect job presented itself out of Hilo (the best!) and I was able to enjoy myself.

With many people moving out of metropolitan areas, and a general shift to working online — from anywhere, areas like this are perfect for enjoying the space and natural resources our country has to offer.


On the island, there are public schools — but even those may be quite far from your home. If you are looking for a college preparatory school, HPA is located in the Waimea area, on the north side of the island. Dorms are available there. For K-8, there is also a charter school for the arts & sciences in Volcano.

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo will also emerge as a community leader that will provide income to the area. The cute Downtown area has a new multimodal plan that will make the area conducive for a walkable college community. Summer School University?


For: hippie by the sea

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Google Maps

Located 20 minutes south of Pāhoa and about an hour away from Hilo, Kalapana is a fabulous jungle by the sea. Filled with hippies (not hipsters), as well as those who appreciate off-grid living, the energy here is vibrant and colorful. During normal times, they offer a weekly gathering that features music, an active dance floor, local artisans, vendors, and food. Hundreds of community members get together to fellowship, share the fruits of their labor, and welcome visitors. There, I ran into a coworker, bought some jewelry, and enjoyed the band.

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Overlooking Kehena Black Sand Beach

The homes in this area range quite a bit. Note that this area is very close to where the 2018 eruption occurred.

Right now, there is no cell service in Kalapana. It’s definitely something to consider, especially if you need internet to work. At Pele’s Kitchen — the best breakfast spot I have ever been to — you can use a hotspot with no problem. Walking around Pāhoa town is one of my favorite things to do — check out the Pahoa Village Museum, boutiques, and restaurants. They’re all really good. The area has developed rapidly in the last year, with the building of another grocery store, UPS, and more eateries.

Hawaiian Paradise Park is an area with lots of new builds on an acre. Other areas have smaller lots with shared catchment systems. It also has cell phone service and is less than 30 minutes from Hilo. The Keaau area, where Kamehameha Schools is located, allows access to both sides of Volcanoes National Park and features proximity to Hilo.

Look for: neighbors


For: quiet companion

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This district has a special place in my heart. My family worked on the sugar plantations here generations ago. Now, the area is being redeveloped into a wellness centre. Unlike other more remote areas of the east side, because of its rich plantation history, the area receives county water through established infrastructure. This will allow you to avoid having a catchment tank on property and will let you enjoy fresh and clean water.

Here’s my vlog from the area:

Located southwest of the entrance to Volcanoes National Park, this area is in the higher volcano zones. Instead of being in the rainforest, it’s more of a prairie. My favorite part about the Big Island is its diverse set of climate zones and the diversity that presents for exploring.

This area is now filled with macadamia nut and coffee orchards. There is a coffee roasting centre, a CVS (in the state, called Long’s), and a Bank of Hawaii. A little down the road is Nāʻālehu (also where my family is from). There, they host a rodeo in the summers, they have the southern-most everything, and have some food options.

Look for: terrain


For: Welcome Team

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One of my favorite attractions on the island is the Honomu Goat Dairy, which is located on the way to Akaka Falls State Park. They have a petting area and a storefront where you can purchase soaps and lotions, cheese, and more. When I was there, my mom bought me My Year in a Yurtwhich is about a couple who moves to the Big Island during the Financial Crisis. The Big Island has seen an increase in population, as opposed to the rest of the Hawaiian islands. This is largely due to the availability of land.

Look for: a story


For: inspired artisan

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The Volcano area highlights access to the national parkart classes, and songbirds. It’s my favorite area, with high elevation and cool temperatures — it’s just a 30-minute drive to Hilo. With the basic eateries, a gas station, and numerous bed & breakfasts, it has the essentials nearby.

The view of the sky is spectacular on clear nights. You can bike Mauna Loa, hike Kīlauea Iki, or snorkel in town. There is land to build a sustainable home with solar panels and a water catchment system.

Look for: mature fruit trees

*insert note that this is opinion & not professional advice*

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