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Shangri-la: Paradise on Earth in Pahoa, Hawaii

This dreamy hideaway on Hawaii’s Big Island is a haven of idyllic beauty and tranquility.

From the mainland, it takes just over five hours by air (four and a half if you catch a tailwind), but Pahoa, on the Big Island of Hawaii, feels worlds away. Located in the lush, jungle-like Puna District, 30 minutes south of Hilo, this small town has a decidedly bohemian feel. From coffee farmers to computer engineers, artists to architects, young families to yogis, people from all walks of life congregate here.

Beyond acres of papayas and New Age shops interspersed with small galleries and cafes, kitschy Old-West storefronts occupy Pahoa. Wooden boardwalks connect strings of historic of buildings—more than any other town in Hawaii—including the Island’s oldest movie theater. It’s an eclectic mix, but it’s what gives this place its charm.

Pahoa, known for it’s laid-back New Age vibe, has the highest concentration of old buildings in Hawaii—and only 945 residents.

Closer to the coast on the east side of town, you’ll find Lava Tree state park, a forest of fossils created when lava flow swept through the wooded landscape in 1790. The trees themselves are gone now, leaving magma monuments as a stark reminder of the nearby Kilauea volcano, which serves as a backdrop to the area’s breathtaking native flora.

Centuries-old lava formations draw visitors to Lava Tree State Park.

In this verdant tropical wonderland, there’s another type of paradise to be found: Shangri-la, a one-of-a-kind, oceanfront oasis. Beyond the gates, volcanic rock walls give way to unparalleled natural beauty. Five thatched-roof structures, spread over half an acre, comprise this long-time luxury rental, now looking for a new owner. The cost of pure bliss? $1,895,000.

Lush tropical plants and lava stone walls greet guests and offer privacy at exclusive Shangri-la.

The property’s most prized amenity is its 90-degree therapeutic lagoon, refreshed daily by the tide. Buildings connected by footbridges sit atop beams, balancing above the water, providing views of the crystal-clear, aquarium-like ponds below. 

Three adjoining lots were consolidated to create a secluded sanctuary, complete with fresh and saltwater therapeutic baths.

But the open ocean isn’t far. Less than a minute’s walk from the property lies Kapoho beach and tide pools, purported to have the cleanest air on Earth.

Tide pools, renowned for clear waters and excellent snorkeling, extend up to 200 yards offshore at Kapoho beach.

After a swim, freshen up in one of the indoor/outdoor bathrooms. The master offers a sauna and soaking tub with a backdrop of greenery and palms. Much of the estate features open-air construction, embracing Pahoa’s balmy 74-degree year-round average temperature. 

In keeping with the home’s Asian style, the master bathroom features a luxurious Japanese soaking tub.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the property, the Balinese influence is in full effect in the romantic “Island Bedroom,” an al fresco suite accessible only by footbridge.

Wild orchids grow with abundance in Pahoa. Pink and white sprays add romance and a pop of color outside a bedroom suite.

The guest house impresses, with waterfall views and a swim-up hammock island.

Glassy tranquil waters shine in the Hawaiian sun. After dark, enjoy a night swim, thanks to underwater lighting in the compound’s lagoon.

And wrap-around porches provide respite: a vantage point for observation and quiet reflection.

The suspended lanai is a perfect perch for sipping locally-grown morning coffee.

It’s hard to believe a place like this exists.

It’s no wonder this Hawaiian hideaway has been ranked one of the best luxury villas in the world.

But Shangri-la is real: just steps from the ocean, this paradise is miles away from reality—and it could be yours.


Could you live here? Let us know in the comments below, or check out more homes for sale near Pahoa.