For years, this San Diego-based telecommunications company founder and his wife escaped to a condominium in a golf community on the southwestern coast of Maui. Their kids, and later their grandkids, joined them; everyone loved it. So, the couple decided to build a contemporary Hawaiian dream home that would comfortably accommodate four generations and last many lifetimes. “They wanted a family legacy that would patina gracefully and celebrate tropical lifestyle by seamlessly blending indoors and outdoors,” Randy Hanna, principal at HGW Architecture, says. 

Hanna worked closely with Ian Morris, principal at GroundLevel Landscape Architecture, to realize the couple’s vision. Diverse local plantings surround the limestone structure, creating a private tropical wonderland that entices at every turn, and not just visually. “The garden initiates multiple senses,” Morris says. “It attracts birds that sing, there are fruit trees the family can harvest, flowers provide incredible smells, and pathways feel good on bare feet.” 

Although much of the home is oriented toward the water—it sits above the shores of the Pacific Ocean abutting a seaside golf course—the backside views are also stellar. “Usually, a house is all about the ocean, but they also face Haleakala Volcano,” Hanna notes. “There are lanais on both sides for views, outdoor access, and tropical breezes.”

Entry is along the volcano side of the pavilion-style home, where a path of Montrachet limestone pavers with sawn surfaces runs from the street to a Hawaiian bluestone and sapele mahogany gate, and then ascends slowly up a series of stairs. The gate highlights the first moment of bespoke local craftsmanship. “On the street side of the gate, there is a relief carving of ocean waves because you are headed to the water,” Hanna says. “On the flip side there are mountains.”

A glass pivot door marks the formal entry, though one might step right into the living room from the eastern lanai. After all, pocketing glass walls open nearly the entire perimeter of the house to the outdoors. That the Montrachet limestone pavers continue underfoot, through the living space, out to the western lanai, and up to the edge of the infinity pool, reinforces the connection. 

Inside, furnishings are spare, but meant for relaxation, and decorative details take cues from traditional Hawaiian arts. There are handmade reproduction antique Hawaiian surfboards leaning against plaster walls and a sapele mahogany–wrapped column with a carved band that tells the family’s story in the manner of traditional Hawaiian tattoo art. And, at the center of the home, bubinga wood panels with a sapele mahogany relief carving of Maui wraps the three-level open stair with lacy aluminum risers and ipe treads.

On the other side of the stair, at the northwest corner, a dining patio with an outdoor kitchen wraps the open-air indoor kitchen. A sleek ipe boardwalk separates the cooking/dining patio from the pool, jutting eight feet into the landscape over the home’s Hawaiian bluestone foundation, about 15 feet above the lower yard. This cantilevered boardwalk looks to Molokini, an uninhabited spit of land known for its snorkeling. “The concept of this lookout point evolved from wanting to celebrate the commanding view,” Hanna says. “We ran the boardwalk all the way into the house, to the foot of the stair, to further connect the house to the site.” 

Three generous guest suites with lanais and a double bunk room with a catamaran netting loft are located on the north and south ends of the home, while the primary suite enjoys elevated views on the second level, as does the family room. Lanais wrap both spaces on two sides, showcasing the owners’ favorite views past the rhythmic bronze rails: the golf course and the island’s only black sand beach. 

Interior spaces with soaring cedar ceilings and exposed structures lean into traditional Hawaiian long room architecture, and walnut screens laser-cut with palm frond patterns mask attic windows and louvers that let in natural light and ocean breezes. Similar to those in the guest suites below, aluminum panels with an abstract scattering of perforations in the shape of plumeria petals ensure privacy for would-be bathers using either of the side-by-side indoor and outdoor showers that look out to the volcano. 

Finally, for those seeking something beyond—or rather, above—the meandering gardens and black sand shores, the stair goes up another level, to the roof. There’s a roof deck and a lawn. “It’s the one place that captures a 360-degree view,” Hanna says. “You see the ocean, the volcano, and the stars.” 

Learn more about the project team

Architect: HGW Architecture
Landscape Architect: GroundLevel Landscape Architecture
Structural Engineer: Scot Listavich Structural Engineering
Civil Engineer: Otomo Engineering, Wailuku, HI
Lighting Designer: Ron Neal Lighting Design
Construction: Haven International, Kihei, HI
Wood Carvings: G&S Woodworks