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DLNR to auction off leases for Kōke’e cabins

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Annual leases for seven cabins in the Kōke’e recreation residence community will be auctioned to the public in mid-April by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Courtesy of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources

The historic Kōke’e recreation residence community began in the mountains of Kaua‘i in 1918. It was created for the protection of forest resources and the watershed, but also for recreational pursuits and public access.

The community was planned and modeled on recreation residences in the U.S. National Forests across the mainland. First, the Territory of Hawai‘i and then the state of Hawaiʻi began issuing permits and leases for more than 100 recreation residences, including to church camps and civic organizations.

Chipper Wichman, president of the Kōke‘e Leaseholders Association said, “The unique historic community that has evolved up in Kōke‘e over the last 100 years is part of Hawai‘i’s heritage and is not replicated anywhere else in the state. Many of the cabins are designated as historic structures under Hawai‘i law. The DLNR Division of State Parks (DSP) has adopted specific design guidelines to protect the unique architecture of this mountain community.”


The properties were leased by negotiation and appraisal until 1985 when they were all offered for public auction. Following a 20-year lease term which ended in 2005, lessees in good standing were again allowed to continue their leases through direct negotiation and appraisal. However, 17 cabins were returned to the state at that time, which set the stage for the second-ever auction in December 2011. Winning bids for annual lease rent during that auction ranged from $2,500 to $18,000.

The seven cabins that will be auctioned during the upcoming third auction were all returned to the state over roughly the past 10 years. As a result, many of these properties have deteriorated. Successful bidders will have an opportunity to join a historic community that takes pride in helping care for the mountains of Kaua‘i.

Opening bids for the currently available lots will range from $4,500 to $9,500, for annual lease rent.


The Kōkeʻe Leaseholders Association was formed in 1983 to work with the state and to protect this community. Wichman added, “We work closely with the DSP to ensure that these cabins get into the hands of community members who will love them and maintain them as recreational residences, as always envisioned.”

Most of the seven cabins have been neglected for many years and will need significant work before they can be enjoyed. All have access to electricity, telephone, internet, and water. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are needed to reach several of the cabins.

“For some of the current lot of cabins up for auction, “rustic” may be a bit of an understatement. They’ve been vacant awhile – bring your own elbow grease. But we’re confident that we’ll find good families to steward and enjoy these cherished mountain cabins,” said DSP Assistant Administrator Alan Carpenter.


People will have an opportunity to view the exterior of the cabins and their associated properties at the end of February, for a proposed auction date in mid-April.


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