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We've all fantasized about trading in our continental commitments for the surf's-up aloha lifestyle -- if you haven't, we don't want to know you -- but one peek at housing prices turns our aloha dreams into dust. With average home prices nearing $500,000, hopes for island life might be a little far-fetched.
Unless you're willing to squeeze.
Listed for $249,000, the Hale Ohia in Volcano, HI, is a tiny, 380-square-foot home filled with big surprises like the "magic door" -- a 5-foot pivoting living wall with room to grow any herb you can imagine. Plants soak up the sunshine during the day, but come dinnertime, you can turn the wall to face the kitchen for easy access to your basil and oregano.
"When it's turned towards the kitchen, the aroma that's in here is unbelievable," says Mike Verzosa, the home's builder. "It's the fragrance of an old Italian restaurant."
Verzosa is no stranger to small spaces: He's spent the last 15 years building tiny homes, and the Hale Ohia proves his expertise with dozens of (ahem) tiny, perfect details. A wine cellar in the kitchen stores a small collection of your favorite vintages. The built-in kitchen table tucks away when not in use. A button-activated vacuum system keeps the home pristine, and a bookshelf pops open to reveal a hidden bedroom.
"I sit here and just wonder, 'Dang, this is nice,'" says Verzosa. "Everybody that comes and sees it falls in love."
Speaking of that secret space: Despite its tiny footprint, this getaway sleeps six comfortably -- thanks to its bunked beds and upstairs loft -- making it a fantastic home base for your Hawaii adventures. You don't even have to sacrifice full-size amenities. Verzosa added a 30-inch refrigerator and stove and a stacked washer and dryer to complete the space.
And if you feel like settling in a different island locale, just hitch the home to your car and leave, as the home is built with portability in mind.
But why would you leave? Its current location adjacent to the Kahaualea Natural Area Reserve and Volcanoes National Park means there's no shortage of outdoor activities.
Even the property is paradise. With nearly a half-acre of your own spread across two lots, there's plenty of room for entertaining and exploration -- start by following the foot trail to the outdoor shower. Need more space? Adding on would be easy: Verzosa has already drawn up plans (and permits) for a second, 600-square-foot, three-bedroom tiny home on the other lot.
"It's perfect for someone that just wants to get away from the ruckus and traffic and noise and interruptions of the city," Verzosa says. "Someone who wants to do some serious thinking or painting and enjoy some beautiful scenery."