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With its small town charm yet close proximity to Hilo, many wonder if Keaau, Hawaii is a good place to call home. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Keaau offers affordable housing, a slow pace of life, and access to natural wonders, making it a great place for those seeking an authentic Hawaiian experience away from the tourist hubs.

In this approximately 3000 word article, we will explore in depth the pros and cons of living in Keaau in order to help you determine if this former sugar plantation town on the Big Island is the right fit for you. We’ll look at topics like the cost of living, amenities, weather, natural attractions nearby, and more. We’ll also hear from current residents on what they love (and don’t!) about calling Keaau home.

An Overview of Keaau, Hawaii

Welcome to Keaau, Hawaii, a small town located on the Big Island of Hawaii. With its stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and vibrant community, Keaau offers a unique and appealing lifestyle for residents.

Location and Climate

Keaau is situated in the Puna District, which is known for its lush rainforests, picturesque coastline, and volcanic landscapes. The town enjoys a tropical climate, with warm temperatures year-round and a pleasant ocean breeze. The average temperature in Keaau ranges from the mid-70s to the low 80s Fahrenheit.

Outdoor Activities

If you enjoy outdoor adventures, Keaau has plenty to offer. The nearby Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a must-visit destination, where you can witness the awe-inspiring power of active volcanoes and explore the unique lava formations. The surrounding areas also provide opportunities for hiking, snorkeling, and exploring hidden waterfalls.

Education and Healthcare

Keaau is home to several schools, including Keaau Elementary, Middle, and High School, providing quality education options for families with children. The town also has a community college, University of Hawaii at Hilo, which offers various degree programs. In terms of healthcare, there are medical facilities and hospitals in nearby Hilo, ensuring accessible healthcare services for residents.

Affordability and Housing

Compared to other parts of Hawaii, Keaau offers relatively affordable housing options. Whether you are looking for a single-family home, a condominium, or a rental property, you can find a range of choices to suit your needs and budget. The town also has amenities like grocery stores, restaurants, and shopping centers, making it convenient for daily needs.

Community and Culture

Keaau has a strong sense of community, with residents who are known for their warm hospitality and welcoming nature. The town celebrates its cultural diversity through various festivals and events, showcasing traditional music, dance, and food. Living in Keaau provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich Hawaiian culture and connect with the local community.

Overall, Keaau, Hawaii, offers a unique blend of natural beauty, outdoor adventures, affordability, and a strong sense of community. Whether you are drawn to the stunning landscapes, the warm climate, or the rich cultural heritage, Keaau could be a great place to call home.

The Cost of Living in Keaau


One of the major factors to consider when evaluating the cost of living in Keaau is housing. The median home price in Keaau is higher than the national average, but it is important to note that the cost of living in Hawaii tends to be higher overall. However, the real estate market in Keaau offers a variety of options, ranging from single-family homes to apartments and condominiums. Renting in Keaau is also an option, with rental prices varying depending on the size and location of the property. It is advisable to consult a local real estate agent or browse online listings to get a better idea of the current housing market in Keaau.


The cost of utilities in Keaau is comparable to the national average. This includes expenses such as electricity, water, and internet services. It is important to note that the tropical climate of Hawaii may lead to higher electricity bills due to increased use of air conditioning. However, the abundant sunshine in Keaau also presents an opportunity for homeowners to explore solar energy options, which can help reduce utility costs in the long run.

Groceries and Dining

Grocery prices in Keaau are generally higher than the national average due to the importation of goods. However, there are local farmers’ markets and community-supported agriculture programs that offer fresh produce at more affordable prices. If you enjoy dining out, Keaau offers a range of dining options, from casual eateries to upscale restaurants. The prices vary depending on the type of cuisine and the location of the establishment.


Transportation costs in Keaau can vary depending on individual preferences and needs. While public transportation is available, it may not be as extensive as in larger cities. Many residents own a car for convenience and to explore the beautiful surroundings of the island. Gasoline prices in Hawaii tend to be higher than the national average, but the distances traveled in Keaau are relatively short compared to mainland cities, which can help offset the cost.


Access to healthcare in Keaau is provided by various medical facilities and clinics. The cost of healthcare can vary depending on factors such as insurance coverage and the type of medical services needed. It is advisable to have health insurance to help cover medical expenses, as healthcare costs in Hawaii can be higher than in other parts of the United States. It is recommended to research and compare healthcare options available in Keaau to find the most suitable and affordable option for your needs.

Employment Opportunities in Keaau

Keaau, Hawaii, despite being a small town, offers a range of employment opportunities for its residents. The town’s economy is primarily driven by agriculture, tourism, and education, creating a diverse job market.


Agriculture plays a significant role in Keaau’s economy, with banana, orchid, and macadamia nut farms being the major contributors. These farms provide employment opportunities for both skilled and unskilled labor, including farm workers, supervisors, and technicians. If you have a passion for working with plants and nature, Keaau offers a unique opportunity to be a part of Hawaii’s thriving agricultural industry.


As Keaau is located on the eastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii, it benefits from the island’s booming tourism industry. The town’s proximity to popular attractions such as Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the scenic coastline makes it an ideal location for various tourism-related businesses. From hotels and restaurants to tour guides and souvenir shops, there are numerous opportunities for employment in the tourism sector.


Keaau is home to several educational institutions, including public schools and the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management. These institutions not only provide quality education but also offer employment opportunities for teachers, administrators, and support staff. If you have a background in education or a passion for nurturing young minds, Keaau may be the perfect place for you to pursue a career in the education sector.

Furthermore, Keaau’s proximity to Hilo, the largest town on the Big Island, provides additional employment opportunities. Hilo is home to various industries, including healthcare, retail, and government, which can offer job prospects for Keaau residents willing to commute.

For more information on job opportunities in Keaau, you can visit the following websites:

Schools and Education in Keaau

When it comes to choosing a place to live, one of the most important factors to consider is the quality of education available in the area. In Keaau, Hawaii, you’ll find a range of schools that provide excellent educational opportunities for residents of all ages.

Public Schools

Keaau is home to several public schools, including Keaau Elementary School, Keaau Middle School, and Keaau High School. These schools are part of the Hawaii Department of Education and are committed to providing a high-quality education to their students.

Keaau Elementary School, for example, has a dedicated and highly qualified staff who are passionate about helping students succeed. The school offers a variety of programs and resources to support student learning, including special education services and extracurricular activities.

Keaau Middle School and Keaau High School also have a strong reputation for academic excellence. These schools offer a wide range of courses and extracurricular activities to cater to the diverse interests and talents of their students.

Private Schools

In addition to public schools, Keaau also has a few private schools that provide alternative educational options for families. One notable private school is Keaau Christian School, which offers a faith-based education in a nurturing and supportive environment.

Private schools like Keaau Christian School often have smaller class sizes, allowing for more individualized attention and a close-knit community. These schools may also offer unique programs or teaching methods that cater to specific educational philosophies or learning styles.

Higher Education

If you’re looking to pursue higher education in Keaau, you have options as well. The University of Hawaii at Hilo is located just a short drive away and offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs.

The university is known for its strong academic programs, research opportunities, and supportive faculty. Whether you’re interested in pursuing a degree in business, science, or the arts, the University of Hawaii at Hilo provides a great educational foundation.

Outdoor Activities Near Keaau

If you’re considering living in Keaau, Hawaii, you’ll be pleased to know that there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in the area. From stunning natural landscapes to thrilling adventures, Keaau and its surroundings offer something for everyone. Here are some of the top outdoor activities near Keaau:

Exploring Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

One of the main attractions near Keaau is Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. This incredible park is home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Visitors can witness the power of nature as they hike through lava fields, explore volcanic craters, and even see lava flows if conditions allow. The park also offers scenic drives, ranger-led programs, and breathtaking views of the volcanic landscapes. Don’t miss the chance to experience the unique beauty of this national park!

Visiting Puna Coastline

The Puna Coastline is another must-visit destination near Keaau. With its rugged cliffs, black sand beaches, and crystal-clear waters, this area is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. You can take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, go for a refreshing swim, or even try your hand at snorkeling to discover the colorful marine life. One popular spot along the Puna Coastline is the Kapoho Tide Pools, where you can swim in natural geothermal pools formed by lava rocks.

Hiking in Hilo Forest Reserve

If you enjoy hiking and exploring nature, the Hilo Forest Reserve is a great place to visit. Located near Keaau, this reserve is home to lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and diverse plant and animal species. With several well-marked trails to choose from, you can embark on a scenic hike and immerse yourself in the beauty of the Hawaiian wilderness. Don’t forget your camera, as you’ll encounter breathtaking views along the way!

Engaging in Water Sports

The waters surrounding Keaau offer endless opportunities for water sports enthusiasts. Whether you’re into surfing, paddleboarding, kayaking, or fishing, you’ll find plenty of spots to indulge in your favorite activities. The warm tropical waters and consistent waves make it an ideal location for surfers of all levels. Additionally, you can rent equipment or join guided tours to explore the coastline from a different perspective.

These are just a few examples of the outdoor activities available near Keaau, Hawaii. Whether you’re an adventure seeker or simply enjoy being surrounded by nature, this area has something to offer. So, get ready to explore, have fun, and create lasting memories in this beautiful part of the world!

Dining, Shopping, and Entertainment


When it comes to dining options, Keaau, Hawaii has a variety of restaurants and eateries to satisfy every palate. From local Hawaiian cuisine to international flavors, you’ll find a diverse range of dining experiences in this charming town. Whether you’re in the mood for fresh seafood, mouthwatering barbecue, or vegetarian delights, there’s something for everyone. Don’t forget to try the local delicacies such as poi and kalua pig, which are sure to leave you wanting more. For a truly unique dining experience, be sure to check out the food trucks that serve up delicious meals on wheels. With a mix of casual and fine dining options, Keaau has something to suit all tastes and budgets.


Keaau offers a variety of shopping opportunities for residents and visitors alike. The town features a range of small local businesses, including boutiques, gift shops, and art galleries, where you can find unique items to treasure. Additionally, there are larger retail establishments and grocery stores that cater to everyday needs. Whether you’re looking for handmade crafts, souvenirs, or everyday essentials, you’ll find it all in Keaau. The town also hosts regular farmers’ markets, where you can sample fresh local produce and support the community.


Despite its small size, Keaau boasts a vibrant entertainment scene. The town is home to several theaters and performance venues where you can catch live music, theater productions, and cultural performances. Additionally, there are community events and festivals held throughout the year, showcasing local talent and celebrating the rich Hawaiian culture. Keaau’s proximity to natural attractions such as Volcanoes National Park and Puna coastline also provides ample opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking, snorkeling, and exploring lava tubes. Whether you’re an art enthusiast, music lover, or nature enthusiast, Keaau has something to offer everyone.

Crime Rates and Safety

When considering whether Keaau, Hawaii is a good place to live, one important factor to consider is the crime rates and overall safety of the area. Fortunately, Keaau has relatively low crime rates compared to other cities in the United States. According to the most recent data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the crime rate in Keaau is lower than the national average.

Low Violent Crime Rate

Keaau boasts a low rate of violent crime, making it an attractive place to live for those concerned about personal safety. The community’s strong emphasis on community policing and neighborhood watch programs has played a significant role in keeping crime rates low. The local police department, along with community members, work together to ensure the safety and security of residents.

Property Crime Prevention

While property crimes can occur anywhere, Keaau has implemented various prevention measures to combat such incidents. The community has embraced initiatives like security systems, neighborhood watch programs, and educational campaigns to raise awareness about crime prevention. These efforts have contributed to a decrease in property crime rates and have helped residents feel more secure in their homes and neighborhoods.

Safe Community Environment

Keaau’s commitment to safety is reflected in the community’s overall environment. The town offers well-maintained public spaces and parks, well-lit streets, and a strong sense of community involvement. These factors contribute to a feeling of safety and security for residents and visitors alike.

It’s important to note that while Keaau generally has low crime rates, it’s always wise to take precautions to ensure personal safety. Locking doors and windows, being aware of your surroundings, and reporting any suspicious activity to the local authorities are all important steps to maintain a safe living environment.

For more information on crime rates and safety in Keaau, you can visit the Keaau Police Department website. They provide up-to-date information on crime prevention strategies, community initiatives, and resources for residents.

Transportation and Commuting from Keaau

When considering the livability of a place, transportation and commuting options play a crucial role. Keaau, a town located on the Big Island of Hawaii, offers various transportation options to its residents. Whether you prefer to drive, use public transportation, or commute by bike, Keaau has options to suit your needs.

Driving in Keaau

Keaau is conveniently located along Highway 11, also known as the Hawaii Belt Road. This major roadway connects the town to other major cities on the island, making it easy to commute to work or explore other parts of the island. The well-maintained roads and scenic drives in and around Keaau make driving a pleasant experience. However, it is important to note that traffic can be heavier during peak hours, so planning your commute accordingly can help you avoid delays.

Public Transportation

For those who prefer to use public transportation, there are options available in Keaau. The Hele-On Bus provides bus services that connect Keaau to other towns and cities on the island. This is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to commute for those who do not own a car or prefer not to drive. The bus routes and schedules can be found on the Hele-On Bus website.

Bicycling in Keaau

If you enjoy cycling, Keaau offers opportunities for commuting by bike. The town has bike lanes and designated routes, making it safer and more convenient for cyclists. Biking not only helps reduce traffic congestion but also promotes a healthy and active lifestyle. You can explore the surrounding areas and enjoy the beautiful scenery while commuting to work or running errands.

The Weather and Climate in Keaau

When considering whether a place is a good place to live, one of the important factors to consider is the weather and climate. In the case of Keaau, Hawaii, residents are fortunate to enjoy a mild and pleasant climate throughout the year.

Tropical Paradise

Keaau is located on the Big Island of Hawaii, which is renowned for its tropical climate. This means that residents can expect warm temperatures year-round, with average highs ranging from the mid-70s to the low 80s Fahrenheit. Even during the winter months, temperatures rarely drop below the 60s, making it an ideal location for those who prefer to escape the cold.

Abundance of Sunshine

One of the perks of living in Keaau is the abundance of sunshine. The island of Hawaii receives an average of 278 sunny days per year, allowing residents to enjoy outdoor activities and soak up the vitamin D. The sunny weather also contributes to the lush and vibrant vegetation that is characteristic of the island.

Rainfall and Seasons

While Keaau does experience rainfall throughout the year, it is important to note that the island of Hawaii has microclimates, meaning that the weather can vary from one area to another. Keaau itself is located in a rainforest region, which results in a higher average annual rainfall compared to other parts of the island. On average, Keaau receives around 130 inches of rainfall per year. This rainfall contributes to the lush greenery and beautiful waterfalls that can be found in the area.

It is worth mentioning that the rainfall is not evenly distributed throughout the year, and there are distinct wet and dry seasons. The wet season typically occurs from November to March, while the dry season is from April to October. Even during the wet season, however, it is not uncommon to have periods of sunny weather.

Outdoor Activities

The pleasant weather and beautiful surroundings of Keaau make it an ideal location for outdoor activities. Residents can enjoy hiking, snorkeling, surfing, and other water sports all year round. The island of Hawaii is also home to several national parks, including Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where visitors can witness the awe-inspiring power of active volcanoes.

What Locals Have to Say About Living in Keaau

When it comes to deciding where to live, hearing from the locals can provide valuable insights. So, what do the residents of Keaau, Hawaii have to say about their hometown? Let’s take a look at some of the things they love about living in Keaau:

The Natural Beauty

One of the biggest draws of Keaau is its stunning natural beauty. Surrounded by lush tropical rainforests and with easy access to beautiful beaches, residents find themselves immersed in paradise on a daily basis. Whether it’s hiking through the nearby Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or simply enjoying the breathtaking sunsets, the natural scenery in Keaau never fails to impress.

A Tight-Knit Community

Another aspect that locals rave about is the sense of community in Keaau. With a population of just over 2,000 people, this small town fosters a strong sense of connection among its residents. Neighbors know each other by name, and there is a genuine feeling of support and camaraderie. From community events to local businesses, there are plenty of opportunities for residents to come together and build relationships.

Great Schools and Educational Opportunities

If you have children, you’ll be pleased to know that Keaau offers excellent educational opportunities. The local schools are highly regarded and provide a quality education. Additionally, Keaau is home to the University of Hawaii at Hilo, which offers a wide range of academic programs for those seeking higher education.


When it comes to the cost of living, Keaau is often considered more affordable compared to other parts of Hawaii. Housing prices and rental rates tend to be lower, making it an attractive option for those looking for a more budget-friendly place to live. This affordability, combined with the natural beauty and strong sense of community, makes Keaau an appealing choice for many.

Proximity to Amenities

While Keaau may be a small town, it is conveniently located near larger cities and amenities. Hilo, the largest city on the Big Island, is just a short drive away and offers a wide range of shopping, dining, and entertainment options. This means that residents of Keaau can enjoy the tranquility of a small town while still having easy access to the amenities they need.


In conclusion, while Keaau may not offer all of the amenities of a big city, its serene pace of life, proximity to natural wonders, and affordability make it an excellent place to live for certain people. Those looking for a taste of authentic Hawaii, outdoor activities, and small town community will find that Keaau provides a high quality of living. While employment opportunities are limited, the low cost of living helps offset this. Keaau offers a unique way of life on the Big Island that isn’t right for everyone, but suits residents who prioritize nature, relaxation, and Hawaiian culture perfectly.

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