Is Your Property in a Conservation District? Here's What Kona Landlords Need to Know

Is Your Property in a Conservation District? Here's What Kona Landlords Need to Know
Hawaii provides some unique twists and turns for investment property owners. The Big Island is an idyllic place to invest in rental properties; it's a scenic, sought-after location for vacation and retirement. However, owning and operating a rental property comes with a lot of regulations you might not find stateside. The Hawaiian government puts rules in place about how the land can be used to protect the natural beauty of Hawaii. When it comes to Conservation Districts, it's critical to understand what parts of the Big Island fall into these zones. How can your zoning affect your investment properties in Kona? Don't fear adding more properties to your investment portfolio! Let's walk through what you need to know about conservation zones. Please note: While this article is intended to give you an overview of investment property in Conservation Districts, it is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel. Investment Property

What Are Conservation Districts?

Since 1964, the Hawaiian government has honored Act 187; it defines conservation as: "The protection of watersheds and water supplies; preserving scenic areas; providing park lands, wilderness and beach reserves; conserving endemic plants, fish, and wildlife; preventing floods and soil erosion; forestry; and other related activities." Lava flow property management big islandConservation Districts designate Hawaii into different "use" classifications. Within a typical Conservation District, you'll find five subzones of land classifications from most to least sensitive:
  • Protective
  • Limited
  • Resource
  • General
  • Special
To build or operate on the Big Island, the state requires permits. Your property must also follow regulations specific to each type of land and it's allowed use. 

How Does This Apply to Investment Property Owners?

While technical, it's important to know your zone when you want to start investing or decide to grow your rental property portfolio. Now that we've covered the purpose of a Conservation District let's dive into how this plays into the properties you choose when growing your long-term wealth.


No matter what type of rental property you operate, make sure your property sits on land zoned for residential or vacation rentals. When it comes to short-term rentals, the latest changes to vacation rental regulations require these properties to stick to designated "vacation rental" areas. Most zones designated for resort or vacation rentals won't be in highly restrictive conservation zones, like the Protective or Limited zones.  However, if you're operating a short-term vacation rental in a residential area, it's time to consider converting your property to a long-term rental. For both short-term and long-term rentals, you'll need to research the location before you purchase a new property. That's fairly standard for every investment. Keep in mind; some Conservation Zones aren't entirely off-limits to long-term rental properties. However, you'll need to do your research to make sure the structure on the property complies with the rules of the zone.

Permits and Regulations

If you have your eye on a new rental property for your portfolio, make sure you apply for any applicable permits to keep a residence and operate as a rental. Each conservation zone has definitions of appropriate land use, the rules to follow so that your property meets compliance and a way to apply for the correct permits.Dolphins Conservation Swimming Ocean Violating any of the regulations for your zone—or operating without the correct permits—can result in significant fines. It's a little extra work to follow the conservation land rules for your Kona property, but the return on your investment is worth it.


Conservation District rules can help you market your property to the right tenants. People come to the Big Island for sunshine, beaches, and the lush landscape; many renters look for properties that provide eco-friendly amenities. If your property abides by your conservation zone rules, you're providing an environmentally conscious place to live. You're also contributing to the beauty and appeal of the Big Island!

How Do You Navigate a Conservation District?

Finding your next investment property and navigating the zones and regulations can be overwhelming—especially if you live on the mainland, and you're not familiar with all that Hawaii does to protect our island's natural resources.  Big Island Conservation District Navigation You need eyes and ears on the ground! Working with a local Kona property manager is the best way to find and operate your rental properties within the laws. Property managers are experts in our state and local laws. They can direct you to an investment property that works best for your portfolio. They'll also make sure your property has all of the appropriate permits to follow the rules.

We're Here to Guide You to Your Dream!

Hawaiian Dream Properties has more than eighteen years of experience when it comes to serving rental property owners on the Big Island. We've helped many investment property owners work through Conservation District regulations to get the most out of their portfolios. Don't risk making a mistake—or incurring a fine—with any of your Kona properties. Our team stays up to date on what you need to know. We handle all of the details, so you have the peace of mind that your properties are a fantastic investment. If you're ready to expand your portfolio—or to get started with your first investment property—let Hawaiian Dream Properties help! We'll provide a free Rental Analysis; plus, we'll walk you through everything you need to know to make the most from your investments. {{cta('e04eb077-e6e5-46e2-9d68-98dbe419e1d4','justifycenter')}}
Blog Home