Ready for next-level Hawaiian living? Grab your checkbook and fork over a quarter-billion dollars for a 55,575-acre ranch on Hawaii's fifth largest island, Molokai. Molokai Ranch occupies roughly 35 percent of the island's western end and just hit the market with a cool $260 million price tag. It also includes two resorts, pastureland, a tropical rainforest, two towns, and more than 20 miles of private beach.
But there is one caveat. "We have a very strong activist community on this island," said Richard ("Rikki") Cooke III, a Molokai resident and descendant of one of the ranch's first owners. "They don't want change, and they don't want outsiders."
The ranch was first a sheep ranch owned by the Hawaiian royal family. In 1884, when the dynasty's last surviving member died, hundreds of thousands of acres across numerous islands became an estate. Years later, the portion of land on Molokai was sold to a group of Hawaiian businessmen and transformed into a sugar plantation. Finally, one decade later, businessman Charles M. Cooke bought out his partners and founded Molokai Ranch.
During the ranch's prime, it produced pineapples on 14,000 acres, the Kaluakoi resort hotel was active, and there was a successful farming operation.
After a number of bumps in the road, the ranch was ultimately acquired by a New Zealand-based investment holding company, which later became Singapore-based GL Ltd. Today, a crew of only a dozen people maintain the land and tend the cattle.
In an email about the sale of the property, GL Ltd. stated: "We find that we presently do not possess the required expertise nor resources to bring the Molokai Ranch assets back to their full potential."
The company's statement continued, "To protect the legacy of Molokai Ranch, we prefer not to break up the assets by disposing of them on an individual basis. GL believes that, by partnering with Sotheby's, it will be able to identify a new owner with a new vision for Molokai Ranch. The residents of Molokai can only benefit from such a new owner."
The property's listing agent, Scott Carvill of the Carvill Sotheby's International Realty, alluded at what kind of buyer may be interested in a property of this nature. "The most obvious target is an ultra-high-net-worth individual who sees this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he said. "They wouldn't necessarily [buy it] for its [return on investment] as much as something to hold in the family, or land-manage, or to keep through a conservation-type approach."
And although the pricey property has been on the market for just more than a week, it may not last long. "We've had interest at an amazing rate," Carvill commented. "I can barely keep up with the phone calls."
Carvill also met with local leaders to find out who their ideal buyer is. "They were very realistic. They told me they want a buyer to come in, appreciate the community, and maybe participate in some endeavors with cultural and Hawaiian heritage," he said.