Scott Watson is an extreme sports junkie. In 2006, he was jet skiing along the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island when he passed by two beautiful waterfalls cascading down the side of a cliff near Nīnole. Ever imaginative, he immediately pictured a home on the land. Over the next several years, he turned his fantasy into reality, and by 2011, after purchasing the land, he had built an estate on the edge of the cliff, which he called “Waterfalling Estate.”
Twenty-five minutes north of the closest town, Hilo, Waterfalling Estate is oceanside to Nīnole Stream at Haiku Point. Within a gated community, there are few homes nearby, making it a quiet sanctuary for any group that makes the decision to stay there. The villa is perfectly suited for the traveler seeking a blend of activity and privacy. The villa’s beautiful surroundings will make you want to spend your entire vacation outdoors, where you can relax by the pool, or be tempted by more adventurous options.
“It’s not your typical Hawaii vacation where you’re laying out on a white sand beach,” advises Jenny Kono, the property’s Rental Manager.
Instead, you can take advantage of hiking in the rainforest that surrounds the property, take a helicopter tour along the coast, take a day trip to Kona or the old Hawaii cowboy town of Waimea, or dine at one of the area’s many trendy farm-to-table restaurants. Waterfalling is ideal for couples or groups of friends. It also makes a magical venue for a wedding or celebratory event.
The villa is accessed by a winding, cliffside two-lane highway. “It’s exciting because when you’re driving in you don’t know what to expect,” Kono says. We’ll give you a taster: as you approach the villa through lush, tropical vegetation, anticipation builds. Once you turn off that winding road and enter through the gates, you pull into the long, dramatic driveway from which you can see Waterfalling Estate in the distance with the ocean and the horizon forming the backdrop. The property is expansive, the villa is exquisite, and the natural setting is strikingly colorful. Either side of the property is bordered by a stream, and there are no other homes or man-made structures in sight.
“As soon as you get out of your car, all you hear is a raging waterfall. It gives you this incredible energy just filled with nature’s power,” Kono says. “Because it’s right on the cliff, you get these amazing sea breezes and you can smell the salt in the air. It’s a completely different environment from being in a city.”
To fully appreciate your drive, ask your Luxury Retreats concierge to organize an airport transfer from Hilo International Airport (21.1 miles away) or Kona International Airport (73.8 miles away) so you can sit back and enjoy the views. To collect a few more style points on arrival, you can always make your presence felt and pull up via chopper since this mansion has, that’s right, a rooftop helipad landing. Need more heli-convincing? That’s exactly how pop megastar Justin Bieber made his grand entrance when he spent two weeks at Waterfalling Estate during the summer of 2016.
Yes, this home is definitely built for the celebrity type, what with its meditative koi pond, and not one, but two ATVs for your transportation needs across its 9.5 acres of secluded land. But that’s not all. You’ve heard of homes built along the perimeters of golf courses—but what about homes with their own golf course? At Waterfalling, you can join the likes of PGA Tour Pro Phil Mickelson (who had a short game range at his former $7 million Santa Fe home) or Hollywood star Mark Wahlberg (who has a four-green practice facility in his Los Angeles backyard), and play a round right on the property. The villa’s grounds feature an impressive pitch-and-putt golf course featuring a full putting green and nine different locations from which to tee off. To add to the fun (and the challenge!) there is a sand trap and two man-made ponds, all just steps from your front door, adding a whole new meaning to the term home course.
After channeling your inner Tiger, it’s time to go full tennis pro. The rooftop tennis court, which also converts to a basketball court, can be lit up for night games and has stadium seating to hold 450 people, though it’s equally effective for hosting a one-on-one friendly with no one watching but the birds. When you’ve had enough of the brilliant green and blue views from the rooftop—as if that’ll ever happen—you can retreat down just one floor, still two stories up, and take a glide down the waterslide that drops you into the oversized, heated, infinity pool. For more direct access, leap off the diving platform or board, both accessible from the second level pavilion.
Of course, there is plenty to get excited about inside the villa as well. An open-plan, high-ceiling concept gives the interior a breezy ambiance. Whether cooking for yourself or hiring a personal chef, you can make use of its fully equipped kitchen with a breakfast bar and a formal dining area with seating for eight. The entertainer type will be happy knowing their guests can play ping pong, shuffleboard, or pool, while an exercise room and sauna can ensure you don’t have to break your workout routine. Perhaps the home’s most impressive indoor feature is a central 52-inch round glass elevator accessible on all three levels of the main residence.
Waterfalling Estate’s pièce de resistance, and what makes it an absolute must-visit home for your next Hawaii vacation, is, of course, the presence of the two spectacular waterfalls just feet away from the house. You won’t able to resist the beauty of stepping outside your vacation home, and without walking more than a few steps, taking a mind-blowing hike down to the waterfalls below. Where else can you live this close to Hawaii’s natural wonders, with resort-style amenities and the privacy of your own estate? Thus the brilliance of Watson, the villa’s mastermind–watersports junkie with a plan for a masterpiece.
“Pure excitement,” Kono says of being on the property. Behind all this excitement is a vision, Watson’s vision, realized by his ability to manage an extremely secure build. He wanted a home on the edge of a cliff, and to do so, his team had to drill into the side of the mountain to build the foundation. The result is a four-storey superstructure of reinforced concrete and a home that has undergone world-class construction to bring an unthinkable concept to fruition.
When you drive up—or fly in—to Waterfalling Estate and see it for yourself, waterfalls in the back, acres of green space in the front, you’ll realize what a special achievement that was, and what a special place you have found.