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Magnum PI Robin’s Nest Now Controversial Obama House Hawaii

The Obamas were recently in Hawaii to check on the well-underway construction at their new multimillion-dollar Hawaii mansion near Honolulu, together with its seawall that is causing so much controversy. Nearby neighbors in the Waimanalo community are concerned that it will further erode the fragile beachline fronting the stunning turquoise ocean.

As you may recall, the property was purchased by close friend Marty Nesbitt, in 2015 for a cost of just under $9 million. Previously it was also the home where the Magnum PI mansion was located, nearby Waimanalo Beach. It was torn down as a result of disrepair in 2018.

Three homes are in construction at present on the beachfront compound, which includes two swimming pools and a security fence. The property sits nestled nearby the Koolau Mountains with a spectacular view of Waimanalo Bay.

Former President Barack Obama became known for spending Christmas holidays on Oahu, in a rented home at Kailua Bay, near Kailua Beach, during his presidency. In recent years, they have come to spend yet more time in Hawaii.

Controversial sea wall.

More recently, it came to public awareness that a plan was underway to retain a 100-year old sea wall on the beach at Obama’s coastal estate. That however was not in the interest of environmentalists and neighbors due to beach erosion. The issue is that the sea wall can further contribute to the beach’s erosion by impacting the natural flow of the ocean.

An apparent loophole in the law permitted the 2015 sellers of the massive compound to obtain an easement on public land for a one-time payment of $61K, just before it was sold. They asked officials for a 55-year lease of the public property underneath the century-old sea wall, which in turn gave the new property owners, the Obamas, the right to keep the concrete structure in place. That led to the building permits that are resulting in the current construction. While more than 100 such easements were created in the past two decades, they are nonetheless controversial, according to environmental experts, and are a primary cause of beach loss. Many consider such easements to be a planning loophole by the county in terms of environmental sustainability.

It appears that at one time, it was believed that these structures were a well-intended way to preserve coastal properties and were not the main cause of beach loss. Now, however, it has become clear that in fact they are contraindicated in relation to preserving Hawaii’s natural coastlines. Such structures do not protect the shoreline, however, and in fact directly result in existing beach loss by interrupting the ocean’s natural flow, according to scientists. These are at odds with modern laws.

As a result, the beach fronting Obama’s property is virtually devoid of sand due to the coastal damage.

Marty Nesbitt, who is now chair of the Obama Foundation board, addressed the issue of the sea wall being the main case of beach loss, saying “it was consistent with and informed by the analysis of our consultants, and the laws, regulations, and perspectives of the State of Hawaii.

See YouTube video of the spectacular location prior to the construction.

See Google map of location below:


The former historic Robin’s Nest mansion will have a whole new look.

Before Rob moved to Hawaii, his weekly dose of Aloha in the 1980s was watching Tom Selleck in Magnum, P.I. Rob wanted that life here in the islands, wearing the famous Aloha Shirt as Magnum did, and living in that 9,000 sq. ft. oceanfront home. When Rob drove by its location at Waimanalo, he would always try to take a peek. Now the home that served as the fictional “Robin’s Nest,” is back in the news again as it gets a presidential makeover.


The original 8,500 square foot home on three acres of oceanfront land, was built in 1933 and the sellers of the property received $8.7 million for it in 2015. Up until 2015, any residence over 50 years old needed a historical review before it could be demolished. That’s no longer the case unless it is on the national historical register or in a historic district.

Updated 3/8/22.

128 thoughts on “Magnum PI Robin’s Nest Now Controversial Obama House Hawaii”

  1. Hawaii had a wonderful opportunity to create a tourist hot spot, there would have been no other location in the state that had accommodated so many actors, American English in fact international in the whole of its film industry!!!. So, you demolished it, utter insanity!, and worst yet Obama’s hand in it……..Shame on the 50th state.

  2. The Obamas need a Higgins to look after the place whilst they are off gallivanting around the world. As I am English and over 50, I volunteer.

  3. For the record: i’ve read all of the comments regarding the property known as robins nest. The house was torn down in 2018, well before the Obamas, purchased the land. There was a provision regarding the seawall before the Obamas purchase that allowed it to stay.

    So for the record, don’t blame the Obamas, because they were hard to earn the money to purchase the property. I know I would have if I had them that kind of money, but it was a Stater Hawai’i they kept the seawall there.


    1. Kai,

      By 2018, there may have already been “quiet” discussions between Obama and the state of Hawaii.

      Personally, I don’t care. Every former president, even Obama, has earned the right to live just about anywhere in the USA even if a few zoning rules, etc have to be overlooked.

        1. Valid point, Will.

          But, even with Ll the perks of the presidency, the many negatives earn every president some slack in retirement.

          Even Biden, when he’s done serving.

      1. According to articles regarding the property, the property had been in disrepair for quite some time, actually several years.

        When the property went up for sale it was purchased by someone else, and put into a trust. No one knew who purchased it, however it was speculation that the man was a friend of the Obamas. After all President Obama was born and raised in Hawaii and it was rumored that he wanted to come back to his hometown.

        Now with the house in disrepair and in need of demolition, no one in his right mind would spend millions to purchase a rundown property, tear it down, then rebuild it as it use to be. If I’m buying, I decide how it looks, not others.

  4. Loved❤️ that home I was born in 67 and saw it on Hawaii 5 O and then in the 80s on Magnum PI. I always thought one day I might visit there well fast forward to just a few years before it was tore down and I did I walk through the title pool behind the property on the beach and walked up to the stairs where Tom Selleck walked up many times on the show I was sorry to see the state of disrepair and neglect that has occurred since the show and now I’m really disappointed they didn’t try to save it, and just all those did over like it was some sort of worthless building.

    1. I have toured around the nearby area, but never got to see the estate or the beach area. It is sad that there wasn’t any way to preserve or renovate the structure. I read some where that the cost would have been too high to try and save it. I definitely would have loved to see it before it was torn down.

  5. There is such great seduction living near the water. Around the world people yearn to live on ocean beach front, lakes and rivers. It has never been a durable or risk free place to live. With climate change making it even riskier. Sea wall will only give the Obama property a few extra years. It is sad that they did not work through other options. Set back farther and have easy to move trails down to what would be an active beach. Instead the homes and sea wall are a bad investment with little durability.

    1. Gordon, I tend to agree with you except your mention of climate change. Seawalls eventually are detroyed over time by the water. I doubt that “climate change” will have any material impact on that wall.

      I didn’t and never would vote for Obama, but I don’t begrudge him a safe place to build his home. Just as long as he pays full property taxes every year.

      For some reason beat of hawaii doesn’t connect to from PC or laptop. So with Logoteck K780and MX Mechanical I can switch between PC and phone and use my keyboard by switching devices on the keyboard. glad to be back.

  6. What is the final result of the seawall, is it going to remain? I love and respect the Obamas. Yet I understand how barriers, harbors etc, change the sand flow, reef habitat, corals etc. I would like to know more. It seems it might be better to take it out although it may now be a natural reef in which cast, not so much? Is it mainly to keep out big storm waves, sharks or what? Thank you.

    1. Ummm…Alison…seawalls are not put in place to protect from sharks. I guess, in a really bad hurricane, you could awake to find a hammerhead in your living room, but then, if that actually happened, you’d have Far larger problems than worrying about shark bites.

      I think perhaps you are confusing the ancient turtle rock enclosure offshore with the actual wall along the shoreline. If so, excuse my poor humor, lol.

  7. Why did the Obamas buy 2 waterfront properties–one in Martha’s Vineyard, and one in Hawaii–the sea levels are rising due to global warming, remember?! 😉

  8. Aloha. Lived over 20 years in Hawaii. It will always be my heart home. Know the home in Waimanalo and beach (🙏🏻) where the Obamas are settling. After a scan of the comments, I felt compelled to chime in. First, it’s the Obamas, remember? Barack was born on Oahu. He is Hawaiian at heart. I cannot think of anyone more pono to the land than him for ownership of this beachfront. They will cherish and care for 5e land. Second, it’s none of our business, but read the history of the leasehold he purchased. It came with prior authorization from Hawaii for that wall. I say back off, let them enjoy their life when on island, they deserve it. Mahalo nui

    1. I would love to live on that land that the Obama’s have. How fortunate for them. I’m happy to see him enjoying life. Enjoy that beachfront view!

  9. Amazing how those that force the rest of us to live under crazy wetland laws on the mainland ..can get waivers to do Far more damage!!

    The fact the preservation was not explored is extremely disheartening.

    Well the Obama’s have this iconic property (destroyed) and the Trumps have Mar largo. Is there a difference? They are all the same.

    1. I can’t believe that preservation was not explored.

      Amazing how quickly it happened.

      The incredible landscape ..vegetation..all gone.

      We call that clear cutting. Its sad.
      Very rarely done any longer.

      Especially for such a beloved landmark!

  10. A Heartbreaker. Been driving by that place since 1964 and not a fan of the new project. A long way from shopping and on the rainy windward side but forever in my memory.

  11. Anything that is Not preserving the shoreline as a natural occurrence should not be allowed. No matter who wants to build it. I’ve seen what these sea walls have done even over the last 19 years to west Maui shorelines & its devistating.

  12. Phillips times…the Obamas…historic register notwithstanding, this building should have been preserved.
    God only knows what abomination of a dwelling will replace it…
    Oy Vey!!!!!!!

  13. Aloha BoH!
    On my first visit to beautiful Oahu over 20 years ago, we visited Waimanalo Beach and snorkeled in the waters offshore. Was very surprised and blessed to happen upon a large sea turtle gracefully swimming yards away from me! After all these years, it’s still one of my favorite memories of that trip.

    Also exciting was seeing the “Magnum PI” house. Praying true care and concern is given to preserving the fragile seascape and its dependent sealife.

    Mahalo BoH for all you do!!!

    1. Hi Lisa.

      Thanks. Appreciate your input. That’s a favorite beach for both of us and has been for decades.


  14. It is so sad to see what was a treasure decimated for one family. Why can’t people just enjoy things as they are. I can see updating to be able to use current technology and whatever needs repair structurally (why buy it if you’re just gonna tear it down) but to tear down all that beautiful old vegetation just for some elaborate home that is way more than any family needs just breaks my heart.

    1. I was just thinking this, but I haven’t seen it mentioned elsewhere either! Not that I’m agreeing it should be used for that purpose, but it makes sense for them to keep the beach smaller there so no one is lounging around.

    2. No, the sea wall is there to prevent erosion and in 2022, we now know that the sea walls actually contribute to complete erosion of sandy beaches. Security has nothing to do with the sea wall as One cannot own the high water mark.

  15. If you are a climate change alarmist and, as such, are afraid of “rising ocean levels”, why in the world would buy an expensive property overlooking the ocean?


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