The Real Truth About Living in Hawaii; A Mainlanders Perspective

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Living in Hawaii for most mainlanders is kind of like living in a different country.

Before you continue...

In some ways it's wonderful, and in other ways it's terrible. Owning a home in Hawaii is like a dream for many, but like any other place on earth, Hawaii isn't perfect. We call it paradise, but that's really more about the land, ocean, and the beauty of nature in our tropical climate. If you're thinking about buying Hawaii real estate, then you've come to the right place. I won't pretend it's going to be all sunny days and perfect waves, but I can help you understand where the best places to invest and live are on Oahu, and which areas have higher crime.

Some parts of Oahu appreciate in price faster than others, and some parts are probably always going to be run down. You need to understand that Hawaii is still the real world, but maybe one of the best parts of the world. The ocean is everywhere, and we get in it a lot. Scuba, snorkel, surf, spearfish, water ski, you name it, we do it. And the water is about 75 degrees all year long. The best beaches are on the north shore at Sunset beach and Waimea, but those beaches have giant waves in the winter, so when the surf is big and you just want to go to a beach without waves, go to Kailua or Lanikai.

The white sand is beautiful. Even if you never surf, you can paddle on a kayak or a canoe, get in a boat, swim, or just sit on the beach. People save their money for years to come sit on our beaches for a week. We work all week and enjoy the beach in the afternoons.

BUDGET LIVING IN HAWAII // LIVING IN HAWAII ON A BUDGET

Our family does in fact go the beach almost everyday - at least the surfers in our family do. The surf. Most of Hawaii's surf is on the north shore, but the south side has Ala Moana, Kewalo's, and a bunch of spots I won't mention, because we like to keep the crowds down. Oahu has the best surf in the world at Pipeline, Off the Wall, and Waimea bay. Even if you're not into the surf, you will still enjoy those beaches with their wide clean sand, and calm water in the summer. The mountains on Oahu are beautiful and fun to hike. The Koolau Mountain Range is truly beautiful and has been featured in many movies and print ads.

From Kailua, you get an amazing view of the Koolaus just about all the time. There are other areas to hike, but Kailua is a favorite. Hikers love Oahu for its dozens of lesser know trails. Please stay on marked trails - hikers get lost when they don't, and sometimes get really hurt or lost. The freeways look like parking lots during rush hours that can stretch a normally 30 minute commute into a two hour crawl.

How to Piss Off the Locals in Hawaii

Every workday. On some parts of Oahu people have to get up at 5am to get to work by 8am. No lie. If your travel time can flex from 30 minutes to 2 hours, what time do you leave the house to get into town by 10am? Who knows? This forces you to leave early and then you might arrive really early, on-time, or late. This wastes a lot of time and makes one want to avoid driving whenever possible.

When we get the occasional big highway accident, the entire island chokes on traffic. There have been some horror stories of people taking 8 hours to get home. Less competition is almost always bad for consumers and here it applies to much more than just high prices.

This lack of competition also permeates our politics: Hawaii is a single party state, featuring the lowest voter turnout in the nation. This all contributes to an attitude of apathy for many. You would think our conditions would be ripe for change and consumer revolt, but in Hawaii our Aloha Spirit culture creates a shrug-and-bear-it type of attitude.

All in Hawaii are minorities but there is a pecking order. Hawaiians are on the top of the heap, followed by other Polynesians, then Asians, and finally the Haoles.

Most mainland haoles never get past this. What does this mean, really? It means you will have to completely let go of your Western self and completely embrace your new Hawaiian islander self. You must be like Lt. If you insist on remaining Lt.


  1. #2 F with the Ocean.
  2. Diamond Dove.
  3. #2 F with the Ocean;
  4. Ma Nishtana - Score.

Nothing here is cheap. Even locally produced goods cost a ton more. Why are things so expensive here? Visitors to Hawaii need only take one trip to the grocery store or any restaurant to experience extreme sticker shock that us islanders have just come to accept. Honolulu traffic. Anything in Hawaii that becomes even somewhat popular immediately becomes overcrowded. This perhaps may be more acute on Oahu than the other islands but the underlying fundamentals are similar.

Find a good restaurant? New product announcement? Lines around the block. Big concert in town? Sold out in an hour. Big shopping sale at the mall? Big event anywhere? Traffic backed up for miles. Big surf event? No road tripping here on the island!

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Customs and etiquette in Hawaii - Wikipedia

One of many things mainland Americans take for granted is the amazingly awesome fun of a road trip. So in reality what you end up doing is driving across the island and then back. What ends up happening over time is you go less and less, growing ever more distant from mainland family. Surprisingly, our fresh fruit selection is not very good. While we have good local supply of pineapples, bananas and papayas, fruit that has to be shipped in is rarely ripe and either overripe or underripe.

Reward Yourself

Peaches are the best example: we only get really sweet and juicy peaches for perhaps weeks out of the year with substandard selection after that. Restaurants are a problem too. Hawaii has a large selection of Asian-centric restaurants but after that it falls off the cliff. Italian, Greek, Mexican, Pizza and the like are sorely lacking. But great [anything else] restaurants?