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Hawaii: Life in a Tropical Paradise

Updated on October 18, 2010

Hawaii. The name no doubt brings visions of tropical paradise instantly to the mind of the hearer. It is a well-known fact to mainlanders that Hawaii is synonymous with vacation, with everlasting sunshine, with perfect peace and harmony. Hawaii is always beautiful to the visitor, and let him think so: it can do him no harm. I was naïve when I first came to live in Hawaii. I was unaware that life, whether you live in Kansas or Kauai, is life. It’s not a vacation. Life includes chores and jobs and hardship. And although Hawaii has so many benefits, it isn’t perfect.

Living in Hawaii is vastly different from vacationing here. On vacation, all sorts of activities are planned, and everything is new and interesting to the tourist. The tourist has many options laid out in front of him. He avails himself of the prominent tourism industry to receive almost anything he could desire. Shopping and dining out and sports are all at his fingertips. In short, the tourist is used to being catered to. On the other hand, the local is so often the one who is catering to the tourist. Tourism employs many residents, and these many are thankful for the work.

But both tourists and locals alike enjoy Hawaii for the same reasons. There are hundreds of white and black sand beaches: beaches for sunbathing, beaches for snorkeling, beaches for surfing, for sunset-watching, for picnics, for skimboarding, for kite-surfing, for whale-watching. The list is endless. There are many trails to explore, through jungles and over mountains and into canyons. The scent of the plumeria and pikake flowers and the taste of the pineapple and fresh fish, the sound of the palm trees rustling and warm rain and the sight of the emerald cliffs and sapphire sea – these fill the senses of one and all.


Hanalei Bay
Hanalei Bay
a cane spider
a cane spider
Christmas in Hawaii
Christmas in Hawaii
sunset over Poipu
sunset over Poipu

Life in Hawaii is no vacation, although it is a beautiful and coveted life. Here are some things that locals have to deal with:

Insects – Whether it is a parade of ants that found a couple crumbs under the toaster, or a ten-inch-long centipede that found its way inside through that cardboard box from the garage, or a tarantula-like cane spider, bugs are inevitably present. Cans of insecticide are quite as inevitable. Everyone likes to share their stories of how they get rid of centipedes, as if they are deadly enemies. One person said he used to burn the centipedes over the gas stove and then throw them down the garbage disposal. So yes, there are bugs, but the good news is, there are no snakes on any of the islands.

Sunshine – Yes, sunshine. That thing that is so craved among the mainlanders in the wintertime. We have it all. And we do enjoy the sunshine, but when Christmas comes around and the mall is shooting fake snow out onto the warm cement and Christmas carols are sung in the eighty-degree weather, some of us remember Christmases past with cold, snowy shopping weather and fires in the fireplace and Christmas trees that didn’t have to be shipped over the ocean in air-conditioned containers. The idle remembrance goes so far with some that they have threatened to go Christmas caroling in the freezing-cold produce section at Costco.

Humidity – Everything in Hawaii is pretty much wet, even the air. In fact, the wettest spot on the planet is on the island of Kauai. Lots of water means lots of incredible waterfalls, lots of rivers for kayaking, and lots of ocean. But lots of moisture also means mold and mildew. Whatever you may try to do, mold in some form or other is inescapable. Keeping your house clean and your food fresh will prevent mold from taking over.

Tourists – We once belonged to this sunscreened, nondescript social order, and yet we are often caught deprecating tourists and their careless ways and poor driving skills. But our economy would be nowhere without them. They clog our roads and beaches, they are sometimes rude, and they often do not understand our way of life. But we need them regardless, and Hawaii is so beautiful that it needs to be shared.

Racism – This is not that much of problem here, but I mention it because there is a subtle strain of it in some. Caucasians are a minority among residents. Occasionally, underneath it all, the haoles can be condescending and the locals can be resentful. Although most living areas have a mixed population, there are some local neighborhoods and some white neighborhoods. There are local hangout beaches and there are haole tourist beaches. I believe most of the racism that occurs is among the younger population. But on the whole, racism is not an issue and most people are friendly and peaceable. In truth, Hawaii is one of the friendliest places you’ll ever find yourself.

Isolation – Hawaii is the most isolated land mass in the world. We live in a time when technology has made distance a non-issue. And yet, Hawaii feels like a world away from the mainland. The East Coast is five time zones away. I know some who would rise in the early morning hours on a weekend just to watch a football game that others on the mainland would be watching in the comfortable afternoon. Mainlanders like me who have come to live here, will sometimes get “island fever,” a feverish need to get off-island and back on the continent.

Expense – The cost of living in Hawaii is phenomenal. The cost of rent and food and gasoline is much higher than it is in most of the country. We learn to be more careful with our money here. We shop sales only. For example, milk, when it’s not on sale, can be eight dollars. We wait until it’s on sale, and we pay maybe around four dollars. That is still expensive! Economizing is a priority. Most homes don’t have air conditioning. Those people who do have air conditioning often don’t use it because it costs too much. Paying expenses in Hawaii is difficult, especially considering the condition of the current economy.


All these things regardless, Hawaii is a beautiful state and a wonderful place to live as well as to visit. There may be negative issues to deal with, but the benefits of living here make it worth it. God has truly blessed those who can call Hawaii their home. It is like paradise, or at least as close to it as we can imagine. But here, as anywhere else, we are reminded that perfection on earth is never attained. We live in a fallen world. But God through Jesus Christ has promised a perfect soul, a perfect world, to those who believe on Him. And those beauties that we taste of in Hawaii are just that, a taste of what true beauty is.


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Amazing Post ! I will be moving to Hawaii soon and i love to hear such enthusiasm and positivity and I agree that the life of this world always has downsides to it. But at least in Hawaii we are given a chance to enjoy the graces of God and to live on one of the most beautiful islands in the world. I have always dreamed living there while making alot of money will bring you material things but it will not bring you contentment nor happiness.

    • Rose West profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose West 

      8 years ago from Michigan

      Hi Anaya, thanks for reading! North Carolina is a beautiful place! The humidity kills you though. I can sympathize with you about the bugs! I've become a little more immune to them... a little. Not to the roaches though. A great thing about Hawaii - there are no snakes. It's funny how every place has its own pros and cons - everywhere has its own beauty :)

    • Anaya M. Baker profile image

      Anaya M. Baker 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Rose,

      I really enjoyed your account of real life in paradise. I can relate in some ways, I left upstate New York (near Canada, not NYC) for North Carolina, and while its no Hawaii, there are definitely some costs! I live in a rural area, on the bank of a river so yes, bugs, giant bugs, giant colonies of giant bugs, humidity, heat, mildew, and for us, snakes. The giant flying roaches are about the worst I think, but I still wouldn't trade it for anything. The day I actually stopped clearing the spiderwebs around my door because they are the best deterrent for flying things, I knew I'd adapted!

    • Rose West profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose West 

      9 years ago from Michigan

      BkCreative, New York City sounds amazing to me! Maybe we should switch places :) I watch "You've Got Mail" for therapy. You can have all the cane spiders you want - they creep me out! But I am glad that there aren't any snakes.

      Thank you so much for the visit and rating!

    • BkCreative profile image


      9 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Sounds lovely! I live in NYC and can only live near water so maybe Hawaii will be ideal as I plan my retirement. What NYC does not have is warm weather year round. Seems I can only function in the summer thus eliminating about 9 months of flip-flop fun. Now when I go out I have to put on so many clothes - ugh! I'd rather stay indoors - ugh!

      And that great big cane spider? Love it. Insects don't bother me. But I would have to come back to the mainland to see my son and DILs big snakes - since there are none there.

      There are other hubbers living there that just love it and are glowing.

      Thanks for a lovely hub! Rated up!

    • Rose West profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose West 

      9 years ago from Michigan

      Hi peggypat, I'm glad you enjoyed it! Many people hear the calling of Hawaii... they feel like it's the place they need to be. Hope it all works out for you. Just make sure you know what you're getting into.

    • peggypat profile image

      Peggy Patrick Medberry 

      9 years ago from Los Angeles

      What a terrific article. I have visited Hawaii many times and I yearn to live there. I am trying to read everything I can. I enjoyed your hub. I feel like it is calling me. I am aware of the down side.. But I just long to be there. I plan on reading all your articles!

    • Rose West profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose West 

      9 years ago from Michigan

      You're welcome, kaja_mel. Thanks for reading!

    • kaja_mel profile image


      9 years ago from Saraland, AL

      A place I've always wanted to go, thanks for the info.

    • Rose West profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose West 

      9 years ago from Michigan

      Entourage_007, thank you! I hope you do get to travel to Hawaii someday... it's a magical place!

    • Entourage_007 profile image


      9 years ago from Santa Barbara, CA

      Wow these pictures are amazing!! Great hub, I still haven't been to Hawaii but I've always wanted to go. However, I imagine that I will have visited within the next two years. Your hubs are truly inspiring Rose, Keep up the good work and thank you for your support!

    • Rose West profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose West 

      9 years ago from Michigan

      Hi Deborah, thanks for reading! It's true... vacation is different from normal life in Hawaii. And this life doesn't suit everyone. Wyoming, I hear, is a beautiful state as well :)

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 

      9 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      What a great perspective. I did enjoy a month vacation, but after a month, I was ready to come to the mainland. I have family living on the big island, for years and they love it. As for me, I like the wide open plains of Wyoming.


    • Rose West profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose West 

      9 years ago from Michigan

      theherbivorehippi, you don't have to be jealous ... I get jealous of people with snow! Sometimes I get a little tired of the tropics, but I do love it here. Cane spiders are ... scary, yes. They don't come inside very often, but when they do, they can be hard to catch!

    • theherbivorehippi profile image


      9 years ago from Holly, MI I was very jealous of you in Hawaii as I'm looking out my window at the blizzard of snow being dumped in Michigan right now...that is....until I saw the picture of the Cane Spider! Are you kidding me?? lol That thing is ridiculous!

    • Rose West profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose West 

      10 years ago from Michigan

      Oh the mold! I'm obsessive about mold. Can't stand it!

    • Jane Grey profile image

      Ann Leavitt 

      10 years ago from Oregon

      Nice to hear your perspective after a few years as an inhabitant; seems your attitude has changed a bit and the place has grown on you! Or perhaps it's just the mold-- I hear that grows on you quickly too.


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