Aloha! Should I flip on the neon light that flashes crispy and hot? It is summer time in Hawaii and incase you were wondering – we are OPEN for tourists and guests. If you haven’t been here in the summer get ready for heat/humidity. Crispy is the definition of tourists who visit us and think it is “in style” to return home burnt and tan (dude, it’s not cool – wear SPF that isn’t harmful to our coral reefs). News flash – tanning means you don’t care about yourself.

Kauai or otherwise known as the Garden Isle is my home. I live in a small town on the south shore known as Koloa. We are blessed with a ton of sunshine however; we are adjacent to Mt. Waialeale (means “overflowing water) the wettest place in the world. So, just to clarify – it is humid in Hawaii. So many times over the last two months I have had friends, families and colleagues share with me they want to cancel their vacations to Hawaii. My next response is why? “THE VOLCANO!” Did you know there are several islands that make up Hawaii? Kilauea volcano is located on the Big Island of Hawaii. The volcano has been devastating and disruptive to many locals however, to put it in perspective it is a very small area of about ten square-miles being impacted on an island that is 4,028 square-miles. My home on Kauai is 300 miles from the Big Island, while Oahu is 200 miles away. Kona, the main resort area located on the Big Island is 100 miles from the volcanic activity. You have no fears and the air quality remains good.

Why am I sharing this with you? Tourism is Hawaii’s prime economic engine. Tourism generated $1.96 billion in tax revenue last year, while visitors spending climbed to $16.78 billion, according to the Hawaiian Tourism Authority. Visitors spend an average of $20.9 million per day in Oahu alone.

It is important to note that Hawaii has what might be the highest statewide home prices in the United States, with the median home value in the state at about $605,000, according to the housing website Zillow. And while the unemployment rate is low at around 2 percent, that figure obscures other problems. Hawaii had the highest cost of living of any state in 2017, according to the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness, driven largely by housing prices. Zoning restrictions in parts of the archipelago and the use of private residences as vacation rentals constrict available affordable housing even further. The result: Even though Hawaii’s economy seems to be strong, wage increases have trailed the climb in home prices, fueling an exodus of people from the state.

Hawaiian’s have learned to rely on tourism to survive. It is not uncommon to meet someone who works multiple jobs just to support themselves or their families. The Hawaiian culture is embedded with ALOHA and pride for the culture and land. There is so much to share and we are all so happy to share it with you. Each island has it’s own personality but they all thrive on one common thread “respect” for the land, people, animals, sea and family. Cherish what we have here for you. Respect local culture. Take only what you need. Give thanks for what you are given. Slow down and share with others. It’s what we do. You are our guests but please do it too.

Lastly,Hawaii is one of the most racially diverse places in the world as there is no majority – everyone is in a minority. In the 2010 Census, 24% of Hawaii residents claimed multi-ethnic backgrounds (two or more races), far more than any other state in the USA (the second highest is Alaska). You will find a “mixed plate” of ethnic groups in Hawaii; 39% of Hawaii’s population is Asian, 24% is White, 10% is Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders, 9% is Hispanic, 2% is African American, 0.3% is American Indian and Alaska Native.

As Hawaii has become home to many different ethnic groups over the last 200 years, each ethnic group has added elements of its own culture to local life. Hawaii’s variety of cultures can be traced back to the old “plantation days” in the Islands, when various ethnic groups migrated to Hawaii to earn a living and support their growing families. Today, contemporary culture in Hawaii is a mix of the different cultures and ethnic groups that make up its unique population.

What does all this mean? We have the most magnificent people living here. Everyone really does embrace each other and their culture. The weather is amazing and our beaches and mountains are like nothing you will ever see anywhere else. Our food is above and beyond, hands down the most amazing infusion your palate will ever experience. If you aren’t sure if now is the right time to visit, the answer is “come now”. The minute you step on foot on our islands you will be helping many people while at the same time learning and sharing aloha.

David Brown
Mulberry Seed Design