What’s it like living on a small island in Hawaii?

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What’s it like living on a small island in Hawaii?2018-04-21T12:48:18+00:00

What’s island life like when you’re living on a small island and everything is so close by?

One of the many conveniences of living on an island is the nearby proximity of everything. For example, the island of O’ahu all of 597 square miles. It’s a small place. With this, each subdivision is also smaller. Each subdivision generally comes with its own shopping center, grocery store, post office, etc. So, you’re generally going to be driving shorter distances to your necessities.

Living on a small island: neighborhoods are smaller

In mainland cities and towns, the land region allotted for a specific subdivision or neighborhood is typically larger than the average neighborhood in Hawaii. Because each subdivision comes with its general stores and necessities, you’re just going to be driving a longer distance to get to the one in your neighborhood.

It’s a matter of proportions, the smaller the subdivision, the closer your necessities are. So in Hawaii, everything is nearby.

Speaking of nearby necessities, there are beaches everywhere. It’s an island. Every edge of the island meets the ocean at some point – and 90% of that is accessible with reasonable transportation. Beaches are also public land, so even if someone builds their house or hotel on the beach, you’re still allowed to walk on the beach without risk of punishment.

what's island life like

Neighborhoods are smaller so commodities and markets are closer.

Living on a small island: neighborhoods are separated by valleys

In addition to beaches, Hawaii’s gorgeous mountains are also nearby. Unlike mainland cities that are typically built in a basin of mountains, Oahu’s mountains are arranged differently. For example, on Oahu most neighborhoods are separated by mountains so that each valley is its own subdivision and neighborhood. Mountains are much closer to homes and sometimes serve as your backyard (for the houses in the very back of the valley.) So, with the close proximity of mountains comes nearby hiking trails and adventures!

There are benefits with having a close proximity to so many things. For example, you won’t be putting on so many miles on your car here because you just simply can’t drive that much. Although you may use more gas because you’ll be idle in traffic for so long, your vehicle’s lifetime won’t be shortened as quickly.

what's island life like

The ridges of valleys help to separate areas.

Living on a small island: less travel time, more fun

It’s also nice to know that you’ll be spending more time doing qualitative things rather than traveling. For example, it only takes 15 minutes to get to the nearest beach, a place where you’ll probably spend 3 hours in one instance. So, the ratio of travel : activity time is in favor of the activity.

what's island life like

Less driving time means more fun time!

Living on a small island: more activities in the same day

This also makes for doing multiple activities in one day. For example, you can do a hike in the morning and go to the beach in the morning because these things are just so close to each other. I notice when I’m in Reno, when we all go to the lake we stay there for the entire day, 9am-9pm. The first time I did that, I thought I was going to die. Although I’m accustomed to sun exposure, I was a red lobster when I got home. I definitely had a ton of fun, but it was a lot of sun to take in. I learned what a “lake day” was really quick. I’ve never done the same activity for 12 hours straight, unless you count flying on an airplane.

what's island life like

More time to do more things during the day.


  1. Victoria Maston 06/20/2018 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    Peter, I cannot find the proper words to tell you how much it means to have the opportunity to connect with you on this site. Your positive attitude and all the great advise keeps my dream alive. If all my plans fall into place, I will move to Oahu by April 2019, or sooner. My son is living there and absolutely loves it. I have taken you advise on finding a job and I am confident it will materialize. A huge Thank you Peter.

  2. Joann Alakszay 06/14/2018 at 11:42 am - Reply

    Hi Peter. Wow, what a beautiful photo of full moon over Diamond Head! I miss Hawaii so much. Thank you so much for keeping all us mainlanders in the Aloha loop. You really cheered me up today. I have been feeling down lately because I cancelled my trip to Kehena Beach, BI due to the eruption and restrictions on vacation renters in lower Puna. With your help I will not give up. Mahalo.

  3. Chris 06/13/2018 at 8:00 am - Reply

    I’ve thought about moving to Hawaii since my first trip to maui in 2014. I would do it in a heartbeat but it’s a no go for my wife. Too far from the mainland and too expensive :( but I try to visit every year

  4. Dan E. 06/12/2018 at 2:46 pm - Reply

    I have been land-locked my entire life (33 years) in Canada. I have travelled much of the world, but all it took was 1 trip to Oahu to change my whole perspective on what I need in my life. 3 years and a few more trips to Hawaii later, I’m only months away from making the leap to the island life. I normally have to drive at least a few hrs to get to anything resembling an acceptable beach. No more! Once I touch down, they will have to drag me kicking and screaming to get me out of there! Can’t wait. Love this site, I follow everything religiously. Thanks for the great service Peter!

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