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Old 08-24-2009, 12:20 PM
Location: Kailua, Oahu, HI and San Diego, CA
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Originally Posted by MadBadger View Post
Mar0, thanks for the feedback. It really goes a long way towards filling the gap between internet statistics and reality.

About why I'm leaning towards Kauai, I was under the impression that it was less touristy, less prone to natural disasters, and that the cost of living was slightly lower than the other islands. I also read that the pace of life was somewhat slower and that fits them pretty well. They'd be happy staying at home most of the time working in the garden and doing things around the house. I honestly don't know if any of that is accurate as I'm going off what I found on the internet.

I'll definitely look into Maui, thanks for the suggestion. A few initial questions about Maui, how does the weather compare with for example Poipu or Lihue? Are there micro-climates on Maui like on Kauai? Is there a difference in humidity between the two islands?

They'll definitely be visiting before making any decisions. The tricky thing is that at the moment they don't have much free time and so they only have about 12 days in November to get an initial impression of Hawaii. Since they don't have that much time, I was thinking that it would be more productive to focus on the islands that they're most compatible with.

Thanks again, the feedback is really helping!
Let me offer the perspective of someone who lived in Hawaii while working, and now is retired there half-time.

I spent 31 years in the Navy, and did four tours in Hawaii, totaling ten years. All those tours were on Oahu.

When I retired, I was in San Diego California, and newly married. I persuaded my wife (who was born and raised in San Diego) to live half time on Oahu, in Kailua. We have been doing that for twenty years.

I also have a son who is married and lives on Kauai, and he and I bought a lot in Princeville, Kauai, and built a vacation rental house there, so I travel to Kauai quite a bit. I see the island from the point of view of the tourist. I've also traveled to all the other islands (except Lanai) for visits.

My take:
I love Kauai, but choose to live (half time) on Oahu, because of its attractions other than weather and scenery. Oahu has a symphony orchestra, second to none. Oahu has Waikiki night-life (which we hardly ever sample - but it's there) Oahu has more great restaurants than you can shake a stick at. Oahu has all the attractions of the island with the largest tourist traffic, by far.

You mentioned natural disasters. I wouldn't even consider that. Yes, our vacation rental was put out of business for months by a hurricane in 1992, but the worst storm on Oahu in the 44 years I have owned my house only succeeded in tearing off some roofing, and blowing down a rickety fence. The odds are with you. Tsunamis are not a problem unless you live very close (less than a couple of hundred yards in most places) to the ocean (and your parents probably can't afford that). The Big Island is the only place where you have to consider eruptions, and that island is carefully mapped into "lava zones". Earthquakes happen very infrequently, and they are almost always “non-events”.

I would also not worry about crime. There is some, but with normal precautions, not enough to worry about. One specific: Never park a car in a “tourist” location with anything of value visible within.

There is a good hospital on Kauai. I don’t think my son and his wife have ever had to travel to Oahu for medical care in the almost thirty years they have lived there.

Kauai is the most "laid back" island, with the smallest population. That means practically no night-life, but absolutely beautiful scenery, unencumbered by construction. A local ordnance says "You may not build a building taller than a coconut tree". The movie South Pacific was made there. The people are really friendly, and it has a wonderful small-town atmosphere. My son is on the local committee that responds to emergencies, and he really enjoys it.

The weather is really not that different from island to island. When a big rain-storm comes in the Nov-Feb period, it rains everywhere! The rest of the time, it rains more on the windward sides of the islands (Kailua on Oahu where I live and Princeville on Kauai where my son lives) than it does on the leeward sides of the islands (Honolulu and Waikiki on Oahu and Poipu and Waimea on Kauai), but the additional rain is usually at night and early in the day, and most days there is lots of sunshine. A little more on the leeward side, but having extra rain has definite advantages: "No rain - no rainbows". "No rain - no jungle or rainforest." Here is a web site with detailed rainfall data. Just remember that if your folks pick the driest place, they will be looking at cactus and palm trees, not rainforest. It might be good to look up the yearly rainfall data where they live now, so they can compare. Scroll up and down to look at all the islands. And remember, when it rains in Hawaii, the rain is warm. You can walk in it, and drip-dry.

Hawaii Weather Guide Featuring Maui, Oahu, Big Island and Kauai Rainfall Maps

Here is a link to four webcams around Kauai. One in Hanalei, on the North Shore, one in Kapaa on the east side, one in Lihue, the biggest town, and one in Puhi, on the way to the south shore. If your parents will bookmark that, they can check the weather every day between now and November in four places on Kauai. You can tell whether it has just rained by the reflection, or lack of it, on the roads:

Hawaii Stream ( - broken link)

You can see the same sort of thing on Oahu by wandering around here (It will also give you an idea of the traffic situation on Oahu – pretty bad during rush hour):

Interstate Route H-3 traffic cameras; Oahu, Hawaii

I would also advise your parents to do lots of searches on Google – for “news”, for photos of the places they are considering, etc.

I think your parents’ choice of island will depend on the lifestyle they wish to lead. If they want some night-life and hustle bustle, they might choose Oahu, or Maui, which is about half way between Oahu and Kauai in “Touristy-ness”. If they want to “listen to the grass grow”, and see more stars at night than anywhere else I have ever lived, they might choose Kauai. It is so dark at night (no streetlights) that the Milky Way looks solid.

Please tell your folks that if they have any specific questions, they can send me a Direct Message here, by clicking on my screen name in the upper left corner of this message.

Hope this helps,


Last edited by 7th generation; 08-24-2009 at 04:10 PM.. Reason: you cannot link to your rental
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