Observations of Daily Island Life in Maui, Hawaii

Island life has all kinds of interesting situations that are very different than life on the mainland.  Living in a remote region of the work daily island life has many challenges, but many rewards.  We learn quickly to be flexible with our expectations. The quote below pretty much sums it all up.

If you need something and see it, buy it.

Today , I’m sharing some observations on Island Life and Shipping. We’ll also dive into Food, Clothing and Fun on our island.   I will continue to post as I find things that I think are unique to our daily island life.

Island Life and Shipping

The Hawaiian Islands are located further from a major landmass than anywhere on earth.   Due to our remote location, shipping is a major factor in our daily lives.

An island typically cannot support all of the general populations daily needs.  The bulk of our goods must be shipped in from the mainland.  Items such as cars, household goods, clothing and the bulk of our food supplies are not produced locally, and must be shipped here.

Since the state of Hawaii is a series of islands, Oahu is the hub for most of the arriving containers.  Here containers are offloaded and transferred to barges.  The barges are then towed to each of the outer islands on a regular schedule.  Since the barges cannot be towed in high seas or strong winds.  Our shipments can often be delayed by a few days to more than a week.  Air cargo is commonly used for smaller shipments, and is generally much more expensive.

Daily island life revolves around some aspect of shipping and freight.  Shortages due to weather conditions are common.  Because of this,  we often experience runs on the grocery stores for things like paper towels, toilet paper, rice and water.

Freight is a major factor in Hawaii’s high cost of living.  Every item we import has some kind of freight cost attached.

Observations of Daily Island Life – The Fun Part

The fun part of living on an island is the lifestyle.  No matter where an island is located a common similarity is our laid back lifestyle.  The stress of keeping up with the Jones’s is not as evident as on the mainland.

Food and Island Life

Food plays a major role in our daily lives.  The Hawaiian lifestyle is very casual, family and friend oriented.  It is not uncommon to gather in the car porch of someone’s house and watch TV or just hang out.  At these kinds of get togethers most people show up with food to share with the group.  Potluck is a very common way of entertaining.

Because our population is so culturally diverse, one can find cuisine from just about every country in the world.  In traditional Hawaiian society the luau is a term used for a large gathering.  We have luau’s to celebrate important events.  Such as a babies first birthday, weddings, graduations and holidays.  The luau usually serves a number of traditional Hawaiian dishes.  These include Kalua pork, Chicken Longrice, Mac and Potato Salad, Poke, Sushi, Lomi Salmon,  and Teriyaki Ribs.  Many other dishes are also served.  These include Filipino, Chinese and Western cuisines.  It is a wonderful experience to be able to attend a local style luau.  They are very different than the luau’s put on by the hotels.

Even though we ship in the bulk of our food items.  A lot of produce and meat is locally grown.  A great experience while visiting, is to go to one of the many outdoor Farmer’s Markets.  The produce available is amazing.  Also there are usually a number of vendors who sell homemade products.  Jams and locally produced honey are very popular.

Hawaii has some of the best restaurants in the world because of our blended cultures.  Due to our diverse cultures , local chefs have such an opportunity to experiment with new styles of cooking and food preparation.

Hawaii’s love of food is one of the very special reasons to live the island lifestyle.

Clothing and  the Island Lifestyle

Living the island life is most evident in our clothing.  We wear shorts and slippers just about anywhere and anytime.  Seasons are basically nonexistent.  Our weather is consistent,  some humidity in late summer when the trade winds typically slow, but not much temperature change.  There is no need for seasonal clothing, such as heavy jackets, sweaters, suits and ties.  Because Hawaii is a resort destination, locals reap the benefits.  We can dress casually for both work and play.

Aloha shirts are synonymous with the Hawaiian lifestyle.  These are loose fitting colorful shirts that have been worn and collected for many years.

Aloha shirts have evolved over time from colorful funky prints to new very organic designs.  Local designers have taken the Aloha shirt to new levels.  Instead of the traditional patterns used in the Aloha shirts.  These designers are using new prints featuring their interpretations of indigenous plants, animals  and traditional Hawaiian motifs.  One of my personal favorites is Sig Zane.  Below are a couple of examples.

Being able to not have to dress up is another really good reason to live the island lifestyle.

Island Living  and Entertainment

One of the most common questions asked by visitors to Hawaii is “don’t you get bored living on a rock in the middle of nowhere”.  The answer is NO.  Yes sometimes it would be nice if it were more convenient to travel.  Hopping on a plane and being somewhere in an hour or two would be great.  It take us 5 hours just to get to a mainland airport to start a trip.

On the other hand, there are so many things to do it is your own fault if you are bored.  All the islands have tons of events year round.  Because I live on Maui I am more familiar with our local stuff.  Of course we are famous for our surfing, hiking swimming, and biking activities, but there is plenty more to experience.

There are year round festivals and cultural events.  Because we are a very diverse population there are many events that most visitors have probably never heard of.  One of these is the Buddhist Obon Festival or Bon Dance.  This event takes place between Jun and August each year and celebrates the spirits of our ancestors.  The dancers, many in traditional dress, perform a dance with prescribed footwork to the beat of Taiko drums.  These dances crisscross the island each weekend to a different Buddhist temple.

Obon Festival

Something really fun is to attend one of the many local hula events.  These are often put on by local hulaus and are a lot more personal than the coreographed shows put on by the hotels.  Fundraising events occur frequently throughout the year.  This is a great way to get a true flavor of daily island life.  It is easy to find out what is going of locally.  The Maui Time weekly paper is a great resource for all things local.  If you do a bit of research prior to you visit to Hawaii, your time spent here will be more than just that much more memorable.


The great thing about island life is that nothing is very far away.  Spend the morning hiking in the mountains and beaching it in the afternoon.

As with living just about anywhere, island life has it’s good points and bad points.  Our cost of living is certainly higher than the mainland, but life is much simpler.