18 Pros and Cons of Living in Hawaii

Updated On December 19, 2023

The beauty of Hawaii is legendary.

A tropical oasis that draws visitors from all over the world, it has captured minds and hearts for centuries.

Hawaii can have its problems, as well.

Too many tourists and hot lava are not usually favorites for anyone.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the features of Hawaii that can thrill, as well as some that leave you wanting more.

Oahu, Hawaii
Oahu, Hawaii

Pros of Living in Hawaii

The idea of paradise is rarely as magnificent as the real thing.

So is the case with Hawaii.

1. Beautiful scenery and climate

Hearing the word Hawaii instantly paints a vivid picture in many people’s minds.

Tropical, green, lush, and sun-kissed Hawaii truly is a paradise.

Those that live there enjoy relatively mild climate conditions year-round, with an average annual temperature right around 80 degrees.

Because of Hawaii’s diverse micro-environments of rainforests, mountains, beaches, deserts, and active volcanoes, there is diversity in Hawaii’s beauty, as well.

2. Outdoor activities

Because of Hawaii’s great climate, outdoor activities can happen year-round.

Because of Hawaii’s diverse terrain, there are lots of options for what a person can do.

Mountain climbing one day, boating or paragliding the next.

Then, maybe just a walk down the beach for day three?

Save your strength since you will be hiking to a live volcano after that.

3. Great surfing

Although surfing is an outdoor activity, it feels as if it has to have its own category when talking about Hawaii.

After all, surfing was invented in Hawaii by the original Hawaiians/Polynesians.

Surfing, or he’e nalu, was practiced by everyone, from commoners to royalty.

Depending on your title and status, the board could be bigger or made of different wood.

The popularity of modern surfing is worldwide, but Hawaii is still considered the home.

4. Educational opportunities

The State of Hawaii was the first of the 50 states to initiate an after-school care program for public school students.

The program helps give working parents more flexibility, as well as more study time for students.

Additionally, Hawaii’s state government has managed to equally distribute state resources to all levels of public education, from Pre-K through 12th grade.

5. Lots of shopping and tourist activities

Hawaii relies, in large part, on the tourism industry for its economy.

This means there is lots of tourist-based commerce on the islands, especially the more popular ones.

If you know where to shop, there are lots of opportunities to find what you need or want.

There are also lots of local farmer’s markets and fruit and vegetable stand throughout the islands if you are looking for fresh foods and juices.

Since Hawaii does cater to wealthy visitors, there are also many high-end boutiques and stores if you are looking for something fancy.

6. Nightlife and entertainment

Speaking of tourism, the nightlife around Hawaii is also consistent and active.

Any night of the week on the big island, you can find entertainment and drinks.

Hawaii’s nightlife also benefits from the beautiful weather and climate, with very few actual rain checks.

There are often traditional Hula dances at sunset, too.

These historical story dances are performed for tourists, but also for the Hawaiian people, as a living cultural connection.

7. Cultural diversity

As just mentioned, Hawaii has a strong cultural tie to its history and ancestry.

This is on display throughout the islands in both visuals and practice.

Hawaii is also home to a large Asian population.

The culture of these peoples also permeates the islands.

Additionally, tourists constantly blow in and out like the trade winds, scattering their seeds of culture and history, as well.

8. Low crime/safe living

Hawaii is a series of islands.

They are not too big and they are isolated from the mainland.

Additionally, most people living in Hawaii are middle to upper-middle class.

For the most part, large-scale crime is not a problem.

There are always going to be some problems, but most of the crime is petty crime, involving thefts.

Most residents report feeling fairly safe and secure.

9. Hawaii’s amazing attitude

When you are living in paradise, it is hard not to feel happy.

When you are around happy people, it usually makes you happy, too.

Maybe that is why so many people appear relaxed and smiling when they are living in Hawaii.

I think most people would consider themselves pretty lucky to call a place like Hawaii home.

Cons of Living in Hawaii

Even paradise can have its detractors.

1. Hard to find jobs

Unless you are working in the tourist industry, or you moved to Hawaii with a job, it may be difficult to find a job.

Especially if you want to find a high-paying job.

The job market stays fairly slim, too.

On an island, there are only so many jobs for people to do, anyway.

Make sure that you have your employment situation figured out before you make the island move.

2. Housing is expensive

One of the biggest reasons you will need a good-paying job is to afford a house.

Space is limited and houses are, too, so the housing market in Hawaii is definitely a seller’s market.

Similar-sized houses on the mainland can be 3 to 5 times as expensive on the islands.

You may also just be waiting for something to become available.

Many people do not want to give up their piece of paradise and, if they do, it stays with friends or family.

3. Cost of living

Because goods have to be shipped to Hawaii from other places, there is often a tax or fee attached to the pricing.

This raises the prices for everything.

Tourism also raises the pricing, as tourists are more apt to pay higher prices since they are on vacation.

This pricing stays with the locals long after the tourists have left.

4. Tourism

This industry is really a double-edged sword for Hawaii.

The revenue generated cannot be matched.

Hawaii needs tourists to maintain its current trajectory.

At the same time, tourists take a toll on Hawaii in many ways.

The huge number of tourists gracing the islands annually generates huge amounts of waste, a giant carbon footprint, and overall stress on the whole island.

Imagine being in a busy mall for 5 months.

Tourism will not stop any time soon but, if Hawaii is not careful, the tourists will ultimately destroy tourism.

5. Ecological toll

When talking about tourism, one of the biggest draws is the natural beauty of Hawaii.

The beaches, the mountains, the blue water, and coral reefs are all featured heavily in travel brochures.

These attractions see an enormous amount of tourist traffic every year.

The effects are now becoming more and more obvious.

For example, coral reefs have been discovered to be toxically affected by sunscreen and suntan lotion.

Overexposure kills the coral, so restrictions have been placed on the number of divers and what sunscreens they can use.

6. Island time goes slow

Locals and long-time residents do not seem to be in much of a hurry.

This means things happen slower in Hawaii.

Maybe it comes from having to wait for goods to arrive from the mainland, but island time is not in a rush.

This particularly affects those recent arrivals, who are used to a faster-paced lifestyle.

Island time may take a little getting used to.

7. No seasons or changes

If you love the leaves in Vermont, you will definitely miss them in Hawaii.

Remember us describing Hawaii’s mild climate and conditions?

Keeping the thermostat in one position year-round can have its drawbacks.

If you love winter sports, ice fishing, or just seeing the changes in the seasons, prepare yourself for the regular consistency of the islands.

Some people even complain of island fever, also known as cabin fever.

The monotony of everyday life in Hawaii drives some people a little batty.

8. Volcanoes

These are another of the double-edged swords of Hawaii.

If it were not for the volcanoes, the island chain would not even exist.

They are also amazing to witness and are another of the large tourist draws.

But, if you breathe in toxic sulfur vapors or volcanic ash, you will be in bad shape.

If your house or property happens to be near a lava flow, best of luck.

The island gives and the island takes, too.

9. The islands get it last

Hawaii’s isolation has been a bit of a theme for our cons list.

One more drawback to living on an island in the middle of the ocean is the speed at which change happens with technology and modern appliances and devices.

Especially when you leave the big island, much of the rest of Hawaii is, at least 2-3 years behind most of the US states.

For new arrivals, some of your go-to conveniences may not have even made it to Hawaii yet.

Honolulu, Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii

Pros and Cons of Living in Hawaii – Summary Table

Pros of Living in Hawaii Cons of Living in Hawaii
1.Beautiful scenery and climate1. Hard to find jobs
2. Outdoor activities2. Housing is expensive
3. Great surfing3. Cost of living
4. Educational opportunities4. Tourism 
5. Lots of shopping and tourist activities5. Ecological toll
6. Nightlife and entertainment6. Island time goes slow
7. Cultural diversity7. No seasons or changes 
8. Low crime/safe living8. Volcanoes
9. Hawaii’s amazing attitude9. The islands get it last

Hawaii Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: Hawaii Safety Review

Safety Index:

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I bring pets to Hawaii, as a resident?

Yes, but with fairly strict limits.

Hawaii will quarantine or screen pets who are coming to live there.

For more information, check out the State of Hawaii’s page.

How long does the rainy season last?

Typically, the rain season in Hawaii lasts from November-March.

Is there public transportation in Hawaii?


Each island actually has its own bus system.

Does Hawaii follow Daylight Savings Time?

No, Hawaii is one of the only states in the union to not follow the time change, although most states will be forgoing the change soon.

Do all of the islands have volcanoes? 

No, just the big island of Hawaii.

2 Comments on 18 Pros and Cons of Living in Hawaii

  1. Just vacation here, living here very overrated

  2. M
    Mililani Local says:

    Pretty sure for #9 you meant “Especially when you leave O’ahu, much of the rest of Hawaii is, at least 2-3 years behind most of the US states.”, as the Big island is mostly rural, while O’ahu is where Honolulu is and has most (IF NOT ALL) of the same tech as the mainland. Moved here almost 2 years ago and I agree with all but the tech point, I have all the same tech resources here as I did in Nebraska or Colorado (not sure what crazy tech you are referring too).

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