Sunday, March 30, 2014

Why it’s so hard to find an Ideal Hawaii Home

We were inspired to write our first book, Your Ideal Hawaii Home after meeting so many people who were unhappy with their new dream house in Hawaii.  We noticed that mainland-style homes in our Hilo neighborhood were constantly on and off the market.  The houses usually sold quickly, however the new buyers were soon unhappy with the afternoon heat and high electric bills.  The cold-climate, mainland-style houses in Hilo, so unsuited to the tropical climate in Hilo, yet so pleasing to eyes of buyers from the mainland, had a continuous turnover of new owners.  Although people who read our book learn about the downside of mainland hot-house designs in a tropical climate, bugs, rain, humidity, garden maintenance nightmares, and other Hawaii house issues, the book doesn’t actually help with finding an ideal house. 

Recently we visited a family on a beautiful property with a Hawaiian style house, perfectly groomed orchards, quiet neighborhood, and great views.  The property had been lovingly cared for and improved to be easy to maintain.  It was a delight to spend time there enjoying the cool breezes and scented air.  The elderly owners inherited the property from their parents, who had inherited it from their parents.  The owner described how his children and grandchildren loved the place, making it clear that the property would likely not be for sale for generations, if ever. Properties in Hawaii with the positive attributes and design elements that make living in the tropics wonderful are handed down through generations.  We have even met local residents who moved to the mainland for their career and kept their grandparent’s home for their retirement.  Ideal Hawaii properties are rarely for sale

Many of the homes that are for sale in Hawaii have major problems with design, lack of air flow, wood rot, bug infestations, or mold that the new owners could not solve.  In Hawaii really nice looking neighborhoods or condos can have unexpected problems with noise or crime that similar looking (or priced) neighborhoods on the mainland would not have. When looking for an ideal property in Hawaii, find out how many owners there have been over the years. If you see a lot of owners in the last 5 years, consider it as a red flag.  If the neighborhood is having high turnover, then that is also a red flag.  Many of the best properties being sold never make it to the market, they are sold to friends or families known to the neighborhood.  Even if a realtor is used, the best properties are not put on the MLS because the realtors know they will sell quickly.

Finding an ideal house or property in Hawaii takes time.  It requires research to identify the right neighborhood and then patience to wait for a property to become available.  The prize is a property that may become a family heirloom, a place where your great-grandchildren retire.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Ideal Time to Visit Hawaii Island

Empty Beach on Hawaii Island during off-season
We have never been able to convince people that the best time to visit Hawaii Island is during off-season. They prefer to come between January to March to escape the cold weather on the mainland.  They come to soak up some sun and thaw out and end up frustrated with the crowds and high prices.

High Season in Hawaii is December 15th to April 15th when it is the most crowded and the most expensive.  There is a second mini-high season during the summer, from June 15th to August 30th, when families visit with their children during summer break.

There are two off-season periods on Hawaii Island.  The first is from April 15th to June 15th and the second is September 1st to December 15th.  During these times, the beaches are empty and the weather is fantastic.
Empty hotel pool during off-season on Hawaii Island
Most of the off-season months are during summer, which is from May to October in Hawaii.  During the summer the ocean warms up to about 80 degrees and is usually calmer, better for snorkeling.  It is less rainy on most parts of the island and the temperature on average is a comfortable 85 degrees.  There are more hours of sunlight in the summer for sightseeing, swimming, and lying on the beach. The roads have less traffic, the prices are lower, and there are more places to stay. 

Summer is our favorite time in Hawaii. We take long walks in the evening and then jump into the warm ocean to cool off and float around.  On occasion we have rented a room next to one of the many great beaches on the island to take advantage of low summer rates.  There are empty tables at the restaurants, empty hotel pools, and the beaches are deserted during our morning walks.  In the evening, Hawaiian songs draw us to the bar where we are alone, enjoying the music as the sun sets.  Paradise.

Read more about the amazing things to see and do in: Your Ideal Hawaii Island Vacation: A Guide for Visiting the Big Island of Hawaii.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Why we wrote “Your Ideal Hawaii Island Vacation” Guide

A couple of years ago we started on a travel book for Hawaii Island: Your Ideal Hawaii Vacation.  We wanted to tell visitors about the island’s rich history and guide them to the all amazing places we have visited.  We were frustrated that most island guides leave out large areas of the island and they dedicate much of the content to paid activities and out-of-date ratings for hotel rooms  and restaurants.  Hawaii Island deserves a travel guide similar to the ones we used when touring countries in Europe.  They had detailed descriptions of places with stories of the people and events that made the sites important and meaningful.

We set out to write an island guide that covered all the places we love that are easily accessible by a regular car.  We ruled out many sites that other guides include that direct visitors to hike through overgrown jungles, walk multiple miles to remote beaches with no cell service, and jump off ocean cliffs or into river lava tubes.  We started with the places we knew about around the island and found many more that we did not know about.  We visited each site to provide an accurate description, verify our car could make it, get detailed driving directions, and take photographs.  While researching the people and events that shaped the history of the island, we found multiple versions of many of the events, so we used original sources where ever possible.  We drew maps and created guided driving and walking tours.  Halfway through the project, we realized there were at least twice as many places than we originally planned that absolutely had to be included in the guide.

We read the diaries of Lucy Thurston, who lived in Kailua-Kona in 1820, and William Ellis, who walked  around the island in 1823.  We read the reports of investigators assessing the infrastructure and historic sites on the island after Hawaii became a territory in the early 1900’s.   We read Frank Godfrey’s 1899 tour guide of Hilo, “the Queen’s City”  and Yasuo Goto’s history of Kona’s Coffee.   Reading about the Kings, Queens, Chiefs, and Chiefesses of Hawaii Island and about the early explorers, missionaries, ranchers, and plantations owners gave us a new dimension to the places on the island.  We drove to the lava fields where historic battles were fought that shaped the history of Hawaii.  We looked for the old heiaus (temples) where Ellis mentioned that he saw them on his walk in 1823.  (How could we have missed the massive stone heiau towering above Punaluu Black Sand Beach; we have visited that beach at least 50 times and never noticed.)  We went to the Buddhist temple visited by the Dalai Lama; we investigated the ghosts reported in MacKenzie Park; we marveled at the old Kapoho lava flow’s abrupt stop just a few inches from the Cape Kumukahi lighthouse; and we found the church with paintings of Saint Damien.  We identified the sacred rocks: Maui’s Canoe in Wailuku River, Mookuna rock under Rainbow Falls, Pohaku o Pele (Pele’s Rock) at the bottom of Akaka Falls, and Kamehameha’s Rock on the way to Pololu Valley.   The more we looked, the more we realized how much there is to know about this extraordinary island.

Our hope is that Your Ideal Hawaii Island Vacation helps visitors enjoy all the island has to offer and that the stories and legends give a deeper appreciation of Hawaii’s history and people. 

Check out the contents in “Look Inside”.   If you read some or all of it,  let us know what you think.