It has been a strange Spring on the Big Island. Usually by this time of year it is very warm, the tourists are gone, and the residents that live full time on the island have the beaches and roads to themselves. This year the weather has been unusually cool, far cooler than it was this winter, and the tourists never left. The island is the most crowded we have seen at this time of year. The Mauna Kea Hotel is having a job fair this weekend, which is very surprising for this time of year.
In addition, new home construction seems to be booming on the island. On a drive to Kona yesterday, there was bumper to bumper traffic both directions with about half of the traffic construction trucks and construction workers. Everywhere we look we see huge new projects being started. We are also seeing a lot of older, presumably retired couples who appear to be setting up new households on the island. They are in Targets and K-Mart shopping for household supplies instead of souvenirs.
Our best guess is that what we are seeing is the result of lower oil prices which makes a Hawaii vacation more affordable than it has been in years by reducing gasoline expenses and air fares. We may also be seeing the first wave of the 77 million boomers starting to retire this year.
It is an interesting and exciting time ahead for Hawaii Island.