Listen to 300+ podcasts by best-selling authors, published Wednesday, 4pm EST!

Hawaii Tips

When it comes to Hawaii, we've been there, done that, now serving 5 tips in 1 categories ranging from Brief History and Background to Brief History and Background.

What is it like to live in Hawai'i today?

Hawai'i and its People Today

Lack of high quality jobs and large corporate entity branches in Hawaii have led to a service-based economy. Jobs in Hawaii that carry greater benefits are usually those that are either unionized (i.e. Hawaii State Teacher's Association -HSTA), government based (i.e. civil servant) or tourist or construction based. Since construction and tourism adequately go hand in hand, Hawaii's service-led economy offers limited professional jobs with potential for advancement. Minimum wage or tip-based jobs are common with the number of restaurants and hotels in Hawaii.
Hawaii's City & County in conjunction with the Hawaii Tourism board have worked to renovate vast parts of the downtown area and central Waikiki for expected increases in tourism. Beautification projects recently have added to the cities in Hawaii while preservation acts in cooperation with federal and state agencies have improved on existing historical areas. Increases in film production in Hawaii (another industry given large tax breaks in attempt to develop a new industry) including the hit television show "Lost" have provided another means for Hawaii's new economic growth. A pending monorail system is in the works to connect the two furthest parts of the island of O'ahu, trying to improve on the existing traffic congestion problems and more cultural projects including native Hawaiian ones are under way.

The University of Hawaii at Manoa's business school is now ranked in the top 100 graduate business schools in the nation and the marine and genetics programs here are beginning to turn a corner. Hawaii may be at the start of having a more diverse economy. Hawaii's dreams for opportunities outside the tourism industry may become a reality in the near future.

What is Hawai'i's primary industry and why?

Tourism and the Cost of Paradise

Increasing trade in the global community caused agricultural industries in Hawaii to slow down. Places in Southeast Asia such as Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia could produce the same products at a much lower price, causing Hawaii's plantations to come to a halt. This left Hawaii only one industry to boost their economy- tourism. Tourists from Japan were the first great wave and then travellers from the continental U.S. began exploring their lesser known state. Hawaii's tropical climate and beaches were and still are at the top of traveller destinations, especially in winter and summer months.
Due to tourism being the sole factor in Hawaii's economy, Hawaii became extremely dependent on Japan and the U.S. economy to sustain their economic well being. Government support for tourism was undeniable and tax breaks were given to the retail and tourist sectors of Hawaii. As more areas in southeast Asia and other areas became known for their tourist destinations, Hawaii's tourist industry became more competitive. The higher costs of travelling and spending in Hawaii at times made the tourist economy suffer. The Jones Act, initially established for strategic military protection nearly 86 years ago requires cargo moving between any U.S. state and Hawaii be owned, operated and manned by Americans only. Problems with this act is that it has created a monopoly of only two cargo carriers to be allowed in to Hawaii to deliver necessary goods and products. The monopoly has succeeded in raising Hawaii's prices on nearly every good purchased (i.e. milk prices are nearly $7/gallon).

The "Japanese bubble" economy in the 1980s helped Hawaii's real estate values increase but with the burst of the bubble, residents of Hawaii were hardly able to buy houses. During that time, strength in the Japanese economy led to Japanese investors buying Hawaii's land at an alarming rate, pushing prices of real estate in Hawaii up to prices Hawaii had never seen before. Nearly a decade had passed before prices began to decrease to near comparable levels where they had been originally. Still today, real estate in Hawaii compared to comparable houses on the continental U.S. is high in price.

The price of paradise is not exactly an untrue saying.

Why is Hawaii's culture and racial mix different from the rest of the U.S.?

The Plantation Era

Sugar cane, pineapple, coffee and macadamia nuts were discovered to be viable agricultural crops in Hawaii by western landowners. Underpaid and sometimes unpaid labor was brought to Hawaii in the form of foreign immigrants to further this goal. To complement the first Chinese who jumped off a trade ship in 1789, more were induced in 1852 to come to Hawaii to seek a better life.

Following the Chinese came the Japanese in 1868, also induced by the opportunities the employment contracts held. Plantation owners used the strategy of limiting immigrants from any one country to limit civil unrest or revolution. Portuguese immigrants were now brought to oversee operations primarily with lower level labor being brought from Puerto Rico, Korea, Spain and the Philippines, respectively.

Plantation workers in Hawaii were slaves to their respective employers. Working from sunup to sundown, they ate minimally, were barely able to communicate with each other and working conditions were near unbearable. It was not uncommon for a worker to make a maximum of 35 cents per payday.

An estimated near 350,000 immigrants in total were brought to Hawaii to add labor to the native population.

Born of the mixture of ethnic diversity were cultural tolerance and the sharing of ideas, a shared common plantation slang language called "pidgin" english and a shared common identity among the immigrants which developed into what is called "local" culture now.

"Pidgin" english evolved from the need of plantation workers to talk to one another. Numerous foreign words from all immigrant cultures and native Hawaiian make up "pidgin". Though the general grammatical structure follows the Hawaiian language the majority of vocabulary comes from English.

With the unification of cultures and heavy immigrant population, Caucasians now became a minority. Immigrants began to form unions, buy freedom, their own land and became a force to be reckoned with. The feeling of unity among cultures arose and with external support grew into the Democratic party unique to Hawaii.

Democracy in Hawaii differs from other states in the U.S. as it arose from necessity versus choice. John Burns' legacy , (founder of the democratic party in Hawaii) from his original term of 1962-1974, was ended only in 2002 with the election of the first Jewish female Republican governor in the U.S., Linda Lingle.

What happened when Hawai'i was introduced to the west?

Coming of the West

Captain James Cook, a British explorer in 1778 arrived in the Hawaiian islands and named it the "Sandwich Islands" after the British Earl of Sandwich. Only a year later he was stabbed in Kealakekua Bay of the Big Island of Hawai'i in a dispute over which he died. By then, Hawai'i had been introduced to western civilization: technology, warfare, trade and disease.

Prophecies of ancient Hawai'i told of a communication from the heavens from the "true god" unlike any other. Kalaikuahulu, a kahuna (priest of Hawaiian religion) had also foretold with it the end of the kapu system and the unification of the Hawaiian islands. Captain Cook's arrival as likened to the Return of Lono (god of peace) and other factors added to Hawaiians belief that their prophecies were being fulfilled. Acceptance of Christianity by the Hawaiians was inevitable as later key indicators predicted in the prophecy were met when Christian missionaries arrived. Missionaries sought to eradicate the old Hawaiian religion and convert Hawaiians to their new religion.

Venereal and other diseases Hawaiians had never been exposed to were introduced and the population decimated. New explorers came with increased trade. Russians, French, British and then the Americans arrived ashore and began to compete for the new land's resources.

Hawai'i's strategic position in the Pacific provided the U.S. now with a unique vantage point of the world. With the help of a small group of trusted "advisors" and upon military orders on January 16, 1893, the Hawaiian government was overthrown and the U.S. completed their annexation of Hawai'i. To stop further bloodshed, the last queen, Lili'uokalani agreed to imprisonment in her home of 'Iolani palace. From her jail she wrote the famous song Aloha 'Oe (Farewell to Thee) to denote the end of the Hawaiian monarchy.

With the annexation and further statehood of Hawai'i came a new set of rules, regulations and an entirely new society.

What was ancient Hawaii'i like?

Living In Ancient Hawaii

Arriving in Hawaii from 300-750 A.D., the first Polynesians were said to be explorers who used our constellation system to navigate in their journeys. Much of ancient Hawaii is has been put together anthropologically and recollected through oral tales passed down through generations but the essentials of ancient Hawaiian life are as follows:

Theories say the name Hawaii comes from the two words Hawa (traditional homeland) and i'i (small and raging). No one knows the exact origins of original Hawaiians though it is debated whether they were of Maori, Tahitian or Samoan descent.

Traditionally, the Hawaiian diet staple was poi, a sticky purplish substance made from the corm of the root of taro plants mixed with water. Poi was the main starch in their diet, replacing bread, potatoes, or rice. Due to its unique qualities, poi was the central item in the Wai'anae Diet Program, causing an average 17 pound reduction in the weights of obese patients (published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).

Societal structure was run by the kapu system, which gave rules for nearly every life situation. Order was kept in the Hawaiian society through these rules which governed interactions between men and women and established the class order. The four classes of people were the ali'i (chiefs), kahuna (priests, skilled craftsmen, chiefs advisors), maka'ainana (commoners), kauwa (outcasts).

Land division in ancient Hawaii resembled feudal Europe of the Middle Ages. The most common unit of land, called Ahupua'a, stretched as parcels from the sea to the mountains. The practicality in this was that ruling chiefs could access existing resources to farm, fish and hunt. The elimination of the ancient land division system was a major factor in the fall of the kapu and class system of old Hawaii.

Before Christianity, ancient Hawaiians had a complex system of gods and goddesses that bear similarities to the Greek and Roman deities. Called 'Aumakua (ow-ma-ku-a), the four primary gods were called Ku (war), Kane (life/gods), Lono (farming/peace), and Kanaloa (water/underworld. Each god had their own respective animal representations, foods, offerings and prayer. Pele, the most commonly known goddess of lava, volcanoes and fire was one of the numerous demigods that were derivations of the main ones. Hawaiians worshipped their gods in heiaus (hei-ows) some of which can still be seen today.

Unification of the Hawaiian islands by King Kamehameha I ended the tribal warrings converted numerous chiefdoms into one large kingdom in 1795. By 1819, the kapu (known to westerners as the taboo) system was abolished by King Kamehameha II (Liholiho) who established the new era of "free eating" ('ai noa), where women and men would for the first time be able to eat at the same table.

The period of 'ai noa now marked the end of ancient Hawaii in its entirety.

Not finding the advice and tips you need on this Hawaii Tip Site? Request a Tip Now!

Guru Spotlight
Tammi Reynolds