Yesterday I started a list of reasons why Hawaii is a great place to live. Today’s post is the second half of that list…
Hawaii is one of the most culturally diverse states in the U.S., and has been for a long time. Besides the tourists who visit from all over the world, the immigrants who are currently moving to Hawaii come from a wide variety of countries, including the Philippines, China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Tonga, Samoa, Guam, and Micronesia.
And then there are kama’aina, the long-time residents whose ancestors came to Hawaii generations ago, and are an amalgam of native Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, Puerto Rican, Japanese, Okinawan, Korean, Filipino, and mainland American cultures. Mixed-race people and couples, who might be considered oddities in other parts of the U.S. or world, are unremarkable here in Hawaii, where there’s been a long history of miscegenation.
Evidence of Hawaii’s cultural influences can be found in the foods we eat here, the holidays we celebrate, the festivals that are always happening, the arts that are performed, the traditions that are upheld, and the languages that are spoken. Not only is it often fun to experience these different cultural elements, but it’s also an education in human understanding.
Even with the residential and commercial development that’s happening throughout the state, it’s hard to deny that Hawaii still has some of the most stunningly beautiful landscapes and seascapes in the world. Being surrounded by so much natural beauty — the lush, green mountains; the multi-hued ocean; the glorious sunrises and sunsets; the brilliant tropical flowers blooming everywhere — has definitely had a positive psychological effect on me. If I ever feel stressed out or a little blue, all I have to do is take a walk outside, go for a swim in the ocean, or even take a scenic drive — I instantly feel more at peace with the world and have a greater sense of well-being.
I get the sense that Hawaii residents tend to “work to live” rather than “live to work” — at least more so than their mainland counterparts. My theory is that Hawaii’s mild climate, beckoning beaches, and earlier work schedule are all conducive to having a life outside of work. When your workday ends at 4pm, the sun doesn’t set until 6 or 7pm, the temperature is still around 80 degrees, and you’re within easy driving distance of the nearest beach, you’re less likely to drive straight home and turn on the evening news to hear about all the bad stuff happening in the world. Instead, you might swing by the beach to catch a few waves. Or pick up the kids and take them to the park. Or go to canoe-paddling team practice. Or meet friends at a local restaurant for pupus and drinks. Or simply enjoy watching the sun set from your lanai at home.
Closer to other parts of the world
If you’re from the mainland U.S., moving to Hawaii will mean that you’re now several thousand miles closer to Asia, New Zealand, Australia, Polynesia, and Micronesia. This could open up new travel destinations for you that you previously wouldn’t have considered, due to distance or cost. (I can’t wait to go to Tahiti — only a 5-hour flight!)
And if you have relatives or business in the Asia-Pacific region that requires you to travel there frequently, living in Hawaii will make those trips a little easier and more convenient to take. Nonstop international flights from Honolulu Airport are being added all the time — for example, China Eastern Airlines recently announced that it will begin nonstop service from Honolulu to Shanghai, China on August 9, 2011.
Unique job and educational opportunities
Hawaii’s tourism-based economy, island geography, and volcanic activity make for some unique job and educational opportunities that can’t be found just anywhere. Those interested in marine biology or oceanography can find job and study opportunities through the University of Hawaii’s extensive programs in those fields. Kilauea on the Big Island is one of a handful of places in the world where volcanologists can study an active volcano closely. Also on the Big Island is Mauna Kea, home to the world’s largest observatory for studying optical, infrared, and submillimeter astronomy. And if you work in the hospitality or tourism industry, you’d be hard-pressed to find a place with as high a concentration of job opportunities as Hawaii.