Honolulu, Hawaii is literally a tropical island paradise.
You have the convenience of the city with all of the beauty and serenity of a tropical island.
However, paradise comes with a substantial price.
Most people will admit that Honolulu is much more expensive than average, and it can shock you at first.
Here are 10 reasons Honolulu is so expensive.
1. Cost Of Living
The cost of living in Honolulu is about double that of the national average with a cost of living index of 176.5 with food and housing having the highest price indexes.
The average family of four needs $122,000 to live well in Honolulu.
Unless you can live on only pineapples, 85% to 90% of the food consumed in Hawaii is imported, which is why the cost of living index for groceries is about 1.5 times the national average at 150.7.
It costs a significant amount of money to have items delivered to the city since companies must transport goods via plane or boat, which costs more than transporting goods via truck.
Who wouldn’t want to live in paradise?
You may have your chance if you have the finances.
Honolulu has a housing cost of living index of 285.6, which is nearly three times the national average.
The median price of a house in Honolulu, Hawaii is $751,900.
The median cost of a house throughout the entire country is $291,700.
Part of the reason that houses cost so much is that there isn’t a lot of space to build houses for the 343,302 residents already living in Honolulu, let alone new people who want to move to the area.
Unlike larger cities, Honolulu must accommodate the population within 68.4 square miles.
By way of comparison, Chicago covers 234 square miles, and Los Angeles covers 503 square miles.
2. Rich History And Culture
Hawaii is unique compared to the other 50 states in many ways, including its history and culture.
Polynesian migrants first landed in Honolulu in the 11th century.
When Captain Cook arrived in the islands in 1778, the population was estimated to be between 250,000 and 800,000.
The people followed a polytheistic religion with multiple deities that derive from the Sky Father and Earth Mother.
Hula originated as a religious dance to show thanks to the gods.
Kamehameha I became the leader of Hawaii, including Honolulu, in 1795 after the Battle of Nu’uanu.
The war was fought to unite the 137 islands of Hawaii into the state we know it as today.
When British Captain William Brown landed in Hawaii in 1845, it became clear that it could be used as a perfect port for ships traveling between Asia and the United States.
However, there was already an established government at this time, and the captain didn’t dare interrupt the system in place.
However, Americans became familiar with the area thanks to the trade possibilities.
Hawaii ran as a constitutional monarchy until 1893 when the last queen died.
It then became an independent republic.
In 1898, it became an official US territory.
By the time Hawaii became a state in 1959, 90% of the population was American, and the referendum was approved by 93% of voters.
Attack On Pearl Harbor
Before the country even became an American state, it was involved in one of the most devastating attacks on American soil in US history: Pearl Harbor.
While not in Honolulu, it is still a very important part of Honolulu’s and Hawaii’s history.
While many countries were fighting WWII abroad, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, essentially bringing the United States into the war.
You can visit the nearby USS Arizona Memorial to learn more.
A total of 2,335 soldiers were killed, and another 1,143 were wounded.
These numbers include 68 civilians killed and another 35 wounded.
It was a date that will, as Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said, live in infamy.
Today, the port is still active.
The complex history of Hawaii allows it to have a diverse and colorful culture today.
Unfortunately, most of the indigenous population fell to disease and other natural causes, meaning that the population is diminished significantly today.
However, it still has significant Polynesian and Asian influences.
See the following demographics based on the 2010 Census data:
- Asian: 37.3%
- Filipino: 14.6%
- Japanese: 13.6%
- Chinese: 4%
- Korean: 1.8%
- White: 26.7%
- Biracial or Multiracial: 23%
- Native Pacific Islander: 9.9%
- Black: 2.6%
- Native American: 0.5%
Over 73% of Hawaiians speak English at home with 21% of residents speaking an Asian language as well.
While there used to be a Hawaiian language, today, less than 0.1% of the population speaks traditional Hawaiian.
Not only are the people beautiful, but the scenery is some of the most beautiful in the world.
You can see picturesque oceans and reefs from equally stunning beaches and cliffs.
You can even explore trails through stunning forests that will lead you to different waterfalls and other natural landmarks.
Even the urban areas have gorgeous palm trees lining the streets.
When you time everything right, you can enjoy the scenery at sunrise or sunset—and we haven’t even talked about the flowers yet!
As an urban city, you may think that Honolulu’s skyscrapers may interfere with the natural beauty of the area, but they only enhance the appearance with a gorgeous skyline.
Don’t believe in the beauty of Hawaii?
Take a look at some of these pictures.
Many poets and other artists attempt to recreate the beauty of Hawaii with the limited capabilities of the English language.
While they may not be able to explain it perfectly in words, they continue to try.
Part of the beauty of Hawaii comes from the weather.
Being a tropical paradise, Hawaii has warm weather that some consider ideal.
Thanks to the relatively consistent trade winds coming in from the ocean in the east, the tropical temperature is much more manageable and less humid than some other tropical climates.
In the summers, the average high is usually about 88 degrees.
In the winter, the average high is still 83 degrees.
Temperatures climb higher than 90 degrees about 38 days every year.
Hawaii gets 278 sunny days a year.
While mostly dry, you will see some clouds with about 89.5 rainy days per year.
If you want to visit Hawaii when it has the highest temperatures and lowest amount of rain, it’s best to visit between March and September.
However, Hawaii is a great place to visit any time of year.
Hurricanes and tornados are rare, but you may experience them from time to time.
Earthquakes occur on rare occasions as well.
When in Hawaii, it’s important to have sunscreen on at all times.
It’s also wise to keep water on you during hot days.
In 2015, Honolulu was ranked as the safest state in the United States due to the well-funded police force.
With that being said, it’s best to avoid Chinatown and the downtown Waikiki area at night without being careful.
However, violent crime is very low.
The biggest risk is pickpockets.
If you are driving, keep your door locked in Diamond Head and Halona, because there have been reports, although not many, of people breaking into cars.
Many people aren’t afraid of the people, but instead, they fear the ocean and the sharks inside of it.
However, there have only been five shark bite reports from Hawaii so far in 2021.
While you really can’t prevent shark bites from happening, it can be useful to know that shark bite attacks in the area seem to increase from October to December.
People should worry more about drowning than anything else.
Most incidents happen while surfing or swimming.
Always be mindful of warning signs about harsh waters and strong currents, as ignoring them can mean your life.
Naturally, Hawaii gets a significant number of tourists thanks to its beauty.
Around 7.6 million people visit Hawaii every year bringing $10 billion in annual revenue, and most of them enter through Honolulu International Airport.
Visitors can pay for a traditional greeting when they land in which hula dancers will lei you with traditional flower leis.
Of course, like everything else, that comes with a fee.
Since the tourist industry creates pollution and traffic, it forces the city to increase prices on a lot of items to ensure that they can support both the residents and tourists.
Hawaii is home to numerous unique performers that you won’t find as prominently anywhere in the world.
Hula dancers in grass skirts put on performances regularly.
You can also find performers who dance with fire and play the ukulele.
It’s not just the beauty that brings people to Honolulu.
You can see and learn a lot at the different museums, parks, and various other landmarks.
Some of the most popular landmarks to consider include:
- Pearl Harbor
- Bishop Museum
- Honolulu Zoo
- Foster Botanical Gardens
- Waikiki Aquarium
- Honolulu Museum of Art
Whether you prefer landmarks that focus on history, science, art, or nature, you will find something that will interest you.
With so much nature and beauty, and the ocean, Hawaii offers a lot of activities for tourists who are so inclined.
Just some of the interesting things you can do, if you dare, include:
- Mountain biking
- Scuba diving
In a 2019 survey, Hawaii ranked #1 out of all 50 states for healthcare.
However, that doesn’t mean that people don’t have to pay for it.
Medicines and health equipment must be transported via plane or ship, increasing the cost.
Over 94% of Hawaii residents have healthcare, compared to the national average of 86.2%.
Furthermore, only 23.8% of residents qualify as obese, lower than the 31.3% national average obesity rate.
Outside of tourism, the healthcare industry is one of the leading industries in the city.
7. Nature And Wildlife
Hawaii is home to exquisite natural life that you simply have to see for yourself to enjoy.
We can’t cover everything here, but we can highlight some of the most beautiful things to keep your eyes open for.
Hawaii is the perfect place for tropical flowers that require a specific climate.
They are special since you can’t see many of them in the wild in less temperate climates.
The State Flower in the Hawaiian Hibiscus.
However, there are a lot of Hawaiian flowers for botanists and nature lovers to enjoy, including:
- Hawaiian Hibiscus
- Bird of Paradise
- Blue Ginger
- Hawaiian Gardenia
Manoa Falls in Honolulu is one of the most popular waterfall locations in the area.
However, you can find numerous waterfalls both in the area and on the other islands.
Small waterfalls you see during hikes or bike rides can end up being more rewarding than some of the popular large waterfalls.
Hawaii has unique bird species not found anywhere else on earth, including the ‘Apapane and Procellariidae.
They also have numerous mammals, such as bats and mongooses.
You may even see a lizard from time to time.
Hawaii has 410,000 acres of living coral reef with more than 7,000 species of plants and animals living in it.
The coral itself, while it doesn’t move, is alive.
There are countless species of tropical fish in the water.
You can also find seals, whales, sharks, sea turtles, jellyfish, and eels.
However, the coral reef may be in danger.
8. Environmental Efforts
With more and more people moving to Hawaii and creating more industry, it endangers the natural environment in the area.
One of the biggest problems facing the city of Honolulu is water contamination.
Tourists and corporations dispose of waste improperly, polluting the water and harming the wildlife that lives in it.
Since dirty water hinders the value of the area, Honolulu works hard to keep the waters clean.
However, the problem doesn’t end there.
With larger populations and tourists visiting throughout the year, the overpopulation of the small area threatens the area simply due to the lack of ability to support and clean up after the large population.
To ensure that some areas don’t become overdeveloped, Hawaii spends a lot of money to protect the land by purchasing land to turn them into national preserves.
For example, in 2019, Hawaii spent $4.1 million to purchase land in nearby Ohau, Hawaii, to expand the existing Wallupe Nature Preserve.
9. Star Power
Honolulu, Hawaii has a lot of star power behind it, and as advertisers know, celebrities can make people like a product or a place.
Jason Momoa, who acted in Game of Thrones, started his career by landing a role on Baywatch: Hawaii.
Bruno Mars performed as a singer for tourists with his family until someone discovered him and took him to the mainland.
Furthermore, the Hawaiian backdrop works well for movies, making it a relatively popular filming location.
Some movies filmed in Hawaii include (to name a few):
- Grown Ups
- Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
- Forgetting Sarah Marshall
- Pearl Harbor
- Jurassic World
10. Hawaiian Mentality
Noho me ka hau’oli —Be happy
Hawaiian residents are known for having a positive and communal mindset.
People are friendly and kind to each other.
If you need directions or want to make small talk while in line at a store, most people are receptive.
Friends and family also care for each other more under the principle of Ohana, which means family.
People also don’t worry too much about things too often.
It seems like the mindset is quite effective since Hawaii has the lowest rate of residents with anxiety than any other state.
Many people are attracted to the relaxed attitude of the area.
However, it comes with its drawbacks.
For example, you may notice that some people are slow to meet people or don’t adhere to the stated meeting time.
The attitude can also lead some people to be less ambitious than some might think they should be.
You may notice a large homeless population.
However, as Chris Pratt said about his experience, Hawaii is the best place in the world to be homeless.
A visit to Honolulu, Hawaii can change your life and lower your stress levels (at least until you get back home).
However, it’s admittedly a rather expensive experience.
When you pay to go on a trip to Hawaii, you are paying for the beautiful scenery and the unique Hawaiian culture.
You’re also contributing to the numerous environmental efforts that keep the area clean and healthy for both humans and wildlife.
Ideally, you will take a bit of the mentality home with you until you can buy your own home in Honolulu.
When you buy a home in Honolulu, you’ll need a lot of money.
However, you’ll have amazing healthcare and beautiful scenery to enjoy as you retire in peace.