Hawaii can represent many things and it’s charm is different for each person. To me it represents Freedom to be active all year round. Don’t be mistaken however, there may be times that the consistent warm sunny weather can become monotonous and restrictive.
There certainly is something to say about the fresh crisp mainland mornings of Autumn that you will never quite feel on the islands. A lot of long time residents will tell you they really do have a winter but it’s a tongue in cheek statement if they have ever lived elsewhere. On the other hand the Big Island, Hawaii, is by far the largest land mass and the most diverse of the Sandwich island chain. There can be snow on top of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Waimea and Volcano, or anywhere above 3000’, can and does get cold and you’ll require some source of heat for your residence.
Most people only see the commercial tourist attractions and only go on foot to the more remote parts of the island as their knowledge and time here progress. A large proportion of the island, about 90%, is under private, state and federal ownership. The approximate 35% private ownership is hard to see yet encompasses a large part of the most breathtaking and pristine areas. While there have been limited provisions made for public use of these lands a large proportion remains inaccessible. State and Federal lands are much more open and there a lot of trails and undeveloped areas you can explore once you’ve learned the how and where.
The island is microcosms of climates. The leeward side of the two huge 14000’ volcanoes make for a massive deterrent to the windward trades and rain. Those leeward areas on the west Hawaii are not unlike the high desert of California complete with a variety of Cacti. The windward side takes the brunt of the trade winds and resulting storms but it’s still warm and inviting with the lush valleys and flowing streams. On the sunny days there is no place on earth that is more beautiful than the windward side of Hawaii.
The diversity of Hawaii is astounding. There are approximately 85 introduced forest species while the endemic forest species number only 53. Because of the island environment you and I will likely most frequent you’ll probably become familiar with the Ohia Lehua, Mango, Kiawe, ironwood, monkeypod, coconut and Koa.
There is also an abundance of wildlife on the island. I’ve hiked the sloops of Hualalai just above Kona and counted a heard of 50 feral goats! Not your usual domestic goat either, some big billys with long shaggy mains must weigh in at 100lbs or more. They have large curling formidable horns! On the slopes of Mauna Loa I’ve seen the beautiful Mouflan, picture to the right, a hybrid sheep . Like the flight of the mainland blacktail deer the goats and mouflan flee at your presents but usually with enough time to snap an exciting picture or two. There are wild pigs throughout the island, scary and prolific but not a threat to the hiker unless a cornered sow is separated from her piglets by you. On one encounter I had a tiny grunting beige piglet, with dark brown stripes, the size of a Chihuahua, scamper by me looking for his mama. I heard her in the bush but never sensed a threat. However, if confronted always give an angry Mom the right of way.
You won’t be disappointed with the sounds in the forest either. Bird life endemic to these islands are found no where else on earth, colors you rarely see on the mainland and the song of the Red Cardinal, Apapane, Saffron Finch and a variety of Creepers will etch your memory of the islands forever. Expect to see the introduced Chickens, Kaji Pheasants, Franklin and Turkeys running wild everywhere. If you’re a birder you can tell I ‘m just learning about what I’m seeing and hearing but what an exciting hobby it is.
If you like to swim, snorkel or fish I guess you already know there is a vast and delicious varieties of reef and off shore opportunities awaiting, after all this is Hawaii!
What I’m trying to tell you is contrary to popular belief Hawaii is a wild place and not just the beach, beer and a luau. There is more than you can possible do in your retirement years and you won’t be bored or cold anymore.