What Makes Hawaii Special?


The clear calm waters of Electric Beach on Saturday, Oct. 14 show how beaches would look without pollution in the environment. Electric Beach is known for its amazing snorkeling adventures as it is one of the most fascinating and clean beaches on the island of Oahu. Anything from turtles to sharks to even dolphins are regularly spotted in this sandy and secluded spot. Photo by Isaiah Millen.

Emily Velasco, Feature

Hawaii is known for its year-round balmy weather, beautiful beaches, high cost of living, and booming tourism industry, but what exactly makes Hawaii appealing to its residents and newcomers?

“A total of 791,053 visitors arrived by air service to the Hawaiian Islands in June 2021,” according to a press release from the Hawai’i Tourism Authority. 

Hawaii’s current population is 1.46 million people, which means about a little under 2% of Hawaii’s population are visitors or tourists. Many tourists come to Hawaii to experience the culture and the sights of the islands. 

“Wow, you know that people in Hawaii are always the most nicest people you could ever meet?” Michael Yahiku, a Honolulu-born resident of Hawaii for the past 70 years, recalls commenting to a friend. 

Yahiku said that Hawaii is set apart from the other places he has been, including various parts of Asia and Europe and many places in the mainland U.S. because of the warmth of the locals. 

Marvin Velasco, born in Bacarra Ilocos Norte, Philippines, moved to Honolulu when he was seven years old. 

“There’s a lot of nationalities in Oahu, so it’s like a melting pot,” Velasco said. “So there’s a lot of different varieties of food that people can enjoy.”  

Back in the times of the sugar and pineapple plantations, people immigrated to Hawaii from Japan, China, Korea, Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Portugal, which established the “corporation of cultures here into the Hawaii culture,” according to Burt Nagayama, an Oahu-born resident who has been living in Hawaii for the past 58 years. 

But the people, culture, and food aren’t the only thing that Hawaii residents enjoy. The sights, from the North Shore to Waikiki Beach, and everything in between, all hold special memories. 

“Koko Crater because I have a lot of good memories climbing the mountain over there,” Nagayama said. 

But even with the breathtaking views, the cost of paradise is steep. Hawaii is the third most expensive city in the entire U.S. to own a home. The current median home price per square foot in Honolulu, Hawaii, is $691, with a median of $695,800 as a listing price and a median of 1,007 square footage, according to CoStar Group studies. 

Despite the high costs, the mesh of cultures in Hawaii and the stunning sights make it a favorite tourist destination. Whether it’s the people, the culture, the food, or the sights, there is no denying that something about Hawaii pulls people in. 

“It’s called the aloha connection,” Yahiku said. “The aloha spirit, the aloha connection, because they welcome people with open arms and they treat you like you would want to be treated.”