Local Living– Even if You’re A Visitor

February 15, 2012 by  
Filed under columns, hotels, Life in Hawaii

Living in the islands, it’s easy to forget about the mainland sometimes. That is, until you start thinking about how dependent we are on the rest of the country and world for so many things.  The cost of living is extremely high here due to the high volume of imported goods, sky-high rent and expensive utility costs. Of course, we stay here because of all the wondrous benefits it offers us: gorgeous natural setting, the sparkling ocean, wonderful local produce and a welcoming spirit. To preserve what’s great about Hawaii, I’ve been on a mission to live as locally as possible. From frequenting farmer’s markets to buying locally made products like clothing and furniture, it’s all about making a lower impact globally while directly affecting your local economy.

Of course, many people only experience Hawaii as a visitor. This can mean getting swayed by tourist traps and chain restaurants out of convenience and familiarity are often the case. Experiencing a true taste of the islands is best achieved through visiting smaller towns, local organizations and family-owned restaurants.

Stay Local, Shop Local

Posting up in Honolulu is a natural choice for many. The large selection of Waikiki hotels, numerous beaches, shopping and nightlife make it a go-to spot for many travelers. Within the chain stores and imported goods vendors, there are many local spots to give your business. One of my favorite ways to do this is by visiting the three main farmer’s markets of Oahu – the Ala Moana market, Hale’iwa market and Hawaii Kai market.

The network of the markets makes creating a meeting place for the community its main priority, as well as becoming Oahu’s premiere green market. Along with locally grown, sustainably farmed produce, the markets boast zero waste stations and ask that all vendors use only bio-compostable utensils and plates. Produce from the mainland, China or anywhere else are strictly prohibited at the market.  Vendors are scoped out well before being allowed to sell at the market, so locality of the produce is ensured. Experience the literal fruits of their labor and help benefit the entire island! And it’s not just fruits and vegetables, either. Numerous artists and musicians display their work here, offering a well-rounded, original experience.

Visit a Local Farm

The locavore movement heated up along the coasts of the United States, and it’s never been more popular in Hawaii. Oahu’s climate is great year-round for producing a variety of fruits and vegetables including Kahuku corn, mangoes, papayas, pineapple and Waimanalo greens. Not only are farmers markets popping up in all neighborhoods, you can also follow the entire farm to table process by taking a farm tour.

Throughout the islands, farms support a wide range of renowned restaurants with local produce. Top Hawaiian chefs are an integral part of this partnership and have gotten behind the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement in earnest.  Many Oahu hotels feature local cuisine that can make your stay an exercise in local investment.

Courtesy of Leslie To of Aqua Resorts

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12 Responses to “Local Living– Even if You’re A Visitor”
  1. 1
    Cupcake says:

    I think that shopping local is cheaper anyways…for some things. The things that I can’t find locally, I try to order online. The farmers markets here are spectacular though. When I lived on mainland, they couldn’t even compare!

  2. 2

    It is such a beautiful place. I would live there if I could.

    Now I want to visit again!

  3. 3

    It must be amazing to live at a place where fruit and plants grow throughout the entire year.

  4. 4

    I hope one day that I’m lucky enough to be able to visit Hawaii and stay for a little awhile so I can actually be able to experience the magic of everything :)

  5. 5
    Renee says:

    I think it is great that you are trying to buy local! I hope to visit your beautiful area someday!

  6. 6
    Caryn B says:

    I love that we live in a city where this is possible. I know for many it’s not but in SoCal, it is. I dream of visiting Hawaii one day Kailani! : )

  7. 7
    Emilie says:

    I’m so jealous of your ability to buy the local produce. I love the fruits you mentioned and in contrast they are expensive here since we can’t grow them locally. :)

  8. 8
    Felicia says:

    So wonderful that you can buy local produce like that! What a wonderful place to live where so many great natural resources are at your fingertips.

  9. 9
    Bridgette says:

    Hawaii is definitely on my bucket list!

  10. 10
    tracey says:

    I am so ready for homegrown produce. I have seedlings in my front window, just waiting for the winter to finally give up so that we can start our garden. I can’t imagine what it would be like to ALWAYS have warm weather…

  11. 11
    Cecelia says:

    If I ever come out there I’m definitely coming right to you for travel advice. Looks divine!!

  12. 12
    Jesse Helm says:

    Wonderful article, thank you! It’s amazing to think that just a couple hundred years ago, Hawaii needed no mainland products or resources of any kind and now here we are almost completely dependent in every way. Here on Kaua’i, Costco now makes life a little cheaper, but at what expense, I always wonder. I’m going to be adding an article to my moving to hawaii site about the importance of supporting locally resourced foods and goods. This is definitely inspired me to do so sooner than later because I feel people coming to the islands should all do their best to adopt that philosophy as soon as possible. Hopefully we’ll be having a different conversation in a generation or two.

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