Those of us who have been blessed to call the Big Island of Hawaii our home already know what an amazing and special place it is to live. According to recent growth studies, others are experiencing the magic of this beautiful place as well. Not only is it growing in land mass every day, thanks to the continuous lava flowing from Kilauea into the ocean, it is also growing in population and tourism on a daily basis. It is estimated that the population of the Big Island of Hawaii has increased by 2.2 % from April 1, 2010 to April 1, 2012. The last census taken on April 1, 2010 shows the population was 185, 079. The estimated growth works out to be 189,191 by April 2012. That is approximately 5 new residents every single day! Unlike the state trend, where more people moved out of the state than in, one more US resident moved to the Big Island each day than Hawaii residents moved elsewhere in the country.
Graph from Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism , Research & Economic Analysis
In addition to the population growth, the increased trends in tourism also show just how many people want to come and share our piece of paradise. In 2015, the total visitors expected to come to Hawaii is estimated to increase by 2.1%. Visitors come to the Big Island to relax and escape from busy, hectic lives. The Big Island is a perfect place to transition from working a 9 to 5 job in an office cubicle, staring at a computer screen filled with graphs and numbers, to sitting on a white sandy beach staring out over the blue horizon with the cool breezes nipping at your hair, and grains of sand tickling your bare feet.
Did you know that there are 13 climate zones on earth, and that the Big Island has all of them except two? While the weather remains consistently comfortable at sea level, the variety of topographical regions on the island provide a diversity of climates in close proximity for those who tire of the monotony of beautiful weather.
Snowy Mauna Kea, as seen from Mauna Loa | Photo courtesy of Ian Lindsey Photography
Even in the wintertime, if there is snow on the mountains of Mauna Kea or Mauna Loa, only a half hour drive towards the coastline, the beaches are still crystal clear with blue skies. Our winter days boast spectacularly clear days thanks to the trade winds. You can see all the mountain ranges while driving along Highway 19 near Kukio. On the east side of the island, the windward side of Hilo is the wettest city in the US. A recent year showed a record rainfall of 211 inches! This rainfall makes for green, lush rainforests that contrast the black lava deserts nearby. Topping it off we have active volcanoes and deep blue oceans filled with sea turtles, dolphins, whales, and marlins. Ice-cold waterfalls can be found plunging from clifftops and pouring into fresh island valley ponds that wind their way down to the black sand beaches.
Big Island waters, teeming with life. | Photo courtesy of Sarah Lee Photography
What does all this growth mean for real estate? The trends we are experiencing can be both exciting and daunting. Obviously, with new people moving and visiting every day, each of those people needs a place to stay. This shows great potential for growth in the real estate market as well as long and short-term rentals. The most important thing to remember about our island, is that we are responsible to preserve the stories of the past and to pass on our deeply rooted culture to the next generations and visitors. Respecting the land and the culture is key to managing this growth with integrity.
Enjoying the crystal waters near Kukio. | Photo courtesy of Sarah Lee Photography
There really is no place on earth like the Big Island of Hawaii. It is not a big surprise that more and more people are coming to visit and relocate here. We are blessed to still have wide-open spaces to enjoy and truly get back to what the Hawaii Life is all about.