I recently heard someone ask a question, “What’s it like to live off the grid in Hawaii?” At first, as many of you are also thinking, I automatically thought of a make shift hut on a deserted beach or a tree house in the middle of a rain forest. I live in the heart of Honolulu, and Swiss Family Robinson style of living is not exactly my expertise. For some reason or another, the question stuck in my head as I went about my day. Then I came up with my answers of what means to me live off the grid in Hawaii, and specifically on Oahu.
Living off the grid doesn’t literally have to mean fishing for dinner and collecting berries for lunch. To me, it means living on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 2500 miles from the mainland United States. We are separated by an ocean from the rest of the country. The only way to get back is by plane or boat. We can only drive around the island—the longest road trip that we can take on Oahu lasts only a few hours, depending on how many shave ice, and swim stops we make along the way. So yes, we already live off the mainland grid, but that does not mean that we live without the daily comforts that most of us are accustomed to. We simply just live in our own little paradise bubble.
In reality, most people would only consider true “Survivor” off the grid living for about a minute. Then after realizing the true undertaking, many would agree that having a store close by for groceries, or having running water, is essential to their existence.
Living on Oahu means being surrounded by beaches and a beautiful blue ocean. It is relaxing and breathtaking. While the population of Oahu is around 1,000,000 people, with half living in Honolulu, this does not take away from the island lifestyle, and a feeling that we’re a little different here. Sun dresses and Aloha shirts are common business attire. You normally wouldn’t want to be caught dead wearing a suit at work. That’s just odd. Also getting served at many local stores, doesn’t require shirts and shoes. Of course, it’s always advised to dress appropriately, but the barefoot lifestyle is just a part of Hawaii. Slippers (flip flops) are also the go to shoes 90% of the time.
Instead of falling leaves, we have falling flowers and the beautiful smell of plumeria lingering in the air. Smog is rare, and the Hawaii air quality index is consistently at clear levels.
Honolulu may be a metropolitan city, but farmers’ markets are everywhere. Locally grown fruit and vegetables are available right from the farmers who grow them. Yes, we have all the big stores, and can get wholesale boxes and bags of lettuce and tomatoes, but fresh from the farm is so yummy. Papayas, pineapples, guava, lychee, coconut, mangoes, beans, lettuce, cucumbers, etc. Every day there is a farmers’ market someplace close by.
The beautiful thing about Oahu, is that a person can choose to live in an urban setting or a rural setting. All areas are close enough, that getting back to “civilization” even from some of the most remote areas, only takes about 30 minutes, and getting back to the mainland takes about 5 hours. So as detached as we are, we are never too far away. Trips to the mainland are often welcome. Seeing snow is a novelty, and like tourists flocking to the Hawaiian Islands in the winter to enjoy some beach time, residents of Hawaii like to enjoy snow boarding winter getaways. Of course, coming back home after a week away, is always the best part. The moment I get to breathe the island air at the airport, it’s like heaven, and I know that I’m home.
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