Living in Hawaii continues to be a joyful adventure for me, and there are many aspects of the Hawaiian lifestyle which I appreciate.
I find it worthwhile to focus on those things within my daily life for which I feel grateful. By choosing to feel grateful for the small and big things within my typical day, the universe-at-large seems to send me more positive experiences similar to the ones I am focusing upon.
To honor this dynamic of like-attracts-like, I share with you now a celebratory list of some of my most favorite aspects of living at the Puna coast on the big island of Hawaii.
1. Astoundingly Clean Air
I believe, personally, that clean air is among the most important variables that contribute to good health, and yet it is the most difficult variable to control.
People spend approximately 90% of their time indoors, and indoor air quality is typically 5 times to 100 times worse than outdoors. Even if you don’t smoke, don’t use synthetic household cleaners, don’t live in a city, and do have a excellent in-home air filtration system, your lung tissue is still mostly vulnerable to the quality and whims of your local air.
Air quality is rated on a scale of 1 to 100, 100 being best. Any area rated within the 90s has excellent air.
The closest small city to where I live, Hilo, has a 93 on the air quality index, the closest small inland town nearest where I live, Pahoa, has 93.3 on the air quality index, and where I live at the ocean, Kalapana, is probably closer to 100.
Air quality on the big island of Hawaii is a bit counterintuitive.
You’d think with our smoking volcanoes on the east side of the island, that the air quality would be poor here. And, yes, once in a while when the trade winds are absent (or when winds blow from the south) much of the “vog” will remain on the eastern side of the island near and around the volcano.
However, that is the exception.
Typically, the trade winds carry the smoke over to the southwest side of the island – so the gasses tend to accumulate leeward along the coast of Kona. Vog often becomes trapped there by daytime (onshore) and night-time (offshore) breezes. What this means, in essence, is that the air in Kona is sometimes poor (foul haze, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter) and the air in Puna is often stellar.
Most of the time the trade winds on the big island of Hawaii are blowing from an easterly/northeasterly direction. If you’re in the Puna district of Hawaii, that means when you look out at sea into that sweet Pacific breeze, the next land mass is Mexico. Between here and there, The air has over 3,000 miles to purify.
I’m grateful for fresh air. And I get plenty of it where I live in Hawaii.
2. Pure Water
I live on a small, off-the-grid hobby farm near the ocean that sits within a favorable microclimate. The days are mostly pleasant and it rains most nights – for at least a little while – while we’re sleeping.
We have roof pipes and a catchment tank to store all of the fresh rain water that falls from the sky.
Even the tap water on the Big Island seems to look, smell and taste better than in most other areas of the US. That might be because our water gets naturally filtered by the lava rock as it passes into underground aquifers (and it might also be because the Big Island is not overpopulated with people and polluting industries).
3. Starry, Starry Nights
There is less light pollution on the Big Island. If you live in a city or suburb, you may have forgotten what “blanket of stars” means. Most nights on the Big Island provide a magnificent view of the night sky.
Few things in life make you feel more right-sized and peaceful than looking up at the limitless universe on an evening with a warm tropical breeze and coqui frogs singing in the background. Now that I live over 1,000 miles closer to the equator the night sky just looks different. The moon seems bigger and brighter. I didn’t realize how much I had missed star-gazing until I could do it once again.
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4. Wild Jungle in Hawaii
There are at least 20 forest reserves on the Big Island, comprising over 473,000 acres of pristine, practically untouched rain forest.
Additionally, half of the Big Island (approximately) is zoned for agriculture, much of which is undeveloped even though it is owned.
This means that the Big Island will always have a prominent wild side, yet without the vipers that other tropical states and countries must contend with.
5. Plantation Architecture
Honoring an era before air conditioning was invented, the tropical plantation post-and-pier architectural style emphasizes relaxed country charm – with grand lanais and roof cupolas to admit diffused sunlight and ocean breezes.
I love this style of architecture, it somehow combines casual comfort with open elegance, and many homes on the Big Island – both old and new – are designed in this style.
6. Outdoor Runs
Scenic Red Road has got to be one of the best places in the world to run along. It is spectacularly beautiful. While running, you can see old-growth rain forest, enjoy the shade that the jungle tree canopy provides, and feel the mist on your face from the crashing ocean waves.
7. Tents and Yurts
A yurt is a circular tent on a collapsable framework. I typically take yoga classes several times a week in a yurt near the ocean. Many Hawaiians love to pitch tents on the beach and spend the weekend fishing and “talking story.” There is enough fresh air here for everyone to enjoy.
8. Fertile, Lush Land
Lava from volcanos can provide, over time, the richest agricultural lands on earth.
On the east side of the Big Island, there is plenty of sun and rain (the ratio of sun and rain depends on which microclimate you live in – it varies from neighborhood to neighborhood) which makes for excellent crops and gardens.
Papayas, avocados, coconuts, limes, bananas… food grows abundantly on the Big Island. It’s not unusual for breakfast to come from one’s own yard.
Among the things growing in our backyard at any given time are:
- brazil cherry
- cola nut
- curry tree
- key lime
- miracle berry
- mulberry star fruit
- passion fruit
- red dragonfruit
and many other vegetables, superfoods, and edible greens.
Gratitude feels good.
When my feelings of gratitude are authentic and playful, I feel an actual physical sensation in my body that is pleasant. I can best describe it as a light heart and expansive chest.
I’ve also noticed that the more consistently I feel gratitude, the more strength and confidence I seem to develop as a person.
When I moved to Hawaii, I quickly found that there were so many things throughout the day for which to feel grateful. So I went with that – channeling my energy into smiling and saying to myself, “this is fun; thank you for this!”
As you might imagine, this created a momentum of positive experiences.
This mindset is shared by many other island residents and manifests as a friendly, welcoming demeanor. Most people here move at a slower pace and stop to smell the flowers. Hawaiian residents seem more willing to accept – even embrace – diversity.
Could this article possibly inspire someone you know? I encourage you to share it!