My Hawaiian Retreat, by R.L.

If you haven’t yet moved to a geographically isolated location, then you should do so now.
I abandoned my previous position in Northern California. I had originally chosen it because it wasn’t downwind of any military targets from the Cold War. I moved 2,400 miles to the southwest, to the Big Island of Hawaii.
The attractions were great. Incompetent state and local government, year round growing season, no dangerous predators, and plentiful fish and game. Top that off with no fishing licenses, no insulation or air conditioners needed. “Secondary waterfront” acreage parcels (that are across the street from the oceanfront parcels) are less expensive than acreage outside of Reno.
It’s not been totally without drawbacks. I found three acres at an altitude of 2,200 feet for less than $30,000. Once clearing started though, I found that I needed to bring in an excavator with a hammer to take out some basalt outcrops. Not having budgeted for that set us back more than I had expected.
However, the benefits have been incredible. We packed up our solar array from NorCal and now have it producing our off-grid power. The development we’re in has fiber-optic high speed Internet on every street, so we have Internet less expensively than we did for slower internet in California. We have free water that, to quote the Bard, “…falleth like a gentle rain from Heaven.”, because it’s rain. It’s a pristine environment just 25 miles from where NOAA samples the third cleanest air in the World. The two cleaner places are both in Antarctica.

Once you’re here though, you soon start to realize you’re in Paradise. We could get along with painted-on thermometers. One painted  at 75° for days, and one at 65° for nights. We found a gentleman in Hawi selling white pineapple slips, the small growth off the bottom of a pineapple plant by which they reproduce. You can only get yellow pineapple on the mainland, as the whites don’t travel well. They’re delicious, with less acid and sweeter than yellow. He was selling them for $2 apiece, but if we bought more than 200, the price went to $1 and he’d deliver. We went in with a couple friends and neighbors and bought 300 of them. I have 70 in the ground, and gave several away as gifts. I also have 9 foot high tomato plants growing up the side of my container. I started those in November.
One of the best things was that we were able to convince my girlfriend’s Mom to move out here. She arrived in March of ’19 and has fallen in love with Hawaii. The greatest upside is that we’re able to help her keep to the straight and level with her diabetes, as she always had trouble keeping the sugar away back in Alabama. We’ve been able to get her blood sugar down to the low 100’s from highs that had been off the chart. I myself am a type 2 diabetic, and it’s so healthy here that I’ve been able to control it without the need for my prescriptions. Though I do have to watch out the day after “spaghetti night.”
Live Like a Local
One of the myths about living in Hawaii is that it’s so expensive. If you come here and try to live like a tourist, yeah, you’re going to go through a lot of cash. But humans have been living here since the 4th or 5th centuries and they didn’t even have cash back then. The secret is: don’t live like a tourist, but live like a local. Stock up on necessities when they’re on sale. Buy locally, at the Farmer’s Markets (they’re everywhere) instead of the supermarkets. Our favorite aisle at Safeway is the discount rack at the back of the store where everything is 50% off. Enroll in loyalty programs that give you points or discounts. The Safeway Rewards program had me paying less for diesel for the pickup than folks in California are paying (not like that’s hard these days). I get mail from Ace Hardware every couple of months with a $5 or $10 rewards card in it. It adds up.
I’m not saying that everything is a deal out here. You’re 2,400 miles from the US mainland. You learn that Amazon is your friend, even though the “2 day” delivery turns into 7 days here. We buy our tobacco from an Indian reservation in Pennsylvania for half the price a pound of tobacco goes for in the stores here. We get store packs of 50 Bic lighters from Amazon instead of getting them from Walmart. There’s ground beef from “mountain cattle” selling on Facebook Marketplace for $3/pound.
We were extremely blessed to make friends with someone that worked at a local truss manufacturer. He told us of the “Oops” trusses that were sitting at the company’s yard down in Hilo. They were just a bit off spec for the jobs they were commissioned for, and were just taking up space at the yard. We approached the company about buying them to take them off their hands and were able to negotiate a spectacular deal. Once they were delivered, the job of dismantling them began. We found that they were extremely well made though, and taking apart these trusses wound up to be a lot tougher than putting them together. Perseverance and experimentation soon led to a decent supply of treated lumber for construction of structures on our place. We managed to use parts of them to build a chicken coop. It is probably the only one in Hawaii built with engineered trusses…
Chicken Challenges
For chickens, you’re going to have to prepare a bit more though. We picked up a half dozen Blue Sapphire chicks last spring from Del’s down in Hilo. We cared for them in a plastic tub, keeping them warm at night inside the container with a candle a foot or so under them. At a couple months old, we transferred them to a coop and began building a mongoose proof pen. On the day of the transfer, one escaped, while the other five made it into the pen. While despairing about the loose one that took refuge under our container, we went off to Hilo for some grocery shopping.
We were not prepared for what we found upon our return. The mongooses (mongeese?) had dug under the sides of the pen and had killed the five chicks that we had in there. The sole survivor, who came to be known as “Blue”, remained safe under the container. We rounded up Blue and got her back into the coop and set about using some of the truss plates along the edges of the pen to discourage digging. When we finished reinforcing the pen, we checked on Facebook Marketplace and found a neighbor with some more hens, as well as a rooster for their protection. A couple days later, Blue was joined by three Leghorns (collectively called “The Leghorns”, since we couldn’t tell them apart), and a Rhode Island Red rooster that became “Red”.
Since then the chickens have matured and are giving us 1-to-3 eggs per day, depending on the weather. I know that on the rainy days, I probably wouldn’t feel like dropping an egg, so we’re understanding. We’ve lost one more of the Leghorns due to a one time mongoose incursion (since remedied), and have even welcomed more birds into our family. A couple months ago, a hen was spotted with four chicks out in the street, and successfully lured into our place with chicken scratch. We lost one chick, probably to a cat, as they were getting big by then, but the remainder are hanging around. They’ve even been spotted in the chicken coop, trying out the bucket we have in there for laying, though the only eggs we’ve found so far have been two that were discovered on the bottom seat out of a pile of three tour bus seats we were making into a couch. The old Mother Hen has since taken to laying 100 yards down the road at our neighbor’s place, only showing up after a dash down the road to ours, furiously (that’s how it sounds anyway) pecking up all the food we scatter for her, and rushing back down to the neighbors where she chose to lay her eggs. Just last week though, a new beak to feed showed up, a young peacock. My girlfriend has given him the name “Kevin” after the bird in the movie “Up”), though I was okay with calling him “Blue” as well.
In essence, the location you pick for a SHTF survival situation makes all the difference. The need to provide for winter food storage and heating, along with cooling in the summers, can take a lot of effort that is offset in a semi-tropical clime. The fact that there are no military targets upwind of Eastern Hawaii for three thousand miles. That is also an advantage. There’s also a lot to be said for geographical isolation, something that can’t be found on most continents. If you want to have the safety that comes with year round growing seasons,  geographical isolation, plentiful fish and game, not to mention living in a literal paradise, then you should consider checking out Hawaii. I made the decision to come out here (roundly seconded by my girlfriend ) and we’re never regretted it.
And, hey, it’s Hawaii…


  1. Sounds like paradise to me and you did the research and effort to get your Life set straight. The clean water, and long growing season certainly are advantages to living off grid. Congratulations on your good fortune and hope the future remains bright.

    One question – I’ve read that Hawaii is very anti-gun in politics. Do the majority of local population feel the same ? Hunting vs. self protection ? If you don’t mind, I would like hearing more about that.

  2. I lived on Oahu for a year. Isn’t Oahu upwind from you? Not saying it isn’t ideal, just asking. …it’s a HUGE target. (Former SOF Targeting guy) Additionally, are you high enough elevation to avoid those DA*N tsunami warnings posted in the phone book (showing my age)?

  3. In 1982-3 I started making payments on two acres in a subdivision called Royal Gardens near Kalapana, Big Island. Although that land and the house/shack I built was covered up by the volcano, I am grateful to have had the chance to live there. When meeting people who lived in various parts of island the exchange often went something like “we live at _____, best part of the island.”

    I had been allowing myself to go native and it took some time to undo once back in Texas. Thus, it wasn’t the volcano eruption and lava that covered my land. It was Madame Pele.

    At the time I was shuttling back and forth working contracts in Antarctica and Tierra Del Fuego. Fairly exciting stuff.

    Almost 40 years later I’m thrilled and lucky to have land, tiny farm, log cabin, wonderful wife, off grid setup in Texas, a place I didn’t much care for while growing up. Thx for the article.

  4. I have property on the Big Island and would love to live there again, except. 1. Everything, and I do mean everything has to be shipped in, so it’s expensive. The countries biggest working cattle ranch is on that island, yet all beef is shipped in. (Parker Ranch beef goes to Japan). 2. Medical care is worse than ridiculous. You get sick, they medivac you to Oahu, with a possibility of medivac to the west coast for treatment. 3. Crime is down right mainland level on the island. Don’t leave ANYTHING (especially building materials) unguarded or they will be gone. Lock your gate, car, house, period. 4 Drugs. If you’re into them it’s a great place (especially the Puna district), which leads to the crime mentioned. 5. Madame Pele has been reclaiming her land for a while now. 6. Really hate to say, but Hawaii Nei has become little more that a welfare state. Jobs ARE scarce. 6. Some of the most draconian gun laws in the country. Just carrying a firearm to a range or gunsmith/dealer is rather involved. Carry anywhere else, forget about it… and 7. Lastly, if (when) it really hits the fan, where ya gonna go? If it gets real it’ll get really tough really quickly on the islands. There are approx 200K people living on that island. They can’t feed themselves locally. Add on the things listed above and you have the premise for another Rawles novel. If you don’t have a boat big enough to travel the open ocean you’re SOL. you won’t be able to just head down to the airport and catch a flight… I do love that island. It is beautiful, (mostly) great people, wonderful atmosphere. Bug Out location… Not so much…

  5. I enjoy Hawaii and try to go every other year or so. I could not live there, too small a place, too expensive and too many crazy people. But IMHO if America is every attacked they must destroy our Hawaii bases and occupy it to beat us. I’m not sure Hawaii is a safe place if the SHTF.

  6. I grew up in Hawaii, many years spent across multiple islands. These comments are highly amusing, and clearly from people who were not born and/or raised there.

    Most stick to the superficial areas/activities, and do not take the time to become truly immersed in the Hawaiian culture and history (not just visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center once for a Luau). I have lived in most of the States, and nowhere else is even close regarding how people treat each other, the respect for all living things, and the reverence shown to the Kupuna (elders). There are so many more levels than just hanging out with neighbors and thinking you are a local.

    There is an amazing life to be had there, if you only dig deep enough.

    1. For my part I intended no slight. As a tourist what you see in Hawaii is different from what you see as a life time resident. Some many years ago I was in Honolulu staying at the Hale Koa right in the middle of everything. We were warned not to walk the main streets after dark because the locals would beat up the Haoles and some had been stabbed. I have been back to the islands many times since then and enjoyed my trips but there is clearly a racism and sometimes violence directed towards anyone who is not in their group. Sure I could say the same thing about some cities in the mainland too but just for the record I avoid those places. Still, I hope to visit Hawaii real soon. Aloha

      1. No worries, I take no offense. There is sadly a great deal of fearmongering and incorrect information here, but that is to be expected.

        I understand that we all have our own likes/dislikes, preferences, experiences, prejudices, etc. That’s part of what makes us so interesting.

        Aloha ʻĀina

  7. Went to school in Hawaii and still have a place on Oahu, am on Oahu now. Have looked at a place on big island as recently as last year. But there is a problem with squatters. Unless you are there full time or have someone to constantly check on the place.

    Last year on the way to look at the home the realtor told us that they had just evicted a guy who had broke the lock and moved in. When we got to the house we found a homeless lady had moved onto the property.

    Love the big island but crime and homelessness are a problem, many if not most of homeless are from mainland who come thinking they can live and eat for free.

  8. Generally same opinion as some of the others have written. Years ago I was able to buy with a partnership group the Malaiia (sp) Triangle (8 acres) on the west neck of Maui, just adjacent to the Marina with the intentions of a recreational development. It was not long that threats from the local mafia began to surface and partners out of fear began dropping out. The project died. I also looked at property on the island for my wife and young son, to buy and build a home since we would be living there and managing the new development. The Hawaiian realtor told me we were making a mistake and our son would be beat up every day at school since the racism against “howlies” was so bad. In addition, the anti-2A restrictions were heavy handed. I don’t like the idea of being trapped on an island , like a big cruise ship. Where do you go to escape it? The natives enjoy the benefits of your money , but don’t want YOU to be a permanent part of it.

    1. Wow. What a story! I did not know there was Hawaiian mafia. Am so grateful you had a realtor with such integrity to speak the truth to you, and place your well being over their profits. It seems, “the natives enjoy the benefits of your money , but don’t want YOU to be a permanent part of it,” is universal.

  9. 1) Oahu has the 4th largest concentration of military personnel in the United States. Headquarters of Pacific Command — one of the major Combatant Commands. I.e has a big fat bullseye on it.

    2) Hawaii island is about 100 miles away to southeast. Surface prevailing winds generally from northeast but can shift to west occasionally in winter. But when you look at fallout you can NOT just use surface winds — you have to consider the layers of winds going several miles up to top of fallout cloud — and winds in those layers flow in different directions and at higher speeds than surface winds.

    3) The method used by the US Army for 70 years — and since adopted by the Navy , Air Force, Marines and NATO — computes where fallout will likely go using wind vectors in those layers.

    4) The software program ATP-45 — developed by a former member of the Army’s Chemical Corps — indicates that Hawaii island would be heavily covered with lethal fallout if the Chinese hit Oahu with one of their 5 megaton nukes on today’s date. (ATP-45 pulls in NOAA’s wind vectors for pilots, developed each day by sending weather balloons aloft with radiosondes.)

    5) Plus Hawaii is linked to Oahu by the other islands with short stretches of ocean in between — which means Hawaii would be overwhelmed with refugees from Oahu.

    6) Pierre Omidyar, the Ebay billionaire survivalist, has a base on Oahu but also a jet to carry him to Nevada and his island off France, He talks about Hawaii’s survival pros and cons (Food shortages) here:

    NOTE that Pierre’s home is in the very wealthy Kahala area just west of Diamond Head — where Hawaii’s National Guard /Homeland Security base is by the strangest coincidence.

    Just a short hop on a Boston Whaler from the beach to Honolulu Airport and his jet if it’s time to get out of Dodge.

    7) Other billionaires have homes in Hawaii islands — Larry Ellison of Oracle purchased an entire island. But I think those bases were set up after the 2008 crisis as protection from the peasants with pitchforks. As noted above, Oahu has the 4th largest concentration of military personnel in the USA and they have kept the natives in line ever since the US Marines handed the Hawaiian King the Bayonet Constitution.

    1. Thank you. Very well said, imo. Remember this just a few years ago? My best friend was on Maui on her honeymoon when they were texted to,
      “seek shelter because a nuclear bomb was coming in 15 minutes!” However, there was no place for them to go or evacuate too. They just prepared to die together.

  10. Correction: Kahala is east of Diamond Head. About six miles from Honolulu Airport.

    Note that China’s 5 megaton nukes are carried on the DF-5A ICBM, which has a range of 13,000 kilometers (8077 miles). Distance to Oahu from bases in central China is about 6000 miles.

  11. Hawaii is a great place I was stationed there for 3 years while in the Navy. It was the best shape I have ever been in my entire life. Lived as local and then used the commisary. While there I owned over 25 firearms. When I got there I had 10 days to have them registered. No hassle at all. Shot pistol and rifle at Schofield Barracks.. Not sure about having a retreat there but all your statements are true. Congrats on your good fortune and God Bless

  12. I wonder if maybe this article was written pre-pandemic?? — would be interesting to hear the author’s thoughts now that Hawaii has so many cases…285…for such a small population (1.4 million)

  13. Thanks for the article. I had wanted to move to the big island and have been there many times. I’m curious to know how your property fared after Pele had her way with it? After doing copious research, visiting several times, and speaking with friends who lived there part time, I decided against it because it didn’t fit the “grid down retreat” model. While I dream of that place, I’m content in my frigid zone 5. LOL.
    Although, I can still smell that sweet, balmy air, and think it’s one of the most beautiful places on earth. You can grow just about anything there.

  14. I spent the first 2 years of my Army career on Schofield barracks back in 83-85. I thoroughly enjoyed the weather , the local food and markets and the ocean. Oahu was awfully small and after 2 years I was ready to leave. The comments about locals not liking those from the mainland, spot on. As a 6’2″ blonde haired , blue eyed guy, I left the island wondering why that was even a state? Traveling downtown at night you always wanted a buddy with you and had to keep your head on a swivel. My.2c

  15. It just depends on what group of locals you meet. In my 7 years on Oahu, I worked with many Hawaiian and other ancestry locals ( and went out and partied with other locals of all variants ((young and in the military)). Got along great with them. Like others have stated, some places you just did not go if you were not part of the group there. If you do not belong, you better beware. Just like everywhere else. Liked it there massively overall. Also tribal (no pun intended) issues between groups (Hawaiians, Samoans, Chamorro, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Filipino, Haole, Popolo, etc..) and some place based (specific towns, blocks, beach areas, etc..) Was warned by friends and co-workers to avoid certain areas (in addition to warnings by the command).

  16. Tell us about the VOG (volcanic SMOG) from the volcano and the eruptions that displace whole neighborhoods in the Puna area. What’s up with that? Thanks.

  17. When you hear someone talking about how they have and raise chickens, then you know pretty well how they will survive or not when real hard times come. I feel bad for these people’s chances. Just saying.

  18. Can you purchase and keep firearms on your property in HI? Can you practice shooting on your acreage? What’s the deal with firearms there?

    1. You can keep your firearms on your property. If your acreage is large or in the boonies you will hear firearms being shot in the distance. Firearms must be registered. You can’t have magazines for pistols that hold more than 10 rounds. And no Class 3 weapons allowed ( machine guns etc., no automatic firing) There are a lot of properties that border public hunting grounds. Feel free to reach out to me I am a Realtor in the islands Steve Bond 808-722-5958

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