Sunday, April 27, 2008

Island Fever??? Living in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii....

I'm soliciting questions, and blog reader Mel asked this question... "Do you ever get "island fever" living on the Big Island?"

For me it really didn't hit for several years, but I'm starting to notice it more now, my wife said it really didn't hit her for 4-5 years.

If you live here, you're fairly busy with everyday life... working, cleaning, cutting down the fast growing green stuff if you have property - all the usual things you deal with everywhere else.... you can go quite a while without noticing any feeling of being cooped up. The one thing where it's completely different from life back on the mainland is that if you really want or need a break from the routine, getting in your car and driving to a location that is totally different is more or less impossible. The circle island tour is fun, to a point, then it gets the same. You can't get in a car and in a day or two or five be a world away. I think it took Pat and I three days to drive to Texarkana, Texas from Corvallis, Oregon and there were any number of places we could've stopped and spent a week exploring. You can do plenty of day trips here, but it's not quite the same. To really get to something completely different a plane and fair amount of planning is involved.

My wife managed to make it back to the mainland for short periods just about every other year, I don't recall even leaving the island for two years and then it was to go to another island. I started going to the big scuba show about my 3rd year here and now I tend to get over there (the show, wherever it is) or back to Corvallis (only twice in the 9 years I've been here) once a year. I'm finding I'm looking forward to getting away a little more each year.

Early on we did miss many of the conveniences we had on the mainland. If we needed a new ceiling fan, they started at about $200 in town and there was limited selection... our first trip to DEMA (the dive show) was to New Orleans and we brought back two ceiling fans from Home Depot for 50-60 bucks each that were 4 times that here. Over the years Kona has been building up, so now many more of the things you can pick up easily on the mainland are more readily available, but we can still be amazed when we go out for a day of window shopping on vacation that there's so much we don't see here.

I have known a number of people who succumb to "island fever" fairly quickly and end up moving home... I think I've heard somewhere that something like 30% of all new arrivals are back where they came from within 1-3 years. I suspect the fit may not have been the right one for them from the get-go in many cases, but in many cases it can be a matter of economics... this place isn't cheap for living. Pat and I were surprised at the difference in prices on groceries between the mainland and here, much more so than when we first moved over here.

Difficulties can exist for anyone with very strong family and friend ties, and for those who need all of the things available that are often taken for granted, but most people seem to work through it, and some greatly enjoy the difference in lifestyles here.

For each person it's going to be different... I'm loving it, but then again sitting on a boat or diving most every day isn't exactly the most stressful way of spending one's life.

Yesterday Pat, Cathy, Bob and I went for a holo-holo trip to check out some sites we haven't been to in ages or at all. It was a blast to do some new spots. I've been wanting to get a decent shot of a juvenile Commerson's Frogfish (Antennarius commerson) for years, and I finally had a camera in hand this time. This guy was hanging out under a small ledge. I noticed some yellow so I thought I'd check it out... the little ones are generally bright yellow, then add a touch of red in the middle as they grow. It sort of mimics a sponge. This particualr one is about 1" to maybe 1.25" long.




BNS said...

All very well said, Steve: The good, the bad, and everything in between -- including the changes we've all seen here over the past handful of years, due to development.


P.S. Excellent shot of the frogfish, by the way. Gotta love those little guys.

Steve said...


Funny thing on the frogfish. I go years without seeing a juvenile with a camera in hand, and I've found juveniles on my last two dives now and have a pretty decent face and angler dangle thingie (I think that might not be the scientific term) shot of the last one I'll post at some later date.