Postcard: The Great Pacific Garbarge Patch*

I always say that a visit to Hawaii will change your life. What I rarely say is this: living in Hawaii will also change your life. There’s the obvious—a sudden aversion to any weather that dips below 65 degrees, a permanent deep tan, an acceptance of $7 milk gallons. And then there’s the less obvious: a shift towards sustainable living.

It’s nearly impossible to live in Hawaii and not change your habits. Stores will charge you extra money for a plastic bag, plastic straws are banned, and a constant wash up of plastic* on beaches serves as a reminder that our actions have consequences.  

If you’re looking to get in on the action too, these are a few of my favorite sustainable things. My current obsession is this reusable bag starter pack which includes two big mesh totes and three smaller bags, all made with organic cotton. Not only do they fold up easily in drawers, they also just look so much chicer when shopping. As for straws, this one is a keeper (the case makes all the difference). The last thing I’ve done is switch to a natural toothpaste with recyclable metal packaging—it’s the little things!

My Hawaii Bucket List

Most of the questions I get about visiting Hawaii are from friends and family staying for a limited time, a week maybe two. Even friends who are moving to the island tend to ask short term questions: where should I look to live? what are the best restaurants? which beach is your favorite? While I obviously love answering these questions, there’s one question I always wish someone would ask—what’s on your Hawaii bucket list?

With the possibility of a big move in the next year, I decided to finally answer that question for myself. Here’s a list (in no particular order) of all the things I want to do before we leave this beautiful little island. I hope that inspires your list too!

  1. Travel to all the islands. This one sounds simple, but after a really long work week, I tend to want crash at home in the comfort of my pajamas. I’ve already checked off Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island (kinda), so Lanai and Molokai are high on my list. Since my time on the Big Island was spent 100% poolside at a resort, I feel the need to visit this one again too.

  2. Visit Doris Duke’s mansion-turned-museum, Shangri La. The socialite’s former home is a gorgeous property filled with Islamic treasures from around the world. It fascinates me for two reasons: Duke was a staple in Old Hawaii’s high society and her collection is one of the largest in North America.

  3. Surf (+ see a major surf competition). The (first and) last time I surfed I was sixteen on a student exchange trip to Australia. I wasn’t particularly good at it, but I do remember how sweet it felt to finally ride a wave, albeit a small one. I can’t think of a better place to recreate that feeling than here in Hawaii. On the same note, Oahu is home to some of the most famous surf competitions in the world. Here’s hoping we get an Eddie before I move.

  4. Take a lei making class. Have you met Meleana Estes? She’s a legendary haku lei maker, a keeper of Hawaiian customs, and my Hawaii-based girl crush. Her work on instagram has inspired me to learn more about lei making and I can’t imagine a better place to learn than at one of her workshops.

  5. Stargaze at Mauna Kea. Another reason to re-visit the Big Island is the chance to stargaze on the world’s tallest (sea) mountain. I’m a complete believer in star signs (Pisces over here!) and the stories behind the constellations have fascinated me since I was a child. Since living in Town means a whole lot of light pollution, the chance to stargaze 14,000 feet above sea level sounds magical.

Waimanu Street

When we began searching for our Hawaiian home, it was clear that my fiancé and I didn't see eye to eye on where exactly that would be.

My fiancé, who was living on North Shore at the time, wanted to live closer to the bars and restaurants downtown. I'd rather imagined he'd stay put, I'd join him, and together we'd restore a mid-century home with an ocean view. But, since marriage is compromise (and neither of us are millionaires...sigh), we've taken up residency in a condo in the Ala Moana neighborhood of Honolulu. 

It’s our first home together and the first piece of property either of us has ever purchased. While I doubt it will be our forever home, it feels nice to have planted solid roots in Hawaii. 

We love our building and our neighborhood--which is in walking distance to great bars/restaurants in Kaka'ako, the Ala Moana Center, and, of course, the beach. 

Most importantly, we love having a place of our own for friends and family to visit (I've said it before and I'll say it again: a visit to Hawaii will change your life). 

With limited square feet, designing a home that's stylish enough for entertaining and practical enough for real life is challenging to the say least. While we've managed to get the basics down--couch, bed, pots and pans--we're still on the hunt for the details.

We want our house to reflect our island life, but not feel too kitschy...it is, after all, a home and not a tiki bar.

It'll probably be months before everything finally comes together. Until then, here are some things for the apartment I'm currently coveting. 

 coffee table book | traychairs | pillow | stools