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Let’s Go Green! Are you living sustainably?

Let’s Go Green! Are you living sustainably?

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of living sustainably in our daily lives. From reducing our carbon footprint to preserving natural resources, embracing green living practices offers numerous benefits for both individuals and the planet. In this post, we’ll explore the significance of green living and provide practical tips for incorporating sustainable choices into your lifestyle.

Looking to move to Hawaii? Check out some great listings here!

3 Reasons Why Green Living Matters

  1. Environmental Impact: By adopting eco-friendly habits, such as reducing energy consumption and minimizing waste, individuals can play a crucial role in mitigating climate change and protecting the environment for future generations.
  2. Health Benefits: Many sustainable practices, such as eating organic foods and using non-toxic cleaning products, can contribute to improved health and well-being. By reducing exposure to harmful chemicals and pollutants, individuals can enjoy a healthier lifestyle.
  3. Cost Savings: Contrary to popular belief, going green doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, many sustainable choices can lead to long-term cost savings. For example, investing in energy-efficient appliances and home insulation can lower utility bills, while biking or using public transportation can reduce transportation expenses.

Looking to move but worried about getting the care you need? Learn more here!

6 Practical Tips for Green Living

  1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: The mantra of “reduce, reuse, recycle” remains as relevant as ever. Start by minimizing waste in your daily life by opting for reusable products, such as water bottles and shopping bags, and recycling materials whenever possible.
  2. Conserve Energy: Simple actions like turning off lights when not in use, unplugging electronics, and adjusting thermostats can significantly reduce energy consumption and lower utility bills. Consider investing in energy-efficient appliances and LED light bulbs for further savings.
  3. Choose Sustainable Transportation: Reduce your carbon footprint by walking, biking, carpooling, or using public transportation whenever feasible. Not only will you reduce emissions, but you’ll also save money on gas and reduce traffic congestion.
  4. Support Sustainable Brands: When shopping for groceries, household goods, and clothing, look for products from companies that prioritize sustainability and ethical practices. Choose organic, locally sourced foods whenever possible, and opt for products with minimal packaging to reduce waste.
  5. Embrace Renewable Energy: Consider switching to renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power, to power your home. Many utility companies offer options for purchasing renewable energy credits or installing solar panels on your property.
  6. Create a Sustainable Home: Make eco-friendly upgrades to your home, such as installing energy-efficient windows, improving insulation, and using low-flow fixtures to conserve water. Consider incorporating green building materials and design principles if building or renovating a home.

What do you think?

Embracing green living and living sustainably isn’t just about making individual choices—it’s about creating a more sustainable future for our planet and future generations. By making simple changes to our daily habits and lifestyle choices, we can all contribute to a healthier, more sustainable world. Whether it’s reducing energy consumption, minimizing waste, or supporting sustainable brands, every action counts. Together, we can make a positive impact on the planet and create a greener, more sustainable future for all.

Looking to visit Hawaii? Here are some of our amazing vacation rentals!

6 Tips for Planning Your Vacation to Hawaii

6 Tips for Planning Your Vacation to Hawaii

Planning a vacation to Hawaii? Whether it’ll be your first time here or you’re a frequent visitor of the islands, there are some things you should know before you get here. Hawaii is truly unique, and certain aspects might be different from what you’re accustomed to where you’re travelling from. Here are 6 tips to keep in mind when planning your vacation to Hawaii.

We are an island chain.

Although it may seem obvious, many visitors arrive in Hawaii expecting all the conveniences they’re used to from home. While most necessities are available, stock in your area may be limited, especially if you are visiting one of the smaller islands in the chain. Hawaii is about 2,500 miles from mainland USA and about 4,000 miles from Japan. Restocking our supplies takes time and adjustments are slow because most of it’s handled by boat. It’s worth researching the area you’ll be visiting before you arrive. It’s important to know how far you’ll be from hospitals, grocery stores, restaurants, beaches, and other essential services to ensure you have everything you need close by.

Each island is unique.

If you asked someone who has never been to Hawaii to picture the islands, they might imagine an endless perimeter of white sandy beaches, palm trees, and hula dancers playing ukulele. While all of those things can certainly be found here, each island has its own character and a unique set of features. The Big Island alone has everything from snow capped mountains to lush tropical rainforests. When planning your vacation to Hawaii, it’s important to know what you want out of your trip and to look up which islands can accommodate those needs.

Hawaii is a deeply cultural and spiritual place.

Hawaii has a long history, rich with legendary figures and spiritual significance. Respecting local culture starts with knowing the history and significance of the areas you’ll be visiting. Existing in isolation for so long, Hawaiian culture is unique and deeply important to the local population. Every mountain, every beach, every valley has a long and storied past. As you explore, show respect for both the land and people you encounter while visiting the island. Remember, what may appear simple to you can hold deep significance to the people who live here.

Know your depth.

There’s a reason Hawaii is the birthplace of surfing: the waves here can get BIG. The same awesome power that creates these monster swells also poses serious risks to human life, including strong currents and intense undertow. Even people experienced with these waters are cautious when the surf gets too big.

When you’re at the beach, always keep your children in sight and never turn your back to the ocean. Stay mindful of rip currents, undertows, and rogue waves. Be careful when crossing any rocks along the shore and take note of where you see water on the rocks. This is a clear sign that waves are capable of reaching those areas.

If you’re paddling in a canoe, kayak, or paddle board, stay in areas that reflect your experience level. Just because you’ve kayaked in your local lake doesn’t mean you have the strength and endurance to fight back the strong ocean current. If a beach is closed, know that it’s for your own safety.

The same is true for hiking and exploring the islands. Some of the most stunning sites require long and sometimes arduous treks to reach. While it’s always worth the effort to reach these secluded gems, it’s important to be prepared for the journey ahead. Research the length of the trails and average time it takes to get where you’re going. This way, you can choose the best routes and finish your adventure during daylight hours to avoid getting lost. Some trails may put you hours from emergency aid, especially if you’re in an area not easily accessible by helicopter. Know your limits, be responsible, and stay safe.

Respect the wildlife.

Many species native to Hawaii are found nowhere else in the world and hold a special place in the island’s history. These creatures’ habitats are as fragile as they are beautiful and, as such, we try to interfere as little as possible. While walking down the beach, it’s not uncommon to see a Hawaiian monk seal or green sea turtle sunning themselves on the sand and rocks. Do not approach these animals as federal law protects them. The same goes for the dolphins and whales swimming in our waters. Always keep a safe distance when viewing these majestic creatures.

Keep the coral reefs safe.

Coral is a living creature and much more fragile than you may realize. Please don’t walk on the coral reefs as it could damage the entire colony. Coral reefs are also threatened by what we bring into the ocean with us. Remember to always use reef safe sunscreen. Check the ingredients for chemicals like oxybenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene, homosalate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, PABA, parabens, or triclosan. As well, avoid sunscreens containing exfoliating beads or any other form of plastics or nanoparticles. Although the sale of these harmful products is prohibited in Hawaii, it’s difficult to monitor what visitors bring from home. For more information and brand recommendations, check out our blog on reef safe sunscreen.

With these tips in mind, we hope you can plan a safe and respectful vacation in Hawaii without compromising your enjoyment. For additional guidance, we found this video on how to “Travel Pono” from Hawaiian Airlines to be very helpful and informative for incoming visitors.

Vacation Rental Mastery: How to Identify the Right Realtor?

Vacation Rental Mastery: How to Identify the Right Realtor?

Investing in a vacation rental property can be a lucrative way to expand your investment portfolio. Beyond having your own little place in a great vacation destination, it provides an immediate source of return on equity. Being in such a location means little doubt of holding its purchase value, usually even appreciating. As an investment property, a vacation rental is considered “like-kind” and can be included in a 1031 exchange. As with any investment, it’s best made when you have as much knowledge as is available. The best place to start with a vacation rental realtor.

Why You Need a Realtor with Property Management Experience For Your Investment Property

While real estate and property management often go hand-in-hand, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all realtors are well-versed in vacation rental rules and laws and what it takes to manage a successful rental. When you use a realtor with property management experience, you benefit from their knowledge of which complexes allow vacation rentals, how to obtain or transfer an STVR (Short Term Vacation Rental) permit, realistic expectations for rental income and expenses, important questions to ask the Seller, and a seamless transition from buying to managing!

Short Term Vacation Rental Rules and Laws

In the past decade, the short-term rental market has exploded into a multi-billion-dollar industry. Countries are having to react to this with brand new rules and regulations. These laws are designed to help protect neighborhoods and keep homes available to residents who need them. Vacation rentals, when properly managed, are capable of making much more than a standard long-term rental and thus are very appealing to real estate investors looking for a safe investment. 

Laws vary from country to country, state to state, island to island, even complex to complex. Some regulations are so new that realtors in the area aren’t completely familiar with the changes. Just because your area allows vacation rentals doesn’t mean that any residence could be offered as one. Maybe your area only allows short-term rentals in certain zoning areas. Maybe your desired condo has house rules that dictate that rentals have a minimum stay of 30 days or only allow one booking of any duration in a given month. Some require that you register each guest with the complex ahead of time. A realtor who’s dealt with vacation rentals in the area before will know what to look for or who to contact to get the necessary information.

Oahu, for instance, has a minimum stay of 90 days in all vacation rentals as of October 2022 and the owner could be fined as much as $10,000 a day for violations.  On top of that, vacation rentals in the area are limited to only a handful of resort-zoned districts. Just because the house next door to your investment property allows short stays, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to. Maybe they’ve received special allowance, maybe they have a permit that is no longer offered for that area, and in some cases, they’re simply breaking the law

Obtaining an STVR Permit

A common form of tracking, limiting and policing vacation rentals is through the use of permits and varies from location to location. A knowledgeable realtor who deals with STVR’s in the area will know what permits are needed for what type of residence. For instance, in Maui, if you had been operating a vacation rental in a non-resort zoned district as of 2019, you were allowed to apply for a “non-conforming use certificate” (NUC). After the cut-off date, these NUC’s were no longer available and will not transfer to a new owner upon the sale of the associated property.

Hawaii island has a similar regulation, except permits can currently be transferred to the new owner. We’ve had clients come to us after buying a home in a residential zone and ask, “How do we make it a vacation rental?” We’re forced to be the bearer of bad news and inform them that they simply can’t. An informed realtor will be able to tell you if STVR is possible and knows the process of applying for a new permit or how to transfer an existing permit.

Need a vacation? Our vacation rental portfolio
Looking to buy? Our listings

Realistic Income Expectations and Expenses

When buying an existing vacation rental, it’s common to ask for a breakdown of the income the rental had been generating and any preexisting booking information that will transfer after close of escrow, same as any business.

It’s important to review and make sure you understand all this information. Make sure you’re comfortable with the rates and amenities offered in the preexisting bookings and that you have considered all the potential expenses as well. Someone in the industry can look more closely at the information given, help interpret it for you and suggest follow-up questions.

As 2020 showed us, not every year is going to be smooth sailing. Perhaps a certain festival was cancelled so a period of increased traffic was left vacant. Maybe a national park was forced to close and bookings will be impacted in following years. It’s important to prepare for the potential highs and lows that can affect the vacation rental market as well as the regular seasonal highs and lows. A local experienced realtor will be able to tell you what sort of demand to expect seasonally.

It’s very common for sellers to list their rental property furnished or “turnkey.” This may seem appealing at first, but it’s important to consider the age and condition of the furniture. Many times, people are prompted to sell when their reviews have taken a turn for the worse and they’re unprepared to remedy the issues. Maybe the furniture is dated, worn, or falling apart. Sometimes the home needs a new coat of paint or to replace stained/worn carpeting. Maybe the AC is on its last legs, dishwasher is rusty, or the icemaker no longer works. If someone isn’t ready to make necessary repairs or upgrades, they’ll simply sell it. We put our knowledge to good use. We make sure that our buyers have accurate expectations and aren’t being misled by an empowered seller.

Seamless Transition to Management

It’s very typical that people wait until after a purchase to secure a management company. This makes sense. Why put the cart before the horse? Well, what if you can’t come to an agreement with a management company? What if none of your top choices for management are accepting new business of your type? Buying with a company that does both real estate and property management gives you the peace of mind knowing that when you find the right place it will be in good hands. They’re typically ready to go on the date of closing and can begin applying for necessary licensing, arranging photography, preparing rental listings, suggesting best bang-for-your-buck upgrades, and assisting with arranging repairs and remodels. This gets you off and running with your new investment much faster.

In conclusion….

Buying a vacation rental is a big decision. Don’t make an uneducated investment. Find a realtor you trust who’s educated about vacation rentals in your area.

Need a vacation? Our vacation rental portfolio
Looking to buy? Our listings

Savoring Paradise: A Culinary Journey of the Big Island

Savoring Paradise: A Culinary Journey of the Big Island

An array of Hawaiian-style Poke. From Tuna to Tako

Beyond Hawaii’s breathtaking beauty lies a culinary paradise that caters to every palate. This culinary journey ranges from traditional Hawaiian delicacies to international fusion, encapsulating a wide array of flavors and experiences. Join us as we explore the four corners of the Big Island of Hawaii. Indulge in delectable dishes and immerse yourself in the island’s unique dining culture.

Merriman’s – Waimea:

In the heart of Waimea, lies the culinary gem that is Merriman’s. This great restaurant truly embraces farm-to-table dining. Chef Peter Merriman, a pioneer of Hawaii Regional Cuisine, curates an extraordinary menu that showcases the freshest local ingredients. Indulge in the signature Opakapaka (Hawaiian pink snapper) or the savory Grass-Fed Beef Ribeye while enjoying the stunning views of the Kohala Coast. The commitment to sustainability and the celebration of Hawaii’s diverse flavors make Merriman’s a must-visit dining destination.

Brown’s Beach House – Kohala Coast:

Situated within the luxurious Fairmont Orchid Resort, Brown’s Beach House offers an elegant and sophisticated dining experience on the Kohala Coast. The restaurant’s serene oceanfront location sets the stage for a memorable evening. Brown’s specializes in contemporary island cuisine, featuring Pacific Rim flavors and locally-sourced ingredients. The Ono Carpaccio and Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi-Mahi are among the standout dishes. The impeccable service and romantic ambiance make this restaurant perfect for special occasions.

Hilo Bay Cafe – Hilo:

For a taste of Hilo’s vibrant culinary scene, head to Hilo Bay Cafe, a beloved establishment that focuses on using ingredients from local farmers and fishermen. Chef Skyler Osborne’s innovative approach to classic Hawaiian dishes elevates your dining experience to new heights. Boasting a long list of sushi delicacies on top of their impressive island-fusion menu, the culinary brilliance is immediately on display. Top it off with their welcoming atmosphere and emphasis on community support, Hilo Bay Cafe is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Ulu Ocean Grill and Sushi Lounge – Kailua-Kona:

Within the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, lies Ulu Ocean Grill and Sushi Lounge. This gastronomic paradise merges the freshest seafood with Asian influences. The restaurant’s oceanfront setting and open-air design provide an unforgettable backdrop as you savor the delightful offerings. From the Chef’s Selection Sashimi Platter to the mouthwatering Ulu Signature Roll, each dish is an artful fusion of flavors and textures. For a truly exceptional dining experience, opt for the “Lana’i at Sunset” dinner, a private meal served on a secluded platform above the surf.

Hawaii Island’s culinary scene is a treasure trove of flavors that cater to every food enthusiast. From embracing farm-to-table concepts to celebrating the island’s rich heritage, the restaurants on Hawaii Island promise an unforgettable dining experience. Whether you’re a seafood lover or craving an authentic taste of Hawaiian cuisine, these establishments have something to offer for every discerning palate. So, the next time you find yourself on the beautiful shores of Hawaii Island, be sure to embark on a culinary journey of your own that will leave you with memories as delightful as the island’s tropical breeze.

Looking for a sweet treat to beat the heat? Check out our list of the Top 5 Shave Ice Joints on the Big Island!

Please note: Menus are frequently updated. Some offerings may no longer be available. Please check the links for updated selections.

Home Care In Hawaii

Home Care In Hawaii

Helpful information on the costs of home care for people living in Hawaii, provided by the helpful folks at Homecare.org. While this article focuses mainly on Hawaii, Homecare.org provides helpful resources for people living in all 50 states.

When planning your retirement, the question on most people’s minds is: “Will I be able to afford everything?” Trying to make a list of all of your future expenses can feel impossible and in many cases is. It’s unlikely that you need home care the day you retire, but you might down the road. This sort of expense can be enough to force you into changing the way you planned your retirement. Hawaii, in particular, has one of the highest costs for home care in the country, well above the national average.

To help plan for these unforeseen expenses, Homecare.org has provided us with some helpful information about home care like average costs, what services are available, and what coverage exists to help you manage these new expenses.

Looking to make an investment towards your retirement? This page can be a great place to start.

Homecare.org/Hawaii

This page compares average prices of home care in Hawaii against that of neighboring states and the US national average. Also included are state averages for the monthly costs of various types of senior care and assisted living, programs to maintain your independence while staying safe, Medicaid eligibility and more.

Does Medicare Cover In-Home Care?

This page is covers various types of in-home care and talks about what is and isn’t covered by Medicare. It also provides “care scenarios” to help paint a better picture of what costs you may face based on your individual needs.

The Cost of 24/7 In-Home Care

This page focuses on those in need of round-the-clock caring and ways to pay for it. Whether it’s solely medical care or non-medical as well, find out what options are available to you.

Planning your next Hawaiian getaway? Check out all of our vacation rentals here.

This is not a paid promotion. First Island Realty LLC is not affiliated with homecare.org in any way. This is purely information that we hope will help people when learning more about seeking home care in Hawaii.

Vacation Rental Approved Condo Complexes

Vacation Rental Approved Condo Complexes

With the growing popularity of vacation rentals as a viable alternative to hotels, it can be difficult to know if you’ve explored all of your options. Whether you’re planning a vacation or your next investment, even knowing where to start looking can be difficult. Here’s a list of vacation rental approved condo complexes on the Big Island of Hawaii. This list focuses on the Kona and Kohala coasts as they are the most popular destinations for vacationers and have the most resort zoned areas. If you know of a complex that allows vacation rentals and you don’t see it on our list, please leave the name in the comments section below. This list leaves off those complexes who are zoned for vacation rentals but have HOA or AOAO rules against short-term rentals of this nature.

Kohala Coast (click to view)
  • Fairway Villas
    Address: 69-200 Pohakulana Pl, Waikoloa Village, HI 96738 (map)
  • Fairways at Mauna Lani
    Address: 68-1125 N Kaniku Dr, Waimea, HI 96743 (map)
  • The Golf Villas at Mauna Lani
    Address: 68-1310 Mauna Lani Dr, Waimea, HI 96743 (map)
  • Halii Kai at Waikoloa
    Address: 69-1029 Nawahine Pl, Waikoloa Village, HI 96738 (map)
  • Kolea at Waikoloa Beach Resort
    Address: 69-1000 Kolea Kai Cir, Waikoloa Village, HI 96738 (map)
  • Mauna Lani Point
    Address: 68-1050 Mauna Lani Point Dr, Waimea, 96743 (map)
  • Mauna Lani Terrace
    Address: 68-1399 Mauna Lani Dr, Waimea, HI 96743 (map)
  • Shores at waikoloa Beach Resort
    Address: 69-1035 Keana Pl, Waikoloa Village, HI 96738 (map)
  • Villages at Mauna Lani
    Address: 68-1025 N Kaniku Dr, Waimea, HI 96743 (map)
  • Vista Waikoloa
    Address: 69-1010 Keana Pl, Waikoloa Village, HI 96738 (map)
  • Waikoloa Beach Villas
    Address: 69-180 Waikōloa Beach Dr, Waikoloa Village, HI 96738 (map)
  • Waikoloa Colony Villas
    Address: 69-555 Waikōloa Beach Dr, Waikoloa Village, HI 96738 (map)
  • Waikoloa Villas
    Address: 68-3840 Lua Kula St, Waikoloa Village, HI 96738 (map)
  • Waiulaula at Mauna Kea Resort
    Address: 62-3600 Amaui Dr, Waimea, HI 96743 (map)
Kona Coast (click to view)
  • Alii Cove (web)
    Address: 75-5919 Ali‘i Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Alii Villas
    Address: 75-6016 Ali‘i Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Banyan Tree Condos
    Address: 76-6268 Ali‘i Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Casa De Emdeko
    Address: 75-6082 Ali’i Dr, Kailua Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Country Club Villas (web)
    Address: 78-6920 Ali’i Dr, Kailua Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Hale Kona Kai
    Address: 75-5870 Kahakai Rd, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Kahalu’u Beach Villas
    Address: 78-6721 Ali‘i Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Kailua Bay Resort
    Address: 75-5669 Kuakini Hwy, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Kailua Village
    Address: 75-5766 Kuakini Hwy, Kailua-Kona, HI  96740 (map)
  • Kanaloa at Kona
    Address: 78-261 Manukai St, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Keauhou Akahi
    Address: 78-7030 Ali‘i Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Keauhou Gardens (Kona Coast Resort)
    Address: 78-6842 Ali‘i Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Keauhou Kona Surf & Racquet Club
    Address: 78-6800 Ali‘i Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Keauhou Punahele (web)
    Address: 78-7070 Alii Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Keauhou Resort
    Address: 78-7039 Kamehameha III Rd, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Kona Alii
    Address: 75-5782 Kuakini Hwy, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Kona Bali Kai
    Address: 76-6246 Ali‘i Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Kona Coffee Villas
    Address: 79-7199 Mamalahoa Hwy, Holualoa, HI 96725 (map)
  • Kona Islander Inn (web)
    Address: 75-5776 Kuakini Hwy, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Kona Isle
    Address: 75-6100 Ali‘i Dr B26, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Kona Kai
    Address: 74-5618 Palani Rd, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Kona Magic Sands
    Address: 77-6452 Ali‘i Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Kona Makai
    Address: 75-6026 Ali‘i Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Kona Mansions
    Address: 75-5873 Walua Rd, Kailua Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Kona Pacific
    Address: 75-5865 Walua Rd, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Kona Plaza
    Address: 75-5719 Ali‘i Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Kona Reef
    Address: 75-5888 Ali‘i Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • The Makolea
    Address: 78-216 Makolea St, Kailua Kona, HI 96740 (map
  • Royal Kahili (web)
    Address: 76-6283 Ali‘i Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • Royal Sea Cliff
    Address: 75-6040 Ali‘i Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • The Sea Village
    Address: 75-6002 Ali‘i Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)
  • White Sands Village
    Address: 77-6469 Ali‘i Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (map)

Looking to book a stay? Check out our selection of vacation rentals.

Let’s Go Green! Are you living sustainably?
In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the importance …
6 Tips for Planning Your Vacation to Hawaii
Planning a vacation to Hawaii? Whether it'll be your first time here …