Hawaii is popular among active adults for its warm tropical climate, public beaches, and varied volcanic formations. Eight distinct islands make up this archipelago, with three leading the pack in popularity, recreation, and entertainment. Retirees seeking calming oceanic surroundings, rugged hiking trails, and cultural diversity can find it in Hawaii.
Climate & Geography
Hawaii consists of eight islands, six of which are permanently inhabited. Hawai’i (The Big Island), Oahu, and Maui are the most popular of the islands. The climate varies depending on the island, but in general, it is consistently warm. Average summer and winter temperatures differ by only a few degrees, and extreme heat and humidity is moderated by the trade winds in the east. The islands experience higher than average rainfall, and residential areas do not have any snowfall.
The islands were originally formed by volcanic activity, which gives them distinctive geological features and formations. There are two national parks, Haleakala National Park in Maui and Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on The Big Island.
Recreation, Culture, & Entertainment
Though each island is different, they all have some of the most popular beaches in the U.S. Kaanapali Beach on Maui is rated one of the top beaches in the U.S. and is popular for snorkelers because of its crystal-clear water. Waikiki Beach on Oahu is one of the most famous beaches in the state, and the waterfront also hosts high-end boutiques, bars, and hula shows.
The diverse natural scenery is another big draw for active adults. The abundance of volcanoes throughout the islands offer over 150 miles of hiking trails, three of which are active, above-ground, and open to the public. Diamond Head is a dormant volcano and cultural landmark on Oahu, and hikers can climb to the top for scenic views of the island and ocean. Many of the trails not only offer views of the craters, but also waterfalls, ridges, and cliffs.
Honolulu is the largest metropolitan area and has theaters, museums, and farmers markets. There are also several breweries throughout the islands, including Kona Brewing, Maui Brewing, and Waikiki Brewing. Residents can island hop on local commuter airlines, and flights range from 20 to 50 minutes.
Cost of Living & Taxes
The cost of living in Hawaii is higher than the national average, and housing it the most expensive factor. Transportation is another big factor because of the density of the population on the islands. Groceries and utilities are also above average, while health care is below.
Hawaii does not tax Social Security or public pensions, but it does fully tax all other forms of retirement income without deductions. Property tax rates are the lowest rates in the U.S., and the state offers an exemption to homeowners. The amount of the exemption varies by county, but retirees generally qualify for an even higher exemption. Rather than a sales tax, Hawaii levies a General Excise Tax (GET), which is roughly equal to a 4 percent sales tax. Prescription drugs are exempt from the GET, whereas food is taxed.
Hawaii frequently tops Gallup’s Well-Being Index, ranking No. 1 seven times in the last 10 years.
There are no nationally ranked hospitals in Hawaii, but U.S. News rates several as high performing. These include Queen’s Medical Center, Straub Medical Center, and Adventist Health Castle, which are all on Oahu.