19 of the best Airbnbs in Hawaii on every island for a much-needed tropical vacation

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the best airbnbs in hawaii
  • With beautiful weather and stunning beaches, a passport-free trip to Hawaii is always appealing.
  • Hawaii can also be expensive, so booking an Airbnb over a hotel may help trim your budget.
  • We found some of the best Airbnbs on each island, whether you seek sun and surf or rainforest hikes.

With year-round warm weather, beaches framed by swaying palms, and majestic rainforests and volcanos, Hawaii is always a good idea.

And now that Hawaii’s six visitable islands are once again welcoming guests – so long as you present a negative COVID-19 test – a passport-free island getaway is especially appealing.

Enjoy Hawaii’s trade winds and warm sunshine as you sample fresh papaya alongside Hawaiian-grown coffee. Plan a rainforest hike, surf incredible waves, or simply savor a slower island pace. However, with such an idyllic setting, hotel prices may shock your wallet. It’s easy to spend over $500 per night for a standard double room with no character.

Airbnbs, on the other hand, can offer a more affordable option in spacious condos or homes that come infused with local personality. Here are the best Airbnbs in Hawaii you can book.

Browse all the best Airbnbs in Hawaii below, or jump directly to a specific area here:

These are the best Airbnbs in Hawaii, sorted by price from low to high.

Cheaply priced studio apartment on Oahu

Best airbnbs in Hawaii in Waikiki

Book this Waikiki studio on Airbnb

It’s hard to find a bargain in Waikiki, so this studio is an absolute dream for its great rate and amazing location near one of the most famous beaches in the world.

The apartment may be small and standard in terms of amenities, but it provides privacy and partial ocean and sunset views from your own dedicated lanai. 

A calming neutral palette, beautiful wood floors, big windows, and plenty of storage means you won’t miss out on unnecessary square footage. The main space is comprised of a small kitchenette, and a sofa and TV for downtime, backed by a sleeping area with a Queen-size bed. 

Staying here also provides access to the complex’s soothing palm tree-lined pool, outdoor BBQ, guest laundry, and a cute outdoor fitness center. Nearby Diamond Head also provides a serious workout, so take host-provided beach towels to refresh after a morning climb. 

Quiet oceanfront condo on Molokai

Best Airbnbs in Hawaii - Quiet oceanfront resort condo living room looking outside

Book this Molokai condo on Airbnb

Social distancing is a breeze at this condo in Ualapue, just outside the town of Kaunakakai. The population is just over 400 on this side of the island, but it’s a short drive to eateries and shops in central Molokai. 

The ground-floor condo is surrounded by a lush garden landscape with easy access to an unpopulated beach. Take advantage of resort amenities such as tennis courts, a pool, and a community recreation center. Hiking trails and waterfalls are also close by. 

Inside, light wooden floors are accented by an open-concept space with a stainless steel equipped kitchen and a King-size bedroom with ocean blue linens. A private shaded outdoor dining and lounge space boasts spectacular waterfront views. 

Condo near Kailua Village on the Big Island

Best Airbnbs in Hawaii - Kailua Village Condo kitchen table

Book this Kona condo on Airbnb

Staying in this condo means you’ll have the ocean just a block away, waterfront Hale Halawai Park is within a few steps, and wonderful eateries, tiki bars, and local shopping are all in close proximity. Visit nearby Kona Farmers Market for produce, freshly roasted coffee, and tropical flowers to add color to your rental home’s contemporary kitchen. 

This fully renovated condo has gorgeous wooden floors in the bedroom and cool new tile in the upgraded bathroom with a spacious walk-in shower. Furnishings are minimal while island-influenced decor like the ocean-inspired bedding are nice reminders of the surrounding tropical oasis. There is a Queen-size bedroom, though a fold-out sofa offers additional space if needed. 

Sip morning java at the kitchen bar while plotting the day’s adventures, or take breakfast onto the private furnished lanai to enjoy ocean views. Be sure to dip into the on-site pool to cool down, though you’ll also appreciate the rare island find of air-conditioning in this condo.

Private guest house on Maui

Best Airbnb in Hawaii - Downtown guest house living room

Book this Maui guest house on Airbnb

While it seems everyone wants to flock to Maui’s beaches, there’s something to be said for the charm of Lahaina Town. Front Street is bustling with activity and known for its vast array of local eateries and amazing art galleries. You’ll also find the world’s largest banyan tree right in the center of it all, just one block from this rental. 

This upper-level Lahaina guest suite has its own private entrance and comes with a work desk with a parsons chair for digital nomads, though you’ll most likely want to simply lounge with local coffee outside on the furnished private lanai. There is also a smart TV, crisp white bedding, and a modest kitchen.

Discover more of the best Airbnbs on Maui

Islander’s ocean view condo on Oahu

hawaii airbnb honolulu

Book this Honolulu studio on Airbnb

This colorful studio has a prime location just two blocks from the ocean and is a fantastic deal for a couple or solo traveler. Centrally located in Honolulu, guests are steps away from great local food trucks, restaurants, entertainment, nightlife, and more. 

Chic but whimsical decor will instantly place you in vacation mode from the retro pink couch to the bright turquoise design accents, and leafy bathroom statement wallpaper. The kitchenette is small, but has a vintage mini fridge, and a balcony and with a built-in bar that overlooks the ocean waves. Beach gear, including sunblock, is also provided showcasing attention to detail and small personal touches made by the host.

Beachfront condo with a pool on Molokai

Best Airbnbs in Hawaii -- Beachfront Condominium living room with balcony

Book this beachfront condo with pool starting at $130

This oceanfront condo may be small but is packed with all you need for a great stay and is just steps from the beach. From your private furnished lanai, you’ll catch colorful sunsets and views of surrounding islands, and the beachfront pool is equally scenic.

Tasteful island decor shines with Koa wood optic floors, sleek granite countertops, and pops of color by way of accent furnishings and bedding. The apartment is fully stocked with small appliances and a gas stove, while the living room has a flat panel TV with HD cable provided and free Wi-Fi.

Provided beach gear includes an umbrella, beach mats, and towels, and the location is about a mile east of downtown Kaunakakai with local eateries and shopping. On-site coin-operated laundry is available, and gas and charcoal BBQs are free to use. 

Beach paradise condo on the Big Island

The best Airbnbs in Hawaii -- Beach Paradise terrace view

Book this Kona condo on Airbnb

Watch amazing sunsets from your private lanai at this condo rental on the outskirts of popular bar town Kailua-Kona. No rental car is needed; you can walk or cycle to nearby hotspots like Don’s Mai Tai Bar or Alii Sunset Plaza for boutique shopping or to gather groceries. 

The condo has a community pool and hot tub, though a sandy beach is mere steps from the rental, too, so you can enjoy ocean waves day or night. Inside, the decor is a touch dated but features tropical inspiration and you’ll find a nice breeze on the shaded lanai, and east-facing windows bring in fresh air while you relax in the King-size bed. The sofa converts to a full-sized bed and also benefits from its own large windows. 

There is also a full kitchen plus a wide breakfast bar for quick bites and a small dining table perfect for a candlelit dinner. Or take it outside to grill up an island feast on the provided BBQ. 

Charming riverside cottage on Kauai


Book this Kauai cottage on Airbnb

Only one block from the beach, this riverside canal cottage on the outskirts of Kapaa Town overlooks the peaceful banks of the Wailua River, where guests can paddle with host-provided kayaks and SUPs, or take bikes out for a spin on a lovely path. The river leads to a natural lava rock grotto with waterfalls, an area formerly reserved for Hawaiian royalty but now enjoyed by many.

The plantation-style cottage was built in 1953 but renovated to feature beautiful paneling and beam details, bamboo accents, air conditioning, a vaulted ceiling with fan, sustainable wood floors, and a well-appointed outdoor area with a grill and water views. The lush grounds are home to fruit-bearing trees, so don’t be surprised if the host offers you a taste of starfruit. 

The kitchen is stocked with all the basics, so you’ll be able to sample local coffee and have seasoning on hand to flavor your in-room meals. Beach chairs and umbrellas are also provided, and there’s complimentary guest laundry.

Private guest house on Maui


Book this Maui home on Airbnb

Some of Maui’s most beloved beaches are located in Kihei and Wailea-Makena, and this one-bedroom cottage makes it easy to take advantage of the waterfront along Keawakapu and Kamaole Beaches where you’ll find food trucks and casual eateries aplenty, along with great people watching.

The space is bright, light, and sparkling clean with a convection oven and enough kitchen space to cook meals. There is also a coffee maker, air conditioning, a memory foam Queen-sized bed, and blackout curtains for excellent sleep. The private courtyard space includes a BBQ and hammock surrounded by lush plant life including organic papayas, mangoes, avocados, lilikoi, guava, lemon, and lime, depending on the season.

Additionally, the living room has a mounted smart TV to stream your favorite shows and movies after a long day at the beach. This guest house is attached to the host’s home, but you will have incredible privacy with a separate entrance and your own dedicated outdoor space. 

Modern remodeled condo at Poipu Beach, Kauai

Best Airbnbs in Hawaii - modern remodeled condo living room

Book this Kauai condo on Airbnb

It doesn’t get much closer to the waterfront at Poipu Beach than this stunning home.

Fresh off a full remodel, the contemporary space has a cool palette of white and grey, with a stainless fridge and in-counter cooktop, ideal for quick self-made meals. Adorning the walls is a series of island images from a locally renowned photographer, and the fresh, clean design carries throughout the condo.

There is a large bath offering natural light and the main bedroom has a King-size bed and a spacious layout. The living room convertible sofa adds extra sleeping space, and big windows and air conditioning keep the space comfy and cool.

In addition to immediate beach access, the condo property also has an outdoor grill and seating area for meals outside, while guests are also close to popular ice cream shops, casual and upscale restaurants, and great local coffee roasters. 

Bohemian retreat on the Big Island

best airbnbs in hawaii jungle home

Book this Big Island home on Airbnb

Set on an organic mango orchard and surrounded by plumerias, the home is located in Captain Cook and just a mile from Kealakekua Bay, known for some of Hawaii’s best snorkeling and wild dolphins.

Kind of like glamping, this open-air, two-bedroom bungalow merges the comforts of a well-appointed, bohemian-inspired home, with the outdoors. The kitchen and living areas are partially outside and open to the elements, but protected from rain, and eclectically adorned with vintage and tribal-inspired decor.

A lofted bedroom places you eye-level with a lush canopy of trees through floor-to-ceiling windows and a 30-foot stroll down a secluded path leads to an open-air bathhouse. It’s scenic and lovely, like staying in a jungle treehouse, but best appreciated by those who are comfortable with such rustic accouterments, especially given the occasional cameos from birds, insects, and lizards.

But it’s not totally roughing it; modern amenities include Wi-Fi and a washer and dryer, and town is a short 20-minute drive.

North Shore getaway at Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu

Best Airbnbs in Hawaii -- Entire condominium living room with stairs to a second floor

Book this Oahu home on Airbnb

Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore is memorable for its jagged lava rock coastline, a wide assortment of sea life ideal for snorkel sessions, and a starring role in the movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”

At this resort condo, guests may enjoy all the amenities of the popular resort such as a great pool complex, private beach, tennis, grills, dining, and sprawling grounds, while enjoying the privacy and quiet space of a whole home rental. 

The beach cottage comes with partial ocean views from the living room and the bedroom loft separates you from travel pals who can spread out on the Queen pullout sofa. Decor is crisp and clean with sea blue accents, and a vaulted ceiling is accented by tropical plants and island-inspired artwork. There is also a full kitchen, air conditioning, ensuite laundry, and your own designated parking space. 

Tiny home on a volcanic lava field on the Big Island

Best airbnbs in Hawaii tiny home on a lava field

Book this Big Island home on Airbnb

For an only in Hawaii experience, book this custom-built tiny home set on an otherworldly landscape of a volcanic lava field. You might even catch a glimpse of Pele’s orange volcanic glow. 

The home is also loaded with standout decor from steel tub sinks to a brightly painted ocean landscape mural behind the bed. Light pours in through oversized windows and patio doors, brightening the industrial-inspired interiors. The main living area is open and includes a couch, full kitchen, wooden writing desk, while a Queen-size bed is tucked upstairs in a sleeping loft.

This unique rental is in a great location for visiting the national park and nearby Kehena Black Sand Beach, which is less than an hour south of Hilo Airport. You’re also on the right side of the island for sampling local-grown macadamia nuts. 

Modern condo on Kauai


Book this Kauai condo on Airbnb

Located in a well-kept apartment complex, this Princeville condo offers the amenities of a larger resort with the privacy and personality of a warm home. Located on a quiet ocean bluff, guests enjoy the use of a shared community pool, grills, scenic hiking and cycling paths, and breathtaking beaches. 

The design exudes a luxury lean, with a soothing palette of calming blues and greys that creates a very Zen-inspired feeling. The living room has a smart TV, ceiling fan, and beach views from a lovely patio, while the kitchen is full-size. The modern Queen-size bedroom includes an additional fan, blackout shades, a bathroom with walk-in shower, and the option for a Pack ‘N Play crib if needed. 

Farmers’ markets and great restaurants are located close by. Be sure to sample the taro and juice farm store in neighboring Hanalei, and note there’s even a wine market nearby that offers delivery. 

Tropical cottage on Maui’s North Shore


Book this Maui cottage on Airbnb

For a tranquil stay on Maui’s scenic North Shore, this garden cottage places you amid green grass, waterfalls, and gentle breezes, perfect for lapping up sounds of nature and stargazing. Hookipa Beach is just a 10-minute drive away while the town of Paia isn’t much further.

The one-bedroom space is airy and bright with a smart TV, ceiling fan, convection oven, dishwasher, a washer and dryer, a memory foam Queen-size bed, an additional Queen-size daybed, as well as both a picturesque terrace and a separate, screened porch with ocean views. The backyard overlooks fruit trees, and the host also provides boogie boards, snorkeling gear, and there is the added bonus of an outdoor shower.

It’s worth noting that while this cottage is private there is a shared wall with another home, but only a few guests have noticed neighbor sounds and there are “quiet hours” in place. 

Large plantation-style home on Lanai

best airbnbs in hawaii in lanai

Book this Lanai home on Airbnb

This stunning home in the heart of Lanai is ideal for group travel thanks to its sizeable footprint. The contemporary space is well-lit with high ceilings and includes deluxe appliances and an inviting marble island made for social gatherings. There’s also a private patio, free parking, on-site laundry, free Wi-Fi, and taxes are already included in the nightly rate, making it a great deal for a full-family getaway.

Each of the three bedrooms has a Queen-size bed and the spacious living room includes a plush sectional sofa that converts to a full-size bed. There’s also a daybed if you have even more family members to accommodate. 

For cool pool dips, visit the rec center a mere five-minute walk down the street. Or head to nearby Hulopoe Bay to enjoy ocean waves. 

Three-bedroom designer beach house on the Big Island


Book this Kona beach house on Airbnb

With three bedrooms, this sophisticated beach home is a solid deal given the excellent location, sleek design, and excellent amenities. It’s just 10 minutes from the closest beach and the bustling tourist town of Kona.

Select a record for the turntable or queue up something to screen on the living room projector and sink into a hanging wicker chair while admiring the serene atmosphere of this beach home with concrete floors, midcentury furnishings, and tropical plants. The neutral design feels curated out of a magazine, with a full kitchen, air conditioning (in all rooms but one bedroom), surf and bamboo accents, essential oil diffusers, and playful palm print wallpaper. Each of the three bedrooms has a Queen-size bed, and a tranquil porch and backyard blend indoor and outdoor living seamlessly.

Other extras include beach gear, a grill, two bicycles, free parking, and a slew of family-friendly perks such as a travel crib, high chair, stair gates, changing table, baby monitor, baby bath, and more, for no added fee. 

Decadent artist’s house on Lanai

Best Airbnbs in Hawaii - artists house open floor plan

Book this Lanai house on Airbnb

Located in the old Japanese section of Lanai City, this original 1930s plantation-style home has been remodeled with a contemporary chef’s kitchen with granite counters and stainless appliances and a sharp-looking range hood. 

A classic neutral color palette emphasizes natural finishes, including warm wood grains in flooring and the dining set, with a plush leather sofa for cozy movie nights. There’s also plenty of space to enjoy the outdoors with a large furnished patio, a tropical garden, and an outdoor shower to rinse off after a fun day at the beach. The two interior full bathrooms offer natural light and ample storage for the whole family, while the main bath also has a jetted tub for soothing soaks. 

A well-known local artist renovated this charming home to reflect modern needs while retaining its roots as a former plantation home. Now the property includes a steam shower, full ensuite laundry, and personality while having easy access to downtown Lanai’s shops, eateries, and cafes. 

Luxury B&B with a pool on Maui

best hawaii airbnbs luxury bnb

Book this Maui B&B on Airbnb

For something closer to a hotel stay that’s still a standalone accommodation with a private entrance, this B&B offers the best of both worlds.

This guest suite includes a luxurious spa-like ensuite bathroom with a rain shower and a deep soaking tub, plus a King-size bed and golf course views. Right outside the door is a gorgeous swimming pool, hot tub, outdoor kitchen, a sauna, fitness equipment, and free daily breakfast that is included and served poolside each morning.

While the pool and outdoor amenities are shared with one other listing on the same property, staying here is truly like staying at your own exclusive resort. Plus, for a completely private escape, you can rent out both guest suites.

Award-winning Ka’anapali Beach is just across the street, so you’ll have quick access to incredible soft sand beaches, and a supreme range of local eateries and retail shops. 

FAQ: Airbnb in Hawaii

Where should I stay in Hawaii on Airbnb?

Each island has its own identity, which means you’ll eventually want to experience all the islands for a true sense of the state. 

Oahu is often a first-timer’s choice, as it’s home to Honolulu and Waikiki and cute surf towns. It’s also the most populous island, which means there’s no shortage of attractions, eateries, and places to stay. Here you’ll find a fusion of traditional art and luaus alongside city skyscrapers and contemporary five-star restaurants.  

Maui is known for its laidback beach vibes, though you can also explore lava rocks, watch the sunrise atop a volcano summit, and hike through the rainforest in between surf sessions. It’s the best island for watching migrating humpback whales in the winter, while summers are ideal for seasonal farm-to-table dining. 

The “big island” of Hawaii is hands-down a coffee lover’s paradise. This is where you’ll find famous Kona coffee beans grown on lush hillsides en route to those famous volcanoes. This island is sizeable, so you’ll want to day trip to its various seaside towns to experience all the flavors, like Macadamia nuts on the east side, coffee on the south end, and chef-driven dining in upcountry. 

For outdoors enthusiasts, the island of Kauai is a magical place to visit for its diverse terrain of stunning green valleys and towering cliffsides. Rainforests and cascading waterfalls are a big draw for hikers, too, so pack reliable footwear. Beaches on the South Shore are great for family swims and there are plenty of great snorkeling spots here, too. 

Lanai is only nine miles from Maui and easily accessible by a pedestrian ferry for day trips. The island is known for 4-wheeling and snorkeling spots, and there’s really only one town to explore in the center of it all. In tiny but chill Lanai City, guests savor local coffee at mom-and-pop cafes in between adventurous exploration of rugged island terrain.  

Finally, Molokai is only 38 miles long and while it’s perhaps the least visited island, it offers a different experience with its quiet atmosphere. The highest sea cliffs in the world are found here and lead to Kalaupapa National Historic Park. Though the island is remote, Central Molokai is home to an 80-year-old bakery and a handful of local eateries and shops. Keep in mind there is no direct air service to Molokai Airport, so you’ll need to connect from Honolulu. Once on the island, there is no public transportation, so your options will be to walk, cycle, or rent a car. 

What is the best time of year to visit Hawaii?

Hawaii’s climate is consistently warm, so there’s no bad time to visit when considering the weather. Even during the winter months, the daytime average is a balmy 78° while summer at sea level is in the mid-80s. No matter when you visit, it’s possible to experience some light trade winds or rainfall, but even in the wettest months, which are November through March, the rain passes as quickly as it arrived, so your fun won’t be interrupted for long. 

Near-shore water is consistently welcoming, so any time of year offers a refreshing dip at the beach. Just keep an eye on wave conditions to ensure you won’t face strong currents. When in doubt, swim at a beach with a lifeguard. And be sure to layer on sunscreen as even cloudy days can take your skin by surprise. 

How much does it cost to go to Hawaii?

In shoulder season and for more modest accommodations, Airbnb vacation rentals are easy to find for under $100. But expect to pay a few hundred dollars during popular vacation periods or for homes with plenty of guest space, unique features, and updated design.

Of course, you’ll also want to plan for a decent food and drink budget, which can also be expensive. You can save money on dining by picking up beverages and a few essentials at a local market like Foodland Farms or ABC Stores. 

If you can be flexible with travel dates, there is sometimes a dip in midweek pricing for Airbnbs but know that Hawaii is a year-round popular destination. Shoulder seasons may offer a bit of a price break, so keep an eye on spring and fall prices which may be less than the peak of summer vacation and winter breakers. 

Are there travel restrictions to Hawaii? 

If you are traveling during the pandemic, be sure to review Hawaii’s latest travel protocols and know that entrance requirements change often in response to new health data.

At present, all incoming mainland travelers — regardless of vaccination status — are subject to pre-travel testing to bypass a 10-day quarantine. Travelers must present a negative COVID-19 test to enter, which must be an approved test from specific trusted testing partners, no more than 72 hours before departure to Hawaii.

If you are unable to present an accepted test, you will be subject to a 10-day quarantine upon arrival. A new vaccination quarantine and test bypass program is in development, but not likely to begin until later this summer. 

All travelers must also register with the State of Hawaii Safe Travels program and be sure to stay up to date on the latest traveler guidelines

 Is Airbnb safe?

While there’s no such thing as a safety guarantee, getting fully vaccinated greatly decreases your chance of falling ill near home and while away.

If you’re wondering if staying at an Airbnb right now is safe, experts largely agree that private vacation rentals are likely safer than hotels due to the ease of social distancing and lack of interactions with other guests or staff.

Airbnb has also implemented reassuring new policies, including the Enhanced Cleaning Initiative, which includes new safety guidelines for hosts, as well as optional booking buffers.

More warm weather getaways on Airbnb

airbnb beach houses malibu
Read the original article on Business Insider

How one millennial resident in Honolulu maintains a simple and sustainable lifestyle to help fight the climate crisis

IMG_1030 credit Christina Kaoh
Jennifer Lieu.

  • Texas-native Jennifer Lieu moved to Honolulu 20 years ago and says Hawaii feels like home.
  • She’s focused on reducing waste and living sustainably to help preserve Hawaii for generations.
  • Her habits include shopping locally, biking instead of driving, and volunteering with local farms.
  • This article is part of a series focused on American cities building a better tomorrow called “Advancing Cities.”

When Jennifer Lieu moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, 20 years ago, she said she felt a sense of “coming home.”

“I feel very, very fortunate and lucky to live in Hawaii,” Lieu, who’s originally from Texas and in her mid-30s, told Insider. “There’s so much natural beauty, and I’ve always been attracted to the ocean.”

During her time in Hawaii, Lieu has become dedicated to protecting its natural resources. She said she spends as much time as she can outdoors – swimming, running on the beach, or hiking. She’s passionate about giving back to the community by volunteering with sustainability-minded organizations, such as local farms and ecological groups, and strives to reduce her own carbon footprint.

IMG_0108 credit Christina Kaoh
Jennifer Lieu hiking.

And she’s seen other Honolulu residents also become more aware and involved in supporting issues of sustainability over the years, and the local government working to solve these challenges.

“It’s so special when you can eat, live, and play in a place that has the same values as you – it just seems it comes together, it’s much more natural,” she said.

Embracing minimal living

Lieu works as a program manager at a boutique information technology firm, but said yoga is her passion. She’s been practicing since childhood and became a yoga teacher in 2016.

“It gives me the ability to connect with my body, breathe, and be in Hawaii,” she said. “There’s a lot of like-minded yogis here. Part of that, they talk about minimal living. It’s just using what you have, and that also is a stepping-off of how I feel about sustainability.”

Hawaii is more susceptible to the impacts of climate change, Lieu said, because it’s surrounded by water. So she’s focused on reducing waste and living sustainability to ensure it’s a great place to live for generations to come.

“There’s a lot of things as a resident I can’t control,” Lieu said. “I can’t control energy costs. I can’t put a solar panel up because I live in an apartment. But things I can control are my carbon footprint and knowing that I can walk safer and I can bike safer on the roads.”

Before the pandemic, she used ride-sharing apps, she said, but she became nervous about jumping into an Uber during COVID-19.

Another way she lives sustainably and supports her local ecosystem is by shopping at farmers’ markets and buying locally produced foods.

“I usually buy local coffee because I want to support the coffee farmers,” Lieu said. Other meals usually consist of sustainably caught fish and locally grown vegetables, and she dines at restaurants that support local farmers.

Volunteering with local farms and organizations

On many of her weekends Lieu enjoys volunteering at local, “like-minded” organizations that support the causes she’s most interested in, such as local farming and cultivating native plants.

IMG_0060 credit Christina Kaoh
Jennifer Lieu volunteering.

Protect & Preserve Hawaii is one of these organizations. The group works to preserve and restore Hawaii’s native ecosystem, and Lieu’s volunteer work with Protect & Preserve involves planting native plants back on the island.

“There’s a lot of invasive plants in Hawaii, and unfortunately, they take over really quickly,” she said. “It takes away from the beauty that Hawaii has to offer.”

Lieu also volunteers at a local taro farm, which aims to restore native agriculture and ecology. Taro is a root vegetable that was a food staple for ancient Hawaiians.

She’s inspired by “ahupua’a,” an ancient Hawaiian term that means “mountain to the sea.”

“The way they built their taro farms, it was surrounded by water and the ability to have it self-sustaining,” Lieu said. “That was something that I was very drawn to, the fact that this one group of people could have such a sustainable plan as far as food and land and then, as things got industrialized, that got taken away.”

Blue Planet Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on clean energy and climate change solutions, is another organization that Lieu volunteers with.

“I think it’s important as a resident if you can give back, whether it’s time or money,” she said.

Putting state goals into practice

As a Honolulu resident, Lieu keeps an eye on how the local government is tackling sustainability and climate change, especially in areas like sea-level rise, plastics in the ocean, transportation, and energy costs, which are especially high in Hawaii.

She said she’s benefited most from the city’s efforts to promote multimodal transportation, such as the bike-share program Biki and initiatives to convert citywide buses to clean energy.

In general, she appreciates how the city and state governments are setting sustainability goals and holding themselves accountable through programs like the Aloha+ Challenge, which lets residents track the state’s progress on meeting these goals.

“The fact that the government is standing behind what they’re saying,” Lieu said, is really cool. “It’s not just nice to say – they’re truly putting in actions and doing things to support what they believe in.”

The biggest challenge is getting residents to put some of the sustainability programs into practice in their own lives. Lieu said residents often agree that initiatives to fight climate change, like cutting down on plastic or converting to electric vehicles, are needed. But since Hawaii is an expensive place to live, actually making these changes to meet these goals takes an investment of time and money.

“I think that people really need to own and love where they live,” Lieu said. “But I think to really have a full life is to love where you live and to really be passionate about these issues that not only affect you as a person but affect the future of the island or wherever you live.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Hawaii lawmakers just approved a measure to fine people $500 for intentionally releasing balloons into the atmosphere

popping balloon
  • Hawaii lawmakers passed a bill to make it illegal to intentionally release balloons.
  • If signed by Gov. David Ige, people who intentionally release helium balloons face a $500 fine.
  • Supporters say the bill would reduce pollution that is harmful to the state’s marine life.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Hawaii lawmakers this week voted to pass a bill that would make it illegal to intentionally release balloons filled with helium or another similar gas into the atmosphere.

According to a report, if signed into law by Hawaii Gov. David Ige, people who intentionally release balloons will be subject to a $500 fine beginning January 2023.

The nonprofit Beach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawaii (B.E.A.C.H.) backed the proposal, which was introduced in the state legislature by Hawaii House Speaker Scott Saiki, a Democrat, West Hawaii Today first reported.

“This type of litter is one of the most harmful there is to marine life. Sea turtles, albatrosses and other marine life that eat squid and jellyfish can mistake a balloon in the ocean for food,” said Suzanne Frazer, the co-founder of B.E.A.C.H. in written testimony supporting the bill.

“When balloons are ingested they cause blockages of the gastro-intestinal tract that then leads to starvation and death,” she continued. “The plastic ribbon attached to balloons is also a danger as it can cause injury or death to marine life that become entangled in it or ingest it.”

Some balloon releases are exempt from the law, including those that are released indoors, hot air balloons, and balloons released as part of scientific research, according to the legislation.

“Although a large amount of marine plastic debris arrives from the ocean, it is all of our responsibility to reduce the amount of plastic debris entering and re-entering our ocean and beaches,” said Suzanne Case, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairperson, in written testimony in support of the bill.

“This bill would help reduce the balloon waste load entering Hawaii’s waters and shorelines and contribute to the improved health of our wildlife and their habitats,” she added.

A 2019 report published in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports found that balloons posed the biggest risk to sea birds and were 32 times more likely to kill them if ingested compared to other hard plastics.

According to BalloonsBlow, a non-profit organization that tracks policies related to balloon releases, states including California, Connecticut, Florida, Tennessee, and Virginia, already have laws that prohibit or limit balloon releases.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Honolulu-based energy storage company Blue Planet Energy hopes to bring sustainable, renewable power to Hawaii – and the world

Henk Rogers Hawaii Big Island Ranch Lab
Henk Rogers, founder of Blue Planet Energy.

  • Energy storage company Blue Planet Energy is focused on energy independence and sustainability.
  • It was founded in 2015 by Henk Rogers, who acquired the rights to Tetris in the 1980s.
  • It’s part of Hawaii’s climate change initiatives and hopes to make renewable energy more accessible.
  • This article is part of a series focused on American cities building a better tomorrow called “Advancing Cities.”

Residents and businesses in Hawaii pay more for energy than just about anywhere else in the country. Honolulu-based Blue Planet Energy is one organization that’s attempting to ease that energy burden.

Blue Planet Energy has created an energy storage system to encourage energy independence and broaden the use of renewable power. The company has about 25 employees and a network of more than 250 certified dealers that have installed thousands of its energy storage products.

“We want to decarbonize our energy system,” Chris Johnson, the company’s CEO, told Insider. “However, climate is changing. Storms are getting more intense and knocking out the grids, and so that’s where we need to deal with it.”

2   Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson, CEO of Blue Planet Energy.

Climate change conversations typically focus on mitigation and adaptation, he said, and the company aims to make the homes and businesses that use renewable energy, such as solar panels, more resilient.

Since 2013, Honolulu has ranked first in solar power per capita among the country’s 50 largest cities and third in the amount of existing photovoltaic solar power, which generates electricity directly from sunlight, installed as of 2020, according to a report by the Environment America Research & Policy Center and the Frontier Group.

“With renewable energy, you can’t control when the sun shines or when the wind blows,” Johnson said. “But we need steady, reliable energy for our homes, for our businesses, for our critical infrastructure, and so we create energy storage solutions that allow the energy to be consumed when you need it. And they’re also resilient, so even if the grid goes down, you can still stay up and running.”

Blue Planet Energy Bamboo Living Big Island Hawaii
Blue Planet Energy solar panels on a home on the Big Island in Hawaii.

Here’s a look at how Blue Planet Energy’s renewable energy systems work, and how the company’s mission aligns with Honolulu’s sustainability goals.

The Blue Planet name has influenced climate change policy in Hawaii

Blue Planet Energy was founded in 2015 by Henk Rogers, who discovered and acquired the rights to the video game Tetris in the 1980s. More recently, he’s been committed to expanding clean energy and reducing and ultimately eliminating dependence on fossil fuel.

Henk Rogers Founder Blue Planet Energy 2
Henk Rogers, founder of Blue Planet Energy.

Rogers also founded the Blue Planet Foundation, a nonprofit working to solve climate change by leading the way in the transition to 100% clean energy. The organization has been influential in clean-energy policy adoption in Hawaii and Honolulu, including a bill requiring the state’s utilities to generate 100% of their electricity from renewable energy, which Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed into law in 2015. Hawaii was the first state to have such a law.

Blue Planet Energy’s energy storage systems are an extension of Rogers’ vision. While the company was founded in Honolulu and has a strong footprint in Hawaii, Johnson said it now has installations in more than 30 states, Puerto Rico, and several Caribbean islands, and is growing its presence in Mexico, Central America, and Canada.

Blue Planet Energy Violeta Reyes Perez School Puerto Rico 2
Violeta Reyes Perez School in Puerto Rico.

“Henk, our founder, really thought that if we can achieve this in Hawaii, we could take that as a model to other places,” Johnson said. “It’s essentially a learning laboratory for sustainability.”

Energy storage solutions offer homes and businesses more resilient power sources

In March 2021, Blue Planet Energy launched a new product, the Blue Ion HI. The new energy storage system joins the company’s Blue Ion LX.

“Those are basically similar in approach and functionality but designed for slightly different situations,” Johnson said. “The LX is for larger installations, including commercial and industrial or community resilient infrastructure. Our HI offering is residential and small commercial.”

The Blue Ion LX accommodates on- or off-grid requirements for facilities like warehouses, corporate headquarters, and manufacturers. The battery stores excess solar energy or adjusts to traditional energy sources to avoid power interruptions, and increases the value of a company’s investment in renewable energy.

Blue Planet Energy Blue Ion LX Brick Warehouse
Blue Ion LX by Blue Planet Energy.

The Blue Ion HI is a solution for homes and businesses. It captures energy from renewable and traditional sources, easily switches from grid to battery power, and provides on-demand energy. The products are also stackable and can be configured in different ways to suit the needs of the property.

Blue Planet Energy Blue Ion HI Stacked
Blue Ion HI by Blue Planet Energy.

Henk, Johnson said, “likes things to be able to fit together nicely,” so they made the batteries stackable and easily scalable.

Blue Planet Energy’s customers mainly use its batteries to store excess solar energy, either displacing their use of a grid or a generator, Johnson said. This is a valuable service as energy bills continue to rise and natural disasters impact power grids.

Hawaii has some of the highest energy costs in the nation, according to the US Energy Information Administration. It’s also vulnerable to hurricanes, flooding, and tsunamis, causing a loss of electricity. The cost of power is also going up across the country, where natural disasters also knock out power. For instance, Texas saw massive power outages after a major snowstorm and unusually cold temperatures hit in February.

“We need to have resilient infrastructure so we can bounce back quickly,” Johnson said. “If we put a lot of renewables out there without balancing it out with energy storage, the grid could be unstable or not available when you need it, and so we’re part of making sure that the grid can absorb a lot of renewables, it can recover and always be on.”

Expansion plans aim to make renewable energy more affordable and accessible

Helping to create more resilient and affordable energy systems aligns with the initiatives of Honolulu’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency, Johnson said. Blue Planet Energy has worked with the office on developing renewable energy and resilience best practices, and the company plans to continue this work with the city’s new administration under Mayor Rick Blangiardi, which just took over in January.

To further address affordability, Johnson said the company recently launched a new financing product to make its energy storage systems more accessible to commercial customers. It doesn’t require a down payment and offers instant energy savings on solar power and Blue Ion storage installation.

The cost of Blue Planet Energy’s installations vary depending on a property’s energy needs and can range from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands for large buildings with extensive power needs, according to the company. Energy storage installation costs roughly the same as solar installation.

The average cost for solar panel installation in the US varies by state, but averages $17,760 to $23,828 after the federal solar tax credit, which lowers the cost by 26%, according to EnergySage. Some states and local governments also offer rebates and tax credits for solar systems.

Blue Planet Energy Life Edited Maui Hawaii 1
Blue Planet Energy in Maui, Hawaii.

Blue Planet Energy is in a period of “scaling and acceleration,” Johnson said. Over the next decade, the company plans to expand and strives to alleviate the effects of climate change, which are expected to worsen.

“This is really crunch time,” he said. “How do we deliver the highest-quality, most reliable, safest solution at scale as fast as we can? Get it out on the ground, into homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure so that we can stabilize the grid and we can stabilize our climate.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison is tearing down his new $80 million Palm Beach mansion and says he has no plans to leave Hawaii

Larry Ellison
Oracle cofounder Larry Ellison.

  • Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison plans to tear down his $80 million Palm Beach mansion.
  • He told employees that he became a resident of Hawaii last year and has no plans to move back.
  • Ellison owns 98% of the island of Lanai, Hawaii’s smallest inhabited island.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Larry Ellison is staying in Hawaii full time – and knocking down the $80 million Palm Beach mansion he just bought.

The Oracle billionaire sent an email to employees this week explaining his future plans after reports surfaced that he had purchased a 15,000-square-foot home in South Florida. Ellison confirmed that he had purchased the mansion, but that he’s “tearing the house down and not moving to Florida,” according to Recode’s Theodore Schleifer.

“Last year I moved from California to the island of Lana’i and became a resident of the State of Hawaii,” Ellison wrote. “I love it here and have no plans to move back to Florida, Texas, back to California … or anywhere else.”

Ellison’s home in Palm Beach sits on 7.35 acres, making it the third-largest oceanfront parcel of land in Palm Beach County, according to a real estate listing. The Tuscan-style home, which previously belonged to hedge-fund manager Gabe Hoffman, includes seven bedrooms, 11 bathrooms and three half-bathrooms, a VIP guest suite, a home theater, a wine room, a chef’s kitchen, a swimming pool, and a tennis court.

The home was built in 1998, and it’s unclear why Ellison would want to knock it down. Ellison already has an extensive real estate portfolio that includes multimillion-dollar homes in San Francisco, Malibu, Lake Tahoe, Rhode Island, and Japan.

Read more: Peek into Palm Beach’s wild, sometimes maskless pandemic party scene as wealthy residents carry on ‘living their lives’

But it seems the tech mogul, who’s worth $91.5 billion, has no plans to live in the mansion, or anywhere else in the contiguous United States.

Ellison revealed last year that he had moved to Lanai, Hawaii, amid the coronavirus pandemic. He plans to use “the power of Zoom to work” from the island, he wrote in an email to Oracle employees at the time, who had been asking about Ellison’s plans in the wake of Oracle moving its headquarters to Austin, Texas.

Ellison purchased nearly 98% of the island of Lanai in 2012 for a reported $300 million – his purchase included 87,000 of the island’s 90,000 acres of land. Lanai, which is home to about 3,200 residents, is the smallest inhabited island in Hawaii and is home to serene beaches, rugged terrain, high-end resorts, as well as Ellison’s sustainability ambitions, which he’s executing through a development company called Pulama Lanai.

He also launched a wellness company called Sensei in 2018, which is working on three main issues: global food supply, nutrition, and sustainability. Sensei has since launched two 20,000-square-foot hydroponic greenhouses on the island, known as Sensei Farms, and a luxury spa called Sensei Retreat that costs $3,000 a night.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How Honolulu, Hawaii is working toward sustainability and supporting its residents in the process

Solar panels on top of homes in a Honolulu neighborhood.

  • Honolulu has been focused on sustainability and climate change since receiving a grant in 2016.
  • Its resilience plan has promoted access to renewable energy and expanded clean transportation.
  • Other initiatives include reducing energy bills and addressing hunger by supporting local farmers.
  • This article is part of a series focused on American cities building a better tomorrow called “Advancing Cities.”

In his first state-of-the-city speech in mid-March, Rick Blangiardi, mayor of Honolulu, Hawaii, emphasized the city’s commitment to “climate resilience.”

“From sea level rise, rain bombs, and increasing temperatures, we’re taking steps toward a climate-ready Oahu,” said the mayor, who was sworn in at the start of 2021. The island of Oahu is home to the city and county of Honolulu.

“We’re shifting from talking about policy to doing something about it,” Blangiardi added.

Sustainability and climate change are issues that Honolulu’s leaders have been working to address for years. In 2016, the city was awarded a 100 Resilient Cities Initiative Grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to help fund the hiring of a chief resilience officer to work with the city on crafting climate change and resilience plans.

Since then, Honolulu has debuted a Resilience Strategy and a Climate Action Plan, which have helped inspire citywide legislation to reduce the energy burden on residents, promote access to renewable energy, expand clean transportation, and support locally grown food producers.

Here’s a look at some of Honolulu’s sustainability initiatives.

Codifying the Resilience Office’s responsibilities will help Honolulu meet its sustainability goals

Oʻahu Resilience Strategy Steering Committee members meeting during development phase of the strategy, which includes Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi.
Oahu Resilience Strategy Steering Committee members meeting during the development phase of the strategy, which includes Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi.

The Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency was created by a city charter amendment that was approved by the public in 2016. A new bill signed into law in December 2020 “codifies the duties, responsibilities, and reporting requirements” of the office to ensure Honolulu meets its climate change and sustainability goals. 

Bill 65 establishes an energy benchmarking system, requiring Honolulu to create and report energy and water use benchmarks for city-owned buildings. The rule is estimated to save the city $7 million over the next decade. The bill also specifies that the city will transition to 100% renewable energy and become carbon neutral by 2045.  

It also addresses many other climate change and sustainability measures, including a One Water policy, examining efficiencies across the city’s water system. 

The Resilience Strategy addresses affordability and climate change

The Resilience Office engaging community members on their perspectives of “Resilience.”

One of the central initiatives of the Resilience Office is the Oahu Resilience Strategy, which aims to address “long-term affordability and the impacts of a climate crisis that is already driving islanders from their homes,” according to the office’s website. 

Planning began in 2017 when the office met with Oahu’s 33 neighborhood boards to survey residents about what concerned them most about climate change and how they thought it could be addressed, Matthew Gonser, chief resilience officer and executive director of Honolulu’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency, told Insider. 

Hundreds of ideas were gathered from the community. Those concepts were narrowed down into 44 actions, comprising the Resilience Strategy. The strategy focuses on four broad subjects: long-term affordability, natural disaster preparedness and response, climate change, and local community leadership. 

By the end of 2020, significant progress had been made on about half of the 44 resilience actions, Gonser said.

The Climate Action Plan outlines what’s needed to address climate change long term

The City and County of Honolulu Climate Action Plan open house community engagement session with Hawaii Pacific University and the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii.

Honolulu’s Resilience Office released the city’s Climate Action Plan in December 2020.

The plan was developed based on scientific evidence and community input to fight climate change and reduce fossil fuel emissions on Oahu. It spells out the needed programs, policies, and actions for the city to become carbon neutral by 2045 — and includes nine strategies to focus on over the next five years, including increasing renewable energy and energy efficiency. 

To develop the Climate Action Plan, community meetings with Honolulu City Council members, Hawaii Pacific University, the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, and the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii were held, and working groups with stakeholders were set up, Gonser said. 

During the first few months of 2021, the public had the chance to share their opinions and concerns about the plan before it goes to the city council. Gonser said the Climate Action Plan will likely be adopted this year. 

Honolulu updated parking ordinances to promote walkability and the use of clean energy transportation

Jeff Mikulina, executive director of Blue Planet, speaking at the signing of Ordinance 20-41, related to off-street parking and loading.

At the end of 2020, former mayor Kirk Caldwell signed Bill 2 to update Honolulu’s mandatory parking requirements for new developments. It gives developers more flexibility in how much parking to build and allows opportunities for the land to be used for other purposes, such as affordable housing. 

“It’s making sure that our rules and regulations don’t force overbuilding of parking, empowering more choice and leaving it to developers to determine what’s needed,” Gonser said. 

The bill supports walkable neighborhoods and cleaner transportation options, such as biking and public transportation, which Honolulu plans to transition to clean fuel. 

It could also make housing more affordable since constructing and maintaining parking is sometimes a hidden cost for renters, according to an analysis by the Ulupono Initiative, a Honolulu-based organization that provides grants, investments, and advocacy to support renewable energy, locally produced food, and other sustainability-minded projects.

For urban Honolulu renters, up to 37% of their rent may go toward parking, which, for decades, has often been built based on city regulation rather than actual need.   

“The bill makes progress in the right direction, better aligning with city climate and community goals, while allowing parking to remain accessible for those who genuinely need it and not requiring it of those who don’t,” Kathleen Rooney, Ulupono Initiative’s director of transportation policy and programs, said when the bill was signed

Making solar power more accessible eases Honolulu’s energy burden

Solar array installation on top of the Board of Water Supply, City and County of Honolulu
Solar array installation on top of the Board of Water Supply.

Hawaii has one of the highest average electricity retail prices in the country, according to the US Energy Information Administration, and the state relies on petroleum for most of its electricity generation. 

Reducing the energy burden is a key focus area of Honolulu’s Resilience Office. In December, the city enacted Bill 58 to streamline the permitting process for residential clean energy products, such as solar power, energy storage, and electric vehicle chargers. The goal is to cut down on the costs and time it takes to install solar systems. 

Creating more equitable access to renewable energy is an important component in making Honolulu an affordable place to live, Gonser said. 

“We have one of the highest energy burdens in the nation,” he said. “It’s updating our energy code and making sure that all new things that are being built are ensuring long-term affordability for residents and that they can benefit from progressive infrastructure so that we can reduce the energy burden over time.”

New performance-based regulations could lower energy bills for residents

Infographic HPUC Timeline with PBR
A timeline of the Hawaiian Public Utilities Commission.

As another initiative aimed at reducing energy bills, Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission approved a new Performance-Based Regulation Framework in late 2020. The framework would transform utility company Hawaiian Electric by making its operations more efficient, lowering electricity rates, improving services, and meeting the state’s clean energy goals. 

“That’s really groundbreaking,” Amy Hennessy, senior vice president of communications and external affairs at Ulupono Initiative, which provided research and other information to guide the framework’s adoption, told Insider. “The impacts toward changing the incentives for our utility to transform into a renewable energy future are significant.” 

The new structure provides financial incentives for the electric company to meet certain goals, like creating savings for lower-income customers and reducing greenhouse gases. It also separates the utility’s profits from capital investments, creating a cost-of-service approach. 

Matching grant provides $1 million to fight hunger and support local food producers

The Hawaii Farm Bureau.

Hunger has been an ongoing problem for many communities, but the pandemic worsened the situation, as unemployment increased and many families have faced new financial struggles. 

To address hunger in Hawaii, Gov. David Ige announced in October 2020 that the state would provide a $500,000 matching donation to the DA BUX Double Up Food Bucks program, which doubles the amount of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as food stamps, that are spent on locally grown food. 

Several private-sector organizations raised $500,000 for the program, including the Stupski Foundation and Ulupono Initiative, which each provided $200,000. The state match offers $1 million total for the program. 

Addressing hunger and providing incentives to encourage residents to buy more locally grown and produced food are part of Honolulu’s Resilience Strategy. The DA BUX Double Up Food Bucks program also aims to strengthen the local economy because it keeps residents’ food budgets on the island.

“A million dollars going out into communities for not just those who need access to food, but also our local farmers who needed a market — it’s actually putting dollars in their pockets while they’re growing to help provide healthy options for the community,” Hennessy said. “So it’s really a triple win.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison has moved to Lanai, the Hawaiian island he’s spent half a billion dollars developing. Here’s how Ellison bought 98% of the island and turned it into a sustainability experiment.

Larry Ellison Lanai
The island of Lanai from above.

  • Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison bought 98% of Lanai in 2012 for an estimated $300 million.
  • Ellison is hoping to turn Lanai into a wellness utopia through his company, Sensei.
  • Now, Ellison lives in Lanai full-time and plans to use “the power of Zoom” to work from the island.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison is making the Pineapple Island his full-time home.

Ellison revealed last year that he has moved to Lanai, Hawaii, amid the coronavirus pandemic. He plans to use “the power of Zoom to work” from the island, he wrote in an email to Oracle employees, who had been asking about Ellison’s plans in the wake of Oracle moving its headquarters to Austin, Texas.

Ellison owns almost the entirety of Lanai: He purchased nearly 98% of the island in 2012 for a reported $300 million – his purchase included 87,000 of the island’s 90,000 acres of land.

Read more: Oracle’s TikTok victory highlights Larry Ellison’s reputation as a ‘sharp-elbows entrepreneur’ who experts say has benefited from his embrace of Trump: ‘Larry’s politics are good business’

Lanai, which is home to about 3,200 residents, is the smallest inhabited island in Hawaii and is home to serene beaches, rugged terrain, high-end resorts, and Ellison’s sustainability ambitions, which he’s executing through a development company called Pulama Lanai.

Here’s how Lanai came to be owned by Ellison and what he’s planning for the island.

In June 2012, Ellison bought Lanai for an estimated $300 million. Prior to Ellison’s purchase, the island was owned by billionaire Dole chairman David Murdock, who had reportedly been asking for $1 billion for the island.

Lanai Hawaii

Source: Pacific Business News, Forbes

Murdock became the owner of Lanai in 1985 after taking over Dole’s parent company, Castle & Cooke. Prior to Murdock’s ownership, the island was controlled by “Pineapple King” James Dole.

Lanai Hawaii
Pineapple fields on Lanai.

Source: Forbes

The 141-square-mile island, which is eight miles off the coast of Maui, has zero traffic lights and few paved roads, according to Forbes. Compared with other Hawaiian islands, Lanai is secluded – but Ellison has plans to change that: He wants to turn Lanai into a tourist destination.

Lanai Hawaii
Lanai from space.

Source: Forbes, The New York Times

Lanai already boasts two Four Seasons-run hotels. The penthouse suite at the Four Seasons Hotel Lanai costs $21,000 per night, making it the most expensive suite in Hawaii.

A post shared by Four Seasons Resorts Lānaʻi (@fslanai)

Source: Pacific Business News

The island was also home to two golf courses when Ellison bought it, including Manele Golf Course. In 1994, prior to Ellison’s ownership of the island, Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates got married at the 17th hole of the course.

Manele Golf Course 17th hole Lanai
The 17th hole of the Challenge course at the Manele Golf Course in Lanai circa 1985.

Source: CNBC

The other course, Koele, was designed by golfer Greg Norman. The course has since been shut down, and an adventure park and zipline have been installed in its place.

Lanai Hawaii
The cart path on the golf course at Lanai Manele Bay Resort.

Source: Pacific Business Journal, Lanai Adventure Park

In 2014, Ellison bought Island Air, a budget airline that ferries passengers from Oahu to Maui and Lanai. But two years later, after the airline lost $21.78 million and had to lay off roughly 20% of its workforce, Ellison sold a controlling interest in the airline.

Oahu Hawaii airplane
The view of the windward side of Oahu, Hawaii, from aboard a Hawaiian Airlines flight.

Source: Business Insider

Ellison’s Lanai purchase included an animal-rescue center. Because there are no natural predators to cats on Lanai, the feral-cat population at the shelter has ballooned to over 400 cats (which Ellison technically owns). In recent years, it’s become a travel destination in itself.

Cat shelter
An animal-rescue center, though not the one on Lanai.

Source: Hawaii Magazine, The New York Times

Ellison’s ambitions extend beyond tourism, however: he plans to create “the first economically viable, 100 percent green community,” according to The New York Times.

larry ellison

Source: The New York Times

In 2018, Ellison launched a wellness company called Sensei, which is working on three main issues: global food supply, nutrition, and sustainability. Sensei’s goal is to use data to help people lead healthier and longer lives.

hydroponic farming

Source: Business Insider, Business Insider

Sensei built two 20,000-square-foot hydroponic greenhouses, known as Sensei Farms. The greenhouses have sensors and cameras that track data about the farms, including water usage and airflow. According to Forbes, they’re powered by 1,600 Tesla solar panels (Ellison sits on Tesla’s board).

Tesla solar panels Puerto Rico
Tesla solar panels in Puerto Rico.

Source: Forbes

Sensei also built a luxury spa called Sensei Retreat that costs $3,000 a night. Guests set physical and mental goals for their stay and the spa tracks their sleep, nutrition, and blood flow. The heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers grown at Sensei Farms are used at the spa’s in-house Nobu restaurant, according to Forbes.

Spa facial
A person receiving a facial, though not at the Sensei Retreat.

Source: Forbes

Ellison reportedly wants to purchase the island’s power plant and electric grid from Hawaiian Electric Co. to transition the island away from fossil fuels toward 100% renewable energy.

Hawaii solar power
Hawaii is a national leader in rooftop solar power, and the state has an ambitious goal of using only renewable energy by 2045.

Source: Fox Business

Ellison’s goal is for Lanai to serve as a prototype for a “health utopia,” according to Forbes. Tesla CEO and Ellison’s close friend Elon Musk told Forbes that Lanai is like “a microcosm for the world.”

Larry Ellison Elon Musk

Source: Forbes

When the coronavirus pandemic struck Lanai last year, Ellison reduced or eliminated rent altogether for businesses on the island and paid the full wages and benefits for employees who worked for him.

Manele Bay Resort Lanai Hawaii
Tiki torches at the Manele Bay Resort in Lanai.

Source: Business Insider

All told, Ellison has spent roughly half a billion dollars on the island, beyond his initial purchase (in 2014, he spent $41 million on property alone). But Ellison’s wealth has only continued to rise during the pandemic: These days, he’s worth an estimated $81.6 billion.

Larry Ellison

Source: Pacific Business News, Forbes, Bloomberg

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Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan poured $4.2 million into a jobs program for residents of the Hawaiian county where they own a controversial $100 million compound

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

  • Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, donated $4.2 million to a jobs program in Hawaii.
  • The program helps Kauai residents who lost their jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Zuckerberg spent much of last year at his controversial $100 million compound in Kauai.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are pouring $4.2 million into a jobs program for residents of the Hawaiian county where they own a controversial $100 million compound.

Called the Rise to Work program, the initiative was created in 2020 for residents of the county of Kauai who lost their jobs amid the pandemic. But the program was funded by the initial economic stimulus bill last year and the funding expired this past December. Now, the program is being revived thanks to Zuckerberg and Chan’s donation.

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami said in a statement about the funding that he had shared with the Chan Zuckerberg team how successful the previous iteration of the program had been, and it eventually led to a donation from the couple.

“Through Priscilla’s and Mark’s generous donation of $4.2 million to the Hawaii Community Foundation, the Rise to Work program lives again – offering purpose and hope to people who are struggling,” Kawakami said.

Applications for the program opened on Monday. The program can support up to 400 workers – those who are selected will be placed in temporary jobs and will receive weekly pay and free health insurance. The program also helps local businesses, the county says, because it allows them to increase capacity without adding to their payroll costs.

“Our family cares deeply about Kauai, and we are pleased to support this valuable program that has far-reaching positive effects in a community we love,” Chan said in a statement.

Zuckerberg and Chan have been residents of Kauai since 2014, when they purchased a 750-acre compound on Kauai’s North Shore. They paid a reported $100 million for two separate properties: a 357-acre former sugarcane plantation called Kahu’aina Plantation, and a 393-acre parcel called Pila’a Beach.

While the couple and their two daughters are typically based in Palo Alto, California, near Facebook’s headquarters, it appears they’ve been spending time at their Hawaii home throughout the pandemic. They were seen on the island in June – government officials confirmed the family followed the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine at the time – and Zuckerberg was spotted in July riding a $12,000 electric surfboard while covered in sunscreen. He was photographed again in December, albeit this time with less visible sunscreen.

In April, Zuckerberg and Chan committed $1 million to Kauai to help the region battle the coronavirus.

Read more: A drunken late-night assault allegation has roiled the secretive world of Mark Zuckerberg’s private family office. Personal aides are speaking out about claims that household staff endured sexual harassment and racism from their colleagues.

But the couple’s presence on the island has been controversial in the past. In 2016, Zuckerberg angered neighbors by constructing a 6-foot wall around his property with the intention of reducing “highway and road noise.”

One year later, Zuckerberg filed suit against Hawaiian families who had legal-ownership claims on parcels of land within his property. Zuckerberg said at the time that he filed the suit in order to “make sure smaller partial owners get paid for their fair share too,” but the move prompted backlash from residents who described the move as “neocolonialism.”

Zuckerberg later dropped the suit, saying that he and Chan wanted to “make this right, talk with the community, and find a better approach.” The parcels were later auctioned off, with three out of four being sold to a bidder who was reportedly backed by Zuckerberg.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I run a microbrewery at a private club in Hawaii. After years of part-time jobs, here’s how I made a career out of my love for brewing beer.

Steve Balzer at Kohanaiki microbrewery in Kalaoa, Hawaii.
Steve Balzer at Kohanaiki microbrewery in Kalaoa, Hawaii.

  • Steve Balzer is the master brewer at a microbrewery at a private club in Kalaoa, Hawaii.
  • Balzer says he enjoys the independence and collaboration with local farmers that working at a microbrewery allows.
  • This is what his job is like, as told to freelance writer Natasha Bazika.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

I’d started brewing beer when I was 21 at college in Oregon and kept doing it as a passion. After graduating from college in the 2008 economy crash, I didn’t have much luck job-wise. 

My degree was in marketing and economics, and while I initially had a job lined up, after graduation I was laid off before I even started, so I worked part-time jobs and brewed on the side. After four years of unstable temporary jobs, I decided to go back to college. I enrolled in Siebel Institute of Technology – out of Munich, Germany, and Chicago – for a masters of brewing.

It can be challenging to get in the door in the brewing industry.

My first job was as a keg washer in Portland. People were willing to work for free, but I was lucky enough to get the paid gig of keg washing. From there I moved up to the cellar, and then brewer. I even helped someone start a brewery in Portland.

In 2018 Big Island Brewhaus was looking for a head brewer. They approached me with a two-year contract, I said yes, then they moved my family out to Waimea and I started to run the brewery. 

As my contract came to an end, the vice president of operations at a nearby private residential club community called Kohanaiki contacted me to see if I’d be interested in being the master brewer at their brewery. I took on the job in May 2020, just as the pandemic worsened and everyone went into lockdown. 

The brewery had been shut down and vacant for quite some time before I came along. So during the pandemic, while the club had no members, I cleaned, reorganized, and resurfaced the tanks. When guests started coming in early October 2020 and everything slowly started reopening, that’s when the ball started rolling. 

This brewery is much smaller than I experienced in past jobs. At the corporate breweries where I worked before, I was never in charge of accounting, management, or any of the paperwork. At Kohanaiki, I’m a one-man team, so I need to pay attention to the budget and spend at least a few hours every day answering emails.

Even though it’s more work, I prefer the structured system and being tuned in on the business side. Other breweries I’ve worked at didn’t have a budget, so it was easy to go a little crazy spending, but here, I know what I can and can’t spend.

It’s hot in Kalaoa, so club members tend to prefer light, fruity beers over dark beers. 

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Balzer stirring and brewing a microbatch of beer.

The best part about my job is I can brew whatever I like. We mostly create beers that are around 6.2% alcohol. IPA sells well on the island, as does rosé beer and other fruity variations. I’m currently working on a spiked apple cider beer – Belgian double style. I plan to ferment it with apple juice. I also have oak chips soaking in rum, which I’ll add to the beer when aging for a rich flavor. 

During the hot months, I also have seltzers on hand. I fought this craze for so long, but eventually I had to give the people what they want, which is seltzers and rosé beer. 

Since we’re a microbrewery attached to the resort, I often chat with members, ask their opinions, and listen to their requests of what they’d like to drink. I’m open to brewing anything and everything, as long as I know it will work.

Working in a small brewery, I’m also able to turn over funky ideas quickly. In corporate brewing you have to make a certain number of kegs for that one beer, but here I can make just one keg of a beer before moving onto another to keep it varied. 

I can also more easily work with different yeasts. In a corporate environment, brewers are held to a style of yeast in-house, but here, I can make small batches with different yeasts. I don’t even need to use the same yeast again.

Coming from the mainland US, I’ve experienced new challenges while brewing in Hawaii.

A challenge I’ve faced with brewing on the island is water quality. I’ve lived in places where the water quality is good, but here, the water is littered with sodium. I use reverse-osmosis water from nearby Kona, to which I add calcium, magnesium, and other elements to get the flavor profile I want. 

Another difference of brewing on the island compared to the mainland is access to local exotic fruits. The club has an onsite biodynamic community farm, and my friend also has a family farm where I can visit and buy different fruits. Anytime I need inspiration or want to see what fruits are available, I’ll go directly to the farm, try different fruits, and instantly think of new beers to make. I allow the flavors and fruits to guide me, rather than creating a recipe and not having the right ingredients to carry it out.

As the island began welcoming back visitors and members around October when the pre-testing COVID travel program started, I began preparing for events. We held Oktoberfest, but instead of the usual German lagers, I also showcased different German beers to introducing unique styles of German alcohol to club members. 

We’ve also recently opened to “meet the brewer” events. I show the members what I do and teach them about beer, from the specifics of the brewing process to the variety of flavor profiles. We also do a tasting, where they can try all the different types of beers we have on tap.

As a master brewer at a micro-brewery, I can merge brewing with business ideas.

The brewery is near the 18th hole of the resort’s golf course, so when I first joined Kohanaiki I thought it would be great to set up space for golfers to have a pour after their game. We began offering this last year after reopening, and now guest golfers can watch sports, have a beer, play darts, or just sit and socialize. 

Recently, I’ve been thinking of brewing a Mexican mocha. Think spicy, locally brewed coffee, and a touch of lactose for a darker side beer. There’s also a champagne-style beer in the works. I’m looking to incorporate grapes, so it would be a base beer with half grapes. 

I have many ideas and time to explore them. It’s just one of the many perks of working at a private microbrewery.

Natasha Bazika is a freelance writer currently based in Sydney. She has contributed to CNN Travel, Architectural Digest, Housebeautiful, Travel + Leisure, New York Magazine, and more. Follow her adventures on Instagram

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A stunning photo shows both red-sprite and blue-jet lightning in the skies above Hawaii

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Two types of lightning, a red sprite and a blue jet, in the skies above Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii.

In a stormy Hawaiian sky in July 2017, streaks of red and blue lightning seemed to meet above a bed of white light. 

Cameras on the Gemini North telescope at the Gemini Observatory in Mauna Kea snapped a stunning picture of the multi-colored light show. The National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) released the photo on Wednesday as its “image of the week.”

The lightning in the image “appears so otherworldly that it looks like it must be a special effect,” NOIRLab said. It also published a zoomable version

These colorful lightning phenomena are aptly known as red sprites and blue jets. They’re extremely tricky to capture on camera: The flashes last just tenths of a second and can be hard to see from the ground, since they’re generally obscured by thunderstorm clouds.

According to Peter Michaud, the education and engagement manager for the NOIRLab, astronomers in nearby Hilo use the telescope’s cameras to remotely keep track of bad weather brewing near the observatory. The camera system takes a photo of the sky every 30 seconds.

“We’ve seen a few other instances of similar phenomena, but that was by the best example of a lightning sprite in the upper atmosphere,” he told Insider. 

Red, white, and blue

Regular white lightning is different from sprites and jets in several key ways. Whereas regular lightning shoots between electrically charged air, clouds, and the ground during storms, sprites and jets start in different places in the sky, and move toward space. Their distinctive hues also set them apart.

Red sprites are ultrafast bursts of electricity that crackle through the upper regions of the atmosphere – between 37 and 50 miles up in the sky – and move spaceward. Some sprites are jellyfish-shaped, while others, like the one in the Gemini Observatory image, are vertical columns of red light with tendrils snaking down. These are called carrot sprites.

Stephen Hummel, a dark-skies specialist at the McDonald Observatory, captured a spectacular image of a jellyfish sprites from a ridge on Mount Locke in Texas last July (below).

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McDonald Observatory dark skies specialist Stephen Hummel captured a photo of this red jellyfish sprite from Mt. Locke, TX, July 2, 2020.

“Sprites usually appear to the eye as very brief, dim, grey structures. You need to be looking for them to spot them, and oftentimes I am not certain I actually saw one until I check the camera footage to confirm,” Hummel told Insider at the time.

Davis Sentman, who worked as a professor of physics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, proposed the name “sprite” for the red lightning phenomenon. He said the term was “well suited to describe their appearance,” since the word evokes the lightning’s fairy-like, fleeting nature. Sentman died in 2011.

Blue jets, meanwhile, are born closer to Earth than red sprites. These cone-shaped electrical discharges are also brighter than sprites, and they blast upward from the tops of clouds. Thundercloud peaks can sit anywhere from one to 14 miles above the Earth’s surface; blue jets keep moving skyward until they reach a height of roughly 30 miles, at which point they vanish. These jets move at speeds of more than 22,300 mph.

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A blue jet photographed from space.

Sprites and jets can be seen from space

When regular lightning strikes the ground, it tends to release positive electrical energy that needs to be balanced out by equal and oppositely charged energy elsewhere in the sky. So sprites and jets are the electrical discharges that balance the equation – that’s why these colorful lightning phenomena occur.

“The more powerful the storm and the more lightning it produces, the more likely it is to produce a sprite,” Hummel said.

Astronauts can sometimes spot sprites and jets from the International Space Station, 250 miles above the Earth. 

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Astronauts photographed a red lightning sprite below the white light of a thunderstorm from aboard the International Space Station in August 2015.

European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Morgensen captured elusive blue jets on video for the first time in color in 2015. He spotted the jets while filming a storm over India’s Bay of Bengal. Scientists later used the footage as part of a 2017 study.

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A blue jet recorded above a thunderstorm from the International Space Station.

Morgensen’s observations “are the most spectacular of their kind,” the study authors wrote.

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