As the numbers of infected people rise on Oahu and on the mainland, those of us on Hawaii Island remain grateful that we have done a great job of containment. Yes, we all are required to wear masks in grocery stores and restaurants and many churches are holding services outside. The new findings of stopping the spread include avoiding close contact with infected people and washing hands, avoiding crowded places, close-contact settings, and confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation.
SO, I have compiled a list of why West Hawaii is a safe place to be during COVID-19
1 Most of our restaurants and bars are open air and have excellent ventilation!
If you think about the restaurants that are open right now in Kona including Jackie Reys, Fosters, Island Lava Java, Humpy’s, Magic’s Grill, and the Harbor House, they are all open air. We recently went to the Canoe House at the Mauna Lani Resort and although the resort was closed, the restaurant had the tropical breezes blowing right in from the ocean to its completely open air environment. In all the restaurants we have been to in West Hawaii, bar tenders and servers are wearing masks and the tables are spread far apart.
2. Unlike Waikiki, people don’t gather and party it up in groups on the beaches here at night
When we visited Oahu a few weeks ago during Father’s Day weekend, we were actually surprised that everyone on the street was wearing masks, but no one on the beaches was. Groups of young people were gathered together on the beach with music and having a grand time. I had a bad feeling about that when I saw them and now lo and behold, their case numbers are jumping exponentially each day. We, on the other hand, don’t have beach side restaurants with revelers enjoying themselves after sunset. That used to make me rather sad, especially after seeing the party atmosphere at Duke’s on Waikiki, but with both Huggos on the Rocks and Lava Lava Beach Club, our “beach side party spots” still closed and not opening until the visitors arrive back on island, there will be none of that. Our state and local beaches close the gates after sunset..and for the most part, always have. We don’t have a culture of night time festivities on the beach. (Now, what goes on at off-road beaches and campsites is another story, but again, we are not seeing a spike in cases on our island!)
3. We have MANY retired people who are being careful
Many of my older friends, and I have MANY, are basically staying home and declining requests for get togethers. They know the mortality rate for older people, especially with underlying health conditions, but what worries them most is our lack of hospital beds. Their motto is “better safe than sorry” and when they do venture out, they sit at the beach alone or with just their spouses. They stay connected by utilizing FaceTime, Zoom and staying in touch through Facebook.
4. People are enjoying time at home and their own lanai
When I ask on my 365 Things to Do in Kona page where people go to enjoy their favorite view with a drink when they are in Kona, almost all my local friends say, “My own lanai”. And that was BEFORE COVID! So, life is not too much different now as people just enjoy HOME. And why the heck not? They live in West Hawaii!
5. People are respecting one another and practicing safety protocols
I am not a social scientist, but we had a small blip of folks in the beginning who didn’t want to wear masks. However, the majority of the people on our island said, “If that is required, then let me get a mask” early on. Maybe it’s the Aloha spirit of caring for one another, the general respect of the kapuna (elders) on our island and working to protect them, and the knowledge of our health care system with our extremely limited amount of hospital beds. We don’t have the luxury of messing around with this virus as once our health care workers get sick or we don’t have beds, there are no easy options.
6. We have plenty of space to social distance
If you have been following me for any length of time, I started writing ALONE on the sand back in February at beaches I have gone to over the course of the last few months. It is COMPLETELY doable to go almost ANYWHERE on the island and find places to be alone and certainly at least six feet away from other people. I have swung on a hammock in Polol’u Valley, hiked to the top of Pu’u Wa’a Wa’a , walked the Kahakai Trail from Hapuna to Mauna Kea, snorkeled at Kealekekua Bay, meditated at the tide pools at Old Airport, rode my bike and jumped around in the surf at Kekeha Kai, run/hiked down a 4WD road to the ocean, discovered the area around Kohananiki Resort area and created livestream sunsets and daybreaks from Honl’s beach, Magic Sands, Kahalu’u Bay, Kailua Bay, and Kohanaiki. That is one of the best things about being on this island in general, let alone a pandemic.
7. We don’t have shopping malls or places for young people to gather
As much as I have bemoaned this fact for years, we don’t have very many places you can be indoors with large groups of people shopping (except for Costco!) Also, since we don’t have malls in West Hawaii, there really is not very many places for young people to hang out, either. My teens are either out in the waves body boarding with their friends or on their phones creating TikTok videos. There is just not much of a teen-scene or college-aged group experience here, which is frustrating with kids who have not been in school since March, but hey, they are healthy!
So, you can see there ARE some benefits of being on a VERY big island without many people and those people roll up the sidewalks by 9 pm with COVID or without it. We will be sitting alone out here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for awhile longer NOT banging on pots and pans at 7 pm for our health care workers, because they are able to go home safely to their families at night. We may be sitting six feet apart at a restaurant waving to our friends, but not bemoaning a loved one who has passed away because we are VERY fortunate that NO ONE has died of Coronovirus on this island. We are doing something right in a place we can still enjoy every day.
(And my sponsor message is this: If you are considering purchasing a home in Hawaii, my husband and I offer a real estate matchmaking service, books, Facebook groups and our Aloha to help you! Send an email to JulieZPR@Gmail.com for more info!)