Hawaii preppers face many of the same threats as anyone else in America: civil collapse, EMP, natural disasters, etc. However, Hawaiians have unique challenges than preppers in other states. What makes sense for a prepper in Alaska may not make sense for a prepper in California. This applies to Hawaii as well.
This article will focus on Hawaii from a prepper’s perspective. What specific challenges does the state face from a historical perspective? What are the threats given the state’s geography? Where should Hawaiians prioritize their preps?
NOTE: Do you live in Hawaii? You know your state, so let us know in the comments section how this article can be improved. What did we miss? What did we get right?
Table of Contents
Hawaii Overview – Prepper’s Perspective
There isn’t an American alive that hasn’t dreamed of spending a week on a Hawaiian beach. It is no secret, Hawaii is a vacation paradise. Far away from the mainland, Hawaii sits 1,600 miles offshore in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. With 750 miles of coastline, it ranks 4th in the US, after Alaska, Florida, and California.
Hawaii is typically overrun with tourists and can seem crowded. However, it is the 40th most populous state. This highlights a very clear divide between the islanders and the mainlanders. If you stray too far off the beaten path while you are there, you will quickly see the difference.
Nicknamed the “Aloha State,” “Pineapple State,” and the “Rainbow State,” it would seem that even the Hawaiians debate the identity of their state. This is due to the uniqueness of each island in the Hawaiian chain. “The Big Island,” Hawaii is known for its Kona coffee. Similarly, the subordinate islands also vie for recognition of their own contributions to the Hawaiian culture and economy.
Though Hawaii is well known for tourism and is heavily reliant on the funds it brings in, the government has always sought to build a more robust and mature economy. In years past, Hawaii was a massive producer of sugar cane and pineapple. However, in recent years both have experienced a decline. As a result, the state has poured many efforts into science and technology. Today it focuses its efforts on oceanographic and horticultural research, plant-based development of pharmaceuticals, and industrial chemicals.
Despite its well-defined image of a beach paradise, Hawaii is actually home to 4 distinct climate groups. A resident or visitor can find themselves enjoying tropical, arid, temperate, and polar all in a single day. At sea level temperatures range from 84-88 degrees F in the summer, to 79-83 degrees F in the winter. Annual precipitation ranges from 7.4 inches to 404.4 inches.
Food and Water
Despite the rampant precipitation, 90% of Hawaii’s water supply is from groundwater. Because of the geological composition of the islands, freshwater sits like a bubble atop the seawater. As the rain falls, it finds its way through the rocks and into the water table. That freshwater then sits close to the surface and is easily extracted for use.
While it was once a mecca for sugar production and exportation into Asia, only two sugar cane plants remain in Hawaii. Today, the sugar cane industry is eclipsed by smaller crops like papaya and coffee. While this works to shape the economy of Hawaii, it only has a marginal impact on the diet of native Hawaiians. This is largely due to their reliance on the abundant natural food sources that Hawaii is blessed with.
The politics of Hawaii are distinctly liberal. As a tried and true a blue state, Hawaii never strays from the Democratic party. Hawaii’s largest contribution to the national political scene is its two democratic senators. While party politics plays a distinct role in the Hawaiian political scene, native Hawaiians are far more concerned with local issues than those at the national level.
The population of Hawaii stands at 1.5 million. For an entire state, this is incredibly small. For perspective, the population of Dallas, Texas, and Hawaii are comparable. There is nearly four times the number of people in New York City than there are in the entire state of Hawaii.
Despite its size, Hawaii is the most multiracial state in the US. This is largely due to the islands being regarded as a place to escape to by mainlanders and a place that is similar to eastern Asia with the benefits of the American way of life for Asians. While Asians are clearly the dominant ethnic group at 36.9% of the population, many other races inhabit the island. The second greatest people group in Hawaii are whites at 22%.
This is followed closely by a people group that is so diverse it is simply labeled as “other races” on official documents and comes in at 19.4%. Ironically, the native Hawaiians only represent 9.4% of the population which is comparable to the Hispanic population of 10.5%.
Hawaii’s population is likely to decline in the coming years as the population ages. The median age of Hawaiians is 42.7, which is substantially higher than the national average. This is further compounded by an imbalance in men (50.2%) and women (49.8%). Considering the cost of living, limited economic opportunities, and the strains that come with living on an island in the middle of the Pacific, Hawaii will be forced to contend with population challenges for some time.
Despite the vast majority of the population is Asian, 63% of the population is of the Christian faith. This is largely a function of missionary efforts by the Catholic church in centuries past all over east Asia. As populations migrate in and through the Hawaiian islands, their faith followed. Today, this legacy remains with the majority of the population.
Given the low population, crime rates are also relatively low in Hawaii. You only have a 1 in 407 chance of being the victim of a violent crime in Hawaii. The murder rate 0.03 per 1,000 people, which is well below the national average. The rape rate is above the national average at 0.39 per 1,000 people. The robbery and assault rates are at 0.60 per 1000 people and 1.44 per 1000 people respectively and below the national average.
Despite the lack of violent crime on the island, the lackluster economy of Hawaii causes a boom in property crime. Your chances of being the victim of a property crime anywhere on the island chain are 1 in 43. The burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft rates are also far higher than the national average. This is especially true of burglary and motor vehicle theft rates, which are 16.46 and 3.67 per 1,000 people.
Hawaii Natural Disasters
Hawaii may be beautiful, but that beauty comes at a price. Life in Hawaii is fraught with many dangerous natural disasters: earthquakes, flooding, hurricanes, tsunamis, lava flows, tornadoes, waterspouts, and volcanoes are all things that a resident or visitor of Hawaii will have to contend with.
The most devastating and likely disaster that could disrupt life in the island paradise is a volcanic eruption. Hawaii has four active volcanoes that are always on the verge of erupting. Kilauea, the most well-known of them all, has been continuously erupting since 1983. Maunaloa last erupted in 1984 and produced a large amount of volcanic air pollution that affected residents. Loihi has been constantly erupting since 1996.
Earthquakes are a natural companion to volcanic activity and Hawaii is no stranger to them. Every year, the Hawaiian islands experience thousands of earthquakes. While they do little damage, many are severe enough to be felt on one or more of its islands. The last big earthquake hit Hawaii in 1868, reading 7.9 on the Richter scale with an aftershock sequence that can still be felt today.
Following are a few notable, historical natural disasters to strike Hawaii:
1) Aleutian Islands Tsunami (1946) – After an earthquake in Alaska, a tsunami was triggered that was directly lined up with the Hawaiian island chain. The result was the largest tsunami ever recorded hitting Hawaii. Since no one knew it was coming,159 people died solely in Hawaii. A further 8 would die elsewhere. The final tally for property damage was estimated at $26 million at the time.
2) The Great Chilean Earthquake (1960) – Fifteen years after the last tsunami, another crashing wave would inflict its terror on the Hawaiian islands. In 1960 an earthquake in Chile sent a massive tsunami to Hawaii. While only causing $500,000 in damages, the tsunami also killed 61 Hawaiians, mostly on the island of Hilo. The nearly forty-foot wave essentially wiped downtown Hilo off the face of the earth.
3) Hurricane Iniki (1992) – This was the most powerful hurricane in history to strike Hawaii, killing 6 people, and causing a full $1.8 billion in damages. As a Class IV hurricane, Iniki was nothing to take lightly. The winds leveled much of the island and even ripped trees and bushes out of the group in certain places. While hurricanes typically give plenty of warning before they make landfall, they are still incredibly difficult to contend with.
Recently, the most impactful natural disaster was one that many did not see coming. An uncharacteristic waterspout struck the islands on natural March 9, 2016. While there was limited damage done to the islands, the severe winds, and massive funnel was a reminder of how deadly a waterborne tornado can be.
Hawaii has a rather varied scope of disasters, with hurricanes and tsunamis playing a role as expected. However, Hawaii is unique among states for its exceptional military importance that derives from its strategic placement in the Pacific. This is something Hawaii preppers should be aware of as it could pose both advantages and disadvantages.
Following are a few examples:
Pearl Harbor Attack (1941) – Waking up to find out you’re being attacked by a foreign country is always a notable way to start the day. Here, a semi-surprise Japanese fighter plane attack on the Naval base at Peal Harbor. 2,335 American soldiers died that day, 68 civilians died, and 1,143 were injured. Hawaii had the unique experience of being the open door to the second world war for the United States of America.
The West Loch Disaster (1944) – With an increased military presence there are increased risks that come along with military operations. As American troops rehearsed for an invasion of the Japanese Mariana Islands at West Loch, a massive explosion was triggered in the staging area of the operation. A total of 396 people ended up being injured and 163 sailors were killed by a combination of shrapnel, concussive force, and fire.
Pearl Harbor is easily the most memorable military event that’s happened here. Today, China seeks to project power far from its shores with the US Navy standing in its way. Given the uncertain nature of the West’s relationship with China, it is prudent to review the lessons learned from Pearl Harbor and apply them today.
Hawaii’s strategic location exposes the residents of Hawaii to a real potential for the hazards of open combat and espionage.
Hawaii Prepping Strategies
Hawaii has many unique challenges for the prepper. These challenges are compounded by being on an island that is 1,600 miles from the mainland. However, that distance often translates into time to react after sufficient warning. With geological threats leading the way, the main challenge for the prepper is to simply have a plan in place and warning systems that will trigger that plan. However, the prepper must be ready for the long haul as severe disruption to everyday life in Hawaii will have a compounded effect due to the logistical challenges island life represents.
Tsunami and Volcano Warning Systems
Being unaware that disaster was en route was the primary factor in many deaths during Hawaii’s natural disaster history. No matter if it was a volcanic eruption, an earthquake, a tsunami, or a surprise military attack, the primary commonality is that no one knew it was coming.
Given modern warning systems, there is simply no excuse for not knowing a volcano or tsunami is imminent. Therefore, it is crucial that the prepper have a suite of warning systems available to keep them informed.
- 【NOAA Weather Alert Radio Keeps You Prepared Ahead】Our NOAA Weather Radio is certified by National Weather Service. Choose WB band and one of the 7 preset weather band to tune into your local weather station. When the National Weather Service issues a severe weather alert, the radio will auto make a loud SOS alarm that lasts for 9 secs, meanwhile, the red light flashes.You will never miss it even at sleep. Great 𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗿𝗴𝗲𝗻𝗰𝘆 𝗸𝗶𝘁 for tornadoes, tsunamis, Wildfire, hurricane & snowstorm.
- 【AM FM Shortwave Radio with Earphone Jack-Best Listening Experience】Easy to tune into your favorite broadcast, AM Radio(520-1710 Khz); FM Band(87-108MHz); SW Radio(7-19.00 MHZ). The crank radio has a comprehensive coverage of entertainment, sports, news or overseas broadcast like The BBC/Moscow/Beijing. The telescopic antenna makes it a portable radio with best reception. Big volume knob is designed for easy volume adjustment and the 3.5mm headphone jack for your enjoying radio shows privately.
Being connected socially in everyday life in person, having multiple apps on your phone that could warn you, and having a NOAA weather radio can not only save your life but those around you as well.
Keep an Eye on the News
While there may be warning systems for volcanos and tsunamis, the most unpredictable and devastating disaster would be another attack from a foreign adversary, namely China. Though they currently only have the ability to effectively project power 1,000 miles from their coast, there is always the possibility that they have developed a fist strike capability we are not aware of.
Given their pattern of aggression in the Indo-Pacific region and the strategic importance of Pearl Harbor, it pays to stay informed of the Chinese threat in the Pacific. In the event they move to strike Pearl Harbor to disable the US Navy, there will be plenty of posturing beforehand in the international media.
Be Self Reliant
Any disruption to the supply chain that feeds Hawaii will be devastating for a prolonged period of time. Therefore, it is advisable for the prepper to put food growing and water collection systems in place in preparation. This will have the added benefit of simply lowering the cost of living during normal times, but could be life-saving during challenging ones. Hydroponic gardening, learning to fish, and keeping livestock could not only improve the quality of life currently enjoyed in the tropical paradise but could completely save you and your community in the event of a disaster.
One of the most important pieces of equipment for any prepper planning to bug out is to have decent maps of their state. Having an identified bug out location is crucial. All preppers in any state should begin their bug out plans with a paper map of their state. Nothing is better for all-purpose use than the DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer.
- Includes Back roads, elevation contours, recreational areas, etc.
- Paperback for easy carry and storage
Buy a Sailboat
In the event that you need to bugout in Hawaii, there is only one real option: a sailboat. Sailboats have the extremely useful benefit of being able to traverse the world without the need for fuel. So long as the proper training is acquired, a sailboat can be a game-changing mode of transportation away from the chaos of whatever disaster has struck the islands. With the proper desalination systems onboard, a prepper can fish for food and sustain themselves indefinitely.
Can’t afford a sailboat? Maybe find some like-minded preppers in the area. Perhaps one has a sailboat big enough to include you. Of course, if disaster strikes and you need to sail away, that could present a challenge onto itself. Where will you go? Have a plan!
Elevation is Key
If sailing away is not an option, but a tsunami is coming, take to the mountainous terrain Hawaii has to offer. Hawaii is an attractive hunting and fishing destination with many native and invasive species to prey upon. While it is far from ideal, living off the land in the Hawaiian highlands is an excellent way to temporarily avoid the destruction of a tsunami, volcano, or hurricane. Take the time to become familiar with a place at an altitude that would be excellent to retreat to. Invest in it by scouting it out and caching any needed supplies there where only you can find them.
Caches are Key
In the event you stay on the island but are bugging out of a populated area, you will need to cache supplies to sustain you. The islands are limited on natural resources and even with a small population, those resources will be quickly depleted. Having supplies you need in a place where you can access them when ports and airports are no longer operating will be crucial as society proceeds to break down.
- Nobody, Joe (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
Think in terms of systems rather than items. What methods do you have to collect water? What do you have to fish with? How can you hunt on the islands and what is in your cache to facilitate that?
Further Reading for Hawaii Preppers
This article just scratches the surface of what Hawaii preppers need to know. The following links could held educate you more on prepping in the state.
Hawaii Prepper Network – Facebook group concerned with all things prepping in Hawaii.
Hoea Initiative – Hawaiian Survival Course that teaches non-natives the historic ways of life on the island.
Kauai Hiking Tours Survival Class – Survival class put on by Kauai Hiking tours on how to survive in the Hawaiian jungle.
Chinese Military Aggression – State department website set to disclose information on Chinese military aggression.
Tsunami Warning Center – NOAA Tsunami Warning Center informs people when a tsunami threatens them.
Volcano Updates – USGS volcano watch and updates for the Hawaiian islands.