top of page

Sabbatical in hawaii

Frequently asked questions about spending sabbatical in Hawaii

What are decent neighborhoods to rent in?

In general Hawaii is very safe. It ranks about 2nd lowest for crime. Most crimes are usually petty crime- like theft.

  • Studios less than $1700 probably are not what you want to live in.

  • Apartments with 1 bed room can run you $2K-3K

  • Apartments with 2 bed rooms can run you $3K-$5K

In general there is a direct correlation between cost and distance from downtown.

The following are possible locations sorted by nearest first:

  • Manoa – very expensive, very near UH campus , very convenient

  • Palolo – expensive, near UH campus

  • Ala Moana – expensive, 20 minute bus ride from campus, near beach, near large Foodland grocery store, near giant mega mall, near Walmart.

  • Waialae – expensive, 20 minutes bus ride from campus, near Whole Foods

  • Hawaii Kai – expensive, 20 minutes to 1 hour by car from campus, near Costco

  • Kaneohe – less expensive, 30 minutes to 1 hour by car, have to drive over the mountain, near Kailua

  • Kailua – less expensive, 30 minutes to 1 hour by car, have to drive over the mountain, near Target and Whole Foods

  • Ewa – least expensive, 45 minutes to 2 hours by car, near Costco, hottest part of the island

One thing you may consider doing is to spend a week or two at Lincoln Hall on campus- essentially a short term (very cheap) faculty dorm. That will then give you time to apartment hunt. 

What about living in Waikiki?

Expensive, small apartments, noisy since it’s where the tourists are. If you want to live near Waikiki, live in Ala Moana instead.

What are good online sources for apartment hunting?

Good online resources are: and

Does Amazon Prime Shipping Work?

Amazon Prime does Not Ship 2-day. All Amazon Prime shipping takes about 1 week unless you want to pay extra for express. Your Amazon Prime video still works though.

Does Netflix work?


Do you have major stores?

Yes, we have Costco, Target, Walmart, Whole Foods, Neimann Marcus, Macys, Home Depot, Lowes.

We do NOT have an Ikea. Shipping anything from Ikea can easily cost you $150+, even for a $20 item.

What are Difficult Things to Get on Island?

  • Impossible to get deep dish pizza. 

  • Not good for Mexican food.

  • Difficult to get desserts that are not made with partially hydrogenated fat. Most hawaiian bakeries are far behind the times.

  • Amazon does not ship any TVs larger than 49 inches.

  • There are no jumbo electronics stores like Fryes. But we do have Best Buy.

Do you have Uber and Lyft?



Generally none are needed. If you are officially hired as a professor then a Tuberculosis test is required.

Can I bring a pet with me?

I don’t recommend it. Hawaii has serious animal quarantine requirements to keep it 100% rabies free.


Are there lots of Insects like Roaches and Centipedes?

Welcome to Polynesia. There are geckos, centipedes, roaches, ants, termites and frogs. Think of Geckos and Centipedes as nature’s exterminators. Just don’t let a centipede bite you. It hurts but it’s not dangerous or fatal. They generally prefer to run away from you. When it rains is when they like to come into your home. You will frequently see roaches no matter how clean you keep your apartment. There are roaches that run around in the field, like regular insects. That’s just the way it is. So don’t go crazy with bug spray, you’d be fighting a losing battle and poisoning yourself and the environment.

But there are NO snakes!


Is a Car Necessary?

A car isnʻt necessary if you live close to the campus. The university also has an Enterprise car rental on campus, and there are Uberʻs and Lyfts around for cheap downtown transportation.

Also the university has a recreational program which will take you out to distant parts of the island for a very reasonable fee. e.g. for stand up paddle boarding they will give you the equipment, transport you, give you a lesson and take you back all for $37.


What is the Climate Like and Is Air Conditioning Needed?

Depends… Generally there are trade winds (east to west) that keep temperatures around 75-85 in summer and 65-80 in the winter. The East side of the island (Kaneohe, Kailua) is about 5 degrees cooler. It’s also cooler the higher up a mountain you live. In the West side (like Ewa) it’s the hottest. Most people who live in Ewa find air-conditioning an absolute necessity.

Water temperature is about 75 all year round. Winter is also the wettest part of the year, and summer to Fall is hurricane season. Each year there may be 2 hurricanes that might pass by. For Oahu the brunt of it is usually taken by the Big Island so by the time it reaches Oahu it downgrades tp a tropical storm.

Is Everything Expensive in Hawaii?

Yes, except haircuts and cars. Weird, I know.

What’s the Best Way to Get Affordable Groceries?

Take advantage of farmer’s markets. There are lots of them in just about every neighborhood. UH has one every Tuesday and Friday.

Also you can buy from Costco in bulk. Practical for a family but may not be for individuals. You can buy meat in bulk but where would you store it?


Is Zippy’s Good?

You hear one of Obama’s childhood favorite restaurants is Zippy’s. If you ask a local the answer is Yes. They like it (because they grew up on it). But if you ask anyone else, the answer is No. Zippy’s is terrible. It is at the level of Bob’s Big Boy.  There is really no reason to ever go to a Zippy’s.

bottom of page