Living in Hawaii can be isolating which is why it is important to find people to meet so you can make new friends.  When Marla & I moved to Hawaii we knew we were leaving the social circles we had created over the years and needed to look for ways to make friends.

The absolute best way to make friends in Hawaii is to get involved in things you enjoy.  There are a wide range of clubs and groups that make it easy to find and make friends including canoeing, hiking, pickleball, softball, yoga or just social groups.  Facebook Groups are also another great option to find new friends.

Hawaii Can Be a Lonely Place

One of the things we noticed very quickly upon moving to Hawaii and talking with others who had relocated here is their lack of social network.  Many retired here as a dream they had been pursuing for years. Others moved here with the commitment to figure out a way to make it work.  There is one thing that bonds us all though.  The love for Hawaii!

Most people, like us, left behind family and friends.  They came here on their own or as a couple. And at first, it is no big deal.  When we first moved here we were so busy. We were dealing with everything associated with the move that we didn’t even have time for friends.

We had to get our household belongings moved in.  We had to get our cars shipped over, safety inspections completed, transfer the auto registration and get license plates.  We had to get our new drivers licenses or state IDs. We had to figure out where to go to get groceries.

All of that stuff takes a lot of energy and time which leaves very little for finding new friends.  But once the dust settles and things get into a more normal routine you suddenly have more time on your hands.

When you have idle time the mind wanders and you start to wonder if you made the right decision to move to Hawaii.  You moved thousands of miles from those you know and love. And now you are here, in paradise, exactly where you had dreamed of living but…you’re lonely.

Marla & I had each other.  And most people who move to Hawaii do so with someone else which helps ease those lonely feelings.  But there are still those moments where I thought about those relationships we left back at “home”.

We Needed to Make Friends

Before we moved to Hawaii or even made the decision to move here we knew making friends would be critically important.  Without our familiar group of family and friends to spend time with we knew we would need to find friends.

After the hustle and bustle of the move we were left with time on our hands and so we started to look for things to do and people to hang out with.

Neighbors

Neighbors seem like an obvious option when looking to meet people nearby but it is not quite as simple as you would think.  We live on a 1 acre lot built for privacy.  We have a long driveway from the street up to our house that would be a bit awkward for someone to walk up and ring our doorbell.  And our neighbors have similar situations and some of them even have gates to access their driveway.  So just going next door to introduce ourselves and meet our neighbors wasn’t much of an option.

In addition, we have a lot of plants growing for the purpose of providing privacy which means we don’t often even see our neighbors.  Which is good and bad.  We enjoy the privacy but we don’t get to interact with our neighbors this way.

One day while out doing some yard work one of the neighbors was walking by.  As he did he stopped and talked story with us for a few minutes.  As he was talking he kept referring to other neighbors.  So, we asked him, “how do you recommend we get to know our neighbors since walking up their driveway doesn’t seem like much of an option?”

His response was simple, “Oh, don’t worry, you will.”

And crazy enough he was right.  Over the next few weeks we gradually began meeting our neighbors one by one.  Sometimes during a walk.  Other times while we were out in the yard.  Or as we were driving up to the house they would be out in their yard and we would stop to say hi.  Ultimately we have met our most immediate neighbors and some that live in the neighborhood.  We’ve been invited over for wine and cheese.  We’ve had others over for dinner.  We’ve joined up with some on their daily walks.  It just happened…naturally.

Facebook Groups & Pu Pu Parties

One of the first things we did to meet people here in Hawaii was joining a Facebook Group.  We found a couple groups focused on bringing people together who had recently moved to Kona:

The great thing about these groups is that you immediately had a network of people who were also looking to meet new people and make friends.  And they went a step further by organizing events to bring people together in person. Sue Cohen, one of the Admins of the Kona Area Friendship Network organized pu pu parties.

Pu pu parties were basically the Hawaiian potlucks.  If you’re not familiar with the term “pu pu” it is basically an appetizer.  So at these parties everyone would bring a pu pu to share with the group. Each time we would meet up at a new house – at one of the group members’ houses.

These parties were a great way to get to know people in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.  In a casual setting you could strike up a conversation to see if you had anything in common or there was any “chemistry”.

It was during our first pu pu party that we met a couple we really hit it off with.  They had moved to the island just one day after we did.

Making Friends is About Having Fun

Friends at Makalawena Beach
photo credit: Hawaii Big Island: Makalawena Beach by Daderot on Flickr

The parties and Facebook Groups were a great way to break the ice and meet new people but it is not where friendships are made.  Making friends is about having fun and spending time with people who enjoy the same things as you do.

After meeting people at the parties or online it was about making the effort to meet up and do things together.  Marla & I enjoyed going to the beach. Not necessarily the same beach but different beaches. And that couple we met at the first pu pu party, Carl & Marianne, did too.

So, when we were planning our next trip we invited them to go along with us.  Actually, the beach we decided we would go to was a beach we had heard about from another couple we met at the party.  We went to Makalawena beach.

Makalawena beach is a bit different than many of the beaches since it requires you to “hike” to it.  Because of the short hike to get there the beach is not the most ideal spot to visit unless you enjoy hiking, at least a little bit.

And that’s the point in all of this…finding people who enjoy the same things as you do.  When we mentioned this idea to Carl & Marianne they we just as excited as we were. We ended up having a great time on the hike, soaking in the sun at this beautiful beach, hanging out in the waves and just having great conversation.

Other Places to Meet Friends

After we had gone to a few of those pu pu parties we felt like we needed to branch out.  Generally, there were very few new people there to meet. And those that we had met, although nice, were not necessary people we thought would become good friends.  So now what?

Well, to be honest, we haven’t done much but we have started to look into other things we could do to meet people who enjoy the things we enjoy doing.  Here are a few that we found that might be of interest to you or at least get you thinking about ways you can meet friends in Hawaii.

Canoe Clubs

Hawaii Canoe Clubs

We found a couple of canoe clubs (Kai ‘Opua and Keauhou) right near Kona that we plan to visit.  Canoeing has always been a draw to me. Between being out on the ocean, the rhythm of paddling, and the camaraderie of the group it looks like something I would really enjoy.  With that said I haven’t taken the initiative to go to check it out…but I will!

Pickleball

Have you heard of pickleball?  Until recently I hadn’t but it keeps popping up more and more.  I thought this could be a great activity to meet new people and decided to look it up.

Pickleball is like playing ping pong on a tennis court.  Basically everything is smaller. Smaller paddle, smaller court and the ball is plastic with holes in it like a whiffle ball.

Kona has a local pickleball group called Kona Pickleball Hui.  According to Facebook they have open play from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  They play over at the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area.

Business Connections

This wont work for everyone, but because we work here in Kona it does for us.  We are in sales and are therefore always meeting new people and making new connections.  With that comes the opportunity to make new friends.

Marla is part of the West Hawaii Association of Realtors (WHAR) and goes to the weekly Caravan meetings.  During these meetings she has the opportunity to network with other real estate related professionals and tour new homes for sale in the Kona area.

During these real estate tours she often gets chatting with others about business and life in Hawaii which makes for a great opportunity to find other people who have similar interests that could develop into friendships.

In fact, we just had a real estate agent whom Marla met during Caravan, and her husband over for dinner last night.

Get Creative

What do you like to do?  What are some new things you’d like to learn about or experience?  What do you do in your day-to-day life that could open the opportunity to meet new people.

Marla recently met Scott Simpson, a photographer, at that WHAR Caravan meeting.  He has a dog and enjoys taking his dog to dog-friendly beaches around Kona. While on those walks he meets other dog owners who clearly enjoy going to the beach too.  What a perfect opportunity to meet new people and make friends.

Dog having fun on the beach

Truly, there is no limit to the opportunities to find friends in Hawaii.  With people spending so much time outdoors being active it is just a matter of striking up a conversation to see where it takes you.  And if you want to be a bit more proactive just check out Facebook Groups or Meetup Groups.

Or, hey, if you would like to meet us just leave a comment or reach out to us on Facebook.

Leave a Reply