Natural Elements to Consider When Buying a Home in Honolulu

Living in Hawaii is almost like living in paradise. But just like any place on Earth, it has its downsides (otherwise, it would be paradise). Here are some natural elements to keep in mind when buying a home in Honolulu.

Rainfall & Moisture

rainfall and other things to keep in mind when buying a home in honoluluLush green tropical forests don’t come without their share of rain. Fortunately, it doesn’t usually last long. But it can be heavy and frequent, depending where on the island you live. Central and eastern O’ahu can be very wet while western and southern parts of the island are drier.

Flooding & Flash Floods

heavy rain and floodingHeavy rainfall can mean a lot of water in a small amount of time, which can lead to a sudden accumulation of water with nowhere to go… A.K.A. a flash flood. Highly damaging flooding isn’t super common, but it can definitely happen, so having flood insurance isn’t a bad idea!


hurricanes in hawaiiNo, it’s not the Florida coast, where hurricanes are practically a dime a dozen. But because Hawaii is completely surrounded by ocean, hurricanes can be powerful and damaging when they do arise. Even smaller storms can wreak havoc: a lot of the western shoreline, particularly in the Honolulu area, are in a coastal flood zone with a velocity hazard, meaning flooding with potential wave action.

Tsunamis & Evacuation Zones

tsunamis and other things to keep in mind when buying a home in honoluluTsunamis aren’t something with think about much in the US. But because Hawaii is far out at sea, tsunamis are a very real part of life here. In fact, we get about one a year.

Much of the shoreline of O’ahu is considered an “extreme tsunami evacuation zone”, with the exception of some of the North Shore and Honolulu waterfront, which is a mid-level evacuation zone. Most of inland O’ahu is considered safe.


earthquakeEarthquakes are one of the main causes of tsunamis. Earthquakes, in turn, are usually caused by volcanoes (around here, anyway). Every year, the Big Island experiences thousands of tiny earthquakes, most of which are too small to be perceived by humans. Occasionally, earthquakes of larger magnitudes will occur, causing everything from structural damage to waves and flooding.

The good news is that O’ahu has much less earthquake activity than the Big Island!

Elevation and Energy Costs

high elevation living in hawaiiAir conditioning might be second nature to many mainlanders, but on the island, we prefer to save on energy costs and open some windows instead. If you want to minimize your A/C usage (or even buy a home without), you might consider looking up… as communities at higher elevations often have temperatures several degrees cooler than those at sea level.

(Not) Lava Zones

lava flowing from a volcanoLava zones in Hawaii are based on location and frequency of historic and prehistoric eruptions. The good news for O’ahu residents is that we don’t have any active volcanoes, nor are we likely to ever have any, so… lava flow isn’t really a worry for us here!

Thinking of Buying a Home in Honolulu?

Are you thinking of buying a home in Honolulu? Then it’s time to contact RE/MAX Honolulu. We’re here to help you explore the area, discover its beautiful cities and communities, and find the perfect home for your needs.

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