Fantasizing about a Hawaiian getaway has such an everyday part of everyday American life, it’s practically cliché. Turn on any sitcom, and at some point the characters — stuck in their gray-scaled cubicles or inoffensive suburban homes — will sigh and say something resembling “Well … maybe someday.”
And there’s certainly lots to love about the Polynesian island chain surrounded by the deep blue Pacific. With its islands averaging 271 days of sunshine a year, its many world-famous beaches, mysterious jungles and a unique local culture, Hawaii is an endlessly prime vacation destination and dream residential getaway.
However, living that sweet island life for an extended period of time is — unfortunately for mere financial mortals — prohibitively expensive. Be it construction materials, luxury goods, or everyday necessities like food, Hawaii’s location in the middle of the world’s largest ocean makes shipping terrifically pricey. And those hoping to purchase a piece of Hawaiian real estate better be named MoneyBags McGee — or at least either be a lotto winner or related to a member of the Forbes 400. (Like those aren’t the same thing, right?)
Admitted to the union in 1959, the state of Hawaii encompasses 137 islands in a 1,500 mile long archipelago. Beyond all that its natural wonders have to offer, a big part of what makes Hawaii so special is its exotic blend of East Asian, Western and indigenous Central Pacific cultures. Though it’s believed that Polynesian people have lived on the islands since 500 AD, folks from around the world, from places like Japan, China, Portugal, Puerto Rico and the Philippines, began traveling to Hawaii from around the 1850s to work on sugar plantations. Hawaiians sometimes refer to their vibrant, multi-ethnic history as a “rainbow culture.”
There are eight major Hawaiian Islands, each with its own distinct personality. Along with the more well-known Big Island, Maui, Oahu, Kauai and Molokai, there’s also itty-bitty Nihau and Kahoolawe, as well as Lanai, 98% of which was acquired by property-mad software tycoon Larry Ellison in 2012 for about $300 million. Hawaii, aka that “Big Island,” has the state’s only active volcano; Oahu is the most populous of the islands in the chain, and is also home to the state’s capital, Honolulu; Maui is a celebrity fave with its laid back vibe and world-famous beaches lined with white, black and even red sand; Kauai, the oldest and northernmost island in the chain, is also frequented by celebs and is known for its thick jungles and dramatic cliffs; Molokai, said to be home to some of Hawaii’s best views, is among the state’s most remote islands and is very rustic with few modern amenities.
So, with its breathtaking natural scenery, high price point and rich culture, it’s no wonder the exclusivity of Hawaii has managed to attract some of the wealthiest tech moguls and A-listers around. Grab a Blue Hawaiian and check out the gallery to see which 10 celebs are enjoying Hawaii’s breathtakingly beautiful, plumeria-scented beaches.