There are much cheaper beach towns with unbelievable weather that aren't so isolated. Hawaii is particularly nice for US residents without a Passport, but you should get a passport!
I recently did something very similar, though I was at several beaches and in a couple mountain ranges. There is a sort of inverse relationship between adventure and monetary cost with regard to what your options are and you have a lot of choices.
Hawaii is relatively low on the adventure and high on the cost; while something like Nosara, Costa Rica is a bit more of an adventure, and a bit cheaper while things like the language barrier still won't be distracting from getting work done.
That said, I've lived in Hawaii. Island time is real. When surrounded by a bunch of people who all stop working at 3 pm and constantly have parties, you stop getting stuff done.
Also, I missed people to talk to about books, politics or even culture.
Or is passport-talk just an oblique way of saying "you don't need to worry about visas"?
The problem is that getting the visa is 1) expensive ($137 when I got mine five years ago) and 2) time-consuming. Standing in the post office for hours sucks and even finding out which post office will accept your application is difficult. I had to drive to three different post offices because I got bad information over the phone. The whole process took me about two weeks. Getting my French visa, which was the purpose of my passport, took less time.
So for your average family of four, [4x$137 + time] isn't worth it just for a more interesting beach than Waikiki or Miami. Not saying I agree with that logic but I think that's how a lot of Americans view it. There's enough to see domestically that it's not worth the added expense for a lot of people.
I'm not one of them—I only started travelling internationally two years ago and I've filled five pages of my passport and will have another seven stamps and a long-stay visa in there by August. That, however, is not a normal travel pattern for most Americans.
(Whether or not Americans know how few countries require visas is another issue)
It helps that I'm from Hawaii, so I'm not in "vacation" mode... I'm in "home" mode. Where I feel relaxed, comfortable, inspired & supported. From that place is where I run the chaos of a startup.
Also you should definitely check out HI Capacity (http://hicapacity.org) a local makerspace/hackerspace. There is an interesting talk on Haskell coming up on May 24th:
However, I think the isolation is VERY dangerous. Yes, silicon valley is a bit of an echo chamber, but at the same time, you are around some of the smartest minds in the world. Our first few VC meetings resulted in a "pivot" of sorts. Still same end goal, but different way of going about it. Being around everyone in the travel tech industry, and being able to set up meetings with them, has changed our go-to-market strategy and our priorities.
These smart people have a way of poking holes in your strategy. There is something to be said for talking to "normal" people, but I can say we have talked to hundreds of normal people, and the most valuable advice we got was from those VCs and angels, or travel tech people.
We possibly would have wasted months if we didn't seek out these experts and learn from their success and failure.
By moving to Hawaii you risk losing that.
The Adioso guys kind of mentioned this, that living in Melbourne they weren't around the same type of environment and PG brought them back to earth when they got back here. The ruthlessness of silicon valley has it's upside.
I think if you're going to do this then have a plan in advance of exactly what you want to accomplish and go there to build it. We went with a general idea and a few more and ended up trying to many things in the month we had for it to really pay off.
Side note about working with the SimpleHoney team - One time in the Ko 'Olina house I killed a cockaroach (follow him here - https://twitter.com/#!/householdroach) in the bathroom but was too scared to pick it up. Joyce "The Terminator" Kim went in there and picked it up for me LIKE A BOSS!!!! True Story!
Taiwan, quite similar to Japan in many respects, is tropical (same weather as Okinawa basically, it's quite close). I've been there recently for a few weeks and temps were in the 25C-32C range most of the time. Boiling hot. Yet this is one of the places of the world where more shit gets done and invented per capita. I was in a technology park, spending a lot of time in cafes, and it felt just like Palo Alto (but more on the EE side rather than on the CS side).
Now, these people have great beaches and a weather that'd allow you to spent most of the year if not all year in the beach, but they find a balance and are every bit as industrious as any cold Nordic country if not more. Same can be said for a good part of Southern China and South Korea.
It's a matter of culture, not weather. Responsibility and hard work need to be nurtured.
However some drawbacks (to compliment the positives of the article):
+ Short Term: While a retreat allows your team to focus and integrate, like all holidays - they end.
+ Talent: You currently recruit in a tech hub city, however eventually your talent leaves and you need to find replacements in the local village. You cannot find anyone as good or as friendly (as they joined the team/party late).
+ Too friendly: You are all new to the place, so you are a little eco system hanging out all the time. The fun will eventually wear off as internal relationships grow/breakdown.
+ Networking: The valley offers fantastic opportunities to meet other like minded people. Opportunities are much higher to meet that next co-founder, angel or VC. What are the chances of this on an island?
So, it can work but not forever and offers startups a constructive way of building strong team dynamics and creating tight focus on building their alpha/beta product.
There's some merit to removing distractions when knocking out a marathon product build, but that said a good office environment can also serve the same purpose...
I would like to cast a diverging opinion from my personal experience. For various work-related reasons I left Europe in early 2008 to live in Martinique, in the French West Indies.
It is very close to what the article describes - tropical weather (you will never get cold - 25 C/ 77 F is what we call cold and take a jacket for - home weather station on http://guylhem.org - only the webcam is down ATM), great food (french creole! do I need to say more?), beautiful wildlife (It's 9:20pm I'm listening to the various frogs and birds and stuff), healthy lifestyle (can't be helped ! even if you have bad habits it is like something from the environment you are surrounded with contaminates you and make you follow an healthy lifestyle). Same currency (euro). No need for a passport.
Also you can swim every day of the year in the caribbean. Sounds like your dream ? I went swimming on new years eve like 2 years ago. Got sunburned.
That's the honeymoon, the first few weeks/month/years. Little by little I went to the beach less and less. At the moment maybe one every couple of month, to go with the gf.
Along the way I realized something : what was initially the selling points, as good as they may sound, place you at risk of isolation. And this may not always be good, especially for a techy - there seem to be more introverts among us. I would have called myself an introvert.
You know these things you call "distraction" and the people you do not call normal? That's what I dig now, whenever I go somewhere. I'd love to have a beer and talk about technical stuff with people who will understand me (running my website on my mips dsl modem, packaging a distro). Hitting the same 3 guys you know on the island who do free software quickly loses its novelty.
So for my last few vacations, I went to Florida, Montreal twice and Paris. Basically to a conference, a LUG meeting + visiting some friends, and a technical conference. While in Florida I was a bit bored (like home, only chilly, but with techies it was fun) so I also went to see an old friend in San Diego. Since there was a HN meeting we attended. It was like being alive again, being surrounded with people who share the same interests and the same cultural references. I was quite bored for weeks when I went back to my tropical paradise - because the grass is always greener on the other side, but I don't think I had realized that yet.
I had one of my most productive week last year when driving between Montreal and New-Bruswick - at the end of the autumn. The cold was so exotic! I loved every single minute of my vacation. I could only have loved it more if it had been snowing, but I know I'm partial with snow, so I wanted to test myself and see if even without snow I'd enjoy my vacations in the very same place, to remove a bit of exoticism. And yes I did.
Do you see how it relates to the experience mentionned in the article ? There will always be something that's attractive because it is different. Then the new become usual, and we get bored. And we leave and try something different, again and again. I think it's just human nature.
We want difference and exoticism, we want to be surrounded with people we can relate with but not too much, all these are incompatible needs. The problem is not in your work environment but in yourself. When no longer needs the exoticism to be happy, that's when the fun begins.
If you know what makes you tick, inspiration comes not only from an exotic place - like a cafe in New Brunswick can be to me - but also at the place you call home, wherever it might be.
Then it comes down to personal preferences about what weather you are more comfortable with, what kind of people you prefer having around, and your own philosophy. But not exoticism. It's a trap, a burden that can becomes non necessary. It happened just like that, someday I just started feeling that way.
At the moment, I'd say I only regret that my work will have little impact, but I've settled with the rest. 2 tech conference a year and I get the minimal contact with other techies I need to survive :-) And while some exoticism is good (I say I enjoyed my vacation) it is no longer a need.
I expect no sympathy from Californians, but for those in NYC, Boston, Chicago, Berlin, etc - upvotes to the left. :P
I actually prefer having cold snowy winters and hot sweaty summers as it alleviates the monotony quite well. But Berlin-level snow is not enough. What's the average annual snowfall there? In Santa Fe in Christmas of 2006 we got four feet (120cm) in town in one 4-day storm, now that's an assload and a half.
Since then I came back to Europe and after a while not really knowing where to go, I started from fresh in Paris (never lived here before), still working on my own projects but trying a bit harder to go to meetups, meet other entrepreneurs, developers etc. Still isolation is a danger when you're working all day on your own stuff.
I was really seduced by the 4 hour workweek ideas at the time and I'm still trying to find a way to make it sustainable and satisfying. Having a home base + having the freedom to go for semi-extended travel at times is very appealing to lots of us I know :-)
Moving here will not magically make you more outgoing or productive. While I love it here, I lived in Austin and miss the tech culture from the area.
Granted I probably should network more but it's mostly IT, real estate, and tourism industry. There is no comparison to SF / Austin for startup culture.
If you're browsing HN and in Honolulu, let's grab a beer.
Hey that's me. I'd love to grab a beer sometime. I can probably get a few other techie friends to come out as well. Hit me up via my email (in my profile) or message me through Google Plus:
Maybe we could meetup next weekend?
And if you've ever had a vacation home or boat they are good to escape to (but from my experience only if you have other stress in your life) but not something you would want to do every day. In fact a boat is a good example of that. I can play with the computer every day and never get bored. A boat, something I have no desire to do every day (even when I owned one which was for many years). And if you've been a boater and have seen the amount of boats tied up that never go out you are aware of this phenomena for the non-outliers.
I was going to post something similar to this but you basically said the things I wanted to. I live in the Virgin Islands. Hawaii is definitely different than many, if not most, tropical places in the world. I've been to Hawaii and it's absolutely nothing like the third world country this place is.
While I live in paradise, I suffer through frequent power outages, shoddy Internet and a thorough and complete lack of decent techies to relate to or interact with. I pay 5x... yes, 5 times what most pay for electricity. Customer service is completely non-existent anywhere on the island. You can never find what you want at the store. Trying to find computer parts or anything technological is nearly impossible. Shipping is slow and unreliable. Even if you happen to get something, the absolutely terrible electric company (which has a stranglehold on everything here) ensures your tech stuff will be fried sooner or later with or without a surge protector. The racism is absolutely rampant here; the crime and violence is staggering.
Sure, the beaches are fun and the weather is nice, but the isolation can be extremely disheartening and it is not an easy place for a techie (or anyone else) to be. I work for a company in a room with 9 other programmers. I can't remember the last time any of them even mentioned a new web framework or a new programming language or anything of the sort.
I yearn for more and am planning on leaving to go where I can be more successful and happy being the developer that I am.
This blog post would have been much better titled: "How to Move to Hawaii with Some Friends and Build a Startup."
New Brunswick, NJ?
But if aren't susceptible to "Polynesian Paralysis", sure, no place better than Hawaii. I couldn't and, much to my regret, moved back to the mainland to get things moving.
If you wget on of your blog articles you can see an example. (Registering your site with webmaster tools google would of notified you if it sees suspicious activity like this)
There will most likely be a base a base 64 encoded string at the top of your index.php file than when you decode will contain the exploit.
Keep wordpress up to date.
9am HI time
12pm SF time
3pm NY time
3pm HI time
10am Tokyo (tomorrow)
9am China (tomorrow)
I'd definitely be into working from the beach for a month or two.
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Moral of the story? Stay frugal even when you dont have to. It might be better for the company.
Also, I would not say we had a holiday mood at all during our time there. We started working the same day we arrived, but being in Hawaii had so many unexpected positive effects on productivity and product vision, we really wanted to share.
And, I could never win a surf contest.
I'm eager to sign up, but it's not responding at all to me.