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Derrell Saul

How long have you lived in Ewa Beach?

It’s been 29 years this month in Hawaii and about 26 in Ewa Beach.

Where is Ewa Beach, and what’s it like as a community?

It’s on the leeward part of Hawaii. It’s West Oahu. In the 80s and 90s Ewa Beach was filled with sugar cane fields. The cane fields are all gone now and most of it has been turned into thousands and thousands of homes. The main road that runs all the way through here used to have only two or three stop lights and now there’s a couple dozen. The community really has grown. I used to view it as older but now there’s a lot of newer houses and a lot of nice houses.

Did you have your heart set on Ewa beach or did you consider buying in other neighborhoods in and around Honolulu?

Actually the first home we bought 20 years ago was about two miles from the one we bought last year. When we moved out of base housing and bought that house we never really had our heart set on Ewa Beach. At the time that was what fit into our budget. When we bought the house last year we didn’t know we’d stay in Ewa Beach, but it ended up still being the best fit.

Is Ewa Beach more of an urban or suburban environment?

It’s a suburban environment. It has some strip malls, some gas stations, but the rest is housing developments and golf courses.

Do you worry about crime in Ewa Beach?

Ewa beach is big. There are some rough areas. My current neighborhood is one of the nicer neighborhoods and in this neighborhood I don’t worry about crime at all. There’s always neighbors home, always people around.

Was it hard to meet people when you moved to Ewa Beach?

It’s probably easier to talk about the new neighborhood. We just moved in July. It was very easy to meet the people in the neighborhood. They are extremely friendly and outgoing. We love our neighbors on both sides and across the street. They are really neat people. Even when we were moving in, people were driving by and would slow down to smile and wave and introduce themselves.

Do you work in the city of Honolulu? What’s your commute like?

I work in Pearl Harbor. It’s about a 14-15 mile drive, and on a normal day when school is in session, it’s about 40-45 minutes.

Would you have any advice for the newcomer regarding transportation or traffic in Ewa Beach and the city of Honolulu?

It can take a long time to get around. I would advise people to be patient and just accept it. You are not going to change it. Plan appropriately. I have to be at work at 7:30. I always leave at 6:30 and drink coffee and listen to the radio while I drive. I just make that my time in the morning.

How has the real estate market changed between the time you bought your first house and your most recent purchase?

There was a 20-year period in between purchases. It’s a lot more expensive these days. But what struck me was that there were so many beautiful homes on the island and so many in our price range. It was like every day we’d look at homes and be like, oh wow. With the advent of so much technology, the actual purchasing process is much less painful. A lot can be done digitally without driving all the way to the Realtor’s office.

Do you like the quality of life in Ewa Beach?

Most things here are really terrific. When people think of overall quality of life they think about how nice your home is, your access to shopping, restaurants and all that. Overall it’s pretty good. We love our neighborhood. We’re across the street from a golf course and across from a shopping center. The cost of living in Hawaii is higher, but he wages we get here are higher than we would make on the mainland so it balances out a little bit.

What surprised you most about moving to and living in Ewa Beach?

I’ve always thought of Ewa Beach as older, and we didn’t think that we would want to stay there. Once we got to a position where we were looking to buy a new home, we thought we wanted out of Ewa Beach. We looked at some of the other places and they were quite a bit more expensive. I had originally resisted moving deeper into Ewa Beach, but there are actually beautiful places to live here.

The neighborhood I live in right now is just fabulous. It looks like an upscale neighborhood. It’s clean and the people are friendly. A couple of years ago I would have never dreamed that was possible in Ewa Beach. It’s now a really nice part of the island and it’s much less expensive than other places.

What would you say is the one “can’t miss” event or place that a family living in Ewa Beach and Hawaii should be sure to experience?

There is so much history here, and to me it is just fascinating. Whether it is the WWII history or the ancient history there is so much to experience. Of course the mainland has history too, but there’s not the ancient history like there is here. When you come to Hawaii, if you want to make this your home, it’s important to allow yourself to be assimilated into local culture and make that spiritual connection with the islands that the locals have. When you do that it becomes home.

What places should you avoid if you don’t want to see a lot of tourists?

If you really want to avoid tourists, stay away from Waikiki. That’s the hub. Sometimes its two to three years between my visits there. I think visitors oftentimes appreciate going to see things that appeal to local people. It’s not that touristy things are all bad. When you visit, you should go to a luau, you need to go to Arizona Memorial and things of that nature.

Do you travel between the islands much?

I do occasionally. My wife does more than I do. I do love the neighboring islands. My favorite place to go and escape is Volcano National Park on the big island. It’s just breathtaking and awesome.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in Ewa Beach or in other parts of Honolulu?

There’s some smaller affordable places that local people go to. We have all the chain restaurants nearby, and I enjoy those. Ewa Pointe Chinese is a great Chinese Restaurant. It’s just terrific. It’s definitely the best Chinese food I’ve ever eaten.

Is there anything that you don’t like about living in Ewa Beach or living in Hawaii?

Of course, it is expensive to live here. It’s a good sign I struggle with that question. I would just say that things are expensive and there is traffic and congestion. I don’t like those things but it’s the cost of living in paradise.

What advice would you give people who are house hunting in Honolulu and especially in Ewa Beach?

I’ll answer this with a story. Before we bought our home we looked at another home in another area, near here, that was brand new. We found one there we really liked. I was pretty much sold. One day my wife and son drove to look at it right when school let out. It was a traffic nightmare and we knew we couldn’t live there.

I’d suggest people go look at the home on a Saturday or Sunday, but also in the morning during rush hour and afternoon when everybody comes home from school. You get a much better feel for how the neighborhood is going to be like because the open house day is not what the neighborhood is going to be like.


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