Kurtistown, Hawaii County, Hawaii

Revel at the wonders of postcard-perfect sunrise in the middle of lush tropics and virginal seas flirting with dewy trade winds. In paradisiacal Hawaii, guests are treated to the comforting features of island lifestyle with an exciting twist. The Big Island is the proverbial heaven on earth with its shimmering blue waters and perfect climate. Just a glimpse of this haven is enough to make one crave for more. For the stressed-out individuals who are in dire need to let loose and cool down, this island-state offers everything that screams superlative relaxation.

Hawaii houses in her womb the small but naturally blessed place of Kurtistown. Even if The Big Island is more popularly known for its black-sand exotic beaches, which are great for surfing and water adventures, Hawaii also has something for those who prefer to visit and indulge in the delicate beauty of simple living. The quaint town of Kurtistown is a superb getaway treat for the simplistic traveler. This town is complacently snuggled just few miles below the huge and historic city of Hilo. Though relatively small, with only 13.311 square kilometers or 5.8 square miles, Kurtistown surely stands tall.

Based on the 2000 demographics data, Kurtistown is a hub to a little more than 1,000 residents (which compose approximately 300 families), foreigners and natives alike. Expatriates, especially those with mixed races, make up 32.8%. This is followed by Asians (Japanese, Filipino, Korean, among others) with 38%. Male residents are slightly more abundant in town while the average age of the residents is 40.5 years. Approximately 90 residents of the entire population live in productive farms while the rest enjoy life in non-agricultural environment.

Kurtistown's History

With its rich fertile soil, Hawaii is a haven of agricultural products. These products mirror the colorful history of towns and cities in The Big Island. Residents of several towns and cities in Hawaii used to thrive on industries of sugar cane, coffee beans, and macadamia nut. In the 1800s, Kurtistown's neighborhood towns like Laupahoehoe, Peepeekeo, and Keaau are known for their sugar plantations. But Kurtistown differs in a way that it didn't only rely on sugar and coffee but also on bananas, especially after the sugar industry waned at the turn of the century.

Banana plays a significant role in both the history and economy of Kurtistown and Hawaii, in general. During the pre-contact period, before 1778, the first inhabitants of The Big Island came from Asia and Polynesia. These foreigners brought with them a variety of products such as coconut (Niu), indian mulberry (Noni), breadfruit (`Ulu), bamboo (`Ohe), candlenut (kukui) and banana (Mai`a). This fruit is a staple in Hawaii but it wasn't developed into a full-blown industry until the late 20th century when the sugar industry, touted as the primary industry in The Big Island, declined. Former sugar plantation towns turned to alternative industries. Inhabitants of Kurtistown ventured on banana, flower, and tourist-inclined industries.

Native residents in Kurtistown used to consider banana as sacred since it perfectly characterizes the great God Kanaloa, a prominent mythical figure of The Big Island. The figure is said to work as a banana grower before. At present, Kurtistown is among the towns that export bananas. Up to fifty varieties of bananas can be found in different parts of the United States.

Kurtistown's Attractions

As with other towns and cities in Hawaii that boast of historic spots and sceneries, Kurtistown certainly has something to be proud of.

A trip in this idyllic town is never complete without paying tribute to the famed Fuku Bonsai Cultural Center. This wondrous place, located in Olaa road, is a sight to behold not only for bonsai and herb enthusiasts but also for those who appreciate the beauty of nature, in general. One doesn't even have to pay for anything to gain entrance to this magnificent destination, which showcases extensive varieties of bonsai and other plants. Another good news is that administrators of this center regularly conduct free seminars and workshops to spread the love for bonsai. This is absolutely a great opportunity for tourists who want to know more about this truly unique tree planting technique. Oh, and travelers should make sure to purchase as many potted bonsai trees as possible, either for a chic home accessory or as giveaway to friends back home.

After an edifying visit to a bonsai tree and plant haven, why not drop by to a marvelous abode of flowers? Linda's Place of Hawaii, already famous since 1993, will definitely leave a lasting impression to all tourists who visit this place. The alluring presence of blooms, in all possible juicy colors and scents, is enough to make anyone oblivious as he or she is transported to an enticing flora utopia. Tourists will experience being a wide-eyed child again as they spend hours admiring the tantalizing selection of blooms including Tropical Fleur, Birds of Paradise, Anthurium, Purple Arc, Mickey Mouse, and Hawaiian Butterfly, among others.

As finale to a nature-inclined trip to Kurtistown, tourists should also visit Royal Palm Enterprises, the popular growers and exporters of the town's primary agricultural products such as coffee, ginger, gardenias, and bananas. This company also sells their products online but it's much more fun to personally experience the simple bliss of watching these bundles of joy in their natural environment. Kurtistown, for sure, will make tourists appreciate the rich flora of The Big Island.

Kurtistown's Economy

Though small and seemingly obscure, Kurtistown is bestowed with undeniably fertile agricultural lands. As reflected in the type of tourist destinations mentioned earlier (inclined to nature), this town is a treasure trove of flora and fresh produce. Indeed, a portion of the Kurtistown population is busy with planting and exporting banana, orchids, and ginger, among the several others. In fact, the industry of agriculture (including forestry, fishery, mining, and hunting) accounts for 13.1% of the entire employment opportunities in this town.

Aside for agriculture, Kurtistown residents also produce money through venturing in various small and medium-scale businesses involving food, lodging (for tourists), and entertainment. This umbrella industry also provides 13.7% employment opportunities for the residents. But the top source of employment in Kurtistown remains to be those concerning social services and health. Next on the list is the industry of retail trade with 14.1%.

At present, the job growth (4.47%) in Kurtistown is more than three percent higher than the average rate across the United States. The current job growth is expected to soar up to 17% in the near future. Unemployment rate, on the other hand, is registered at 3.80%, still lower than the national average rate. The household income in Kurtistown is slightly higher than the average figure with $49, 461. But the per capita income is only $17,767, almost $7000 lower than the national average. The general cost of living in this town is marked at 139.7, relatively higher than the national average of 100. As with other towns and cities in Hawaii, Kurtistown residents spend mostly for essentials like housing, food, health, transportation, and utilities.

Kurtistown Statistics:

Population: 1,157
Households: 405
Median resident age: 40.5 years
Median household income: $46,012
Median house value: $124,500
Land area: 5.8 square miles
Elevation: 620 feet
Latitude: 19°35'N
Longitude: 155°4'W
Zip code: 96760
County: Hawaii
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