MCB Camp Smith
Marine Corps Base Camp Smith is located in Pearl City, Hawaii, just north of Honolulu, in lush hills overlooking the island of O'ahu and its beautiful beaches. It is the headquarters of the United States Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), Special Operations Command Pacific, and Marine Forces Pacific, the Marine service component command of INDOPACOM.
The camp, originally the Aiea Naval Hospital, was named for General Holland McTyeire Smith, the first commanding general of Fleet Marine Force Pacific, on June 8, 1955
Ewa Beach: 5 Miles, Ewa by Gentry: 5 miles, Ko Olina: 11 miles, Kailua: 13 miles, Hawaii Kai: 10 miles
Most homes in the Honolulu area, especially downtown are older homes and original to O'ahu. Built in the 40s- 70s and without AC. Newer construction is found at Ewa by Gentry, however Ewa Beach still remains with the older homes. Ko Olina has condos built in the 90s to 2000s. O'ahu is not known for having upscale homes unless you are on the North Shore. Waikiki is the multi-million dollar beach front properties in the tourist districts. 80% of homes do come with Solar Power because electricity is so expensive, but most of the AC are window units. Yards are scarce and home buying is a bit of an art. If you're looking for land, there are stipulations in place to stay true to Native Hawaiians.
On Base Housing
Ohana Military Communities, owned by Hunt, operates the MCB Housing areas for both Camp Smith and nearby Kaneohe Bay, on the other side of the island. There are 12 different neighborhoods, but because eligibility is determined by rank, some are only open to higher-level officers or E9 families. Most neighborhoods are near the beaches and have some ocean views. Base housing typically offers air conditioning, fenced-in yards, and allows pets. Manana Housing, the closest to Camp Smith, offers a walkable neighborhood close to playgrounds, a community center, the base pool and fitness room, and the Marine Mini Mart.
Note that Marine families stationed at Camp Smith can apply for housing at any of the nearby military bases, such as AMR or Pearl Harbor. Check commute times when deciding where to live.
Pearl City Elementary School (K-6) Highlands Intermediate (7-8) There are additional schools in the Mañana housing area.
Public schools are part of the Hawaii Department of Education. If you have school-age children, a great place to start in finding a school is to contact the School Liaison Officer for your respective branch. The SLO can assist in getting your child registered. Hawaii does not have any DoD schools, but there are many public, private, and charter schools to choose from, as well as a large homeschooling community on the island. Just a heads up: most schools and childcare centers require a negative Tuberculosis test to enroll.
Cost of Living and BAH
The BAH for Hawaii tends to be on the high side, similar to the Washington D.C. area. Island living, in general, tends to be pricey because everything has to be shipped in. The median sales price for a single-family home on O’ahu in 2021 was $1,050,000-- a new record! BAH in Hawaii varies depending on rank and whether or not you have dependents. To determine your BAH at MCB Camp Smith, use our BAH calculator.
The state of Hawaii has the lowest property tax rate in the nation at 0.28%. Despite this, the median annual tax payment in the state is $1,871, which is much higher. This is because Hawaii has the highest median home value in the U.S. at $1,050,000. Whether you rent or buy, remember that energy bills will be higher in Hawaii than in most places, even with only moderate use of air conditioning.
Trade winds keep the average temperature in Hawaii at around 85 degrees throughout the year. The landscape across the island, however, varies significantly depending on location. On the Leeward (West) side of O’ahu, you will find a drier, more desert-like environment, while the Windward (East) side is home to the lush Ko’olau Mountains. Much of central O’ahu is farmland, and the North Shore consists of a rocky shoreline with higher surf. Many popular surfing competitions are held there.
All of the military bases in Hawaii have the usual amenities: Commissary, Exchange, gym, community pool, etc. MCB Camp Smith also has a Chapel, Maintenance Shop, and Visitor Center.
Hawaii boasts AMAZING hiking. Trails range from paved and stroller-friendly (but steep!) Makapu’u trail on the eastern end of the island, to lush and tropical trails in Manoa Valley, to the dormant Koko Head and Diamond Head volcano crater trails.
Kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling, spearfishing, and diving are just a few ways to enjoy the warm water and 271 days of sunshine per year.
Kailua’s beaches are almost as crowded as the more touristy Waikiki, and parking is equally difficult. Be aware, the deep ocean currents can be extremely strong even near shore. Many beaches also experience shore break. Search “Sandy’s Beach” on Youtube to get a glimpse of the power of the ocean here. Parents with little children may want to check out the lagoons at Ko’olina for gentler waters.
Surfing is the signature sport of Hawaii. Duke Kahanamoku and Eddie Aikau are local legends and surf icons. Surf lessons are available around the island. If you want to get into surfing, there is no shame in purchasing a $100 eight-foot foam board from Costco. Pros on the North Shore, water patrol, and surf school students all surf them with joy. Surf competitions are community events for surfers of all ages and skill levels.
The Macadamia Nut Farm does the Ali'i tour which is a small tour of the farm along with teaching others about the Samoan Culture and a lot is centered around the Coconut Tree. The nearby Kualoa Ranch has a tour more befitting a crash course for “Survivor” contestants than a farm tour. It is both educational and entertaining. Your host will highlight various film locations on the property as you ride on crew buses used in the original “Jurassic Park.” They also have ATV tours, zip lining and horse back riding.
LUAUS: Grand luaus are available on the leeward side of the island, the Polynesian Cultural Center on the North Shore, and also Sea Life Park on the east end. The Hale Koa luau in Waikiki is a less costly, shorter luau option open to service members, retirees, and their guests.
The North Shore is the most rural part of the island. However, there are many shrimp food trucks there. Ted’s Bakery near Pipeline is worth the stop on your drive along the Seven Mile Miracle. Waves can reach 40 feet during the winter months. Helemano Farms in Wahiawa grows sustainable Norfolk pines for cutting at Christmas.
Island hopping is affordable with Southwest. The other islands are all unique. Volcanoes Park on the Big Island is a place to behold, and military members can rent cabins at the park. Also, don’t forget to register for your free National Park military pass so your $25 vehicle admission will be waived.
Food and Drink
Food is also essential to Hawaiian culture. School cafeterias serve local favorites like kalua pork, haupia (coconut) pudding, and poi (pureed taro root). Poke (raw, marinated tuna), shave ice (don’t call it “shaved” ice), and Spam musubi (Spam and rice wrapped in seaweed) can be found in every corner store. Loco Moco is a popular Hawaii dish made of rice, burger patty, gravy and fried eggs.
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