I spent many years growing up on the Big Island of Hawai`i.
I lived in an area called Ahualoa, which is on the wet side of the island, on the Hamakua coast. The nearest town is Honoka`a. Nearby are ranchlands and eucalyptus plantations. In my childhood, the coast was covered by sugarcane fields, but all the sugar on the island went out of business in the 90s, unable to compete with the third world. Nowadays, a small trickle of tourism and 'diversified agriculture' attempts to keep things going.
One of my favorite places to visit is the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden on the drive north of Hilo.
The dry side of the island has desert and old lava fields with dead-looking yellow grass and kiawe trees.
I left to go to college, and never moved back... there's pretty much no high tech jobs there, just a few with the observatories A recent interesting trend, though, is wireless networking (802.11), bringing high-speed internet to parts of the island that would never get it otherwise.
I think Hawaiian sovereignty is a reasonable idea... depending on how it gets implemented.
I've spent a few years working on modeling an interactive 3d version of the island... you could call it Virtual Hawai`i. I've learned far more about the island studying from afar than i ever learned growing up there. In fact, it kinda grew into a much larger endeavor, you could call it my life's work.
A note about writing and pronouncing Hawaiian words... that little ` mark is called the `okina and it is considered a consonant. Just as you would never drop essential consonants in English, do not drop the `okina! For example, "Hawai`i" is a 3-syllable word. It isn't "Ha-waii".
The environment of Hawai`i is almost completely artificial, as in the result of human intervention. Something i wrote pondering as a young man:
"What was in Hawai`i before the eucalyptus, mosquitoes, cane fields, taro, and kikuyu grass? Before the dogs, roads, cows, sewage and papayas? Before the hotels, airports, barbed-wire fences? Before the shopping centers?"