Thanks to everyone for the advice...
Needless to say, I'm still debating the pros & cons between Hawaii & California as an ultimate destination. I've been on Zillow & Trulia A-LOT.
Regarding the risks of finding an occupation in Hawaii... I never really intended to go back to work (other than volunteering, possibly). So, putting it quite simply, my only j*b will be to enjoy life (within a budget).
Presently, I'm still in the possession-purging mode which will be followed by the home-prep stage... getting things ready for a sale. In the meantime, I hope to be taking some scouting trips.
Ironically, I don't surf (though I'm keen on learning)... and not a huge fan of swimming around in the ocean. So the water temp may not be a huge factor. That said, I could sit and watch the ocean for hours at a time. Ideally, I'd like a home with an elevated view of the water, close enough to visit easily with the dogs, but not right on the beach. (My brother had a house on the beach in California and I saw first hand how the salt air can add to home/car maintenance.)
Thanks for your offer "SVHoper"... I just might be taking you up on that! A move to California is certainly more convenient when it comes to renting in one location while scouting for others up & down the Cali coast. I have to imagine it would be difficult to (for example) rent in Kauai and scout on Oahu, Maui, or the Kona Coast.
Keep the advice coming (it's much appreciated) & meanwhile I'll slowly but surely work my way through this transition.