Besides the obvious that “Hawaii is paradise!” there are other things visitors should know before landing. First and foremost,
1. HAWAII IS PART OF THE UNITED STATES
A few times we have even been asked, “Do we need a passport?”. If you are from any of the 49 States and its territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or American Samoa then that answer is no.
2. WE DO NOT LIVE IN GRASS HUTS
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Even on the least populated Hawaiian island in its long chain, no inhabitant lives in a grass hut. Again, Hawaii is a part of the United States; we have technological advances and resources of any other state. You’d be surprised how many people think, outside of Waikiki, some Hawaiians live in grass huts.
3. NOT EVERY LOCAL IS HAWAIIAN
If you’re from California, you’re a Californian. If you’re from Virginia, you’re a Virginian. If you are from Hawaii, you’re a local. On top of that, you’re only considered a “local” if you were 1) born & raised in Hawaii or 2) lived in State for 10 years or more and call it home. Hawaiian is an ethnic group, that of which takes only 10% of the “mixed-plate” of ethnicities you will find when visiting. Don’t call everyone you see in Hawaii, Hawaiian; simple as that.
4. DO NOT STARE AT THE LOCALS
Since man began to walk upright, our gaze was able to reveal interest, respect, or challenge. Unfortunately, most locals in Hawaii don’t take prolong staring too friendly and into the latter category. Making eye contacting and occasional glances Hare okay and most of the time (90% of the island population) won’t say anything. However, just to be on the safe side, we’d recommend to try and catch yourself starting before someone else has a problem with it.
5. CHECK THE WEATHER BEFORE HIKING
What was an average day for Mary and I, was a terrible wake-up call for some friends visiting. While on a hike, they heard sirens alarming which naturally, unfamiliar to it, frightened them. Sirens are tested at the beginning of the month, usually in the first couple days, or at the latest, within the first week. They are tested regularly to ensure all areas can hear Hurricane and Tsunami warnings (primarily). Being aware of these sirens and weather warnings are extremely important before going hiking. Flash foods have been known to kill people, mostly tourist, so take heed of the warnings and only hike if weather permits.
6. READ THE WARNING SIGNS AT THE BEACH
Hawaii waves are not for the faint of heart. Countless times have we seen folks allow their small children to play in the waves without knowing how dangerous it is. Rip tides, strong currents, shore break, and jellyfish (occasional shark) warnings are capable of appearing across any given beach. Lifeguards put those signs up for a reason. Follow them.
7. RESPECT THE TURTLES AND HAWAIIAN MONK SEALS
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The Honu (turtle) and Hawaiian Monk Seal are both endangered aquatic life that sometimes makes an appearance on land. Do not touch them – it is a crime on both the state and federal front. It is illegal to kill, capture, touch or harass the honu.
8. IT SNOWS IN HAWAII (BIG ISLAND)
If you’re headed to the Big Island during the winter months, there is a high chance you will see snow up on the volcanic mountains of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. People are known to bring bodyboards, surfboards, and snowboard up to the mountains to have a little fun. However, it is quite dangerous as the ground under all the thinly packed snow is jagged lava rock. We experience about 3-5 snow storms a year.
9. DO NOT LEAVE VALUABLES IN YOUR CAR
This may be a given this may not, but just like any other location you visit: Don’t leave valuables in the car. Even though it’s an island life, don’t become too comfortable by leaving your valuables even for a few minutes to watch the sunset. Just recently, a family’s car just got broken into while watching the afternoon sunset on the beach and within 15 minutes their car was broken into with everything gone. Don’t leave anything! Even if your rental car seems like it’s hard to get into, thieves can quickly and easily break the glass. It goes without saying, always lock your car!
10. TRAFFIC HOUR
The most horrendous thing to learn about Hawaii (Oahu, specifically) is the long waits in traffic. We only have 2 major freeways that connect the busiest of areas of town to the majority of the island (this excludes the Likelike, H3, and Pali). Rush hour begins around 3:00 P.M and lasts for 3-4 hours depending on the severity of accidents. Avoid the freeways from west to town side from 5am-7am and town to the west 3pm-5pm.
I know we said 10 things to know but an here’s an extra tip for the ladies:
Where to put the flower on your ear?
Right means you’re single. Left means you’re taken. (easy way to remember: if you’re taken or married, put the flower on the same side as your ring – left.)
Lastly, show your aloha to everyone, mahalo!