12 Things to Know about Hawaii

Hawaii is extraordinary. Whether you’re visiting the state for two short weeks or planning a move, it’s important to have a basic understanding of certain, unspoken island truths. This article details twelve important pieces of island advice.

Protect Your Skin

Hawaii’s sun paints some of the world’s most scenic sunrises and sunsets. It fills each day with welcomed warmth and joy. In Hawaii, the sun shines bright making skin protection vital. Before you visit Hawaii, be sure to bring: sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses. These basic necessities will keep your vacation sunny and fun.

Sacred Land

Hawaii’s land is sacred to locals and the indigenous people who call Hawaii home. When you arrive on the island remember this land is more than a place, it’s God to many people. Treat each island with respect. Recognize you are a visitor. If a road sign reads “Kapu”, keep out. This is holly land forbidden because it is so sacred. Please, respect the land.

Rain or Shine

On the island, it rains nearly every day, multiple times a day. Do not let rain prevent you from exploring. When in Hawaii it’s best to embrace the wet weather, with an understanding showers will quickly clear. Remember, you are in the tropics. The jungle thrives on rain. Besides, rain comes with rainbows.

Hitchhiking is Normal

On the islands, hitchhiking is common (especially on the Big Island). Travelers and locals use hitchhiking as a mode of public transit. Don’t be shocked if a stranger asks you for a ride. On the island, hitchhiking is generally perceived as safe and normal way to get about. If you decide to hitch a ride, know the daytime is best. Always be thankful and spread the aloha!

The Language

English is the primary language but Hawaiian is also spoken. Hawaii is the only American state that has two official native languages. While unofficial, pidgin is also spoken. Pidgin is made up of a number of different languages: Hawaiian, English, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and island slang. If you’re a visitor, do not try to speak pidgin (it will come across as condescending and strange). Instead, learn some basic but important Hawaiian words like: Mahalo, Aloha, Ohana, Akua, and Kapu.

Take off your Shoes

In Hawaii, it’s an unspoken rule to remove your shoes before entering someone’s home. Take off your shoes and leave them outside. This practice helps keep the home clean (a difficult task on the island). Further, it’s a symbol of respect. As a general rule, if you notice a shoe rack or shoes outside a building, removes your shoes too. People are often barefoot, bring a pair of slippers (flip-flops) to the islands so you can easily slip your shoes off-on.

Stay Dry

Hawaii’s climate is ideal for growth and life. It’s ample water, lush jungles, and rich soil make it the perfect place for countless organisms, including mold and bacteria. If you want your things to stay mold free it’s important you keep them dry. If you have an open wound, follow this same advice. Bacteria and infection spread much faster in the tropics. Open wounds must be properly, treated, kept dry, and concealed.

Trading is Common

Trading isn’t common everywhere on the island, but if you step away from the tourist attractions, you will find it quite normal.  Locals trade a lot – work for lodging – fruit for baked goods – bamboo for beer. On the island, products are expensive inspiring many people to trade. In rural areas, where work is hard to come by, trade is common place.

Food is Expensive and Free

On the mainland cherries and peaches are easy to come by, this is not the case on the island. Produce from the mainland is exponentially expensive and food is generally pricey. When on the island, shop local and gather your own food. There is no reason to be hungry in Hawaii – food is wildly abundant in the natural landscape! Farmers markets are a great place to find healthy, bountiful produce at a fair price.

Island Time

Time is different on the island. For some people, it ceases to exist. Hawaii is a place to slow down, breathe. This ideology expands past your vacation and is simply a part of Hawaiian life. Do not worry about being promptly on time or stress about running late, locals understand. Follow this same mentality when driving, especially in rural areas. When the road is open, give the car in front of you a liberal amount of space.

Every Island is Different

All of the islands have an entirely unique feeling, which will impact your experience. When you island hop, you will notice a change in energy almost instantly. It’s important you respect each island’s vibration understanding your experience on Maui will not be the same as Oahu. Approaching each island with an open heart and 0 expectations will make your trip substantially more rewarding.

You’ll be back

If you have Aloha, you will return to the island. Hawaii has a way of slipping into your consciousness refusing to leave. When you return to the mainland (or wherever) your heart will call for the island, constantly in the back of your mind. At some point, you will answer the island’s call.

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