Sunday, August 16, 2015

7 Things You Should Know About Hawaii


I'm blessed enough to be able to call Hawai'i home. It's such a magical place. As much as I love to travel my heart feels incomplete if I go long periods of time without going home.

I noticed that there are a number of things that people don't understand about the islands. If you're taking a trip to Hawai'i sometime soon, make sure you know these seven things.

1. Different islands mean different vibes
Some islands (like Oahu) are more city while others are more country. Each island has a different feel to it. Don't assume that if you've seen one island, you've seen it all. Also, don't assume that people who live on one island will know the low-down on what's going on in another island.

It would be like if you lived in San Diego and someone asked you where something in San Fransisco is located. Totally different.

2. You have to take a plane to each island
The exception being you can take a ferry between Maui, Molokai and Lanai. These islands are clustered closely together and it's easy to take a 30 minute boat ride over. There was once a public transport ferry going between all islands, but locals protested to discontinue it. However, the plane rides between islands are incredibly short. It'll take you longer to get through security than it will to actually fly.

3. We give directions differently
You're probably used to hearing directions in terms of North, South, East and West. However, it's likely that you'll hear terms like Windward, Leeward, Mauka and Makai.

Mauka; towards the mountain
Makai: towards the ocean
Windward: The side of the island that gets trade winds. North/east side. Often more lush and wet.
Leeward: The side of the island that's more dry/hot. South/west side.

4. The dress code is WAY laid back
Of course there are places that always require shirts and shoes. However, on the islands it's not uncommon to see half-dressed, half-soaked people putting in their food order in front of you. Don't be surprised if the person behind you isn't wearing pants. They most likely just came in from the beach.

Dressing up also doesn't mean the same thing in Hawaii that it might in your hometown. Long dresses and high heels are rarely seen in Hawaii. Button-downs are almost always aloha shirts with short sleeves and slippers (or "flip-flops") are appropriate anywhere and everywhere.

5. Everyone is your auntie or uncle
I couldn't tell you who I'm actually related to by blood and who I'm not. In Hawaii, calling someone older than you "auntie" or "uncle" is a form of respect. So long as the person is at least of age to be an actual auntie or uncle. I've had visitors come in before asking me how I had so many family members across the island. I don't. It's just a way of being respectful.

For example, if you're dating someone on the island and you meet their parents you would call them auntie and uncle. This doesn't mean that you're dating your cousin and no one on the island thinks its weird.

6. Aloha Spirit is thing and you should adapt to it
People are much nicer on the island. It's just a way of life. Aloha is a Hawaiian word that translates to hello, goodbye and love. When people mention the Aloha Spirit, what they're referring to is the spirit of love. It means always show and spreading love, warmth and kindness. That means helping people out regardless of if you know them or not.

7. We care about nature
Everywhere you go in the world, there are those who care about Earth and nature. However, in Hawaii, it completely surrounds you at all times. Its beauty is undeniable, but it becomes blemished by litter. People here care about things like that because the litter always makes its way into the sea, polluting the water that everyone loves to swim in, trashing the soft sands and ruining the ocean wildlife.

Hawaii is such a small place that in any amount of litter is noticeable. We care deeply about our home and there are many locals who get outraged when they see others trashing the island. Don't litter. Just don't do it.

You might hear people say something like "malama the aina." In Hawaiian, Malama translates as "care" or "care for" and "aina" means island. What they mean is take care of and care for the island.

What do you want to know or think others should know about Hawaii before visiting? 

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