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10 Things that every new person who moves to Hawaii should know

Living in Hawaii isn’t as simple as packing your belongings, booking a flight, and sipping mai tais on the beach. You can and will most likely do precisely that—specifically, the mai-tais-on-the-beach part—but, like every other place in the globe, Hawaii has its unwritten book of codes, rituals, and expressions that can take years to acquire. List Sotheby’s International Realty representatives Drew Read and Sandra “Nina” Thompson collaborated to compile this list of ten items that new or incoming residents should be aware of.

Aloha forever!


“The definition of ‘living aloha’ is simply being courteous, loving, and kind not only to yourself and other people, but also to the natural environment and creatures on land and in the ocean,” Read explains. “Living aloha means being kind to the ina (land) that gives us with all of our natural beauty and food, as well as being kind to one other on packed roadways and in the surf.”

Take a Drive


“Drive around the island at various times of day. “Take your time driving through neighborhoods, going into local stores, and simply experiencing the community around you,” Thompson advises. “And by all means, make the commute from your neighborhood to your office—you’ll need to get used to it.” Please do not beep your horn!”

Brush Up on your Pidgin

If you’re visiting Hawaii for the first time, be prepared to be bombarded with phrases and terms that may or may not make sense to you. Many Hawaiians speak Hawaiian pidgin English, while terms and phrases from lelo Hawaii (Hawaiian language) are also common in the Islands. Grinds (food or a meal), howzit (a mixture of the words “how,” “is,” and “it”), shots (agreeing with something, or as a replacement for “yes”), and pau (a Hawaiian word used when you’ve finished something or a chore) are other popular words.

 Hawaiian Time

“Hawaiian time is to let go and relax, knowing that things will happen when they happen, not right away,” adds Read. “When folks are late for an appointment or meeting, it is because they are on Hawaiian time.”

The Rule of Barefootness

It may appear strange, but wearing shoes inside the house is illegal in Hawaii. This unspoken rule of barefootness extends back to plantation days, thanks to a mash-up of cultural customs passed down to us by Chinese, Filipino, and Japanese immigrants, so follow suit and contribute to the pile of shoes and slippahs at the threshold.

Locals, Hawaiians, and Kamaina


Understanding the many labels is critical for Hawaiians, so listen carefully. The name “Hawaiian” should only be applied to people with genuine Hawaiian blood pouring through their veins. A “local,” on the other hand, a ” local ” phrase can be applied to any Hawaiian, regardless of race. Finally, “kamaina,” which means “child or person of the land” in Hawaiian, can refer to anyone who has lived in the Islands for a long time.

Hawaiian Geography 101

“Understanding the geography of the Islands, for example, its different locations, names and phrases used to define a location—town, country, ewa (west, in the direction of the Ewa region), Diamond Head, Koko Head, mauka (inland), and makai (toward the ocean),” writes Read. “For example, ‘We are waiting for you on the ewa side of Kaimana Beach,’ or ‘The hotel is on the Diamond Head side of Waikk and on the makai side of Ki Avenue.”

Respect Your Neighbor

“Live by the Golden Rule and treat others the way you want to be treated,” Thompson advises. “Because we live on a small island where everyone knows everyone, please be respectful.” Hawaii is our home, and it may become yours as well.”

Dress in an Island-Style


As pleasant as our tropical weather is, there are days in Hawaii when the humidity is so high that even walking a block leaves you drenched and sticky. That means you can dress down in your nicest slippahs or slippers (but never flip-flops), aloha shirts, and rompers. Wearing anything other than business casual is unusual in the Islands.

Everyone’s an Auntie or Uncle

When you first arrive in the Islands, you might imagine everyone has large extended families full of aunts and uncles. However, the terms “auntie” and “uncle” have been adopted by Hawaiians to refer to someone who is at least a generation older than them. And if you’re nice enough, you might one day become an auntie or uncle yourself.

Why should you visit Hawaii once in your life?

Maris Lopez
Maris Lopezhttp:////
Hey there! I'm Maris, an American girl who is passionate about adventure, the outdoors and all things travel!


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