things to remember when moving to hawaii
Kailua Beach Park, Oahu

Before you sell all of your belongings and decide that you can move to Hawaii and make it a reality, there are a few things you should know/consider.  Yes, it’s paradise but that doesn’t mean everyone can do it.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re making your decision to move to Hawaii.  Don’t worry…they’re easy to remember and well worth the effort.

1.  Living in Hawaii Doesn’t Make You Hawaiian


Hawaiian is a race.  Even if you’re born here it doesn’t make you Hawaiian.  It makes you a local.  If you move to Spain that doesn’t make you Spanish.  However, you can move to Spain and be Hawaiian.  Don’t call yourself Hawaiian, it’s disrespectful. (Unless, you’re actually Hawaiian).   You’re probably a haole.  Don’t worry about it, though.  It’s not a bad thing, in my opinion.  Learn the culture of the islands.  Respect the land, laws and customs.  Make some friends. Be yourself.  The locals will love that you’re making an effort and enjoying the land.

2.  They’re Islands

More Islands shots from Moku Nui.
More Islands shots from Moku Nui.

Island living takes a little getting used to.  You’re surrounded by water.  The mainland is about 5 to 6 hours away by plane.  It’s the United States, but different.  The islands end quickly.  There are no road trips.  If you’re not ready for it, then Island Fever can strike hard when you least expect it.  Chill out, though.  It will pass.

Make the Islands bigger by exploring every beach, swimming spot, snorkeling location, hiking trail, attraction and restaurant that you can.  To me, the best things about the Islands are that they are concentrated awesomeness.  So much packed into so little land.

3.  Chill Out


You gotta’ be aloha.   It means hello. It means goodbye.  Aloha is a way of life.  It’s a respect, a love and a feeling of chill.  It’s caring and being pleasant to everyone.  (Something this Mass-hole wasn’t accustomed to.)

The culture of aloha is calming and nature loving.  It’s a deep respect for other people, other creatures and the land.  Embrace it and it will change your life.

4.  Slow Down

slow down

Everything is a little slower.  From life to mail to shopping online.  The traffic moves slower.  Lines in stores and at coffee shops move a little slower.  That being said, it’s easy to get used to once you realize that things are moving slower because people are actually smiling and being pleasant to each other.  They’re not stressed.  There is no constantly scared and worried look.  Life is just slower…making it easier to enjoy.

5.  Keep Your Eye Out for Fresh Fruit

Papaya Trees at Byodo-In Temple Oahu
Papaya Trees at Byodo-In Temple Oahu

Seriously…parking in Lanikai and walking to the beach I was picking mangos.  Hiking on the Wiliwilinui Trail and the Moanalua Valley I was picking guava.  It’s awesome.  That being said, don’t enter people’s yards to pick fruit.  They get upset.  However, if you’re pleasant and ask nicely, then people are usually happy to let you pick a fruit or two.  I’m even growing papaya in my backyard.  Awesomeness!

6.  Don’t Even Bother Memorizing Highway, Interstate or Route Numbers


The people don’t use the road numbers.  They use direction.  Now that took got some getting used to!  If I said “H1 West”, I got laughed at.  First of all, it’s not “H1”, it’s “THE H1”.  And it’s not “west” or “east”, either.  It’s the direction you’re traveling from where you’re at.  If you’re in Central Oahu and you’re heading towards Waikiki then you’re heading “Diamond Head”.  I think…

I’m still trying to get used to that little nuance, myself.  Oh, and there is no H201…even though the interstate signs says there is.  It’s all “the H1.”

7.  Almost Anything Can Grow and Live in Hawaii



That includes plants, fruits, flowers, critters, insects, insects and insects.  Things get loose in Hawaii and they may multiply and set up home in the Islands.  It’s one of the reasons why there are such strict agricultural and animal import regulations.  If it gets into the land…it will probably thrive.  (It’s paradise, after all.)

At one time they brought in mongoose to kill rats.  It backfired.  Rats are nocturnal and mongooses are most active during the day.  However, I’ve never seen a rat in Hawaii but mongooses are everywhere and now everyone wants them gone (they eat the eggs of native birds and cause other problems).

8.  808 Rules



In the rest of the United States people take pride in the city they are from, the county they live in and even the zip code of their location.  In Hawaii, though, it’s all about the 808.  The area code of Hawaii is consistent throughout the entire state…on all of the Islands.  It’s a calling card for “this takes place in Hawaii, dammit and it’s awesome”.  It’s even a hashtag

9.  Time is Constant

Gorgeous sunsets on Leeward Oahu.

Don’t worry about changing your clocks or watch.  There is no daylight savings time.  It’s Hawaii Standard Time all the time.  It’s so chill and relaxed here that you don’t even have to be bothered with losing that critical hour of rest when it’s time to change.

10.  Get a Hawaiian License or Join the Military


Unless you’re military then it would be in your best interest to get a Hawaiian license as soon as you can.  It will open you up to a lot of discounts or kama’aina rates.  Don’t be afraid to whip it out.  Get your car registered and the plates changed as soon as you can, too.  You’re a big, haole beacon driving around the Islands with Massachusetts plates.

11. Flip-Flops are Slippers


Yeah, I don’t get it either, but that’s the way it is.  You’ll walk around in your slippers.  Not your flip-flops.  Never your flip-flops.  If you even say flip-flops you’ll probably be laughed at.  Don’t wear flip-flops.  Never say “flip-flops”.

12.  SPAM Rules the Protein War


SPAM rules in Hawaii.  It’s like the state’s unofficial steak.  And believe, me, it’s hard to get a good steak on the Islands.  There is a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Honolulu but it’s a touristy place.  Do yourself a favor:  Order a SPAM, fried rice and egg breakfast at the first place you find that has it.  It will rock your world and you’ll never understand why you didn’t eat SPAM your whole life.

13.  Dressing Hawaiian Doesn’t Mean You Are a Tourist


It’s actually how the people dress.  They were the Hawaiian shirts.  The shorts and the flip-flop…err…slippers.  It’s not touristy in the bit and you shouldn’t shy away from wearing them.  Embrace it!

14.  Learn a Little Pidgin


Or whatever it is they’re speaking at the location you’re at.  I’ve been in places where people were talking to me in a mixture of English, Hawaiian, Pidgin/Creole cornucopia of a language.  Don’t force the dialect…you’ll just look weird.  It’s better to learn it and recognize what’s being said and return in your way…(remember be yourself)…if you hear da kine and brah…then know what’s being said.

15.  Enjoy Your New Ohana

Ruby and Jerel Okumura

Ohana means “family” in Hawaii but in a little bit deeper, sort of way.  If you can respect the Islands, the people, the culture and the history then you’re going to be accepted and welcomed.  You’re new Ohana will be enjoyable  and you’ll be closer to them then your real family in many ways.  The older ladies will become your “auntie” and your friends become your cousins.