Locals in Hawaii are a whole separate species (I say that as a Hawaii local). When you go to visit a place you usually want to fit in with the locals. Hawaii is a place where that is a little more tricky to do that without a little help. Here are some tips to help you blend in with Hawaii locals.
Don’t Buy Tacky Aloha Wear
Locals do not wear aloha print from the ABC store or Walmart. When a local is wearing Hawaiian print clothing, it is often considered dressing up. So naturally, the clothing is more quality than what you can find at a convenience store. If you want to fit in with your aloha attire, buy your Hawaiian print outfits from stores like Maunahealii, Manaola, and Reyn Spooner. It will cost you a decent buck, but you will fit in with the locals seamlessly.
Pro-tip: try to avoid the tacky fake flower lei and hairpieces as well (rainbow is just not normal). If you want to wear a fake flower in your hair opt for a more real-life looking flower. Locals do wear fake pua (flower) in their hair/ears, but they are usually subtle and make onlookers unsure if they are real or fake flowers. Some local stores will carry these fake flowers.
Stop Asking for Soy Sauce
No one calls it soy sauce in Hawaii, almost all locals call it shoyu. You never hear a local ask for soy sauce with their sushi. So if you want to blend in, next time you get sushi ask if they have shoyu instead of soy sauce.
Don’t Call Them Flip-flops
The footwear that many people call flip-flops are called slippers in Hawai’i. Nothing ousts a non-local more than simply using the word flip-flops to describe your shoes. In Hawai’i most people do not wear “house slippers” it is just too hot for that and many families have a no-shoe policy in the home. So don’t feel weird using the word slippers. If you want to fit in, call them slippers, no one will do a double-take, except maybe initial shock that you know what to call your footwear.
Ask for the Bathroom
The term restroom is often used in proper settings, even in Hawaii. However, the bathroom, is the common word used for that room by Hawaii locals. Asking where the bathroom is will have you fitting in so well. There are also slangs for number 1 and number 2 in Hawaii so that might be something you want to look up as well.
Don’t Say Aloha or Mahalo
Many locals do not speak the Hawaiian language. There are a few locals who do and regularly, but most of us just speak plain English with some Hawaii slang mixed in. Unless you are from Hawaii or speak the language I would recommend not using the words “aloha” or “mahalo”. By all means, if you want to speak Hawaiian words go for it. However; if you might stick out even more by attempting to speak Hawaiian. If you do decide to try it out, pay attention to how locals pronounce the words. Nothing screams I am not local like not knowing how to say basic Hawaiian words.
Oftentimes locals will be able to distinguish non-locals by their incorrect pronunciation of Hawaiian words. If you really want to learn how to pronounce different places with good Hawaiian pronunciation take a ride on the city bus. (Even locals pronounce certain place names incorrectly, but The Bus has it right).
Add the Word Yeah to the End of Your Phrases and Questions
If there is one word Hawaii locals use a lot it is the word “yeah”. We use it as a response instead of the word “yes”. When we are asking a question we put it at the end, so we can confuse mainlanders, “It’s raining yeah?” We use it when we are excited as a sort of “way to go”. Basically, just add yeah to anything you want to say. If you want to speak proper English, good for you, but don’t be alarmed by how often the locals use this word.
Being courteous is having that aloha spirit people talk about. Locals from Hawaii are known for being kind and gracious. I admit there are some really unkind people especially when it comes to interactions with non-locals, but the best thing you can do is respect those around you. If you are courteous to those around you and show locals that you want to respect their home, they have no reason to be rude to you (they still might be, but that can’t be helped). Nothing offsets a local more than an entitled visitor. The best way to experience Hawaii is to get in with the locals, so treat them well because they do know the best spots.
Where are you from? Are you from Hawaii? If so what are your top tips for blending in with Hawaii locals? Leave a comment below
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