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Like most vacation spots, Hawaii has a local side and a tourist side. Visitors can blur the lines of distinction by also embracing elements of the local lifestyle during their vacation. Whether clients slow down and drive with aloha or call their flip-flops “slippah,” their little efforts can help them ditch the tourist stamp and get a sense of the real Hawaii.Here’s a list of five tips for Hawaii travelers who want to follow the locals’ lead.
Attend a Free Festival or EventHawaii residents love to celebrate their culture at the many annual festivals held around the islands. Most events are open to the public, so visitors can chat with locals and get acquainted with their music, crafts, types of food and customs. Choices run the gamut, from Oahu’s big Aloha Festivals to Lanai’s laid-back Pineapple Festival. Consult the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau’s calendar for event dates and descriptions.
Check Local Papers and Websites Instead of referring to tourist-oriented publications, visitors can read island newspapers to find out where locals are going for pop-up dinners, charitable events, concerts and other happenings. Island-based magazines such as in Honolulu run annual best-of lists based on feedback from resident readers. Also, several locally-produced websites serve as good sources of online entertainment, food and nightlife news.
Dine at Local FavoritesHawaii is called a melting pot for good reason. Residents relish foods that channel the state’s many cultures. Instead of settling for familiar chain restaurants, head to local haunts such as Side Street Inn on Oahu; Sam Sato’s on Maui; Hamura Saimin on Kauai; and Tex Drive In on Hawaii Island. Or, in true island style, carry out a plate lunch from a food truck and have a picnic at a beach or park.
Learn the Correct Pronunciation of Hawaiian WordsFrom street signs and maps to restaurant menus, Hawaiian words are everywhere. Even directions draw from the Hawaiian language. For instance, “mauka” means toward the mountains, and “Makai” means toward the sea. The better that visitors pronounce Hawaiian words, the more they will fit into the island landscape. Speak Hawaiian Places is a handy app. The website Wehewehe translates Hawaiian words into English and vice versa.
Listen to Local Radio Stations Nothing evokes Hawaii’s laid-back lifestyle like the islands’s music. Plus, local radio DJs share island humor and news of upcoming events. For Hawaiian and reggae stations, Oahu visitors can listen to 98.5 KDNN, 105.1 KINE, 100.3 KCCN and 93.1 Da Paina. On Maui, try 93.5 KPOA and 92.5 KLHI. Kauai favorites are 98.9 KITH and 93.5 KQNG. Hawaii Islanders like 100.3 KAPA and 94.7 KWXX.