How to Live Like a Local in Hawaii

| November 11, 2012

When you book a trip to Hawaii, you’re instantly transported to the idyllic dream of swinging casually in a hammock, the sun warming your cheeks and sipping a creamy, cold cocktail to the tune of a ukulele and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s blissful tones.  For that all-important ‘hang loose’ vibe, it is important to immerse yourself in the local culture and laid-back way of life, where avoiding the masses of tourists is key.  To find out how to do this, check out our tips for going at it the native way.  Say aloha to your how-to guide to living like a local in Hawaii.

Where to go in Hawaii

Waikiki beach in Hawaii’s Honolulu region is the mecca of all beaches and one of the most famous places to go in Hawaii.  Waikiki was originally a prestigious royal retreat in the 19th century, but now attracts the majority of the State’s 6,000,000 annual visitors – not the most secluded slice of paradise, eh?  In fact, locals only really visit Waikiki when they have a friend visiting Hawaii.  Instead, they head to their nearest beach.  Also near Honolulu, a popular local spot is Kailua, where the views are better, beaches are quieter and there is no sign of tourist tat or outcries from hawkers littering the shoreline.   Alternatively, if you’re lucky and have a friend with a boat, venture out to Kaneohe Bay where you can float your way around Coconut Island with spectacular views of the Ko’olau Mountain Range.

If you’re after a little more than lazing in a lounger, take a trip from locals who like to get their heart pumping.  Hiking, watersports and other outdoor activities are usually frequented weekly by most locals.  To enjoy the panoramic views of Hawaii’s dramatic shorelines, try visiting the Waipio Valley on Big Island where the scenery is spectacular and the 25% gradient will surely get your pulse racing.

Where to eat in Hawaii

Finding places to eat in Hawaii is as easy as wandering the streets.  In Oahu, food trucks are quick and common eateries.  Try Camille’s on Wheels in Kailua, a super trendy truck serving fusion tacos inspired by global flavours, or get a shave ice to cool you down.  Resembling snow cones, shave ices are finely shaved ice with colourful flavours and ice cream or azuki beans at the bottom.

Entertain your palate and satisfy your tum by trying popular local dishes; a ‘Loco Moco’ is great if you’re really hungry.  The meaty burger placed on top of a pile of rice, topped with a friend egg and smothered in gravy may sound like an inventive student’s scrub up meal, but it is in fact a popular local dish in Hawaii and can be found almost everywhere.  They’re tasty and they’re big, so you’ll never be left wanting!  Café 100 in Hilo, Big Island, is said to have come up with the name, so head there for a truly authentic dish.

If desserts are your thing and you fancy a sweet pud, visit Kapahulu (only five minutes from Waikiki) and give hot malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts) a go before spending a night on the tiles in downtown Honolulu’s trendy Chinatown.  If you can, go on a First Friday, a public event when the streets are really buzzing with art openings, networking events and much more.

Transport in Hawaii -

To get around Hawaii, most locals drive themselves around the islands as (other than Oahu where you can take a bus), there is limited public transport.  To do the same, try hiring a campervan.  Not only does this make accommodation cheaper and get you out of the home comforts of a plush hotel, but it allows you to take your time whilst sightseeing.  By being mobile you can make your own way to various sightseeing spots and attractions in and around Hawaii, like the Volcanoes National Park, or Oahu’s North Shore for example.  There are many cheap campsites dotted about the islands, but make sure you plan in advance as some require permits.

Now we’ve done the hard part, just sit back, relax and ‘shaka’…

Flickr Credits:

paul bica


The Aimless Cook



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Category: Expert Guides

About the Author ()

She’s lived in 15 houses in 21 years, been bowled over by a silverback in Rwanda, attacked by horses in Cheltenham, skied up trees in Bavaria, crashed a moped in Thailand and buried alive in South Africa - this army-brat is made of strong stuff. The newest member of the creatively crafty content team, Laura has work published with Lonely Planet and ABTA magazine, the ASTA Network and The Sunday Times. With a bucket list to die for (excuse the pun) and a gob that won’t stop gabbing, she hopes to become a travel writer, gossiping her way around the globe.

Comments (2)

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  1. Nilknarf Mak says:

    I enjoyed reading your post above. It’s written as though you’ve spent a lot of time in the islands. Shows that you pretty much know what you’re talking about ways to blend in with the local scene when you’re visiting the Aloha State.