Since I’ve moved to Hawaii I always seem to get the same, “Do you love it there? I bet it’s amazing!” reaction. And it’s usually from friends/family that have scrolled through their Instagram or Pinterest feeds and see nothing but glamorous, Photoshopped pictures of palm trees and aqua water. When all you see are those types of pictures, how can you not assume that I’ve I won the lottery to an island paradise, right? But let’s be honest for a second. Every place has good and bad and “paradise” is relative.
Your paradise might be a Hawaiian beach but my paradise is actually sitting in a fancy, skyrise above the world. I also grew up in San Diego so maybe it’s just been easy for me to take the beach for granted; it’s been kind of a “been there done that” deal for me. I’ve just never been a beach person to be truthful but you’ll still catch me at the beach anyway, sitting there awkwardly under the sun, and unsure what I’m doing there or how I got there. Everyone loves a good sport and I’ve had to be on many occasions. Is it really that strange though? I can’t be alone on this.
So, besides the nice beaches, here’s what I’ve found on the island of Oahu.
- It rains and it gets cold so the idea that you don’t need a jacket on the island is a complete lie! The problem is it’s impossible to predict when you’ll need a light jacket or hoodie so it’s smart to have one tucked away in your car, just in case. I learned this the hard way.
- Ever wonder how SPAM has managed to stay in business all this time? It’s probably because of Hawaii. You can get Spam, Portuguese sausage, rice, eggs, taro pie, and saimen noodles, at the local McDonald’s. Check out the menu at my local McDonald’s in Wahiawa. The locals love Spam so much that there’s even a Spam Jam in Waikiki every year! I can’t say anything, I love Spam musubi! The first week that I got here I swear I ate it everyday. If you find one locally made by Mr. Musubi, buy it, eat it, love it!
- Traffic in Honolulu and Waikiki sucks and starts around 4 PM. There’s also this weird period around lunch where cars stockpile on the roads. How you have enough time to hop in your car and get lunch on a lunch break in Honolulu traffic is a mystery to me.
There are a lot of homeless people roaming around even with Hawaii’s 3% unemployment rate. They’re everywhere! Be careful around banyan trees and parks because you might be disturbing someone’s home.
- There’s a rich immersion of Asian culture on the island. You’ll probably see more Japanese tourists around than Hawaiian locals. There’s a huge Asian presence in Hawaii: Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Vietnamese. What does this mean? You get to partake in all their public events, duh silly!
The picture on my homepage was actually taken at the 2016 Lantern Floating, in Honolulu. This Japanese tradition to honor loved ones who have passed on was beautiful! I’m pretty lucky to have been able to go. There’s also the Chinese New Year festival in China Town every year. Yes, I bought my typical “touristy” things this year: a lucky waving cat, a marionette dragon puppet, and a Year of the Monkey shirt.
- There’s a strong holistic community out here. Reiki masters, people who collect crystals and study the supernatural, groups that focus on dreams and visions, you name it.
- Island time is a real thing! The locals have no problem reminding you, too. As the bumper sticker goes: slow down! This isn’t the mainland!
- Haole (how-lee) Hate is a real thing? I hear from friends that they’ve had problems with some of the locals but to be honest, I haven’t experienced it personally yet. I’ve met rude locals but, really, there are rude and crazy people everywhere! There are racists everywhere, too. Every group has another group that hates their guts; it’s just a fact of being human.
I say, if you love the sun and the outdoors, you’ll love Hawaii. You can easily go paddle boarding, surfing, diving, spear fishing, hiking, or swimming. You can visit historical sites, rent scooters, ride ATVs or horses at a ranch. Just remember, it’s not all about the beaches. There are other things to do if you’re like me and don’t really care for the beach. Sure, it’s hard to avoid when Oahu is just one huge beach, but there are things at the beaches here that you won’t see on the mainland. So even if you’re not a beach lover, check them out anyway. There’s big night life in downtown Honolulu and Waikiki, plenty of shopping, and historical places to visit. The only palace in the U.S. actually exists right on Oahu. There’s also the Dole Plantation that’s not near the beach or the Polynesian Cultural Center. If you like art, my favorite place to go is the Honolulu Museum of Art. If it were closer to where I live, I’d definitely join as a member and go more often.
Check out this turtle just hanging out in North Shore. I was at the beach in Waikiki a few weekends ago and saw Angel fish just swimming around us.
If you visit Oahu and find you still don’t know what the heck you should do on the island, check out Honolulu Magazine’s newcomer’s guide.
So far, it’s been cool living in Hawaii and I can’t wait to see where I end up next.