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Hawaii - Lifestyle & Culture

Hawaiian culture is encapsulated in the greeting “aloha”, which also refers to the prized virtues of compassion, peacefulness, mercy and affection. Although Hawaii includes a diverse mix of cultures and ethnic groups, many of the customs of the indigenous population have been embraced and absorbed into modern Hawaiian culture. The result is one of the world’s friendliest tourist destinations, renowned for the warmth, generosity and hospitality of its residents.

Customs and traditions

Hawaiians have a reputation for being relaxed and friendly. However, it’s worth remembering that the locals are forced to live with large crowds of tourists year-round.

Here are some things to keep in mind when travelling in Hawaii:

  • - Although Hawaiians prize their unique culture and heritage, they may be offended if you imply that they are not American, or that the islands are not truly part of the United States.

  • - Only Hawaiians of Polynesian stock are referred to as Hawaiians. People of other ethnic groups who were born on the island and reside there are more commonly referred to as locals.

  • - When using public transport like busses allow locals to board first. Public transport is shared between local workers and tourists, and the workers have preferential access.

  • - Some roads are closed to foreigners in rental vehicles in order to reduce traffic congestion in residential neighbourhoods.
  • - Public parking at beaches may be reserved for locals. However, local hotels frequently offer free parking to foreign visitors.

  • - Be respectful towards the environment and avoid picking up mementos on the beaches, including shells, rocks and sea sand.

  • - Tip in accordance with standards on the American mainland, with 15-20% tips the norm for restaurant servers, and tipping encouraged for bartenders, porters, room cleaning staff and taxi drivers.

  • - Hawaii is a great place to learn to surf, but make sure you surf under the guidance of a local surf instructor. Many beaches are unsuitable for beginners due to the powerful waves, strong currents and territorial local surfers.


Culture and Nightlife

Oahu, Maui and Hawai’i are the three most populous islands in Hawaii. There are plenty of nightlife options on all three islands, including beach bars, nightclubs, restaurants and cultural shows.

Here of some of the most popular spots on the islands:

  • - The Barefoot Bar on Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach is a top-notch beach bar and a great place to go for a night out. The ambience is relaxed, the dress code is beachwear and the cocktails are superb.

  • - Alan Wong’s is one of Oahu’s most popular restaurants. The venue serves up fusion Asian cuisine using local flavours and ingredients.

  • - Chef Mavro is a Honolulu institution, and the place to go if you’re in the mood for fine dining. The menu is heavily influenced by French cuisine, and is known for its excellent fresh seafood.

  • - Hali’maile General Store started its life as a gourmet deli, but now serves up one of the best lunches on the island of Maui. It’s close to several local scenic attractions and is renowned for its great pizza – which includes a couple of unusual local variations you won’t find anywhere else.

  • - If you’re in the mood for beer and chicken wings, Kona Brewing Company’s Pub and Brewery will provide you with both. Located on the island of Hawai’i, the venue has over a dozen of its own brews on tap and also serves up tasty fusion pub fare.

  • - If you’re on the Big Island of Hawai’i, the Beach Tree Bar is the premium beach bar destination. Part of the Four Seasons Resort, it’s open to all, and is a great place to watch the sunset while sipping on a fine wine from the resort’s exceptional wine list.

  • - Want to put on your dancing shoes? If you’re in Honolulu, the place to be is Zanzabar. This glitzy club has an Egyptian theme and is geared towards an upmarket crowd. The music caters to a wide variety of tastes, and the club also offers stand-up comedy, dance shows and more.