INFORMATION FOR HAWAII VISITORS
* THE STATE OF HAWAII - Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states. It was admitted to the Union in August 21, 1959, and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. The Hawaiian Islands are an archipelago of eight major islands, several atolls, numerous smaller islets, and undersea seamounts in the North Pacific Ocean. Situated some 2,000 mi (3,200 km) southwest of the North American mainland, Hawaii is the southernmost state of the United States and the second westernmost state after Alaska. Only Hawaii and Alaska do not share a border with another U.S. state. Hawaii is the only state of the United States that is not geographically located in North America, grows coffee, is completely surrounded by water, is entirely an archipelago, has royal palaces, and does not have a straight line in its state boundary. The eight main islands of Hawaii and their nicknames are:
1) Oahu (The Gathering Place) - is the most populated of the Hawaiian Islands. Hawaii's capital city of Honolulu is here. Honolulu is the center of Hawaiian business and commercial interests. Honolulu is home to Hawaii's major port and airport. Attractions include, Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head and Pearl Harbor. To learn more about this island click on The Gathering Place
2) Hawaii (The Big Island) - The island of Hawaii is divided into two areas, Kona on the western side and Hilo on the eastern side. Hawaii's Volcanoes National Park is home to the world's most active volcano, Kilauea. Snow-capped Mount Mauna Kea is 2,500 feet above sea level and offers snow skiing. Hawaii is known for its Kona coffee, orchids and macadamia nut production. To learn more about this island click on The Big Island
3) Kauai (The Garden Isle) - is the most natural of the islands, with its lush vegetation and untouched areas. Visitors enjoy Hanalei Bay, Wailua River and the Waimea Canyon. Kauai offers many hiking trails and is the most relaxed island of the four main tourist islands. To learn more about this island click on The Garden Isle
4) Kahoolawe (The Target Isle) - is uninhabited because the U.S. Navy and Air Force used this island as target practice for weapons. Currently, the island is being cleaned of explosive hardware, and no admittance is allowed on the island without permission from the U.S. government. To learn more about this island click on The Target Isle
5) Lanai (The Pineapple Isle) - is 140 square miles and is formerly known as the Pineapple Island. Lanai is home to two new resorts and is converting from agriculture to tourism. To learn more about this island click on The Pineapple Isle
6) Maui (The Valley Isle) - has black sand beaches and is home to the largest volcano crater in the world, Haleakala. The Road to Hana twists its way through mountains and valleys teaming with waterfalls. The old whaling town of Lahaina offers shops and restaurants overlooking ocean bay views. The Seven Sacred Pools are on Maui. To learn more about this island click on The Valley Isle
7) Molokai (The Friendly Isle) - is known for its cattle ranching and the world's highest sea cliffs. To learn more about this island click on The Friendly Isle
8) Niihau (The Forbidden Isle) - Niihau is according to Hawaiian legend, the original home of the goddess, Pele, who is believed to have created the Hawaiian Islands. This privately owned island is known for its livestock farming. To learn more about this island click on The Forbidden Isle
* POPULATION OF HAWAII - As of 2010, Hawaii has an estimated population of 1,360,301 and 24.7% of the population of Hawaii are Caucasians. The Asian population of the state is 38.6% and the three largest ancestry groups are: Filipinos (13.6%), Japanese (12.6%), and Polynesian (9.0%).
* PIDGIN - Pidgin is a local dialect spoken in the islands. It is like slang English with a heavy accent. It takes getting used to to be able to understand what is being said. Pidgin originated as a form of communication used between English speaking residents and non-English speaking immigrants in Hawaii. It supplanted the pidgin Hawaiian used on the plantations and elsewhere in Hawaii. It has been influenced by many languages, including Portuguese, Hawaiian, and Cantonese. As people of other language backgrounds were brought in to work on the plantations, such as Japanese, Filipinos, and Koreans, Pidgin acquired words from these languages. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Pidgin started to be used outside the plantation between ethnic groups. Public school children learned Pidgin from their classmates, and eventually it became the primary language of most people in Hawaii, replacing the original languages. For this reason, linguists generally consider Hawaiian Pidgin to be a creole language.
* HULA - is a sinuous Hawaiian native dance with intricate arm movements that tell a story in pantomime. The two main categories of Hula are 'Auana' and 'Kahiko'. Ancient hula, as performed before Western encounters with Hawaii, is called kahiko. It is accompanied by chant and traditional Hawaiian instruments. Hula as it evolved under Western influence, in the 19th and 20th centuries, is called auana (a word that means "to wander or drift"). It is accompanied by song and Western-influenced musical instruments such as the guitar, the ukulele, and the double bass. For the basics of dancing the Hula, click on How To Hula Dance
* FLOWER LEIS - a lei is a Hawaiian word for a garland or wreath. More loosely defined, a lei is any series of objects strung together with the intent to be worn. The most popular concept of a lei in Hawaiian culture is a wreath of flowers draped around the neck presented upon arriving or leaving as a symbol of affection. A flower lei can be given on any day as a symbol of love and friendship. A lei may be composed of a pattern or series of just about anything, but most commonly consists of fresh natural foliage such as flowers, leaves, vines, fern fronds, and seeds. The most commonly used flowers are those of plumerias, tuberose, carnations, orchids, and pikake, though maile leaves, ferns, and ti leaves are extremely popular as well as traditional among hula dancers. Other types of lei may include sea or land shells, fish teeth, bones, feathers, plastic flowers, fabric, paper (including origami and monetary bills), candy, or anything that can be strung together in a series or pattern and worn as a wreath or a necklace. The Hawaiian Island of Ni'ihau is famous for its lei made of tiny gem-like shells. A single flower is also worn by Women behid their ears. One that is worn behind the left ear means you are taken, behind the right means you are available. To view images of the different kinds of Hawaiian Leis, click on Hawaiian Leis
* SHAKA SIGN - The shaka sign is a common greeting gesture. It consists of extending the thumb and smallest finger while keeping the three middle fingers curled, and raising the hand as in salutation with the back of the hand facing the person that is being greeted; sometimes the hand is rotated back and forth to emphasize the sign. This is a form of greeting and also means the same as a thumbs up. Hawaiian locals use the shaka to convey what locals in Hawaii call the "Aloha Spirit", a gesture of friendship and understanding between the various ethnic cultures that reside within Hawaii, and thus it does not have a direct semantic to literal translation. Depending on context it can also be used to communicate notions such as "all right", "cool", "smooth", and the like. Click on The Shaka Sign to learn more about it.
* VISITING HOMES & GIFTS - When visiting a home, it is considered good manners to bring a small gift (for example, a dessert) for one's host. Thus, parties are usually in the form of potlucks. Most locals take their shoes off before entering a home, with haole (caucasian) residents being the occasional exception. A shoe rack on the porch or footwear left outside a doorway of a residence indicate that shoes should be removed. Rubber slippers and sandals are a popular and practical footwear in the islands. The offering of food is related to the gift-giving culture. The pidgin phrases "Make plate" or "Take plate" are common in gatherings of friends or family that follow a potluck format. It is considered good manners to "make plate", literally making a plate of food from the available spread to take home, or "take plate", literally taking a plate the host of the party (or the aunties running the kitchen) has made of the available spread for easy left-overs. It is gracious to take the plate, or make a small plate, even if you don't intend to eat it. In part, this tradition is related to clean-up, being a good guest by not leaving the mass of left-overs at the party-throwers house and making them alone responsible for clean up. In more recent times, this has also evolved into donating your left-overs to the homeless population, especially if you're having a get-together at a public park or similar location, as it is likely there is a homeless population living nearby as well.
* RENTING & DRIVING A CAR - The islands are pretty easy to get around on. There are major roadways that will take you along beautiful coastlines, to waterfalls, through rainforests, and even to a live volcano! When renting a car the rental agent will provide you with a map of the island. For ease in driving around it is advisable to bring along a portable GPS. If you have any specific activities in mind ask the rental car agent to circle your destinations on your map. There are also maps with popular attractions noted in free guide magazines available at the airport, hotels travel desks, and on Waikiki curb sides. International visitors to Hawaii will encounter difficulties when trying to rent a car if all they bring as a proof of a license is an International License and do not also bring their country issued license. An International License looks similar to a passport but is brown in color and has the persons country issued drivers license information translated into many different languages. The International License is only meant to be used to assist in translating the information on the license and is not in itself a valid drivers license. A valid country issued drivers license is still required in order to rent a car and without one you will not be able to rent a car. In some places it can be dangerous driving at night. Some streets are not well lit and are very winding. For your safety, limit driving long distances at night. A few items to have with you when going on an island driving adventure are: beverages, snacks, full tank of gas, tissue paper (in case the rest stop is out), map, proper clothing and footwear for each of your destinations, camera with extra film, and sunscreen. Do not leave valuables in your rental car.
* WHALE WATCHING - is a popular past time in the islands, especially from December to April. It is during this period that the "Kohola", the Hawaiian Humpback whale, swim from their Alaskan feeding grounds to the warm waters of Hawaii. The whales journey across vast oceans, navigating by instinct alone. Hawaii is their winter home, a place to play, to give birth and to start new generations. These whales travel an incredible 3,000 miles of ocean in less than two-months time. Their annual migration delights both visitors and residents alike during the peak of their numbers between January and early April. Weighing up to 45 tons, these whales can be graceful acrobats. Seeing a humpback whale “breach” the ocean by propelling its 45-foot long body out of the sea is a spectacular event. Their mysterious whale song is yet another intriguing trait of male humpback whales. These complex songs can be heard underwater from up to twelve miles away. Whale-watching tours let you see Hawaii’s humpbacks for yourself. Regulations forbid boats from approaching within 100 yards of a whale, but you’ll still get close enough to marvel at these magnificent creatures. You can whale watch from every island, but the calm, clear waters of the Auau Channel between Maui, Molokai, and Lanai may be one of the best places in the world to see Hawaii’s humpbacks. If you don’t go on a boat tour, you can often see whales from the shore. Remember to keep your eyes open during the height of whale watching season. In 1998 the Pacific Whale Foundation reported 352 individual whales in Hawaii's waters and recorded the songs of 42 different whales. To learn more about this animal, click on The Humpback Whale
* PROTECTING MARINE CREATURES, BIRDS, & ANIMALS - You can help protect Hawaii's unique marine creatures and habitat by having a experience without handling, feeding, or removing sea creatures from the ocean. Just relax and enjoy the amazing environment happening naturally, you never know what you may see. It is unlawful to approach or touch Humpback Whales, Hawaiian Monk Seals, and Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. These animals are endangered and your contact could injure or cause sickness to the creatures. The Hawaiian Islands are the home to many animals that may cross the road. Please drive cautiously, especially at night. Signs are posted in areas where certain animals cross frequently. You may encounter Hawaii's State bird the Nene (Hawaiian Goose). It is a very aggressive bird and will defend it's nest and young. They have the right of way anywhere in the State. Because they are endangered it is unlawful to approach or touch a Nene. Admire these amazing creatures from a distance for everyone's safety.
* USE OF CELLULAR PHONES - It is illegal to use your cellular phone without a handsfree devise while driving. This includes dialing the phone, answering the phone, texting, or playing games/music on the phone. You are not permitted to do any of these activities while in the drivers seat of a vehicle, even if you are pulled off the side of the road. So far, about $1.6 million in fines have been paid by violators in the state’s four counties. Honolulu’s fine for use of handheld cell phones while driving increased to $147 as of July 1, 2011. Honolulu has considered an amendment to its handheld electronics law that would include pedestrians crossing streets.
* TREATING SUNBURN - apply aloe lotion with Lidocaine. This blue gel by Banana Boat is sold at island stores along side the sun screen. Be sure to choose the aloe lotion with Lidocaine. This ingredient will numb the pain of the burn. The most effective protection against sunburn is wearing waterproof sunscreen SPF 15 or higher whenever in the sun. The ocean, pool, and sweat will wash away non-waterproof sunscreen and you will burn if you are not careful. The sun is very strong in Hawaii, the strongest between 11am to 2pm. If you have no base tan limit your expose to direct sunlight to 45 minutes - 1 hour, or 2 hours if you have a nice base tan . Please note some people have allergic reactions to Lidocaine but for most people it provides amazing relief from sunburn pain.
* BREAKFAST AT McDONALD's - In the United States it is only in the State of Hawaii where McDonald's fastfood restaurants serve steamed white rice for breakfast. The following are the 3 choices available:
- Rice with Portuguese sausage, and scrambled eggs ($3.69)
- Rice with spam, and scrambled eggs ($3.69)
- Local Deluxe Breakfast: Rice with Portuguese sausage, spam, and scrambled eggs ($4.89)
Portrayed in the above photo is one of the choices for breakfast which consists of rice, Portuguese sausage, and scrambled eggs. A cup of coffee for senior citizens is just $0.85. Also available are noodles which are referred to as "saimin" and which is a little similar to our "mami" in the Philippines.
* FRESH PINEAPPLES - Whether you enjoy your pineapple in the islands or in the comfort of your home, when selecting a fresh pineapple the skin should be yellow in color and should smell sweet. The night before you want to enjoy the pineapple break the top off then turn the pineapple upside-down on to a plate and place in the refrigerator. The sweetest juice settles in the bottom of the pineapple. When you turn it over the sweet juice on the bottom is distributed through out the entire pineapple! Pineapple not only tastes delicious but it is very good for your digestion system too. If your pineapple has an acid bite to it sprinkle a little salt on it. It takes the bite away and leaves the pineapple tasting sweet. To learn how to prepare and cut a pineapple, click on Pineapple Cutting
* SONGS & MUSIC OF HAWAII - The music of Hawaii includes an array of traditional and popular styles, ranging from native Hawaiian folk music to modern rock and hip hop. Traditional Hawaiian folk music is a major part of the state's musical heritage. The Hawaiian people have inhabited the islands for centuries and have retained much of their traditional musical knowledge. If you will soon be visiting Hawaii you might as well start acquainting yourself with Hawaiian songs and music and the following is a sampling which you might want to check out:
- This Is Aloha
- I Missed You My Hawaii
- Nohili E
- A Hawaiian Like Me
- In This Life
- Hawaiian Wedding Song
- I'll Remember You
- The One They Call Hawaii
- Aloha Oe'
- Lovely Hula Hands
- Aloha Ka Manini
- Hanohano Ka Lei Pïkake
- E Ku'u Morning Dew
- E O Mai
- Ku'u Lei Awapuhi
- Lei Kui
- Mr. Sun Cho Lee
- Christmas Once Again in Honolulu
I never get tired listening to the songs listed above and I am sure you will enjoy these as well.