21 Things People From the Mainland Don’t Understand About Honolulu

When you live in Hawaii, your couch inevitably serves as a place for visitors to crash/a launching point for friends who just moved to the island, but thanks to certain Adam Sandler and Russell Brand movies, people arrive with preconceived ideas about life in Hawaii. Here are 21 things you’ll have to shed a light on for FOB (fresh off the boat) friends.

1. We don’t wear shoes in the house

Really, never. Always take off your shoes before entering a home.

2. Saying "ohana," "mahalo," and "honu" doesn't make you sound local

"Family," "thank you," and "sea turtle" in good old-fashioned English get the point across.

3. We don’t all eat Spam…

... but a lot of people do. It’s been estimated that the average person in Hawaii eats 16 cans of Spam each year and there are 19 flavors. Spam musubis are everywhere, McDonald’s has Spam on its menu, and there’s even Spam-flavored macadamia nuts.

4. Yep, "pupu" is pronounced like "poopoo"

It means appetizer and it's on most menus. Just try not to giggle when ordering a pupu steak or a pupu platter.

5. We don’t walk around barefoot unless we’re at the beach

Wear shoes in stores and restaurants, seriously. Going barefoot in public is just icky.

6. We don’t all surf

Plenty of people raised in Hawaii have never surfed. Seriously.

7. Hawaii Five-0 isn’t real

And we don’t really watch it. Ever since Scott Caan publicly dissed Hawaiian food, he’s on locals’ shit lists.

8. Some of us live minutes from an active lava flow

It’s been flowing for 30 years and it doesn’t feel like a big deal.

9. We have our own version of fast food

Bypass McDonald’s and go local with L&L Drive-Inn or Zippy’s.

10. We call flip-flops slippers

Saying flip-flops is a dead giveaway that you’re fresh off the plane.   

11. Trying to speak pidgin won’t make you fit in

There’s nothing worse than someone who’s been on the island for a week saying, “Brah, da kine, and li dat.”

12. A flower behind a woman’s right or left ear doesn’t actually mean single or taken

Traditionally, a flower behind the right ear means single and the left means taken. But it’s not something women really think about when wearing a flower, so don’t assume a woman’s status because of it.

13. Coconuts aren’t naturally husked, fuzzy, and brown like in supermarkets

Keep an eye out for roadside fruit stands with fresh coconuts. They’re much more delicious than canned coconut water in stores.

14. They’re not Hawaiian shirts, we call them aloha shirts

Men in Hawaii really do wear them, and the need for anything fancier than an aloha shirt is rare.

15. We’re not all Hawaiian

Hawaiians are of Native Hawaiian descent and the rest of us just live here.

16. Most movies get it really, really wrong

Barely anyone knows how to dance the hukilau, we don’t all wear puka shell necklaces, and we don’t have ukuleles with us at all times.

17. Hawaii is part of the United States

So if you’re from the Mainland, there’s no need to refer to home as “the States.”

18. Hawaiian food is not pizza with pineapple and ham on top

Try lau lau, poi, and kalua pork from real Hawaiian food restaurants.

19. Rash guards are not T-shirts

They’re supposed to be taken off before leaving the beach. If you’re in a store in a rash guard, someone is definitely laughing at you.

20. Pineapples and coffee steal the spotlight, but marijuana is one of Hawaii’s biggest cash crops

The Big Island has produced more than the other islands for decades and in 2016 dispensaries will open up on each island.

21. Elvis and Don Ho aren’t Hawaiian music

Forget "Tiny Bubbles" and Blue Hawaii and listen to some John Cruz, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, or Ledward Ka’apana.

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