The Wheaton Blog

Moving to Paradise: Tips for Living Hawaiian Style

March 7, 2017 | Moving Guides & Tips

Pristine beaches, delicious food, and the spirit of aloha. It’s no surprise you’re considering a move to the Hawaiian Islands. But island life may be unlike anything you’re used to. Follow these tips to learn how to live Hawaiian style.

Learn the Language

Anyone planning to live in Hawaii needs to know how to communicate with the locals. Recently, the US Census Bureau recognized Hawaiian Pidgin English as an official language in the Islands.

Pidgin draws from a variety of languages, like traditional Hawaiian, Filipino, and Japanese. Some commonly used words and phrases include:

  • ‘Ono: delicious
  • Aina: island; homeland
  • Choke: many; a large amount
  • Da kine: vague filler word used when a speaker can’t remember the correct word
  • Grind: eat
  • Hana: work
  • Haole: most commonly refers to Caucasians but applies to any foreigner
  • Howzit?: informal greeting
  • Kane: male
  • Leeward: dry side of the island, usually south and west
  • Lua: restroom
  • Mahalo: thank you
  • Makai: toward the ocean
  • Mauka: toward the mountain
  • Pau: finished
  • Wahine: female
  • Windward: wet side of the island, usually north and east

If you want to order lunch or understand the weather report, make sure you start building your Pidgin vocabulary.

Respect the Culture

Hawaii is rich in cultural diversity. As such, there are many customs that locals take very seriously. As you explore your new home, make sure to follow these cultural dos and don’ts.


  • Remove your shoes before entering anyone’s home. It’s bad luck to wear shoes in the house.
  • Treat elders with high regard and admiration. Always serve elders first at meal times and allow them to walk ahead of you.
  • Walk and speak with reverence around sacred sites. Ancient temples and petroglyphs decorate the Hawaiian Islands. You can help preserve these areas by picking up trash observing no-trespassing signs.
  • Surf with awareness. Etiquette dictates the first one to catch a wave is the only one who rides it. If another surfer is already riding a wave, don’t drop in.


  • Refer to everyone living in Hawaii as Hawaiian. Hawaiians are only those of native descent. Those who grew up in Hawaii or have lived on the island for a while are called locals.
  • Disturb nature. Hawaiian tradition acknowledges a variety of animals as familial guardian spirits. Likewise, native Hawaiians have a spiritual connection to the land. Touching a sea turtle or rearranging a pile of rocks may be interpreted as disrespectful.
  • Take lava rock or sand outside of Hawaii. Taking anything from nature outside of the Islands is considered taboo. Pele the fire goddess will put a curse on you until you return the items.
  • Pluck red Lehua blossoms from Ohia trees. Pele transformed star-crossed lovers-Ohia and Lehua-into tree and flower. When you pick the red blossom, you separate husband and wife. Lehua will weep, and it will start to rain.

Hawaii’s residents are some of the warmest and most welcoming people you’ll ever meet-so long as you respect the aina and their culture.

Start Saving

Second only to New York City, Hawaii averages the highest cost of living in the US. Hawaii imports nearly everything. Pad your savings account and be prepared to pay twice as much for groceries, clothing, and gasoline.

Even just the cost of moving is a huge expense if you bring all your belongings from the mainland. Airline checked-baggage fees and post office shipping rates can be astronomical. Besides, you can’t fit a sofa in the overhead compartment or mailbox.

To streamline your expenses, consider hiring a professional moving company to help you relocate. Professional movers can pack your belongings and ensure they make it safely across the Pacific Ocean.

Relocating to the Islands is the perfect opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Follow these tips to stop looking like a tourist and start living like a local.


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