There are two main types of travelers in this world; the first are the ones who prefer and relish the luxury a destination has to offer. These travellers usually go for the all-inclusive packages, stay at famous tourist resorts and do the classic ‘touristy’ things as recommended by some guidebook or light internet research. Then, there is the other sort of traveler. This one prefers to step off the beaten track, take to exploring local customs and take part in local events and just feel at home even when in a foreign land. If the breathtaking islands of Hawaii are on your bucket list and the second description rings closer to you, stay tuned because we’re here with the inside scoop on how to do Hawaii like a true local.
To feel at home…
…rent a home. Instead of booking an all-expenses included resort with concierge service at all times, scout and find a house to rent. Nothing gives you more of a feeling of being at home than an actual house. Hotels are great, but they will constantly remind you of the fact that you’re just visiting, and you’ll be deprived of that cozy comforting feeling of living somewhere as oppose to just visiting. Aside from the homely feel, staying at a house will ensure you don’t bump into so many tourists as you would at a resort and give you a chance to meet and mingle with the locals who will give you the inside scoop on what to see, where to swim and eat, and these places are usually not found in travel guides.
Leave your phone and watch at home
When in Hawaii you’ll soon realize that everything moves at a slower pace and that time is measured not by a watch but by the sun. It’s time to leave your gadgets at home and stop and smell the roses – or in this case, turn your focus on the breathtaking nature, the smell of the sea – just enjoy all the simple and wonderful pleasures.
Save your wallet and treat your palate
Not only is resort food insanely overpriced, but it can never match the offerings of the local joints. Ask around and find out where the ‘real’ food lives. For instance, if you’re visiting Oahu, you should know that the most delicious food is to be found in places such as Maui’s Bully’s Burgers and Nico’s Pier 38. Also, forget about breaking the bank by splurging on gourmet poke, a delicacy of raw marinated ahi and onions because every local will tell you that Big Isle’s Da Poke Shack and Kauai’s Koloa Fish Market are your go-to places to find the freshest ahi available. Also, don’t forget to grab a taste of the shave ice, and in order to do it local style, go for the paper cone.
Where to go and what to see
There are hidden gems and beaches unknown to most tourists who only get to see the polished and crowded beaches. If you want to get the real Hawaiian experience, turn to a reliable destination management company and check out their DMC programs because these professionals know every little local nook and will ensure you get the local experience you’re craving.. They will show you where the best beaches are and make sure you see everything that’s hiding behind the tourist façade. They will show you that hospitality and affection go beyond the traditional flowers presented upon arriving or leaving. If your definition of partying doesn’t include a resort organized hula dancing performance and you want to go where all the locals gather to truly live it up, always put yourself in hands of professionals and be in the know.
Don’t settle for fun in the sun
In order to feel like one with the island, you have to be aware that there is far more to Hawaii than surfing and great local restaurants. You have to dig deeper and truly immerse yourself in the culture. One of the best ways to learn about the rich culture and customs is by paying a visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center. The center gives you the opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge of authentic villages from half a dozen Pacific islands, by meeting natives from each one and learning about local and ancient customs, games, and much, much more. Don’t skip on the Ha: Breath of Life, which is a live show that includes fire knife dancing. This is an experience that will leave you speechless.
Learn it, live it, love it
If you want to be accepted by the locals and enjoy all the perks of authentic island living, show your respect by learning a few words and phrases. The one thing you should avoid is speaking pidgin (the Hawaiian dialect), because that would be as offensive as being an American trying to speak in a British accent in the middle of London. Finally, be kind, be helpful because Aloha is not just a word, it’s a state of mind. Pick up after yourself and offer a helping hand. Give back to the community and you’ll become a part of it.
Peter is a travel writer at Voice Boks and Ana’s World magazine. Beside writing he worked as a travel journalist for many publications around UK & AU. Follow Peter on Twitter for more tips.