What You Need To Know Before Traveling To Hawai’i

Traveling To Hawai’i

If you’re planning to travel to Hawai’i anytime soon…don’t.

Just kidding. Tourism is heavily relied on, seriously.

My name is Corey Kaiahua-Fleming and I was born and raised on O’ahu where I raise my two kids with my high school sweetheart. We have seen first hand how tourists traveling to Hawai’i has affected us natives, good and bad.

Locals and natives have a hard time making ends meet. Most Hawaiians are either living paycheck to paycheck or are on welfare. For the others who aren’t, they are really barely scraping by. That’s the price we pay to live in paradise.

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My beautiful family

How did this happen if we are native to this land?

Hawai’i, to this day is still illegally occupied. And though it comes with good and bad things, locals are still sour and have bad taste from haoles stealing their land. Our land and culture was stripped from us and we are still trying to survive. But that’s a story for another time, look up our history, it is similar to the Native American one.

It’s not that we have a problem with the haoles, it’s the fact that visitors come and they act ignorant.

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By the way haole is most commonly pronounced how-lee but if properly said is how-lei, no one will get mad or laugh at you for saying it either way. It means foreigner, but it is used as an insult towards White people. If you hear “fucking haole”, not a good sign, bra.

But basically what is happening now is a modern-day colonization. Rich haoles come in, buy lots of shit, and then do whatever they do with it; such as buy houses to rent out on AirBnB or build out vacation rentals that no one here can afford. Where a local family could have been trying to close on that home, a mainlander (what we call people who live on the contiguous United States) will come in with cash and take it.

Before haoles came and put their names on our pieces of land, families passed them down and it was their job to care for it. Now so many Hawaiians are fucking homeless, it’s sad. So when haoles come in and start claiming places that was stolen from Hawaiians, it stirs shit up. Look up that Facebook guy and how he gated off property and see how Hawaiians reacted.

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What You Need To Know Before Traveling To Hawai’i

1. Understand what it means to be Native in a land of diversity

What exactly does being Native mean? Well, just to give you an idea of what Hawaiians are made of, I’ll give you my ancestry. I am Hawaiian, Chamorro, Filipino, Chinese, Samoan, Spanish, and Caucasian. My husband is Hawaiian, Caucasian, Japanese, Filipino, and German. We’re literally a mixed plate from around the world. What I mean by that is that more than half of us are mixed with 5 or more nationalities. In order to be “native”, you must have Hawaiian blood. However, many Hawaiians come from plantation ancestry and are “locals”.

A lot of locals are mixed with a combination of Native Hawaiians, plantation, and military, like my maternal grandmother comes from plantation and my paternal grandfather was military stationed in Schofield. However, there are a ton of people from Asia and the Pacific here as well. But in regard to pure-blooded Hawaiians, that’s something that is sadly dying out. My husband is seen as something that is as close as it gets now days because we barely have any more pure bloods. Again that’s a story for another time. But people go out of their way to say hi to my husband because they are in awe when they see Hawaiian-Hawaiians.

Locals who live here can be Hawaiian, but don’t necessarily practice Hawaiian culture. Then there are people with Native ancestry and are mixed but practice Hawaiian culture. So you have Hawaiians by blood and then you have Hawaiians by culture.

This mix of cultures happened when the sugar cane industry was poppin’ and rich White plantation owners brought down immigrants to work sugar cane. They came from everywhere like Portugal, China, Japan, Korea, Guam, Spain and more. Why? From family stories I was told it was because each country person could bring something to the table that made whatever circumstance they were in better, such as farming. All these nationalities crammed with each other made it hard to communicate. Some people couldn’t even speak their language, which later created the official language of Hawaiian Creole English, also known as Pidgin.

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What Hawaiian looks like!

2. Pidgin is a real language.

The two official languages of Hawai’i are Hawaiian and English, but there is a third that shouldn’t be mistaken for either: pidgin. Plantation workers weren’t given proper English classes, they had to learn English as they worked on the fields. They mixed their different languages together to create a language they could understand, that’s where pidgin (Hawaiian Creole English) comes from. You’ll most likely come across a local who speaks pidgin. It’s pretty much broken English.

To understand what that looks like, I’ll give you a peek into my childhood. I grew up learning what sleep was in a different language, even bath time. When my Grandma would talk to me it would be like “eh, go bocha” which means “go and take a bath.” Or she would say “Ah, bumbai we go” which means “Agh, we will go there in the future.

Other examples of pidgin are:

English: Good morning ma’am, could you tell me what time it is?

Pidgin: Eh aunteh, can tell me what time stay?

English: I’m sorry sir, please excuse me, I didn’t see you there.

Pidgin: Ho brada, my bad. (If its an older man “uncle” or “unks”)

English: My Aunt Sally took me to the carnival. It was great.

Pidgin: Aunteh Sally went take me conavo. Bugga was mean.

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3. The food is bomb

Tons of cool things came from the mixture of our blood lines, like Hawai’i’s diversified food choices! I mean come on, have you seen what that mixture creates? Some good lookin’ people that’s for sure. Imagine what the food options look like. It’s generations of mixture and collaborations.

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4. Hawaiian time is not the same as mainland time

FAIR WARNING- People in Hawai’i aren’t at mainland speed. More like a tropical island speed. This can be good and bad. Things don’t usually start on time, mostly because the people aren’t on time. This fucks with a lot of us being prompt to work, because lets face it, we were raised on Hawaiian time. It must be something in the air that wants us to take it a notch slower, because life really does pass us by. Please don’t make under breath comments when the person in front of you is walking really slow or that our highway speed limit is not fast enough. Relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings with us. After all, isn’t that why you want to visit?

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5. Living In Hawai’i is so hard financially

Living in Hawai’i is so hard financially that a lot of people move to the mainland so they can have a “better life”. In regards to what? More money? Fancy car? Big house? For what? To be surrounded by strangers when your family is far away? That’s not living. At least not how some locals and natives view it. We believe that the island lifestyle is worth barely having money, because lets face it: what is money without happiness?

But because living is so hard and I couldn’t afford to buy the swimsuits I wanted for my family, I started making my own! I have a little bikini business where I do it all solo: design, cut, sew, package, you name it. You’ll notice all the photos are from my swimsuit line: Na wahine lole. Na wahine lole means for the woman’s body. Like the Hawaiian language it can be translated in so many ways. It was created for women all over who just want to feel beautiful and confident in their swimsuit no matter their size. I started it after having children and wanting to feel confident in my body after having my daughter, and also for her to feel confident in her body.

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6. Living in Hawai’i is like no other place

Being able to raise your child in Hawai’i is something money can’t buy, because our culture is like nothing else. We do not care how much money you have or what you drive. Materialistic shit is great but we don’t care because honestly, most of us are fucking struggling anyways. I mean have you seen how much shit cost here? We care about you as a person and we don’t fuck with people who think they’re better than us. We care if you have manners and that you’re considerate. Not just to people, but to our land.

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Which brings me to…

Do’s And Don’ts Of Traveling To Hawai’i

-Don’t be ignorant, this is Hawai’i. We drive slow as fuck because we have kids playing everywhere and anywhere.

-Take your opala (trash) with you! If you bring it in make sure to take it out.

-Don’t be high maka maka (stuck up.) We’re kind to everyone unless you’re a bitch who makes like she better than you and I’m not talking about local bitches. I’m talking about White bitches who came here from the mainland and have money. Who think they’re above everyone because they have money. ERR, skert skert bitch, no one will show you any ounce of respect here. Give it to get it.

-Fucking smile. One way to show Aloha is to smile at people walking by, say good morning, FUCKING SAY THANK YOU. We hold the door open for anyone who is close. THAT’S A SIMPLE ALOHA GESTURE.

-Let people cut in when reasonable while driving and please fucking say THANK YOU, wave a shaka or something when someone lets you go.

-We don’t mind if you hit up the local spots. But please be respectful. We don’t see land as a piece of land, we see it as a person. Hawaiians had Gods for everything and I, as well as most people on the island, still see the land as a goddess. I was raised Catholic and believe in God. But I also believe in Pele, the Goddess of Volcanoes. If I’m on The Big Island and I’m visiting the volcano, I will say a prayer to Pele before going into the park. We have our religion that the White man taught, but before that we had our culture. And all Hawaiians ask is that visitors respect our culture, especially our land and there will be no problem.

– PLEASE READ THE SIGNS WHERE IT MAY SAY NO DRIVING BEYOND THIS POINT. Sometimes you’re entering private property or sacred land. Don’t be ignorant and get stuck or fuck up someone’s land because you wanted to explore. If that’s the case, go on a tour or stay in fucking Waikiki.

-Don’t act like you have a lot of money and can do whatever you like because of it. A lot of rich haoles come to Hawai’i flashing their money thinking they can do whatever they like because they have the means to do so. WRONG.

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Advice Traveling To Hawai’i

Honestly, you do have some good haoles but locals already have bad taste so you may run into some angry locals who have a sour spot for White people. They may get angry if you’re in a certain area, they have a reason, so please respect their land and their wishes and they will show respect right back at you. GIVE IT TO GET IT, simple as that.

Visit if you want, sure we’re welcoming, but be kind and come in at a even playing field because we don’t fuck with high maka maka people. HUMBLE YOUR ASSES and enjoy paradise.

If you’ve ever heard the word “ALOHA” it’s not just a word for hello and good-bye, it’s a lifestyle. We’re a giant ass melting pot with tons of different cultures. We don’t have space for anyone who is fucking racist here. The most you’ll see racism is towards White ignorant people. Not White-skinned people, White-ignorant people.

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My husband and I on our wedding day

We actually don’t care what skin color you are, what language you speak, and we honestly love visitors. If you’re visiting all we ask is to be kind.

About The Author

Corey Kaiahua-Fleming is a Native Hawaiian, local to the island of O’ahu, where she raises her two Native Hawaiian children with her Native Hawaiian husband. She’s an advocate for Hawaiian culture and runs her own custom swimsuit company called Na Wahine Lole as a solo female entrepreneur. Follow her clothing line by clicking on the social media buttons below:

2 Comments

  1. As someone who lived in Hawaii for 2 years, this article is EVERYTHING… and I hope anyone moving there or visiting, reads this. It’ll really help you understand what’s going on!

  2. Give it to get it should be a mindset of every traveler no matter where they’re traveling to. In fact lots of things in this post are applicable in many situations… Like when I see white people taking pictures hugging black kids in my hometown in South Africa… Seriously 🙄 A beautifully written and succinct post… I so wish I was visiting Hawaii sometime soon!

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