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Honolulu, the "sheltered bay" rears up from the shores of the Pacific Ocean in a bristling skyline of towers and skyscrapers. Its combination of a year-round dry and sunny climate, its laid back pace of living, and its melting pot of cultures that make for a culinary nirvana, make Hawaii’s capital city a sought after address and a top tourist destination.

While host to a significant Asian American population (roughly 44%, of which is predominantly Japanese, Filipino and Chinese Americans) Honolulu continues to harbor strong Polynesian values and traditions. Its very "local" feel and its sunny-natured residents’ relaxed approach to life are among the city’s biggest draws.

A holiday mecca for Japanese tourists among others, Honolulu is highly dependent on year-round tourism to support its local economy. The city also lies at a crossroads for trans-Pacific cargo carriers, making it an important port.

As the state’s economic hub, downtown Honolulu boasts a thriving business and financial district. Follow the coast further south and you’ll arrive in the sought after residential areas of Waikiki, and a little further on, the luxurious Diamond Head.  Hawaii Kai, out on the point, is an up-and-coming area. Less known among tourists, property prices here can range from US$500,000 to a staggering US$80 million.

For a shot of culture head for China town where, on its eastern edge, you’ll find Honolulu’s Arts District sprawled over 12 blocks.  Here lies a cornucopia of cultural institutions, performing arts venues and galleries.

Eating out in Hawaii is nothing short of sublime, and the seafood here is the freshest you’ll find anywhere. Local cuisine ranges from the raw Shoyu/Limu Poke to grilled Ahi or pan-seared Mahimahi, to the more traditional - and sumptuous - Luau feasts.

The easy pace, fantastic climate and exotic blend of Asian and Pacific Island cultures make Honolulu a virtual paradise in which to live.

What is special or unique about your city?

Aloha! Welcome to this island paradise! We think you will enjoy all that the islands of Hawaii have to offer: beautiful beaches, lush tropical forests, gorgeous flowers, a rich cultural heritage and glowing rivers of red-hot lava discharging into the azure sea.

As the world's longest island chain, Hawaii has 120 islands but only these six are inhabited: Hawaii (Big Island), Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Molokai and Oahu. British Captain James Cook was among the first to visit in 1778. He named these islands the "Sandwich Islands."

Today the islands are among the most travelled-to destinations in the world, and to quote Mark Twain, it is "the loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean." Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii is located on the island of Oahu.

What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?

Typically, newcomers are taken aback by Hawaii's progressive modernity, its natural beauty and its unique heritage. The incredible friendliness of Hawaiian locals leaves a lasting impression of kindness and warmth.

Are these impressions likely to change?

It is unlikely. The characteristics of Hawaii's physical location inspire a relaxed lifestyle that is very contagious; most people adapt to it rather than try to change it.

What is the local language?

Although more than 100 different languages are spoken in Hawaii, the official languages are English and Hawaiian. The actual Hawaiian language is a Polynesian dialect which has just 13 letters in the alphabet: A, E, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, U and W. There are 18 sounds in the spoken language.

How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?

It is best to learn the basics of English or Hawaiian. Without that knowledge, you will face some challenges. However, since Hawaii is home to and visited by people from all over the world, you may be able to get by using your native tongue. Although you probably won't meet many residents who will speak to you in Hawaiian, you will encounter a few words of this beautiful language in everyday conversation and on the doors of many public facilities. Have fun practising these popular words that might help you during your stay:

Hawaiian word or phrase

English Meaning

Aloha

Love, hello, goodbye

Mahalo

Thank you

Keiki

Child

Mauna

Mountain

Kaukau

Food, meal

ho‘olaule‘a

Street party, festival

Kane

  Man

Wahine

  Woman

Heiau

  Hawaiian temple, place of worship

Hula

  Native dance of Hawaii

Kamaaina

A native born citizen or local resident of Hawaii

Luau

A Hawaiian feast

Makai

Towards the sea

Mauka

Towards the mountains

Ohana

Family

Aloha kakahiaka

Good morning

Aloha ahiahi

Good evening

Pehea ‘oe?

How are you?

Maika‘I

I’m fine

Kala mai ia‘u

Excuse me

Hau‘oli La Hanau

Happy Birthday

 

Do note, when vowels appear side-by-side, each letter is pronounced. The following shows you the correct way to pronounce vowel sounds in Hawaii:

a = ah

e = ay

i = ee

o = oh

u = oo

What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?

Because Hawaii is host to a diversity of cultures, respect and acceptance of others should be demonstrated at all times. It is also recommended that you respect the traditions and history of the area.

How might the local weather affect my daily life?

The weather on the Hawaiian Islands is considered "paradise" to most with a moderate tropical climate and gentle trade winds from the north-east almost year-round. There are two seasons in this paradise: Summer, which is called Kau in Hawaiian, runs from the months of May to October and Winter, or Ho'oilo, runs from November to April. The average summer temperature during the day is 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius) and the average winter temperature during the day is 78 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius). At night, temperatures drop approximately 10 degrees. Unless you hate warm weather, you will absolutely love this climate!

Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?

Yes! The islands of Hawaii are well known for their relaxed atmosphere. People here are very hospitable and move at a slower pace compared to other big cities, so if you are not in a hurry, you'll do just fine.

A couple of cool facts are:

  • the tallest mountain in the world is in Hawaii. It is Mauna Kea with a height of 33,476 feet (measuring from its base to the top of the mountain).

  • Hawaii is considered the most isolated population center in the world. It is 2,390 miles from California and 3,850 miles from Japan.

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