If you have not been to Hawaii, be prepared for a different lifestyle – one that you can’t help falling in love with. Hawaii was admitted as a state in 1959. You don't need a passport or visa if coming from the United States. We use U.S. dollars and our water is some of the purest in the world. Postage rates are the same as on the Mainland. All first class mail goes by airmail and there is only a small difference in the price between airmail and surface for packages.
Almost all travel to Hawaii is by airplane. The majority of flights arrive in Honolulu. However, some mainland flights arrive on Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai. There are three inter island airline companies that have regularly scheduled service between islands. Take the opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of Oahu and visit our "neighbor" islands.
Hawaii’s residents are the healthiest in the nation with Oahu cited as the “Medical Center of the Pacific.” People here on average live longer than those in other states – 81 years compared with the U.S. average of 75 years. Hawaii’s residents also are fortunate to have some of the best health care plans in the country with 95 percent of Hawaii’s residents covered by some form of health care. There are eight major, private health care plans in Hawaii.
The dress in Hawaii is geared to the weather. Most men wear aloha shirts or sports shirts to work. Only a few restaurants require jackets at night. The wear for women is equally casual and summer dresses can be worn all year. Many businesses allow muumuus at the office.
The State’s capital is located here in Honolulu. The nickname, “Gathering Place,” is fitting because Oahu is the Pacific’s hub of business, politics, culture and entertainment. It boasts attractions from world-class restaurants to renowned surfing spots.
Oahu is 40 miles long, 26 miles wide and 608 square miles in area. It is wrapped by 112 miles of shoreline – most of it beautiful white sand beach. Oahu also serves as home to approximately 953,207 residents, the majority of Hawaii’s population (2010).
If your interests range from opera to polo, Oahu has it all. In a “coco”nutshell, Oahu has the charm and appeal of the other islands, yet it is a multicultural, metropolitan city. Some of the most expensive and luxurious real estate in the world is found on this multifaceted island.
Hawaii enjoys some of the most delightful weather in the world. From April to October the temperatures range from the low 70s at night to the high 80s during the day. Winter weather, from November through March, is normally cooler – from the mid-60s to around 80 degrees. Evening and early morning showers are common throughout the year, and it does rain more during the winter months. It is an unusual day in Honolulu when the sun doesn’t shine at all. We normally have trade winds that blow from the northeast at 5 – 15 miles per hour. However, occasionally we have "kona" winds that come from the south. During these times, the weather often is very humid and usually brings a storm. We have had a couple of hurricanes, but they are infrequent.
As in any U.S. metropolitan city, there is a great breadth of food and cuisine available in the markets and restaurants in Honolulu including Italian, Mexican, French, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, and Hawaiian. You’ll also find chain restaurants such as Bubba Gump’s, Hard Rock Café, Red Lobster, Sizzler and California Pizza Kitchen. Of course, the menu wouldn’t be complete without local family-style restaurants such as Zippy’s and the fast food eateries McDonalds, Burger King, Jack In the Box, Taco Bell, etc.
The University of Hawaii basketball, football and baseball programs are avidly supported. Its Women’s Volleyball Team has a tradition of being nationally ranked. It also has a large, loyal following of fans. High school sports also are followed avidly by Hawaii’s residents.
There is fun for children everywhere. Some favored spots are the Honolulu Zoo, the Waikiki Aquarium, Sea Life Park, the new Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park and the Children’s Discovery Center. Most importantly, don’t forget the beach!
Hawaii’s top visitor attractions are the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor and the Punchbowl National Cemetery. These attract well over a million visitors each year.
Hawaiian History museums include:
The Honolulu Academy of Arts permanent collection offers a look at one of the country’s finest holdings of Asian art, American and European paintings and decorative art, along with a tradition of presenting acclaimed national and international traveling exhibitions.
The Contemporary Museum has a small but growing collection of works in all media spanning 1940 to the present. A highlight of the collection is David Hockney’s enchanting walk-in, garden-like environment. Changing exhibits of contemporary art also are featured.
The spectacularly restored Hawaii Theatre serves as host to a variety of community events throughout the year including Hawaiian performances, concerts, dramatic performances and other celebrations.
Each of the following community theatres offers a varied season of productions from musicals to dramas: Diamond Head Theatre, Manoa Valley Theatre and Kumu Kahua Theatre. In addition, there's Army Community Theatre at Fort Shafter.
Hawaii offers one of the largest shopping centers in the country – Ala Moana Center. Upscale boutiques include Chanel, Christian Dior and Gucci. Department stores include Sears, Macy’s, as well as shops like Sharper Image, Warner Brothers, Nature Collection and Crazy Shirts. Small, local shops provide a flavor of the islands, as does the large Food Court where you can savor tastes from around the world. And there are a number of smaller shopping malls in other neighborhoods on Oahu.
Big Box stores you’ll find on Oahu include Best Buy, Circuit City, Costco, Home Depot, K-Mart, Lowe's, Sam's Club, Target, Office Depot and Office Max.
Hawaii’s climate allows for all kinds of outdoor sports, which is why Hawaii is home to many sporting events, local, national and international throughout the year. Some include the Sony Open Golf Tournament, the Pro Bowl, The Honolulu Marathon and the Pipe Masters surfing competition, surfing’s most prestigious event on the World Championship Tour.
Of course, water sports top the list. The ancient Hawaiians created the sports of surfing and canoe paddling. And swimming has long been a part of life in Hawaii. Duke Kahanamoku won Hawaii’s first Olympic gold medal in the 100-yard freestyle in Stockholm in 1912. The 1916 Olympics were cancelled because of World War I, however Duke went on to win medals in the 1920, 1924 and 1932 Olympics.
As you probably have been told, Hawaii is more expensive than most places on the Mainland because almost every item has to be imported. If you are coming from San Francisco or New York you probably won't notice much difference, but if you are coming from the Northwest, Midwest or South you will probably suffer from “sticker shock.” We do not have a self-sustaining economy and Hawaii has one of the highest costs of housing in the country. The good news is Oahu has some of the lowest property tax rates in the nation!
Our year-round, mild climate means you do not need winter clothes and it is not necessary to heat or air condition your home. Also, there are many entertainment activities that are inexpensive or free. Beaches are free and available to everyone. Many people enjoy year-round hiking, barbecuing, and concerts under the stars, snorkeling, scuba diving, shell hunting, sailing and surfing.
Tourism and government spending account for almost half of the dollars in Hawaii’s economy. Small changes in visitors or military spending are felt in all sectors of the economy. Although Hawaii’s economy had been flat for the past decade, the tide has changed as visitor numbers have increased and federal spending has stabilized.
Unlike the plantation economy of the first half of this century, most people in the private sector work in small businesses. Self-employment is rapidly growing on Oahu, and more and more entrepreneurs are working out of their homes or small offices. Honolulu is considered the second most expensive city in the nation (San Francisco is first), the average wage in Hawaii is $49,910 and the median family income on Oahu is $81,600*
*According to Fannie Mae's 2011-2012 Median HUD Income
Most likely you will arrive by air. As the airplane descends over Oahu, be sure to get the aerial view of the island – the mountains, shoreline, high-rises and clusters of residential areas. It is an awesome sight.
Once on the ground, you probably will become one of the 816,738 vehicle owners on Oahu. There is traffic no matter where you live and Hawaii is no exception. Traffic is usually heavy during morning and evening peak hours – 6:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
If you prefer being a passenger rather than a driver, you’ll be happy to know that for the past several years Honolulu has won the national award for the best bus system in the United States. It offers more than 60 routes and 4,000 bus stops. And, if you have four hours to spare, you can travel around the entire island of Oahu for a relatively low bus fare.
Directions in the islands are rarely given using east and west or north or south, although you will find these signs, but rather using landmarks. On Oahu, you’ll often hear the directions “toward Diamond Head” (East) or “Ewa” (West) or “mauka” (toward the mountains) or “makai” (toward the ocean).
The highways that crisscross Oahu are H-1, which stretches across Oahu from Diamond Head to Ewa. H-2 takes you through Central Oahu to the communities of Mililani and Wahiawa. The Pali, Likelike and the new H-3 run across the Koolaus to Kailua and Kaneohe on the Windward side of the island.
If you are planning to bring your vehicle to Hawaii, you must apply for a Vehicle Permit within 10 days of your vehicle's arrival. There are several items you need to have with you to register your vehicle:
You may apply by mail or in person for the Vehicle Permit at the Division of Motor Vehicles and Licensing (DMV) or at any of Oahu's nine Satellite City Halls. For more information, contact the DMV at (808) 532-7700 between 7:45am – 4:15pm, Monday – Friday.
You may use your Hawaii Vehicle Permit with your existing license plates for one year, or until your Mainland plates expire, whichever comes first. You also may retain your out-of-state Driver's License until it expires (although those under the age of 18 must apply immediately for a Hawaii Driver's License). DO NOT LET IT EXPIRE. A written driver's exam and eye exam are required and possibly a road test. However, if you let your license expire, a road test is a requirement. You can purchase a 158-page manual of Hawaii's driving laws or review this one online, along with a sample written exam, for approximately $4.65 at any bookstore or Longs Drug store. Anyone over the age of 15 with parental or guardian consent may apply for a license.
Finding parking can sometimes be difficult. However, there are many parking garages downtown with daily and monthly rates. Metered street parking also is available, except in some places during peak commuting hours. An expired meter fine is $30.00. Street parking is free at most places on Sundays, holidays and after 6:00 p.m. on weekdays. Be sure to check parking regulation signs – some metered parking lots require that meters be fed 24 hours every day.
Phone Service- Hawaiian Telcom furnishes the primary telephone service statewide. You may establish service by calling (808) 643-3456, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., Monday – Friday, and 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday. You can apply in person at one of the conveniently located Phone Marts and buy or rent your phone there as well. A deposit of $60 to $120 dollars may be requested depending on whether or not you already have phone jacks installed. There is an additional cost for installing new phone jacks. Calling anywhere on the same island is considered a local call. The area code for all of Hawaii is (808). Basic service is approximately $20 per month. Installation is approximately $45.50.
Electricity- Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) provides all electricity on Oahu. A deposit of $50 and up is required to set up service, plus a one-time $15.00 new account fee. The deposit is refunded after one year of service. A new resident may get a waiver for the deposit, if he can provide a letter of credit from a recognized Mainland utility company. Service can be established in one day, and possibly on the same day, if you call early enough (there is an additional $10 charge for same day service). Call (808) 548-7311. You will be billed monthly. Average residential bill is about $80 per month.
Gas- New customers can call The Gas Company at (808) 535-5933 for information and service. Either a refundable deposit of $100 or a letter of credit from any utility company is required. (At the end of one year, your deposit plus 6 percent interest will be returned to you.) Business hours are 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you call before noon, it’s possible to get same day service. Be sure to have a list handy of those appliances requiring gas.
Water- The Honolulu Board of Water Supply provides water to most of Oahu, as does each county Board of Water on neighbor islands. Some resort communities have installed private systems. Although surrounded by water, Hawaii depends on winter rain to fill the underground aquifers. Water is precious, so remember to conserve whenever possible. Call (808) 532-6510 between 7:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday to begin service. Again, if you call before noon, it’s possible to get same day service. Requests for same day service made after regular hours may require a $10 charge. If the water is already on, simply call and have service transferred to an account in your name. (If you are renting, the water may be included in the rent.) An average water bill, which includes the sewer charge, is about $75 for two months of service.
Refuse Collection- Residential communities are serviced twice weekly. Some townhouse and condominium projects contract for private collection. For refuse collection service and schedules call (808) 523-4424. There is no separate charge in Honolulu for refuse collection. Note: There are recycling stations around the island where you can take newspaper, glass and aluminum cans. Many are located at public schools. Call (808) 527-5335 for more information.
Hawaii is unique among the 50 states -- it is the only one with a statewide public school system. There are 240 public elementary, middle and high schools. A superintendent and an elected Board of Education administer the school system with almost all of the funding coming from state government. Public elementary schools cover kindergarten through 6th grade, intermediate schools include 7th and 8th grade and high schools are grades 9 to 12. Some schools are more highly rated academically than others are. For more information about Hawaii’s public schools you can write to the Department of Education at Department of Education, P.O. Box 2360, Honolulu, HI 96804, or access its web site.
To enroll your child in school you will need: a birth certificate; a certificate of release and proficiency from the last school attended; proof of medical examination within 12 months prior to school enrollment; proof of immunization against diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, measles, mumps and rubella and a negative tuberculin test or chest x-ray.
There are more than 100 private schools in Hawaii – approximately 92 on Oahu. These are licensed by the State Department of Education and are required to offer instruction meeting the state's minimum standards. Although the price tag for a private school education runs from approximately $6,000 to $10,000, one in five of Oahu’s students attend private schools. If you would like more information on Hawaii’s private schools, you can access its web site.
Oahu is home to the University of Hawaii Manoa with approximately 20,000 students. The average cost for residents is approximately $40 per credit hour. The UH Manoa is well known for its programs in astronomy, oceanography and scientific research. Its system also has a four-year branch in Hilo, on the Island of Hawaii, and six two-year community colleges. In addition, there are three private colleges in the state: Chaminade University, Brigham Young University-Hawaii Campus, and Hawaii Pacific University, all on Oahu.
Hawaii is the only state in the country that has a statewide library system. You can apply for a library card at any branch. The University of Hawaii Manoa also has two libraries on Oahu – Hamilton and Sinclair. The Bishop Museum maintains a library, as does Mission Houses Museum. And the State Archives are open to the public as well.
Most of Oahu's land is still zoned for agriculture. However, the city, state and federal governments along with Hawaii’s eight large landowners, also account for much of the land owned in Hawaii. This limits the availability of individually owned land for housing, which causes lot sizes to be smaller and prices to be higher than in other states across the country.
Condominiums are very popular alternatives to single family living. There are many "condos" within easy driving distance to (or in) town and, on the average, they are less expensive than single family homes. As in any metropolitan area, the closer you are to town the more expensive property is. However, the farther away you live the more time you will spend commuting.
The Lei- In Hawaii, a lei is a gift of the aloha spirit. Leis are given when friends and family leave the Islands or return. A lei, like the word Aloha, can be a well wish of hello or goodbye. Leis are given at graduation ceremonies, birthdays, weddings, for your sweetheart and for just about any occasion. They are made from a wide variety of flowers, leaves and plants. The lei po‘o is a lei for your head. Hawaiian language authorities Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert describe the lei simply in the Hawaiian Dictionary – “…garland, wreath; necklace of flowers, leaves, shells, ivory, feathers, or paper given as a symbol of affection...” May 1st is celebrated as lei day – May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii.
Removing Shoes- Before entering a home, it is the custom here to remove your shoes. You will see many a doorway with numerous shoes and slippers standing guard. This custom probably came to Hawaii with Japanese immigrants. It is expected that you, too, will leave your shoes at the door, unless specifically asked to keep them on. So when looking at houses or visiting wear slip-on shoes.
Music and the Hula- Music and the hula have always been Hawaii’s heart and soul. The past couple of decades have seen a resurgence of hula and Hawaiian music – including the unique, Hawaiian-style slack key guitar. Many local performers have appeared across the mainland U.S., in Europe and the Orient. You can hear the soft, sweet sounds of Hawaiian music everywhere you go, throughout the year.
And now for fun. No matter whom you associate with there are some Hawaiian words that are used in every day conversation. The following are a few of the more frequently used words and their definitions:
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