Common Misconceptions about Hawaii – Yes, We Have Internet!

I lived in Hawaii for three years and a half. During my time there, I have heard many wrong facts, ideas, and conceptions and was asked some interesting questions. Despite Hawaii welcoming 8.9 million tourists in 2016, misconceptions about Hawaii are prevalent.

As a travel blogger who delves deeper into the culture and locality of a place, I highly recommend everyone to research and learn about Hawaii before they visit. It will broaden your horizon and substantially enrich your travel experience there.

Common Misconceptions about Hawaii

Road to Hana on Maui, Hawaii

Before you come to Hawaii, be sure to read these common misbeliefs about this place.

Common misconceptions about Hawaii

The collections of misunderstanding about Hawaii are but not limited to the following:

You need a passport to visit Hawaii

This is the biggest misconception about Hawaii. Many people think that Hawaii is not a part of the United States and even believe they need a passport to visit. This is probably because you cannot find Hawaii together with the other 48 states on the map.

Common Misconceptions about Hawaii

In fact, Hawaii was a territory and then became the 50th state of the USA in 1959. Travel to Hawaii is the same as travel to the other parts of the USA. No passport is required for US and EU citizens.

Are you planning your trip to Oahu? Click Here to download the Printable Version of 7-Day Oahu Travel Itinerary for free!

Hawaii is a snow-free state

This is one of another most common misconceptions about Hawaii. People think that because Hawaii is a tropical island and has a moderate climate all year round, that it is impossible to have snow in Hawaii. Unfortunately, the weather in Hawaii is not always nice and the summit of the highest volcano, Mauna Kea on Big Island, does experience snow-fall from time to time.

You can still visit Mauna Kea in a four-wheel vehicle but be ready for road closures, delays, and a steep drive towards the summit.

Common Misconceptions about Hawaii

Snow on the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island in Hawaii

All beaches in Hawaii are beautiful and empty

Beaches in Hawaii are a common sight but the most popular beaches in Waikiki, Ala Moana, and Kailua are filled with people. If you want relatively quiet and beautiful beaches, you need to venture from the tourist areas. If you are on Oahu, you need to go further to Hawaii Kai, North Shore, and Waimanalo.

Common Misconceptions about Hawaii

Hawaiian pizza is a popular dish in Hawaii

Despite its name, Hawaiian pizza is not a local food and I have never had Hawaiian pizza once when I was there. It was invented in Canada and was served at many restaurants in Canada and mainland USA, but not in Hawaii.

You can still get delicious pizza in Hawaii. Some restaurants allow you to choose your own pizza toppings and pineapple is one of the least favorite selections there.

Common Misconceptions about Hawaii

We do not call this thing “Hawaiian Pizza” in Hawaii.

Hawaii does not have internet service

This is totally false. Hawaii is not a deserted place and does have internet service as widely as the rest of the USA. There are places in the natural areas and beaches that you cannot get internet, but most commercial properties, restaurants, and residential neighborhoods have high-speed internet service and it is easy to get access to it.

Common Misconceptions about Hawaii

All locals in Hawaii are Hawaiian

Many visitors believe those who were Hawaii born and raised are Hawaiian, which is not true. Hawaiian is actually an ethnicity and it refers to native Hawaiian – the group of aboriginal Polynesian settlers and their descendants on the island of Hawaii. Therefore, you cannot refer to Hawaiian the same way you would refer to “New Yorker” and “Canadian.”

Common Misconceptions about Hawaii

The words in Hawaii follow the same pronunciation rules in English

For many people, pronouncing Hawaiian words is difficult with unfamiliar letters and anakena. They resort to common  English-language pronunciation rules to read Hawaiian words and it is a struggle. The pronunciation takes time to get used to, and even the sound of “Hawaii” is significantly different when you hear locals say it.

The Hawaiian language has twelve main alphabets, and they are:

vowels  – a       e        i    o       u

consonants – h        k        l      m      n     p     w

anakena  –   ‘

The vowel sonnds pronounced the same as in Spanish, and the consonants are the same in English, except “w” has two ways of pronunciation. When put at the beginning of a word, “w” pronounces as “w” in the English alphabet, and it has a “v” sound in the middle of the word. In this case, the “w” in the word ‘Hawai’i should be pronounced as “v”.

For how to pronounce Hawaiian words correctly, you can read this guide here.

Are you planning your trip to Oahu? Click Here to download the Printable Version of 7-Day Oahu Travel Itinerary for free!

Life in Hawaii is immune to daily stress

Although Hawaii is a dream vacation destination, the reality of living on the island is not as wonderful as most people expect it to be.

As many of you have learned, it is expensive to live in Hawaii as most items are shipped from other parts of the world. Everything here from food, rent, and gas is more expensive than in other parts of the USA. According to the CNBC, Hawaii was the most expensive state to live in America in 2017.

Common misconceptions about Hawaii

There are times you need to pay $70 to fill half of the gas tank

People in Hawaii have to work and pay their bills and many have not visited the beach for months and even years. In addition, the paradise still has problems with prostitution, traffic, homelessness, and crime. Moving here does not mean you are on vacation all the time, and it does not make your life stress-free.

It is easy to travel between each island

There are eight main islands in Hawaii and they are very close to each other on the map. Many assume that we can either swim to other islands or there are bridges connecting each island.

Oahu, Maui, and Big Island are three popular islands to visit in Hawaii, but these islands are isolated from each other. There are boats transporting passengers between Maui, Lanai, and Molokai but the majority of people resort to taking planes to get around, and the tickets can get expensive.

Common Misconceptions about Hawaii

Island of Kauai

More information about Hawaii

It is important to educate ourselves about the places we plan to visit so we do not go there with misconceptions and stereotypes. One of my favorite things about travel is that you learn so much about the places you do not know about and it opens you up to other cultures and the world.

Learn about what it looks like to live in Hawaii and read more Hawaii blog posts for insights and tips.

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Hawaii is a great place to visit, but the misconception about this place is prevalent. Here are some real facts behind these misbeliefs



Julie Cao

Julie is the creator of Always On The Way. She lived in Hawaii and now resides in London (Ontario, Canada). In 2017, she went on an overland trip from Bogota Colombia to Puerto Williams, the southernmost city in the world. She believes travel is not only about visiting tourist attractions but more about getting to know the culture, people, and the place.

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