12 Ways to Experience Hawaii Like a Local

12 Ways to Experience Hawaii Like a Local

The “Aloha State,” often known as Hawaii, is known for more than simply its spectacular vistas and beautiful beaches. You must go outside of the popular tourist destinations if you want to really experience Hawaiian culture and enjoy this paradise like a native. 

1. Dive into Local Cuisine: Explore the Plate Lunch Tradition

Hawaii’s varied background is reflected in its unique food scene. Start with the renowned plate lunch if you want to eat like a native. Two scoops of rice, one scoop of macaroni salad, plus your choice of meat—usually teriyaki chicken or kalua pork—make up this simple yet filling dish. Local eateries and food trucks dotted across the islands are where locals have this filling lunch. 

2. Attend a Luau: Celebrate with Hula and Traditional Feasting

Although luaus are often associated with visitors, if you select the proper one, they can be a genuine cultural experience. Attend a luau to experience hula dance, live music, and a gourmet feast while learning about Hawaii’s rich customs. 

3. Boat Tours: Explore the Waters Like a Local

You must go on a boat tour around a beautiful island like Kauai if you want to see Hawaii like a native. The exciting aquatic life and coral reefs that surround the islands can be explored via these expeditions. Select a small, locally run boat tour rather than a packed tourist excursion. These guides often take you to undiscovered locations to give you a more personalized and authentic experience.

4. Explore Local Farmers’ Markets: Taste the Freshness of Hawaii

Farmers’ markets in Hawaii are a veritable treasure trove of locally produced fresh food, handmade crafts, and sweets. Visit these markets where you can interact with the welcoming merchants and taste distinctive goods if you want to live like a native

5. Learn to Surf: Ride the Waves Like a Native

In Hawaii, surfing is more than simply a sport; it is a way of life. Enroll in a surf class to experience the islands like a native! Look for local teachers who are intimately familiar with the waves. Along with teaching you how to surf, they will also provide you with insider knowledge about Hawaii’s surfing heritage and culture. You will feel like a genuine Hawaiian after learning to surf in the region that gave rise to modern surfing.

6. Embrace Aloha Spirit: Practice Respect and Kindness

Hawaii’s heart and soul are its Aloha spirit. It’s about treating people and the environment with respect and compassion. Adopt this mindset if you want to live locally. Smile and say “Aloha” to everyone you meet, be mindful of other people’s traditions and culture, and protect the environment. 

7. Hike Off the Beaten Path: Discover Hidden Treasures

Hawaii is a hiker’s dream, with paths that range from leisurely strolls to strenuous excursions. Off the beaten path is where you should go to discover the islands like a native. Look for less traveled paths that provide seclusion and spectacular views. Explore lush valleys, hike to secret waterfalls, and take in Hawaii’s many different types of scenery. 

8. Attend a Slack-Key Guitar Concert: Listen to Island Melodies

Slack-key guitar playing in Hawaii is a beloved custom that perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the islands. Attend a live performance by neighborhood slack-key guitarists if you want to get lost in this wonderful music. These musicians perform tunes well, evoking the beauty and peace of Hawaii. You can enjoy the creativity and cultural importance of this distinctive Hawaiian musical style at these small-scale, intimate events.

9. Celebrate Makahiki: Embrace Ancient Hawaiian Traditions

A traditional Hawaiian event called Makahiki honors the deity Lono while honoring the harvest season. Take part in Makahiki celebrations if you visit Hawaii during this period (often from November to February) to see the island like a native. Play traditional games, take in hula shows, and savor feasts made in homage to the deity of agriculture. 

10. Stay in a Local Neighborhood: Live Amongst the Locals

Consider renting a vacation house or reserving a room in a boutique hotel to stay in a neighborhood rather than choosing a resort. This enables you to get fully immersed in Hawaiian culture. You can feel the true warmth of the islanders while shopping at nearby markets and dining at nearby restaurants. It’s a chance to experience local life while making genuine relationships and enduring memories.

11. Learn the Language: Speak Hawaiian Phrases with Locals

Hawaiian, the language of Hawaii, is an important component of its culture. Learn a few fundamental Hawaiian words and utilize them while speaking with natives to fully immerse yourself in the culture. The humble “Aloha” and “Mahalo” go a long way in establishing relationships and displaying respect for Hawaiian culture. 

12. Explore the Local Art Scene: Discover Island Creativity

The thriving art scene in Hawaii is a reflection of its distinct culture and breathtaking scenery. Explore regional art galleries, studios, and artisan festivals to get a true sense of the islands. Engage with regional artists who are influenced by the traditions, history, and landscapes of Hawaii. From modern paintings with island-inspired themes to traditional Hawaiian quilts, there is a vast variety of art to be found.


In conclusion, adopting the culture, customs, and way of life of the islands is essential to experience Hawaii like a native. These 12 activities will give you a greater understanding of Hawaii, from enjoying native food to discovering undiscovered hiking paths and taking part in cultural celebrations. You’ll not only have a real Hawaiian experience if you treat the land and the Aloha spirit with care, but you’ll also leave with a deep appreciation for this unique and alluring location. Aloha!