I know this is a travel blog, not a moving blog, but Hawai’i is a common place to move to and O’ahu is probably the most common since Honolulu is the largest city. We’ve all heard the regular advice. It’s expensive, there are lots of bugs (and they’re huge), and tropical downpours do happen. You already know all of that so these are some unconventional tips for moving to O’ahu and what to expect when you get here.
Know the Weather
From Waimanalo to all the way to the North Shore past Laie is the rainy side of O’ahu. If you don’t mind the rain and love green scenery then that’s the side of the island you want to be moving to. If you prefer sunny days then where Honolulu up to the west side in Makaha is the dry side. Winter is the rainy season. Sometimes it rains under a single cloud (causing a rainbow) while other times the whole sky opens up and causes flash flood warnings. O’ahu is very windy also, it’s not like other tropical islands. Although there are days when the wind stops and the humidity just kills you, those are rare though!
While everyone speaks English (or a variation of the language), Hawaiian is still spoken on and off and can be jarring to someone who is moving to the islands. Almost every street name and town name on O’ahu and other islands are named in Hawaiian. I suggest you buy one of these books (pictured above) as it’s really helpful! When you say things, or see things, you’ll know what they mean (like “Maunakea” means white mountain and it’s a street in Chinatown, Honolulu).
At the Royal Hawaiian Center almost daily they have hula lessons. Dancing was how stories were told for generations for thousands of years with the ancient Hawaiians since they had no written language. Each movement has a different meaning. Once you learn the dance you can understand any mele without being fluent in Hawaiian.
Learn the History of Hawai’i
Moving to the islands and living here is different, tourists don’t need to know who King Kamehameha I was, but if you’re planning on living here you probably should. There are a few places on the island that explain the history of Hawai’i and O’ahu. Iolani Palace is one of them, and even if you don’t want to pay the fee there is a free short documentary next to the gift shop. Another place is the Bishop Museum which also explains the history of Polynesia and Oceana. There are sometimes events around the island too that explain some history as well, don’t forget historic sites and shrines too.
Learn How to Make a Lei and Haiku
The cheapest lei you can probably find is about $7 and the cheapest haiku (crown lei) is about $25. Instead of going out and buying some (contrary to popular belief no one just hands you one when you land) learn how to make one yourself! Again, the Royal Hawaiian Center has free classes for this. If you make friends with the locals when you arrive they’ll know how to make one too.
Learn to Tell the Difference Between the Polynesian Islands
From the untrained eye Hawai’i, Fiji, Tahiti and the other islands in the Pacific Ocean can all kind of blend together into one culture. That couldn’t be farther form the truth! While they are similar (they all have their own style of dance and most of the languages are similar) they are still very different nations! The best place to learn these differences is going to the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Find Your Beach
Locals all have favorite beaches for different things. Some love surfing and spend their evenings looking up the best surf spots for the next morning (sometimes before 5am!). Others love the sunset, so they look for the perfect beaches for that. Others just want to chill with their family and friends, so they find the perfect beach for that. It all depends on what you’re looking for!
See Free Hula Shows
We’ve talked about the Polynesian Cultural Center, and I believe that’s the only experience you should really pay for while on O’ahu. There is no need to pay $100+ for a luau when you can go to the Ala Moana Center at 1pm for 20 minutes and watch a free show. Maybe you can stop by the Royal Hawaiian Center at one point and watch a free show listed on their website or join Waikiki Beach at sundown for an hour long free show. There are free shows on the island and they aren’t just for tourists.