Reflections on Living in Honolulu For One Year

Hanauma Bay, Hawai’i

On September 1, 2016 I flew out of Portland International Jetport in Portland, Maine and headed for Newark, New Jersey. After a layover there and I landed in Los Angeles not too long after that and finally landed in Honolulu around 9pm. I picked up a cab and made my way into the city. There were a lot of surprises (like the airport being outdoors and no air conditioning). So many things I had heard about the city, the island, and Hawai’i in general were wrong or mislead. Now that I’ve lived here for a year I’m a bit more stable and understand things a bit better than before.

Possible Racism

Racist people live everywhere on a planet. With such a diverse population you also expect it. I had been told many people have had hate against them because they are white. I can’t say whether or not it does happen. To me, it hasn’t. There are jokes, but they also joke about Phillipeanos, black people, the Chinese, and Micronesians. I have white friends who say the racism is strong where they live, interact, work, shop, etc. It still hasn’t happened to me.

It’s hard to tell who is local and who is “foreign.” Asian people who have lived here over 20 years can still have their strong accents. White people can have the local accent meanwhile there are people you’re sure look Polynesian who don’t have it at all. Honolulu (and everywhere else in the state) is extremely racially diverse. I dare say it could be the most racially diverse place on the planet.

Pronunciation of Names

Maybe we should change it to “It’s all Chinese to me.”

It does get easier once you’re here for a while. Although I still do slip up from time to time. People in Honolulu are used to people not from Hawai’i having trouble with saying all the names of the streets and towns. Asking a local how to pronounce it is your best bet, rather than just assuming you’re right. I wrote a quick and easy guide to Hawaiian here not too long ago.


Seen from Fort Derussy Beach Park, Honolulu, Hawai’i

It still amazes me that a photograph can’t really tell you how beautiful the landscapes are here. I see something absolutely goregous, take a picture of it, see it later, and realize it doesn’t look as amazing in the photograph. I know I mentioned it before but photographs really can’t capture this place’s beauty. I have gotten a DSRL and it has gotten better. Instead of a 4 out of 10 before editing I’d give my pictures more of a 7 out of 10, maybe 8 on the best day.

Meeting People in Honolulu

Happiest. Day. Of. My. Life.

The south thinks they have friendly people? After barely knowing several people I have been genuinely invited to a party they’re having. I went to one once and it was quite awkward from my perspective but everyone else thought it was totally normal. This didn’t have anything to do with a church event either, just people hanging out for a weekend. When walking along a beach in Makaha several people stopped to talk to me. I’ve had people take a picture with me at the Aloha Tower. Everywhere you go here people are just there to make friends. I never got that vibe while living in the south.

Not only that, but people who live here are from all over the world! Poland, Russia, Finland, England, France, Germany, Canada, Vietnam, China, Japan, the Philipeans, Barbados, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and on and on all in one city with less than 400,000 people. Most people I’ve met have actually heard of the state of Maine and the area known as New England (got Patriots!). Although, I have met a few people who thought Portland was the capital even after visiting Maine. I’ve met so many people who have traveled the world too, which only brings on more inspiration!

Understanding Thick Accents

Personally before moving to Honolulu I had the worst time with thick accents. I just couldn’t understand what they were saying no matter how hard I tried to listen to them. When I first got here I worked in retail, which meant I had to listen to people with thick accents and a hard grasp for the English language all the time. Even in barbering school I had to work on clients who didn’t really speak or understand English all that well. I’ve noticed over the year I’m already better at understanding thick accents and non-verbal communication because of it. Which brings on another point, Hawaii is a great place to visit or live before you travel the world as you have no idea if someone speaks English or not.

Architecture in Honolulu

One of these is not like the other.

To be honest, it’s a little lacking. One building looks Spanish. Next to that is a new building. Across the street is a building that looks like colonial era New England. Down the street they have Greek pillars on the outside of the building from the late 1700’s early 1800’s Greek rival period the US was having. Around the corner you’ll get a traditional Chinese building. It’s quite a mismash. The capital building is quite modern looking too which I’m not sure if I like.

The outside of buildings aren’t maintained here at all it seems. After so many years instead of revamping the outside they just tear it down and start again. This means fancy and shiney new buildings are right next to the old ones. No matter where I go in Honolulu, outside of Waikiki and Downtown the buildings just don’t look very beautiful to me at all. I can tell Chinatown looked beautiful back in the day but now it’s so dirty. Maybe I’m just judging too harshly. Other cities I’ve visited usually look great, only in the “bad nieghborhoods” will you see rundown places.


I love the weather here. Although, it does get to be unbearable sometimes. We need you wind! I’m glad Honolulu is on the dry side of the island. Like any tropical place when it rains, it pours, sometimes for quite a while. One Saturday we got 5 inches of rain within a 12 hour or so period. Most of the time it’s between 70 and 90 degrees and varying levels of humidity which is perfect. Not too hot (most of the time), not too cold (we did have a weekend where it stayed 50 degrees the whole time). I didn’t expect the weather to be great when I got here. I imagined something more like Florida where it stays above 90 degrees all the time and the humidity stays in the air, suffocating you.

Getting Around Honolulu (Without A Car)

busThis is the first time I’ve ever had to get around without having a vehicle. Although Honolulu’s bus system has been rated the best, it still takes so long to get from one end of the city to the other. Honolulu traffic is ranked number 1 in the nation (along with LA) because most of the towns around the city are residential. Everyone goes in and out of the city at the same time, hence traffic issues.


It isn’t as bad as I thought. Renting or buying a home is another topic altogether. If you’re going to be moving here, save up for rent or a mortgage because those aren’t cheap!

Moving On

For the next five months (give or take) I plan on staying in Honolulu. There are multiple reasons as to why that I won’t get into. In the next post I’ll post my itinerary for my around the world trip. I have no time frames from there on out. I can’t wait to meet you wherever you are in this world!

About Leanne

Leanne got the inspiration to travel the world at 12-years-old when her family moved from Washington State to Florida. Although she still had to attend 7th grade she used her time to gain inspiration from travel bloggers. Now, 7 years later, here she is! Today she's living in Honolulu, Hawaii and preparing herself both physically and mentally to travel the world. Come join her here on Countries To Go!

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