As one of the most popular vacation destinations in the United States – and across the world, there are countless guidebooks out there giving you “insider” information that is meant to help you plan the ultimate Hawaiian getaway. But, let’s be honest, as locals we often know a thing or two the guidebooks haven’t necessarily caught onto yet. So, if you want to explore Hawaii like a local, take note of these 13 lies the guidebooks tell you about our beautiful islands.
1. Waikiki Beach is king.
While the world-famous Waikiki Beach offers crystalline waters and fine white sand, it is not the best beach in Hawaii, let alone Oahu - at least in my opinion. But yet, somehow, Waikiki accounts for approximately 42 percent of Hawaii's tourism revenue, and pulls in an estimated $2 billion annually.
2. Maui is the only island worth visiting.
I've talked to so many people who only want to visit Maui, and discredit the other incredible Hawaiian Islands. Don't get me wrong - the Valley Isle is absolutely stunning and full of hidden gems to uncover, but Kauai, Hawaii Island, Molokai, and even Lanai are also worth a visit. Really, if you're planning a trip to Hawaii, you should plan to visit at least two of the islands.
3. The weather is perfect, year-round.
Most people visit Hawaii as a way to escape from their daily lives and experience warm, tropical weather. But the Hawaiian Islands are as unique as our culture, and some spots receive as little as 8 inches of rain annually, while others receive an average of 400 inches of rain each year! While certainly not perfect, all of that rain certainly makes the islands lush and green!
4. Diamond Head is a must-hike trail.
Yes, the views of Honolulu from the summit of Diamond Head are amazing, but the trail itself is a major tourist destination, and instead of enjoying the journey, you'll spend your time stuck behind a group of tourists who decided that it would be a great idea to hike up a mountain in slippers and a sundress. For stellar views - and an easier journey - head to Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail or the Lanikai Pillboxes.
5. Blue Hawaii should be your drink of choice.
Half the fun of being on an island vacation is ordering tropical drinks, we get it. But instead of the legendary Blue Hawaii or classic Mai Tai, opt instead for a Li Hing Mui Margarita, an island treat you surely won't find anywhere else.
6. That Aloha means hello and goodbye.
While ‘Aloha’ means hello and goodbye, it also is the embodiment of the Hawaiian lifestyle and spirit, conveying feelings of love, kindness, friendship, and community.
7. Everyone lives on the Big Island.
While it would make sense for the Big Island to not only be the largest island, but also the most populous, it isn't. In fact, while Hawaii Island is 4,000 square miles, only 186,000 of the state's 1.43 million residents call this island home.
8. It’s easy to visit the USS Arizona Memorial.
Pearl Harbor's USS Arizona is undeniably a harrowing experience, and though tickets are free, there are only so many available each day, meaning that you'll have to get there early (or reserve the tickets online the night before). The USS Arizona is a breathtaking piece of American history, and it is entirely worth the trip, but I can guarantee you will enjoy exploring the neighboring USS Battleship Missouri more.
9. There’s nothing to do but lounge on the beach.
The Hawaiian Islands are known for their incredible beaches, but the islands are also home to majestic mountain peaks, breathtaking valleys, cascading waterfalls, and more activities than you can possibly fit into your short vacation. Spend some time at the beach, but remember that Hawaii has so much more to offer if you just do a little research.
10. Maui’s Road to Hana is the only drive worth taking.
Maui's Hana Highway is perhaps the state's most iconic drive, but we also feel the need to remind you that you should also check out Hawaii Island's Saddle Road and Lanai's Munro Trail, as well as Oahu's Tantalus Drive and H-3 highway.
11. Luaus are popular among locals.
To be honest, most locals rarely attend luaus - except maybe when they have family visiting. The luau was first created in 1819, when King Kamehameha removed many religious laws that were practiced, including the rules that stated that men and women were to eat their meals separately. The King performed the symbolic act of eating with a woman, and ended all religious taboo. Now, the terms luau and party are almost exchangeable.
12. Everyone wears Hawaiian shirts all the time.
First, it's called "Aloha Wear," not Hawaiian shirts, and second, I know very few people who actually wear them on a regular basis. Wearing matching floral-print shirts basically screams tourist to anyone living in Hawaii.
13. Hawaii is an absolute paradise.
While there is no denying that Hawaii is the greatest state in the country, the Aloha State faces certain problems as unique as the islands. From rampant homelessness and an extravagant cost of living with stagnant wages, to having nowhere to put our garbage and having the second worst traffic in the country, Hawaii isn't all rainbows and sunshine all the time.