Why you might think locals in Hawaii are rude to you reason #1: They aren’t as cheerful as the people who picked you up at the airport.
The personal hotel chauffeur service that picked you up at the airport were probably the happiest, cheerful people. They brought leis for you and your visiting family members, and greeted your late night flight arrival with a cheerful smile. This is because they were paid to do so. Locals in Hawaii may come across as rude just because they are not paid to greet you with leis and flowers 24/7. This is our home. We don’t go hiking for the sake of pleasing others and educating those who are new to the islands. We go hiking because we take our dogs there every Saturday with our families. This is our home. So if it seems like Hawaii are locals are rude to you, just remember that this is their home, and you are a visitor. Not all locals are paid to keep tourists happy. Most are not.
Why you might think locals in Hawaii are rude to you reason #2: They see a lot of tourists all the time.
Locals are accustomed to seeing tourists around the island. Just like in any community, tourists are really easy to identify. The awkwardly vibrant Aloha shirts, cheap straw hats, and fake shell necklaces usually give it away. It’s ok, they can’t help it. But, locals are used to seeing this all over the place so they are not interested in pleasing every tourist they see. Hawaii is one of the most-visited tourist destinations in the world, so there’s a lot of tourists here at any point in time. Summer time is high time, but any other point in the yea also sees a lot of tourists. So, Hawaii locals are not interested in pleasing all of the tourists they see in public all the time. They just want to go out to the grocery store, not have to provide driving directions for parking lots all the time. They just want to go to the beach, not have to run in and rescue uneducated tourists who dove into dangerous waters.
Why you might think locals in Hawaii are rude to you reason #3: Expectations are different from reality.
Those who are not native to the Hawaiian Islands probably hold an idealistic, unrealistic expectation of locals. Most envision the idea of locals wearing flower leis and sewing grass skirts for work, and eating pineapples for dessert. That’s not always the case. It’s actually never the case. Hence, locals may come across as rude just because they are not meeting commercial expectations of what it looks like to live in Hawaii. People who live here work full time 40 hours a week, staying busy with kids’ soccer games on Saturdays and hula competitions on Fridays. We live “normal,” lives unlike what most think. Life in Hawaii is an amazing experience, but it’s not perfect all the time. There’s traffic, high taxes, and expensive living standards. Expectations for living in Hawaii can be very different from the reality of it.
Not born and raised here, a transplant over the last 10 years. I work in sales in an industry that markets to every demographic, we see people from all walks of life. Consequently, since it’s retail, I get treated poorly by all walks of life, but not equally. I stand out as someone who’s obviously not from here, and what i notice is that SOME (certainly not all) locals are very rude if they perceive you as an outsider, which is the easiest thing to do when you don’t look like you’re from a place. I understand the disdain for systemic oppression and how outside influences have had negative impacts here, what I dont understand is coming to a place of business with the sole intent of harassing employees in a place that we willingly go to provide services to you, services that locals willingly pay for. Sometimes it seems like no matter how polite you are to some locals, they would rather pick a fight over nothing than allowing someone to solve the problem. I’ve lived all over and I’ve seen how locals tend to act toward out-of-towners, so i dont want to imply that its only a problem here, but Hawaii is different in how it’s an actual melting pot and yet some local ppl can be so impolite toward transplants and tourists alike. It doesn’t stop there though, the people that enter the country through Hawaii are brazen enough have the same attitude, imagine the irony of leaving your home country to treat service workers poorly in the place you emigrated to. If you’re not the right shade of brown here, it can be really tough to make meaningful connections, feeding into the “revolving door” syndrome when people come, take but leave nothing of value when they decide they’ve had enough. I like it here though. Because there’s bad people everywhere, but there’s more good people. This place has an energy and even though it’s not perfect I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.
Mahalo Diamond for sharing your story. I’m glad you’ve made it through 10 yrs despite the downside. Yes, Hawaii has its negatives but overall, no place I’d rather be.
I think they ought to thank the USA for eliminating the aka
Japanese presence prior to their “claim” that it’s their island. There might be 5% native today but most were slaves from Samoa and surrounding island’s. The Japs just wiped out the DNA while …..visiting…..for a term.
I have encountered some rude locals but for the most part I find them decent and friendly. I have seen more old white people being rude to the locals; i.e. nasty comments to the cashiers at grocery check out. My family moved here almost 3 years ago and have learned the people just want to lead private lives. Yes, the hardcore Hawaiians complain about being part of the USA. They do need to understand that if they were not part of the USA then they would want to learn Chinese or Russian because Hawaii is too important a strategic point to be ignored. Another superpower would move in if the USA were not here.
I have distant relatives whom are native Islanders. They have their own click. Most who live on the Hawaiian islands aren’t even natives. But offspring of the Japanese who occupied the island. If not for tourist it would collapse economically. Especially if the Spam runs out.
Hawaiian locals are rude and hateful to “howlies” aka white people”. Very racist. I’ve been to all the islands multiple times as someone who flies for a major airline. I reluctantly fly there because the flight pay is good, but I never leave the hotel. I’ve had such traumatic, unnecessary experiences with the locals. I hate it. They are literally the worst people I’ve ever met in my world travels, granted, I haven’t been to Somalia. Get over yourselves already. You wanted statehood, you got it. You don’t have anything to offer anymore except beauty and pineapples, maybe be a little nicer to the people who feed you and your family. I am a liberal, but I wholeheartedly detest Hawaiian locals. I live in in Las Vegas, commonly referred to as the ninth island, and I have never been rude to anyone asking any questions. Hawaiian natives/locals need to check themselves. You don’t get to be entitled and victim at the same time. If it wasn’t for tourist dollars, your two room house of 18 people, would be two room house 48 people. Come back down to earth. Recognize, what you have to offer, basically nothing but the land and the beach, that you don’t own. Be nice to everyone who brings money into your community/state.
Thank you for sharing your experiences. I’m really sad to hear of them.
Stop the shipments of Spam and the Hawaiians will bow down!
Just got back from 10 days on two islands. Treated very well in the tourist areas of the resorts, but treated very badly in areas off the beaten path (public beach and road to Hana). Not
Much you can do about it. Just choose to go where people are friendlier and welcoming next time. I truly wish I had found out how locals feel before I went. I’m a “live and let live” sort of person, and if I had known the truth about the islands, I would have planned another destination. No one wants to feel they don’t belong somewhere, but that is exactly how we felt. Felt duped, like we were paying for a fake version of what we have been led to believe what Hawaii was about. Hawaii is not what we learned on The Brady Bunch.
Sorry you had a bad experience. The USA (and Hawaii) isn’t the country it was back in the Brady Bunch days – that’s for sure.
Reason #4: Native Hawaiians ARE often rude. I moved here in May of this year; my family has lived here for 2 years. I find that the businesses I utilize that have long been used by mostly locals (everything from the DMV to the laundromat, for example), I am treated rudely – no matter that I have been using their services and am unfailingly polite – for months. They are resentful of any non-native who lives here, but take our money very happily.
Also, racism is a REAL problem here. Hawaiians dislike the Japanese, Filipinos, Tahitians and absolutely detest Micronesians. This place is far from paradise where the native people are concerned – so I focus on the natural beauty and my family and only interact with native Hawaiians when I have no choice.
To the person who posted this comment I honestly want to say I’m very sorry on the behalf of my people. But yet I don’t know if there is a cultural difference of why you think my people is rude or if you just approach them in bad mannerisms that Kanaka Ma’oli (Hawaiians) would consider rude and you haven’t realized it. Maybe if you truly try to understand our culture from ancient days all the way to modern days might help with your issue along with our issues as kanaka ma’oli. Plus there’s always 3 sides to a story: your story, our story, and the TRUTH. Being that I only read your side of the story I can’t fully judge of who did who wrong. Mahalo nui loa for your attention.
Native Hawaiians, are the worst people I’ve ever met on the planet, as racists. I, completely detest them. Completely unacceptable.
Yet another Kona Haole that thinks they are owed something for having showed up “months ago” with some cash to wave around… Who asked you to come here? Donʻt like it? How about you go home?
All three of you are bloody wrong. Although I like Ali’i response – it was the most accurate. I went to high school in Waipahu. At the time – in the 60’s it was considered a very rough place to live given the local population. Hawaiian, Filipino, Samoan, etc. And as luck would have our very first night there – in a hotel. A Samoan was stabbed to death below our window (we were on the third floor) and we were exhausted from a couple long flights and told HPD we didn’t hear anything. Anyway, how to handle being a haole in the wrong place at the wrong time. I survived high school. There was two other haoles. One was a girl – she went ok…the other was boy like me. But not the same. I got along with everyone…I loved it there – because I tried. He didn’t at all, and got stabbed. He survived, but never returned. I joined the Marines after high school. Boot camp was easy.
It varies so much between areas, I would never say one place is better than others because it really depends on YOUR attitudes when you live there. I’ve had virtually no issues while living there or returning on vacations. Almost the opposite really. I had diplomatic immunity down near Ewa Beach, at the plantation beach at the time – to surf my brains out. The only haole. Nothing special – just genuinely treated people the same as I would like them to treat me. It isn’t rocket science.
Mahalo Buckwheat for sharing the simple secret: it’s about YOUR attitude – it means everything!
I lived on Oahu in ‘89-‘91. There was some definite prejudice attitudes towards tourists/white people by the locals. But if given the opportunity to get to know them, they are very nice people, just like people are everywhere else. I’m in Colorado now and tourists from other states are making CO more difficult to live in as well. I feel people in general, act more entitled to do as they see fit, and not be respectful of others. When vacationing, act like you would like people to act if they’re renting your neighbor’s place. Don’t litter, stay on trails, etc., simple manners.
Don’t remember being treated rudely on any of several visits, 4 different islands. “Aloha” and “Shaka” spirit goes a long way.
San Diego is a popular tourist destination too. I have lived here since 1968. I feel you are going to find all times of attitudes regarding tourist. It’s not one size fits all. I agree, some of it is what you put out there, you will receive back. I also agree that the islands can be clickish. Been vacationing for years on the islands. Most have been very pleasant. Have found that most Islanders like San Diegans. But then maybe it’s because as a middle class everyday not an Orange County pretentious Housewife, but a down to earth – hey I shop at Walmart kind of person, Islanders can be themselves. Or maybe my husband and I have just been pretty luck. We have been invited to locals home, had a homemade lei made for me from the plumeria tree in their yard. So I guess we have been pretty lucky
I think the Natives feel the same everywhere – as a native Californian, my neighborhood has turned to ruins and rude people in the last 50 years. The Natives in Hawaii feel the same resentment plus they are conflicted because the economy IS tourism. We have to move to places that are not so pleasant weather-wise – places that are not desirable to nearly all people! I have wanted to move to Kula for decades and now that I can afford it, I worry that it will change just like every other popular place. When there are too many people, it strains the natural resources and people’s tempers. I don’t feel I have a right to spoil Maui or any other part of the islands. Maybe there should be limits on the number of persons per sq. mile allowed on each island. A Trump wall is not the answer, of course, and these ideas may seem ridiculous, but all too often we don’t act quickly enough to prevent a problem!
So next time a local is rude, don’t take it personally, and imagine how you’d feel if your hometown was paradise but becoming overrun with people to the point you feel you have to move!
Hawaii has the border wall beat by a wide margin with the greatest border security on the planet: The Pacific Ocean under the watchful eye of the US Navy at Pearl Harbor.
I think most people from most urban areas with a fairly strong tourism industry understand that crowds go with the territory. That said, if you live in an area with heavy tourism, you know how and where to ovoid the tourists for the most part. I also believe most Hawaiians know that tourism is by far the largest local industry but, rude people are not exclusive to the big cities. However, like a previous blogger pointed out, you will come across rude people in every walk of life, sorry, welcome to the real world.
I’ve always found the “locals” to be like locals anywhere – they’re busy living their lives. Respect that and they place they call home and they’ll respect you. Act like a rude, entitled jerk, and you’ll get the treatment you deserve.
I’d say that’s pretty accurate.
I moved here 3 years ago. I don’t find locals rude but more stand off-ish. It has been very difficult to make friends. My daughter who is in college has found it nearly impossible to make friends. Her work colleagues always leave her out of conversations and any after work events she does not get invited to. I have experienced the same thing. She can’t wait to move back to the mainland. I have wanted to live here all my life so I’m staying and hoping I can prove to people here I love the aina as much as they do!
Well-said. Hawaii is very, very clickish. Tell your daughter to join as many volunteer groups as possible. That will help.
Another reason might be the runaway proliferation of short-term housing rentals (Air B&B and such). In my condo complex a large number of units have been purchased by absentee owners who rent exclusively to tourists who stay a day or two, (maybe three) never learning the lay of the land, the association rules, or the local culture.
Gets old fast!
That STR (short term rentals) is quickly becoming a huge problem.
I’ve lived most of my life in a tourist destination (Monterey Peninsula) and understand the relationship with tourists. Yes, our economy depends on them and generally they aren’t a big problem. There are times during the year when we are overrun with tourists for large events (Car Week, AT&T Golf, US Open Golf, Jazz Fest, etc.) and our traffic is beyond insane for a small area. We don’t have the infrastructure to support the event population swells. Locals wind up staying home as much as possible because you can’t get anywhere and there’s nowhere to park when you get there.
I assume Hawaii might be similar, or worse. I can understand locals being weary of tourists: too many people in a small area is always uncomfortable. Restaurants are crowded, natural areas are overrun with humanity…it’s just “too much”.
My plan is to be somewhat “Invisible”. I don’t want to stick out like an annoyance, I don’t want to come across as rude or demanding or entitled. I just want to blend in; enjoy all the islands have to offer in a more quiet way. I tend to smile and say “hello” to strangers here, so I hope that will be okay in Hawaii also. I just want to be peaceful, calm, grateful and happy.
People are people everywhere: treat everyone with kindness and respect and you get treated the same most of the time. Once in the while when you get a negative reaction — you never know — that person has their own personal issues going on; don’t take it personally; smile and keep going on.
I look forward to moving to the Big Island and making it my home.
These are great conversations. Thanks for sharing.
Great article. The same exact thing could be written about Las Vegas :) Well minus the leis and hula lessons :)
I tried moving back in 03, when I still had lots of working years ahead of me and I didn’t have a year’s savings, didn’t think ahead, and I crashed and burned. I’m not coming back until retirement time.
But you know what, the US economy sucks everywhere. High tech doesn’t pay except for a fraction of a per cent of superstars, everyone else gets paid about the same as working in a warehouse or “back of house” restaurant work etc. It’s not a great golden land here on the mainland. And it’s NOT less expensive!
So the average person is just getting by, and has tension because of financial reasons. And they’re not going around smiling and greeting people unless it’s their job. Same as anywhere.
Hawaii is not one big theme park!