When we found out we were moving to Hawaii, we thought it was going to be so cool (spoiler alert: it is). We had a lot of friends who have lived here before or visited and like any person, they were full of opinions about life in Hawaii. Some of their tips were true but there were a few misconceptions and I thought since we are finishing up our tour here, I would share some common things that other military families say that in my opinion just are not true.
The locals are rude and/or racist.
I heard this from several people to “watch where we go because locals HATE military people.” I was even told that they are constantly violent towards “haole” or non-native Hawaiians. This is simply untrue. First of all, anywhere you go in America has places that are more dangerous than others. The state of Hawaii is no different in that respect, some areas are a little more dangerous, some people are but the vast majority of locals are super chill and super nice. In fact, the only people I’ve ever heard say the word haole were my friends on the mainland warning me against it. Everywhere you go, people are nice. Again, just like any state, some people are cool, some are ruder but as a whole, the people who live in Hawaii live that Aloha spirit and are super nice. I think a lot of military families think that because they stay on base all the time, only go to military beaches, and don’t get out and do stuff. We have tackled a lot on this island (and others) and have never come across rude people. Sometimes, at the more touristy place, some people are slightly annoyed with being there but maybe that’s because they’re at work and not out having fun? My point is, if you only stay within your small community and everyone keeps passing around horror stories of someone’s friend’s brother’s sister of course you will think these things are true. Like any duty station, get out and explore the place you’re living!
The beach is every where
Yes. Oahu is an island and there are beaches every where. But that doesn’t mean that your house will be right on the beach. In fact, most people do not live on the beach. I thought I would be with in at least short driving distance of the beach and envisioned myself exercising on the beach like in Blue Crush but no, the closest beach is 20-30 minutes away. Some military families live closer, some live farther of course but the vast majority of the island is mountainous and full of greenery. Oahu has 2 large mountain ranges and there is just a ton of jungle all over. While Waikiki is picture perfect, it is not an accurate representation of Hawaii. Also, if you really want to see some rude people, Waikiki is where it’s at because no one is ruder than a tourist on vacation who thinks this island is THEIRS alone.
Traffic is terrible
Before we came here, everyone told us about the traffic and how awful it was. Hours on the freeway! You need to live close to work or expect an hour commute! For the first year we lived here, I worked on a Marine base approximately 20 miles away from our house. In the morning, it took 30 minutes which is not too bad considering I drove on 2 highways and it was 730 am. What else would you expect? I mean, lots of cities have traffic in the mornings and evenings. Do we decide to go downtown at 5 o’clock with the expectation of arriving at 530? Of course not, why would you? The traffic here is no worse than any other city. What is annoying is all the construction, I think everyone just got together and said “you know what guys? Let’s start all these projects at the same time!” Luckily, the DOT gives ample warnings of when lanes on major roads will be closed so we can plan accordingly.
The weather is sunny, 75, and perfect every single day
This one is hilarious. Lots of people told us that it’s never humid here. The sun is always shining. The breeze is nice. It’s perfect weather all the time. Hawaii is not. It has a rainy season, it has a hurricane season, trade winds are tricky, and it does get humid. Very humid. During hurricane season, it rains a lot. So much so that our yard would get flooded for weeks on end. Sure, some people live in sunnier areas but during the summer, more often than not, you wake up to a cloudy day with light rain. By the afternoon, it’s sunny again and it’s hot. Not a perfect 75. People said I would be so prepared because the weather is a lot like Florida and just like Florida, it rains more than people think and is hotter than people think. I’m not complaining too much though because I haven’t bought a pair of jeans in 3 years and if I’m not wearing sandals, I have no idea what type of footwear is “in.”
So, there’s my little bit. Four misconceptions about Hawaii that I thought would be nice for anyone who is thinking of getting stationed out here or just coming to visit. Hawaii has a ton of good things about it and while I’m ready to move on to our next assignment, there is so much I am going to miss about this place.
Have you ever been surprised by how different your duty station has been from what people warned you about? What are some misconceptions about where you live?