What You Think You Know About Hawaii Is Actually All Wrong

More than a five hour flight from Los Angeles, sometimes it's easy to forget that Hawaii is very much a part of the 50 states -- and mainlanders unfortunately remind Hawaii's residents of their ignorance often. Don't be that person. Below, check out the biggest misconceptions about Hawaii.

"Aloha!" means "hello."

"Aloha" in Hawaiian actually means a combination of love, compassion and peace and the literal translation of "Aloha" is "the presence of breath."

This is a "Hawaiian shirt."

hawaiian shirt

Wrong again. It's actually called an "Aloha shirt" and in Hawaii, Aloha shirts are actually considered pretty cool.

Surfing is the paramount means of transportation. Even babies do it!

baby surfing

No, the people of Hawaii don't surf to work every morning -- vehicle traffic is actually a major problem on the island. On average, Honolulu residents waste about 58 hours in traffic every year.

hawaii traffic

People who live in Hawaii are Hawaiian.

hula dancing

Nope, "Hawaiian" refers to Hawaiian natives who can follow their ancestry back to the Polynesian settlers who began populating the island around 300 CE.

hawaiian dancers

Americans need a passport to get there.

passport hawaii

Perhaps you dozed off during middle school American history class, but Hawaii became an official state, joining the union in 1959.

Spam. It's what's for dinner.

hormel spam

The people of Hawaii may consume more spam per capita than any other state, but they eat other stuff too.


Every night is luau night.


Luaus aren't all that informal and for people who actually live in Hawaii, they're a pretty rare occurrence. Locals like to keep things casual.

hawaii beach bar

"The Big Island" (Hawaii) is where most everyone lives.

In fact, O'ahu is the most densely populated island (953,207 people) -- nearly nine times "The Big Island."
hawaii map

My cell phone won't work in Hawaii. I need an international plan, right?

beach cellphone


Hawaii In Photos