43 Things Every Local Must Do

What place other than Hawai‘i could come up with both the shaka sign and surfing?


What place other than Hawai‘i could come up with both the shaka sign and surfing? We definitely have our own unique ways of doings things, of seeing the world. Our lives are a mixed plate of cultures, traditions, habits and languages, and are better for it. “Local” has as many definitions as there are people in Hawai‘i. Local isn’t just how we think. It’s what we do. In that spirit, here are 43 things you gotta do if you’re gonna call yourself local.



Have a Sunday Long’s routine.

Say hi to your neighbors, catch up on gossip, score deals with your coupon book and scoop the faster check-out at the cosmetic or photo departments.


Own Pidgin to Da Max.

Since 1981, this book and its sequels have been touchstones of local culture, so much so that we couldn’t think of a better way to illustrate this article than to hire Douglas Simonson, the creator and illustrator of the series, for this article. Publisher Bess Press is releasing new e-book editions and has offered HONOLULU Magazine readers a special deal—order from besspress.com and get 40 percent off any book from the Pidgin series, in addition to any other Bess Press and Editions Limited titles, during the month of April by entering “HonMag” at checkout. Eh, tanks, brah!


Photo: Courtesy Daniel Ho


Jam on your ukulele.

You do have an ukulele, right? If you’re an old-time kamaaina, chances are this was the first instrument you learned to play. Ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro started playing when he was 4 years old.


We’re not asking you to be another Jake. But, as a local, you should at least be able to play a couple of well-known Hawaiian compositions. Lessons are available in many forms, including classes taught by renowned ukulele teacher Roy Sakuma. Learning to play is fun and easy, although mastering the instrument takes years of practice.


If you’re interested in taking a class from Sakuma, call (808) 732-3739. Better yet, go to roysakuma.net, and see if you can strum along to “Surf” by the Ka‘au Crater Boys. The song uses just a few basic chords. Get jammin’!


Photo: David Croxford


Never travel, even interisland, without bringing back omiyage!

Coming back from Maui,  manju from Sam Sato’s is a guaranteed pleaser. From Big Island, it’s mochi from Two Ladies Kitchen. From Kauai, Hamura Saimin offers lilikoi chiffon pies, frozen to survive the trip back to Oahu. From Molokai—deer jerky.


Kick off your shoes.

Everyone knows you take off your shoes before entering the house. But you can do better than the old pile of shoes and slippahs on the doormat. A popular solution is a getabako, also known as “shoe tansu,” placed at the entryway of the home. Sliding panels open to reveal shelves for easy storage. You don’t need to get too fancy. Small bookshelves will work just fine. But if you want the high-end stuff, search your favorite antique furniture store or contact Jtansu, a Japanese furniture company based in Summerland, Calif. Jtansu specializes in high-quality period pieces from Asia. These getabako aren’t cheap—the ones we saw ranged from $950 and up—but they do make a statement. Go to jtansu.com and see for yourself.


Have a hibachi (and know how to use it.)

Photo: Michael Keany


Update your Pidgin.

Da ting fo remembah about Pidgin? Stay always changing. Evoluting. No believe us? Jus ask Lee Tonouchi, da main Pidgin expert in da state. Known as “Da Pidgin Guerrilla,” Tonouchi even came out wit da book, Da Kine Dictionary, dat you can buy at any bookstore or whatevah.


“In da olden days, used to have mo Hawaiian words in da Pidgin,” Tonouchi wen tell us. “Nowadays, I tink get more hip-hop jargon in Pidgin. Some peepo ask, ‘Wat happens if it get to da point weah it’s no longah Pidgin becuz get too much hip-hop?’ But to me, Pidgin always wen incorporate all dese other languages into it, and we still call it Pidgin, right? So why would hip-hop be any different?”


Hea is tree examples of wat da bruddah wen mean:

  • Chillaxin’. “Chill” and “relax” put toggedah.
  • Da bomb. It means “da best.”
  • Irkatated. To be “irked” and “irritated” at da same time.


Brunch at Waioli Tea Room & Bakery.

Since 1922, eating here has been one of those experiences that makes Manoa Manoa. Take an umbrella. 2950 Manoa Road, (888) 340-8917.

You could be here, as an extra behind star Alex O’Loughlin.

Photo: Mark Arbeit


Get a cameo on Hawai‘i Five-0.

At this point,  appearing in the background of a TV show shot in Hawai‘i is a tradition. Your dad did it in the original Five-O. Your aunty was in an episode of Magnum P.I. Somebody must’ve been in Birds of Paradise. Everyone but you managed to get into a background scene of Lost. Now, the classic is back—Hawai‘i Five-0 is adding new stories and new opportunities for everyone to see you peeking out in a crowd scene for 2.5 seconds.


The show casts 200 to 400 extras for each episode, everything from tourists to bikini girls to HPD and SWAT members. To sign up, mail two recent photos (if you want to be considered for a bikini model and a higher pay rate, send a bathing suit photo as well), along with your contact information to: Extras Casting, Eye Productions, 605 Kapiolani Blvd., Honolulu, HI 96813. You may be contacted by phone to come into the office for a meeting, or may just be hired for a scene.


Witness at least one local sports moment.

The Neal Blaisdell Arena  was less than half full on the night of Dec. 23, 1982. But the 3,383 fans who were there got to witness what is still regarded as the greatest upset in the history of college basketball: Chaminade 77, No. 1-ranked Virginia 72. It was our ultimate “I-was-there” sport moment.


Hawai‘i may not have a bona fide professional sports franchise, but that doesn’t mean local sports fans are deprived of special moments. Here are six other noteworthy events that occurred in the Islands in the past 30 years. How many of these did you see first-hand?


  • Oct. 28, 1989: The UH football team finally beats BYU, 56-14.
  • Dec. 30, 1997: Led by the “Dynamic Duo” of Anthony Carter and Alika Smith, the UH men’s basketball team shocks No. 2-ranked Kansas in the championship game of the Rainbow Classic.
  • March 22, 1998: The UH baseball team beats Fresno State to give head coach Les Murakami his 1,000th career victory.
  • Nov. 6, 2004: In front of his home fans, UH quarterback Timmy Chang breaks the NCAA record for career passing yards. His mark (17,072 yards) still stands.
  • Nov. 23, 2007: The UH football team beats rival Boise State to win the WAC championship. After the game, thousands of fans rush Aloha Stadium field to celebrate.
  • Oct. 17, 2009: In a packed house at the Stan Sheriff Center, Dave Shoji notches his 1,000th win as the UH Rainbow Wahine volleyball coach.


If you came up empty with the above list, don’t sweat it. Just get out to the games. Pretty soon, you’ll have an “I-was-there-when” moment of your own.


Give away fruits and veggies from your yard.

Whether you bring grocery bags filled with mangos to church or deliver eggplants to your neighbor, nothing is more local than sharing the fruit—or veggies—of your labor. Sharing gifts from the aina has its benefits, too: How many times have you given Aunty Marie some bananas, only to later see her walking toward you with a couple of loaves of freshly baked banana bread?


Photo: Courtesy of David Sur



Local youth leagues are are always looking for volunteer coaches and officials. You don’t need to be a Dave Shoji or Greg McMackin to help boys and girls learn about the game. David Trifonovitch, head coach of the two-time state champion Punahou boys soccer team, says “It’s all about giving the kids a good experience. Even if you don’t know [sports], if you’re willing to spend time with the kids as an assistant coach or a team mom or manager, that really helps.”

Photo: David Croxford


Cook local.

How are you going to cook something if you don’t stock the right ingredients in your fridge? Soy sauce, sriracha, mirin, hoisin, rice vinegar, chili-pepper water and more—the multi-ethnic tastes of Hawai‘i.




No ifs, ands or buts:  To be a self-respecting local, you have to enjoy a tailgate party at least once. Savor the food, bask in the sun, talk story with the gang, down a few of your favorite beverages and soak in the atmosphere of a University of Hawai‘i football game at Aloha Stadium. Tailgating is so popular in Hawai‘i that some folks don’t even bother going to the game itself—they just show up at the stadium, party with their friends and head home when the game starts.


You can be as simple or elaborate as you like. The menu? Throw some steaks on a hibachi or just bring Spam musubi and fried chicken. You can grind from the comfort of your vehicle or sit outside under a tent. The main objective here is to relax.


Be known for one broke-da-mouth potluck item.

From family picnics  and church socials to tailgate parties and baby luau, locals love to celebrate with food, and lots of it. You don’t need to own a restaurant to earn recognition as a culinary master; you know you’ve “made it” when you get requests for that dish you brought to the last potluck.


If you still haven’t found that recipe, here’s a suggestion courtesy of the Women’s Ministry at Bethany Assembly of God in Aiea, from their cookbook, Favorite Recipes.


Chicken Broccoli Casserole
  • 5 medium pieces of boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 cans (10.75 oz.) cream of mushroom soup (undiluted)
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pkg. (1 lb.) frozen broccoli cuts
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup (1 block) butter
  • 1 pkg. (4 oz.) panko flakes


Cook chicken by simmering in salted water (about 30 minutes). Cool and shred into bite-size pieces. In large bowl, mix soup, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Add chicken. Mix and set aside. Melt butter in medium sauce pan. Add panko flakes and stir until butter is absorbed. Layer evenly in 9-by-13-inch pan: frozen broccoli cuts on bottom; chicken mixture in middle; then shredded cheese with panko-flake mixture on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until flakes are light brown. Serves 6.


Photo: David Croxford


Be able to string a lei on a moment’s notice.

It’s a late Sunday afternoon, your company’s executives are in town for a reception, and the boss says, “Oh, I forgot to ask you: Can you make sure they each get a flower lei tonight?” The lei shops are closed and Longs Drugs is all out of their garlands. What do you do? Well, you’re local. Making four flower lei? No problem! That’s right, every local should be able to fashion a lei on a moment’s notice.


Here’s a step-by-step “how to” for creating a simple, yet beautiful fresh Dendrobium orchid lei:


Photo: David Croxford


  1. You’ll need a large needle, a thin fishing line or dental floss, and about 50 loose, de-stemmed orchid flowers.
  2. Cut a piece of fishing line or floss about 90 inches long. Insert through the head of the needle, and fold the line in half.
  3. Tie a large knot near the end of the line to form a “stopper.” Leave a few inches below the knot. You’ll use the extra inches to tie your finished lei together.
  4. Holding the needle, stick it through the orchid flower’s “through” and insert through the end. Pull the flower through the needle. Carefully slide the orchids down the string as you add them.
  5. When you have only two to three inches of string left on each side, tie the ends together. You may want to add a ribbon by the knot to complete the look.
  6. Present lei with a warm hug full of aloha. Muahhh!



Complain about the “cold” when it’s 72 degrees out—and really mean it!

Call everyone older than you “aunty” and “uncle.”

And be called aunty or uncle by everyone younger than you.


Make your carport your other living room.

Its open-air ambience is just right for parties, watching Sunday football games, karaoke, and just talking story with the neighbors. It’s Hawai‘i’s version of the front porch.


Have a pair of “dressy” slippahs.

For weddings.


Photo: Michael Keany


Go Cardboard Sliding.

We don’t have snow on Oahu.  But we do have hills and cardboard boxes. No childhood would be complete without sliding down the slopes and getting grass stains and bruises at Kakaako Waterfront Park, or in Temple Valley, or possibly even—and not with our permission—on local golf courses late at night.



It’s OK if you forgot someone’s name. Hui will get their attention.


Pacquiao pride!


Carolyn Suzanne Sapp

Photo: Courtesy of Miss Hawai‘i Organization


Know Your Miss Hawai‘is.

The Miss Hawai‘i Scholarship Pageant has been around since 1948. Since then, 65 women have worn the Miss Hawai‘i crown, representing the Islands with distinction. As a local you should at least know a handful of them. Here are six to remember:

  • Yun Tau Chee (1948). The first Miss Hawai‘i. She was the first-ever Asian American woman to compete in the Miss America Pageant. Notably, she took the Miss Hawai‘i crown only after the original winner was disqualified for not having enough high school credits.
  • Gertrude Kapiolani Miller (1954). She later traveled around the world with the Harlem Globetrotters as a friend of team founder Abe Saperstein. In 1984, she was put on trial for the shooting death of her husband, dairyman Robert Toledo. The jury ruled that she acted in self-defense.
  • Kanoelehua Kaumeheiwa (1973). You know her now as Kanoe Miller, who has delighted guests at the Halekulani with her hula performances for the past 34 years. Sister publication Hawai‘i Magazine recently noted that Miller “may very well be the most photographed Hawai‘i hula dancer in history.”
  • Elizabeth Kapuuwailani Lindsey (1978). The veteran filmmaker and television actress (perhaps best known for her recurring role in the late-1980s drama series China Beach) is now a respected anthropologist. She is the first female National Geographic Fellow as well as the first Polynesian explorer for the National Geographic Society.
  • Carolyn Suzanne Sapp (1991). Hawai‘i’s first Miss America. She later starred in Miss America: Behind the Crown, an autobiographical TV movie that shed light on the abusive relationship she shared with former UH football star Nuu Faaola.
  • Angela Perez Baraquio (2000). The second Miss Hawai‘i to capture the Miss America crown. Today, she and her sisters are still Living Local on the TV program.

Photo: Mark Arbeit


Eat shave ice.

Our new favorite is Shimazu’s at 330 N. School St.

Photo: David Croxford


Enjoy musubi, the all-purpose snack.

You can go gourmet with musubi from Mana-Bu, but when you’re hiking, or at the beach, even the ones from 7-Eleven hit the spot.


Photo: David Croxford


Hike the Aiea Loop Trail.

There are splashier trails. There are more touristy trails. But for a taste of natural beauty in a perfectly ordinary suburb, it’s hard to top this one. An easy, two-hour walk, complete with ridge-top views and a plane wreck, and there’s a heiau at the park. Go with family.


Be a connoisseur of coolers.

“Oh, you need coolah? What size you need, I get plenty.” Big ones for fish, medium ones for potlucks, little ones for bentos; even those fragile white Styrofoam ones have their uses.


Wear a flower in your hair.

Make sure it’s on the appropriate side, too, bumbye you lead someone on. Right ear for single, left ear for taken (because it’s over your heart—awwwwwww, da cute!!)


Photo: David Croxford


Know which places in your neighborhood are haunted.

Because every local neighborhood is haunted.


Get a local-style, personalized license plate.

Applying for a personalized license plate online is JUS2EZ. Visit www4.honolulu.gov and follow the instructions. You’ll even be able to type out your desired word or phrase to see if it’s available. Of course, the usual suspects (“DABESS,” “DAKINE, “FIVE-O,” “ALOHA1,” “NOKAOI,” “INOKEA,” etc.) are already in use. Still, you might be surprised at what’s available. If you’re the romantic sort, for example, “ILUVYU” has yet to be claimed. If you’re not, “IH8YOU” is there for the taking. Interestingly, “GO RAIL” is in use, but “NO RAIL” isn’t.


Photo: Courtesy of Zippy’s


Fundraise for dayz.

Whether it’s Zippy’s chili, huli huli chicken, Portuguese sausage and sweet bread, or kulolo—helping out never tasted so good.


Prefer the scenic route.

Say you live in town and gotta go Kahala Mall. You could hop on the freeway. But why not drive around Diamond Head, just because you can? Or around Koko Head, if you’re going Waimanalo side, instead of cutting through Hawai‘i Kai? Or to get to the North Shore—why not take the long way through Kaneohe? Of course, by local definition, these are “road trips.” Pack accordingly.

Sign wave for a politician.



You don’t need a board to surf; in fact, boards are technically banned at famous surf spot Point Panic. Your own opu will do just fine. However, it’s OK to mix in a cafeteria tray or even rubbah slippers on your hands, for an assist.


Recall some old-kine commercial jingles and commercials.

Here’s a quiz to test your memory. Just fill in the blanks:

  1. The late Loyal Garner sang, “Cutter Ford Aiea, where ________________.”
  2. “The Exchange goes down, down, down … and round, round, round in your _________.”
  3. “Kenny’s at the Kam Shopping Center ___________.”
  4. “Hi, I’m Didi Ah Yo, and __________.”
  5. “No huhu. Call _________.”
  6. “If you are not buying your diamonds from The House of Adler, you are ________.”
  7. The late Malcolm Love pushed Tire Warehouse Hawai‘i by yelling, “Go now, Hawai‘i! __________?”
  8. “Ooo-ahh-Oh-wow! _________!”
  9. Lex Brodie ended all of his tire commercials with “____________.”
  10. Young Kalani ended his pitch for Ponderosa Pines Montana by urging viewers to “_____________!”


ANSWERS: 1. You make the deal  2. Tum, tum, tum  3. In Kalihi  4. Away we go!  5. Magoo’s  6. Paying too much  7. Why pay more?  8. Ala Moana!  9. Thank you, very much  10. Call now, fo sure!



Eat noodles from a different country every day of the week.

Pho from Vietnam. Udon from Japan. Pad thai from Thailand. Pancit from the Philippines. Chicken long-rice from China. Baked spaghetti from Italy. Saimin from right here.


Photo: Odeelo Dayondon


Own a poi dog.

C’mon, this one is easy. If you’re a local, you gotta have a poi dog. While a pure breed may carry a certain stature, poi dogs exemplify the local culture: lovable, easygoing, low maintenance and, oh, yeah, “all-kine chop suey.” Naturally, you can’t give your poi dog any old, run-of-the-mill name. Instead, consider a Hawaiian name for your new pet.


Some suggestions: Akamai (“Smart”); Liko (“Bud”); Miki (“Active”); Malo (“Winner”); Kaila (“Stylish”); Ipo (“Sweetheart”). Interested in adopting a dog? Call 356-2218 or log on to hawaiianhumane.org for more information.


Hoard rice and toilet paper at the first sign of hurricane or tsunami. You never know!


Have owned one of these cars:

Volkswagen bug, mini-Toyota pickup truck, any kind of lifted truck, an early ’80s Civic. Bonus points if you airbrushed your sweetie’s name on the passenger-side door, or hung a ti leaf from the back bumper, or an ikaika warrior helmet from your rearview mirror.


Throw your best shaka.

It began in 1981, when Joe Moore first started anchoring the Channel 2 News. The idea, according to KHON2 News Director Lori Silva, “was to get average people included in the newscast every night.” Of course, we’re talking about the station’s popular “shaka” segment that airs at the end of every local newscast: smiling, happy people flashing the shaka sign and mugging for the camera.


“Our photographers will shoot these anywhere they find people hanging out, from shopping centers to carnivals—even office workers,” says Silva. “Basically, if you flash our cameras the shaka sign, you could be on TV.”


To get in the mood, listen to the Beamer Brothers’ “Kaliponi Slack Key.” It’s the song that plays over every KHON shaka montage.


Photo: Michael Keany


Chance ’um!

Surfing is a beloved tradition, but so is jumping into stuff. Whether it’s freshwater ponds—Jackass Ginger or Maunawili—or ocean spots—China Walls, Cromwell’s, Waimea Bay—the water is better from higher up. Fire up your best cannonball and splash the wahine!


Photo: David Croxford


Crave raw seafood.

But go beyond ahi. Have some ebi, some hamachi, some uni. Even tako is tastier before it’s cooked (Check out John Heckathorn’s round up of izakaya on page 83 for proof.) The world is your oyster. Ooooh! You can eat those too.