OPINION: Hawaii’s Guide to ‘Blending In’

February 7, 2014, 2:12 PM HST
* Updated February 7, 3:59 PM
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From sunburned blondes blazing down our highways in bright red mustangs, to elderly couples draped in imported shell leis.

You know who they are.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with newcomers. Without a healthy influx of strangers (and their dollars), few of us would be able to get by out here in the middle of the Pacific.

But with tourists and even more permanent settlers increasingly concerned with doing “as the locals do,” we felt we had to put together a step-by-step guide for how new arrivals can appear just a little less, hmm, “mainland.”

Step 1: Automobile Selection


Convertible = Not From Here


That’s not a stereotype. It’s just math.

According to our research, 85% of people who choose convertibles don’t live here. 65% of those people are male. 55% of those males are over the age of 55, 75% of whom don’t have much going on “up top” themselves.

(Editor’s note: The author refuses to disclose his statistical sampling methods. We’ll have to take his word for it.)

Not exactly the local's "ride of choice." Public domain image.

Not exactly the local’s “ride of choice.” Public domain image.


But seriously. How many locals do you see tearing down the highway with the top down?

Whether picking out a rental car or a more permanent ride, we recommend sticking with something fairly conservative. Then just to be safe, give it a light dusting of soil and a smudge on the license plate.

Now no one will know you’re “FOB” (Fresh Off the Boat).

Step 2: The Clothes

Paging Thomas Magnum.

Though it seems like 7% of China’s economy is dedicated to making brightly colored aloha shirts, we can assure you that the trend died about the time Tom Selleck stopped wearing hip-high corduroys.

Tom Selleck as "Magnum P.I." Wikipedia Image.

Tom Selleck as “Magnum PI” Wikipedia Image.

These days, neon-hued flowery print is about as trendy as a bushy handlebar mustache. To play it safe, just stick to what you’re comfortable wearing at home.

Which brings us to a minor digression: beach attire.

Sorry fellas, but no matter how proud you are of your body, leave the banana hammock at home. Nothing compliments a six pack (or beer gut, for that matter), like a pair of loose-fitting board shorts as opposed to a Speedo.

Step 3: Getting Burned

We understand that with all the cocoa-skinned beauties prancing around island beaches, the fairer-hued among you may feel out of place.

The whiter you are, the redder you'll get. University of California San Diego.

Might as well wear a sign that says ‘not from here.’ University of California San Diego photo.

But listen: the whiter you are, the redder you’ll get. Nothing says “outsider” more than the guy walking around Hawaii looking like Admiral Ackbar.

Accept your paleness and lather on sunblock every two hours, and stay out of direct sunlight in the middle of the day.

And if you’re really bent on that “freshly baked” image, just do as John Boehner does and hit the spray-tanning booth. Just remember that when it comes to changing shades, less is more.

John Boehner: Thinker. Leader. Tanner. Image courtesy California Lutheran University.

John Boehner: Thinker. Leader. Tanner.
Image courtesy California Lutheran University.

Step 4: Relaaaax

Whether you’re sitting at a traffic light or waiting for a drink at the bar, just remember the cardinal rule of island living:

There is no bigger FOB homing beacon than a flagrant show of impatience.

Just take a deep breath and keep your hand off the car horn. Wait your turn in line, and for the love of Hawaii … never start shouting in a place of business.

Do so and you will be shunned like the plague, left confused and alone to wallow in stink eye.

But rest assured, that fate need not be. Always smile when making eye contact with strangers in Hawaii, and you’ll never be alone here.

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