Speak & Act Like a Local – Hawaii Edition

Know your shoyu from your soy sauce and don’t turn up your nose at Spam


Hawaii’s favorite fried treat will be yours as well by the end of your trip. Essentially airy fried donuts rolled in sugar with local fillings like haupia (coconut) and guava, pick up a box of six at Leonard’s Bakery or Liliha Bakery.


Don’t ask for soy sauce, ask for shoyu instead. While essentially the same thing, locals have a deep love for it, better still if it’s shoyu chicken, a comfort dish that’s considered a Hawaiian staple.

Spam Musubi

Spam is huge in Hawaii and a beloved Hawaiian snack or on-the-go lunch is a Spam musubi which is a slice of grilled Spam sandwiched between fluffy rice and wrapped in crispy seaweed. Hit up a 7-Eleven to try one where it’s made fresh daily.

What To Say

Thank You: Mahalo

“Mahalo for the malasadas”

What’s Up: Howzit

“Howzi bro, surf good?”

Delicious: ʻOno

“That spam musubi was ʻono!”

What To Do

Lei Etiquette

Never take a lei off in public and especially in the presence of the person who gave it to you. Remove it in private (or discreetly) if possible and place it in a place of honor for all to see.

Take Your Shoes Off

Before entering a home remove your shoes to show the owner of the home respect and not bring in dirt from the outside. House slippers are often offered.

Don’t Jump The Line

Get your surf on but mind your manners while you do it. Watch from the shore where the lineup is and don’t take the first wave that comes in.