10 Misconceptions About Living in Hawaii

Living in Hawaii really is just like living anywhere else. People do all the same things here that they do on the mainland:  cook, clean, laundry, grocery shop, drive their kids around, argue with them about doing their homework, get colds, pay bills and even sit in traffic. It’s life. Don’t get me wrong, it’s about as nice of a place to do it in, but the daily grind doesn’t go away because there are palm trees and trade winds. The thing is no one seems to believe me. So to clear a few things up, here are my top 10 misconceptions about Hawaii:

1)You never get sick.  

When my daughter had a cold a few weeks ago, one of her friends from California texted her, “How can you be sick?  You live in Hawaii.” She was like, “Uh… because people get sick here too.”

2) You cannot possibly manage a career from Hawaii

People are always amazed that I can do my job remotely.  Every conference call starts with one of two questions:  “Are you in Hawaii?”  Yes, we have telephones. Or “How is the weather there?” Usually sunny, but we might have showers later because it rains here (a lot). And, yes, that weather includes incredible rainbows and spectacular sunsets, but that still doesn’t get in the way of managing my career.

3) You either live in a hotel or in a hut.

No, we don’t live in grass-thatched huts. We have regular neighborhoods and homes… complete with running water, electricity and the Internet.

4) You drink Mai Tais ALL day.

That would make it difficult for me to function…  

5) Hawaii is really, really far away.

It’s actually the same travel time (and time difference) from Los Angeles to New York.

6) There are no grocery stores.

There are a lot of grocery stores. Including Safeway, Whole Foods, Costco, Walmart, and Target.  Groceries are, however, much more expensive. Especially organic milk. Double the price compared to California.

7) Everyone assumes you surf.

Nope. I tried. Not my thing. Most everything is geared towards some kind of sport though. Ocean activities are king: Stand-up paddle surfing, kite surfing, windsurfing, foil surfing, skim boarding, body surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, ocean swimming, kayaking, paddling (canoe racing), boating, jet skiing, parasailing, fishing, etc. I like my sports on land: tennis and yoga are my thing(s).

8) Pineapples grow on trees.

Actually they grow on the ground.  But very few pineapples are even grown in Hawaii anymore.
Ranching, pineapple and sugarcane production used to be Hawaii’s primary businesses. But most pineapple production is now in the Philippines and the last sugar mill closed last year. Only ranching remains. The number one source of revenue now is tourism. We still have cowboys in Hawaii though. (They are called Paniolos.)

9) Women wear grass skirts.

Yes, if they are hula dancers who are performing at a Luau. Everyone else dresses the same as anywhere else where the temperature is 80 degrees most of the time. Except for the fact that Hawaiian shirts are considered “business casual” for men and people wear flips flops (aka “slippahs”) all year round.

10) People are always in bathing suits.

Not true. Maybe the tourists.

But here’s the crazy thing that no one probably knows unless you live here:  We have wild chicken and roosters everywhere. Not just on the farms or in the countryside.  They show up on the school grounds, on the highway and especially in the parking lots of grocery stores. Just like this lovely couple I ran into in the Safeway parking lot while I was doing my grocery shopping.