Some basic Honolulu and Hawaii facts and other information that you (and the people who care about you) should know.
Weather in Hawaii|Currency in Hawaii|Time in Hawaii|Hawaii Area Code|
Where is Hawaii (and how do I get there)?
One of the Hawaii facts that you may not know is that, being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii is the most isolated population center on the face of the earth.
Below is a Hawaii map that shows where Hawaii is in relation to major cities in the Pacific Rim.
View Where on Earth is Hawaii? in a larger map
Our nearest neighbor on the mainland (what we refer to the 48 contiguous states as) is the state of California, and that is some 2,390 miles away. Japan and China are 3,850 miles and 4,900 miles away respectively, to our Northwest.
Update: Another of Hawaii facts you should know before you move here, we are located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, which means we are in an area susceptible to tectonic plate action (a little bit more on this below).
Needless to say, the best way to get to Hawaii from anywhere is by air travel. The most common gateway into Hawaii is the Honolulu International Airport, which is host to major US and international airlines, and is the principal hub for Hawaiian Airlines.
Flying halfway across the world can do some damage to your internal clock, also known as jet lag. I've found these tips to be helpful in preventing jet lag whenever we fly long-distance.
We’re lucky to enjoy year-round tropical weather in Hawaii, where humidity is bearable because of near-constant trade winds. As I was packing my suitcase and deciding what to bring, I remember thinking there’s no way I’ll ever get cold in sunny Hawaii, but I soon discovered that wasn’t true.
During the “winter months”, we do experience unpredictable weather with gusty winds and heavy rainfall. With that being said, the coldest I’ve ever felt in Honolulu is the mid 60s°F, around 18°C.
The temperature and weather patterns on one island vary greatly from another, and even on the same island too; it can be gloomy in Salt Lake but sunny at Ala Moana. But the rainbows are beautiful regardless where you are!
One of the Hawaii facts that many don't know is that it does snow on the Big Island! Can you picture a snowman on a beach?
As far as tsunamis (and hurricanes, earthquakes and volcano eruptions) are concerned, there really isn’t much we can do to avoid these natural disasters, but to be emergency ready and smart and practice common sense! In my almost 10 years of living here, I’ve experienced only one tsunami scare, from the Chile earthquake of February 2010. Update: My second one was less than a month ago. Yikes.
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Hawaii is the 50th state of the US, so naturally we use the US dollar here, as well as major credit cards like Visa and Mastercard.
However, because of the high number of visitors we see from Japan, some stores and restaurants, particularly in Waikiki, also accept the Japanese yen, and JCB card as forms of payment. Good Hawaii fact to know, eh?
It's best to come prepared with US dollars, but currency exchange services are available at the banks, hotels and in Waikiki.
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We have our own time zone, Hawaii Standard Time (HST), and Daylight Saving Time (DST) isn’t observed here. One of the Hawaii facts you may not know is that we’re the only state in its entirety that doesn’t observe DST (lucky for me, since it’s something that I still get confused with, to this day).
Here's a quick guide to figuring out the time difference between Honolulu, Hawaii and where you are (on summer time):
- HST is 12 hours behind Amsterdam, Berlin, Madrid and Stockholm
- HST is 18 hours behind Hong Kong, Manila, Perth, Singapore and Taipei (easiest formula to use = your local time + 6 hours, yesterday’s date)
- HST is 22 hours behind Auckland
You should also know that the date format in Hawaii (like the rest of the US) is different from Asian countries: mm/dd/yyyy. For example, 8/15/2010 for August 15, 2010. You'll have to date everything, including your contracts for bank account applications, personal checks, apartment leases and utilities, in this format.
Calculating time difference and figuring out the time in Honolulu is something your family members and friends should be aware of, especially if they’re planning on calling you. I’m sure nobody wants to be woken up at 2am for a friendly chat! My Mom still hasn’t figured out the time difference… and it has been almost 10 years since I've been here!
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Hawaii’s area code is 808, and it applies to all the islands. These are the 3 digits that you add in front of a phone number when you’re making a call to Hawaii. For example, if you're calling from Thailand, you dial +1-808-999-1234, where (1) is the country code of USA.
You'll also have to dial the area code when calling to the neighbor islands, for example from Oahu to Maui and vice versa.
If you decide to order a landline (phone number for your apartment), phone calls within Oahu are free, but you will be charged long-distance fees for calling the neighbor islands and the mainland.
You can choose to subscribe to a mobile/cellular phone instead, and call anywhere you like within the US for no monetary charge, but you will be charged for minutes. Each mobile phone company has their own phone plans and network (with their own phones, so you're limited on choices, unless you bring your own "unlocked" phones), so shop for the company/plan that makes the most sense for you.
So the question then becomes: landline or cellular phone, or both?
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I will add on more interesting and/or little known Hawaii facts if and when I do chance upon them!
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