You don’t need any special ID card to visit Hawaii, but moving here does not make you Hawaiian.

As with other states, to take a Hawaii vacation you need no special ID card or permission (such as a visa or passport) if you are a US resident. If you come from another country, you need the same entry requirements as visiting the mainland United States. Everyone needs a photo ID to get on a plane these days, and that’s plenty here. The only time you’re likely to need even that is if you pay by credit card and the merchant wishes to confirm your identity.

However, unlike other states, moving to Hawaii does not make you Hawaiian. A friend recently returned to the mainland for a visit and was horrified when her mother introduced her by saying “My daughter is a Hawaiian.” Living in Kansas may make you a Kansan but living in Hawaii does not make anyone Hawaiian. As another friend explains, “Hawaiian” is an ethnicity, not a state of mind. Local residents are called “islanders” or “kamaaina” (child of the land).

Often, places in Hawaii offer a discount for kamaaina to encourage locals to patronize them and to recognize that we are not spending vacation dollars when we do. A visitor asked if I could get that same discount for everyone in our party by using my Hawaii ID (driver’s license). In general, the answer is “no”. The reasons that the kamaaina discount is offered don’t apply to visitors, even when they are family or friends. However, one luau offered the same price to everyone in our party with one local ID and that was a very nice gesture.

Visitors, locals and Hawaiians are different identities, but most of the time it won’t matter. Everyone enjoys being in Hawaii!


  1. Bob, not you. The opportunity to be the first human inhabitant of the Hawaiian Islands has long since passed…

  2. Bob – arriving in Hawaii today is different from early settlers who created a kingdom. It is in some ways similar to contemporary US immigration laws that early European settlers would not have been able to meet. Times change.
    The point of the post is that the term “Hawaiian” has a different significance than the term “Kansan” or the reference to inhabitants of other states. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Hawaii is a place which is worthwhile visiting I suppose. There are a lot of beautiful stuff to see and experience.

  4. When taking visitors with me to places with kama'aina discounts I just ask how many discounts they allow per ID.  Sometimes it's just one, sometimes two and like you said, occasionally it's for everyone in the group.

  5. To address an earlier respondent’s statement, yes you would be Hawaiian had you traversed the Pacific Ocean from the south over a thousand years ago, settled these islands, and (where over time) your descendants took part in the evolution of the Hawaiian people, a distinct cultural/ethnic group indigenous to these islands. For obvious reasons, your time/chance has passed! Another way of putting it – you “missed the canoe” on that one!

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