For Hawaii expats, or those people that are from Hawaii that have moved away, there are all kinds of little things that they miss terribly. Even Hawaii residents on vacation overseas find themselves pining for the things that make Hawaii what it is to us. And while those things may be esoteric to Hawaii visitors, a particular dim sum shop or shave ice stand, for instance, there are key experiences we miss that any visitor can enjoy on any and all of their days in the islands.

The Sunset “Magic Hour”
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Hawaii’s sunsets are part of the postcard image that the rest of the world associates with the islands. But “Magic Hour” runs deeper than that. Beyond the brilliant colors and textures in the sky as the sun goes down, there is an atmosphere, a feeling that is more easily experienced than explained. It gets quieter. Conversations pause as residents and visitors alike take time to take it in, to make a conscious effort to appreciate the stunning natural beauty.

Even on the windward sides of the islands, where the sun sets behind mountains and not into the sea as it does on western-facing shores, “Magic Hour” is a special time. The sky goes pink and the clouds take on their vivid three-dimensional-ness, as opposed to the white puffs that mostly go unnoticed during the day. Taking a quiet moment during sunset is all it takes to unlock the magic of “Magic Hour.”

Local Food
There are as many types of local food as there are cultures that brought them here. For some residents, the best thing in the world is a mixed plate from a favorite plate lunch place. For others, it’s a steaming bowl of Vietnamese pho. Or a simple Spam musubi. The point is that Hawaii’s culinary diversity is not just something that makes it so exotic to the rest of the world, it’s something that makes it home to those of us that are fortunate enough to live here. As for myself, I tend to get cranky if I go too long without a laulau (steamed pork, chicken and fish in taro leaves) or some fresh poke (salted raw fish).

Too often, Hawaii visitors stick to familiar chain and fast food restaurants rather than delve into the many choices of local food that are available almost everywhere. They don’t know what they’re missing. We do.

The Aloha Spirit
The Aloha Spirit has been an extremely effective marketing tool for luring visitors to Hawaii. But it’s much more than just a savvy turn of phrase or a cynical ploy to portray Hawaii residents as somehow immune to the hassles faced by people who live in other civilized parts of the world. It’s a very real mindset that makes people in Hawaii, well, friendlier than most.

The Aloha Spirit is more than a flower lei and a friendly smile. It’s a desire not only to keep from making someone else uncomfortable, but to make them smile. It’s a view that providing genuinely kind hospitality is a personal responsibility, not something to be lauded or viewed as exceptional. It’s letting someone in while sitting in traffic. It’s holding doors and saying, “please, you first.” It’s pulling over to help someone in a stalled vehicle or running to fetch someone else’s hat that has absconded on the breeze.

That may be the best thing about the Aloha Spirit. All anyone has to do to experience it is to show it.


  1. Hi Jamie,
    It has been a long time since I have seen you. So glad to see you are still following your dream with your music and writing.
    So sorry to hear of your parents passing. We always had such fun and interesting times at their house.
    My Aloha to you, your wife and sisters Karen and Shannon. I am back in Northern California in Healdsburg. My home town.

    Aloha Auntie Elva

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