How To Tell A Mainlander In Hawaii

Mahalo For Sharing Your Aloha

Just What Is A Mainlander In Hawaii? A mainlander is somebody from the ‘mainland,’ in this case, from the 48 contiguous United States (Alaskans gets a break). Also, mainlander generally means caucasian.

Just how do I know all this? Because I made many of these mistakes :0 Also, so all you mainlanders don’t get out your mobile phones, find the contact us page and get ready to, “Tell me a thing or two.” Please know that all of the below was written with a large amount of jest and full aloha.

How Do Locals Spot A Mainlander? Often their skin is pale, especially in winter. When a mainlander speaks they often ‘mainlandersplain,’ i.e., they say and/or do things like:

  • Mainlanders have a ‘mainlander mentality’ and  reference their origin by saying things like, “Back in the States…” or “Back where I’m from, we did this better.”
  • Mainlanders always seem in a hurry – they just don’t know they are.
  • Mainlanders commonly mispronounce Hawaiian words. For example, if they are from the Seattle area they have no problems saying words like Sequim (squim), Puyallup (pyoo-AL-up), or Kalaloch (KLAY-lock), but don’t want to learn or spend the time to learn Hawaiian.  Mainlanders from Southern California know it is La Jolla (not La jawl la). After a while mainlanders realize that the ‘w’ in Hawaiian words is pronounced like a ‘v.’
  • Mainlanders often overuse Hawaiian terms, words, and phrases, such as da kine, bro’, or they fake speak pidgin English.
  • Mainlanders sometimes/often don’t respect locals, whether in stores or in local interactions. They may think they are ‘better’ than ‘locals.
  • Surfing mainlanders often use mainland techniques such as taking all the waves. They soon learn that this can lead to a frank discussion with locals.
  • They take a lot of photographs, often 10 or more a minute. (Locals only take nine pictures a minute.)
  • Mainlanders are less likely to share – anything.
  • Mainlanders are more likely to leave trash at the beach.
  • Cheap mainlanders will ask for the kama’aina discount (a discount given by local merchants to people who LIVE in Hawai’i). Mainlanders also butcher the enunciation when saying the word kama’aina.
  • Mainlanders obsess over punctuality and how it impacts them and their important schedules. Mainlanders   soon learn that  lateness happens in Hawai’i it is called ‘Island Time.’ 
  • Often mainlanders first reaction is to fume about a situation, not to understand or be happy that they are in Hawaii.

How Do Mainlanders Dress? There are a lot of dead giveaways for mainlanders in how they dress.

  • Mainlanders wear socks to the beach.
  • Mainlanders wear long jeans to the beach.
  • Mainlanders wonder why there are so many pairs of flipflops, make that slippers (or even slippahs), outside the front door of Hawaiian homes.
  • Mainlanders don’t take off their shoes when they visit someone’s home.
  • Mainlanders wear athletic shoes in casual situations. Locals only wear athletic shoes in athletic events.
  • Mainlanders wear expensive penny loafers, without socks, as they walk around. To make it seem casual they omit the penny.
  • Mainlanders often dress for a night out in the ‘Full Cleveland’ (just so you know, I had to live in Akron for two years) merged with the ‘Miami Vice’ look.


How Do Mainlanders Drive? Well, this is simple, mainlanders drive like they are on… the mainland.

  • Mainlanders pull right up to the crosswalk, or into the crosswalk, at red lights. Kona locals typically stay back from the intersection by five feet. (How do I know this? I just look over my shoulder at stoplights.)
  • Mainlanders believe that a yellow light means to gun their rental car through an intersection.
  • Mainlanders still prefer the middle finger for any perceived slight or driving injustice.
  • Of course, the rental vehicle of choice is either a Mustang convertible or a Jeep.

How Do Mainlanders Eat? Here are a few tell-tale tips:

  • Mainlanders ask for forks when only chopsticks are served.
  • Mainlanders ask for things like gluten-free, or low-fat or low-carb anything.
  • It takes mainlanders 10 words or more to order their coffee.

How Do Mainlanders Shop? Who knew shopping habits could be so predictable?

  • Mainlanders load the location of the nearest (and only) Kona Kona Costco into their phones before they depart the mainland.
  • Mainlanders swarm upon Target and Walmart going five people wide as they scour the aisles.
  • Mainlanders buy for reef safe sunscreen, water shoes, Hawaiian-esque t-shirts and Hawaiian nicknacks. And, of course, macadamia nuts to take home as gifts.
  • Mainlanders are oblivious to the locals who are currently shopping in any store.

Bonus Mainlander Facts? Mainlanders aren’t always aware that:

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  • Mainlanders often aren’t sure if they need a passport or not to visit Hawaii. It is not only a state, it is part of the United States.
  • Mainlanders think that when a local says, “B-52,” they are maybe talking about an airshow that will have the B-52 bomber aircraft, not the huge flying cockroaches Hawaii that terrorize you when they fly.
  • Mainlanders may ask what language is spoken in Hawaii.
  • Mainlanders may ask about what kind of currency is used in Hawaii.
  • Older mainlanders may want to see all the places shown in the Elvis Pressly movies.
  • Mainlanders may ask if their cell phone will work in Hawaii. (As a bonus, Hawaii has internet too.)
  • Mainlanders may wonder if they can ride turtles or dolphins.
  • Mainlanders may ask if there are any bridges connecting the islands.
  • Mainlanders may wonder if the ocean goes all the way around the islands.
  • Mainlanders may wonder with everything so expensive in Hawaii how can locals afford to live here.

Here are a few mainlander views of Hawaii:
Elvis sings Blue Hawaii

The Butters

All of the above was written with a large amount of jest and full aloha.

Elvis – Can’t help falling in love – Aloha from Hawaii

Somewhere over the Rainbow – Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole

Hawaiian Music and Hula Dancing

Current pop artist Bruno Mars is from Hawaii

On last way to tell a mainlander… they would take the time to write all this. Locals just go to the beach.

Mahalo For Sharing Your Aloha
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