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Becoming Kama’aina

Becoming Kama’aina

Upon arrival, you will be considered “malihini,” which is Hawaiian for “visitor” and is applied to newcomers and tourists. Longtime residents and those born in Hawaii are called “Kama’aina,” which means “child of the land.”

It is not an insult to be called malihini, but it is a distinction that allows locals, kama’aina, to help newcomers and visitors become familiar with the lifestyle and culture of Hawaii. So, how do you become a kama’aina? Some people say when you get your first Hawaii driver’s license; eat kimchee with chopsticks; start collecting aloha shirts and only wear ties and formal wear when required by duty; understand directions: “mauka” (toward the mountain), “makai” (toward the ocean), “Diamond Head” and “Ewa” (toward the beach); say “shaved ice” instead of snow cone; understand basic Hawaiian pidgin such as puka, talk story and da kine; know how to make the “shaka” hand sign; or order saimin with Spam instead of chicken noodle soup.

Nobody knows for sure when you become a kama’aina. It just happens after a while. You’ll know when because you’ll feel right at home. Kama’aina status also qualifies you for special discounts, or “kama’aina rates,” in Hawaii with airlines, rental car agencies and getaway weekends at neighbor island resorts. All you have to do is prove you live here — a Hawaii driver’s license will do fine or any identification with your new home address.

If you choose to retain your home state driver’s license, you may still qualify for many of these kama’aina rates with a license or state ID card.

You will find that the vast majority of the people of Hawaii are very warm and appreciative toward their friends and neighbors in the military. All you have to do is begin to live with the aloha spirit. That means caring for others around you and respecting our precious island environment. That’s the responsibility of all kama’ainas. Enjoy Hawaii! Once all your duties on arrival are finished and you have settled in, we hope you will have a bit of leave left to enjoy Hawaii. There is plenty to see and do, so take your free time to “play tourist” and enjoy paradise!

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