11 Ways Hawaii Feels Like A Foreign Country ~ Chloe Fox

From the moment you land in Hawaii, things just feel different.

While Hawaii has been a state since 1959, it has always been a distinctly exotic destination, unlike anything else in the country and even the world. It’s no wonder America fell head over heels in love with the islands.

As the world’s most isolated landmass, Hawaii has its own culture, its own timezone, and its own way of doing just about everything. 

The idiosyncrasies that make Hawaii so distinct are precisely the reasons we love it so.

Below, just 11 ways Hawaii feels like a foreign country. 

  • Even fellow Americans forget that Hawaii is a state.
    No, you won’t need your passport. And yes, we do use the U.S. dollar.
  • But you do have to fill out a form when you land.
    It’s an agriculture form, not a customs form, but after the long flight (roughly 10 hours from New York), it’s easily confused. 
  • You won’t find your bank here.
    Not a single one of the country’s ten biggest banks, including Bank of America, Chase, Citi, and Wells Fargo, has a retail location in Hawaii. Instead, you’ll find local banks like First Hawaiian and Bank of Hawaii.
  • There’s a language barrier.
    Hawaii has two official languages, Hawaiian and English. But Hawaiian pidgin is also widely used. A recent US census of languages in North America included Hawaiian Pidgin  as a recognized language for the first time, meaning a lot of Hawaii residents were pleasantly surprised to find themselves newly bilingual.
  • McDonald’s has a special menu here.
    We’ll take the spam, eggs and rice breakfast platter and one taro pie, please. 
  • But who needs McDonald’s when you have Zippy’s?
    With its extensive menu (saimin and grilled cornbread, anyone?), Hawaii’s very own fast food joint is truly unique.
  • There’s an honest to goodness palace.
    Home to the last monarchs of the Kingdom of Hawaii, Iolani Palace is the only palace on U.S. soil.
  • Hawaii has its own gods.
  • It is truly diverse.
  • Some visitors may experience culture shock.
    There is a unique culture in Hawaii, one that extends well past tiki stereotypes. Aloha is a concept people live by, honking is totally taboo, and don’t you dare think about wearing your shoes or slippers (flip flops) into someone’s house. 
  • It is truly otherworldly.
    Hawaii, we love you. 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story indicated that Hawaii was the only state with more than one official language. It is not.





Trip to Montana’s Yellowstone National Park by Natasia DaSilva

 Photo courtesy of Natasia DaSilva

In the summer of 2010, I traveled to Idaho to visit my grand parents at their lake cabin and took a side trip to Montana’s Yellowstone Park. That was definitely the most incredible part of the trip. Overall, Montana had a very rugged, natural beauty. It was like nothing I had seen before back in the Northeast and I treasured everything I saw there.

Yellowstone was akin to going to another planet. Everywhere I looked, there was steam rising from mysterious looking, bubbling pools and magnificent vistas of mountains.  Apparently, the pools were sulfur springs and animals gathered around them for warmth during the winter months.While driving around in Yellowstone, my family and I also saw tons of buffalo walking alongside the road. It was like they could care less about the presence of humans. We were in their territory. In the picture I took above, there is one lying down by one of the sulfur springs.

I stayed at the Old Faithful Inn during my trip. The rooms are pretty old-fashioned and spare but visitors at the inn get to see the famous Old Faithful geyser. Interestingly enough, it starts off slowly and then eventually builds up to a powerful jet of water. It is very much like a water version of a volcano. Besides the Old Faithful attraction, the food is also quite tasty — I highly recommend their buffalo steaks.

For anyone who likes nature, Yellowstone is a unique place to go to. It has everything from petrified trees to intriguing rock formations. There’s nothing quite like it.