9 Places in Hawaii to Feel Like a Local

9 Places in Hawaii to Feel Like a Local

There are so many great things to do in Hawaii. It’s a magical place, but it can also be overwhelming if you’re new to the islands. There are so many activities, restaurants, and beautiful places to explore that it can feel much more like a tourist trap than anything else.

Even the most intrepid travelers will occasionally find themselves wishing they could see more of the real Hawaii and less of all the other tourists. Luckily for anyone who feels this way, there are plenty of ways to see more of the authentic side of Hawaii without having to leave its warm tropical climate behind. The island is home to many hidden gems that only locals know about.

Here are some places in Hawaii where you can feel like a local rather than a tourist: 

Hulihee Palace

The Hulihee Palace is a historic royal residence that is part of the Hulihee Cultural Heritage Center. It’s located on the north shore of Oahu and was once the seat of power for six Hawaiian monarchs. The building itself is a beautiful example of Hawaiian architecture that was built from 1838 to 1839. Today, the Hulihee Palace is open for daily tours, which gives visitors the chance to get a glimpse inside this beautiful building. And, although it’s located on the property of a small Hawaiian cultural center, you don’t have to be Hawaiian to enjoy it. Anyone can go, and admission is free. This is one of the best places to feel like a local in Hawaii because it’s a place that most tourists don’t know about. Even though it’s a historic site, it’s not one that tourists flock to, and you’ll likely have the place all to yourself.

Honolulu Rainbow Walks

Honolulu’s Rainbow Walks are a series of gardens that are filled with colorful flowers, plants, and trees. These are some of the most beautiful gardens in all of Hawaii and are located just a few blocks from the Waikiki Beach tourist areas. The Rainbow Gardens are open to the public and are a great place to go and relax. They’re also a great place to feel like a local because few tourists ever go there. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the beach without having to travel too far, these gardens are a great place to do it. They’re open from 7:00 AM until 5:00 PM every day, and admission is free.

Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon is the “Grand Canyon of Hawaii” and it’s a great place to get away from it all. It’s the largest canyon in the state and the third largest in the entire country. It’s also one of the most scenic places in all of Hawaii. While it’s definitely a popular tourist destination, it’s one of those places that many tourists don’t actually visit. It’s a great place to go if you want to get away from the crowds and feel like you’re really in Hawaii. It’s a good idea to do this on a weekday, as it’s a popular place for locals to go on the weekends. The best part about visiting Waimea Canyon is that there is plenty to do there. You can hike, rock climb, go horseback riding, or just sit and enjoy the view.

Makawao: a local’s guide to eating and shopping

Makawao is a small town that’s just a couple of miles inland from the coastal town of Paia on Maui. It’s a great place to escape the tourist crowds and get a real feel for what daily life in Hawaii is like. Makawao is a wonderful place to go if you want to see how locals live in Hawaii. There are lots of great shops and restaurants where you’ll see locals as well as tourists. You’ll even find a farmer’s market where you can get local produce. You can also visit the Makawao Arts & Culture Center to learn more about the history of the area. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a hula show or a local music performance.

Haleakala National Park

If you want to feel like you’re getting a real view of Hawaii, you can’t do much better than Haleakala National Park. This park is located on the island of Maui, and it’s an amazing place to go to watch the sunrise or sunset. It’s also home to one of the best astronomical observatories in the world. The Haleakala Observatory is open to the public and is a great place to go to see the stars. If you visit during the winter season, you’ll also have a chance to see the Haleakala Crater on the Big Island. This huge hole in the ground is an amazing sight and a great place for photographers.

Kualoa Ranch

Kualoa Ranch is a movie ranch that was used in the filming of several famous movies and TV shows, including Jurassic Park, 50 First Dates, and Lost. Today, visitors can get a guided tour of the ranch and see where some of these famous scenes were shot. The guided tour lasts about an hour and a half, and it’s a great way to get a look behind the scenes and see how movies are filmed. It’s also a good place to go if you want to see wild animals in their natural habitat. You might see endangered species, such as the Hawaiian nene, a type of goose, or the Hawaiian monk seal. They’re both native to Hawaii and are currently being protected.

Honolulu Museum of Art

If you want to do something a little different, the Honolulu Museum of Art is a terrific place to go. It’s not just a museum; it’s also an art library that has a wide variety of art and artifacts. The museum itself is beautiful, and it’s a great place to go if you want to sit back and relax. It’s a quiet place where you can get a little culture without having to fight crowds or deal with long lines. The art library is open to the public, and admission is free. It’s a great place to go if you want to see some amazing pieces of art without having to travel to see a major art museum.

Coco’s Restaurant and Shave Ice

If you want to try some local food, you can’t do much better than Coco’s Restaurant and Shave Ice. This is a terrific place to get authentic Hawaiian food and a great way to experience what eating local in Hawaii is like. At Coco’s, you can try things like kalua pork and lau lau. These are two local dishes that are a great way to try local food without getting too adventurous. If you want to keep it simple, you can order a shave ice, which is what many locals eat. A shave ice is a Hawaiian dessert that’s made with finely shaved ice, syrups, and often a scoop of ice cream.


If you want to do something adventurous and active, you can go scuba diving on the island of Lanai. The island is known for its clear blue waters, and it’s a great place to go diving and is not as popular or crowded as other islands. Lanai is a great place to see dolphins, and it’s also a good place to go for eco-tourism. You can also go flyboarding, which is like skydiving but in the water. Another popular way to see Lanai is to take a ferry from Maui to Lanai for the day. (*Hint:  If you do this in the Winter months your ferry ride will become a free Whale Watching trip too)