1) Change your license plates. This takes only a few minutes and you can do it at a satellite city hall. There are a few branches around the island. You’ll need Hawaii car insurance and a safety test, which you can get at almost any gas station. Driving around with out of state license plates is a dead giveaway.
2) Change your cell to an 808 area code, Hawaii’s only area code. Don’t make your new friends and co-workers in Hawaii dial long distance, it’s just a reminder to us that you’re not from here. You have to change someday, just bite the bullet.
3) Get a map. Learn all the freeways, highways, and major city names. Hawaii roads are very confusing, and very unforgiving if you make a mistake. You’ll drive around Honolulu very frustrated if you don’t learn the roads, so do it.
4) Related to #3, drive around the whole island of Oahu. Get to know what cities look like, how long it takes to drive around, and familiarize yourself with your town. Being familiar with roads is a good way to feel at home.
5) Subscribe to the local paper, or at least read it online. This will teach you what local people are thinking and talking about. When you can talk with locals about property taxes and water quality, you sound and feel local. The two papers we read are the Honolulu Advertiser and the Star Bulletin.
6) Get involved in a social group. There are plenty of other ways to get involved, especially if you have kids. If you don’t meet people outside of work, you’re going to be lonely, and eventually you’ll go back to where you came from. Try kids sports, or an adults softball team, or a book club. Just do something other than sit at home being lonely.
7) Buy some Aloha wear. Shirts, dresses, seat covers, stickers, whatever. Show the Aloha spirit and you’ll look and feel more local. Until you own some Aloha shirts, you’re not at all a Hawaiian resident.
8) Find a local restaurant that you like and go there more than once. Just having a place that you like, a familiar place, will make you feel more at home. Pick a favorite place in Oahu and become a regular. You’ll be amazed how much this will help you in many ways. Having a routine helps.
9) Get in the water. Celebrate your move to Hawaii by enjoying our amazing warm ocean! If you pick up a water sport as a hobby, you’ll really love it here. People who get in the water tend to appreciate Hawaii much more. I prefer surfing, but there are dozens of options.
10) Change your driver’s license. This one is #10 for a reason. It’s a total pain to get the license. You have to go to the only office on the island that does this, which is in Kalihi, and stand in line for a long time unless you get there at 7am, which means driving in traffic. When you get your license you’ll really feel like a local. You get a Kamaaina rate (local rate) and hotels and some restaurants.