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WHAT THE !?!? Hawaii Edition

by Suzanne Fluhr on March 5, 2013 · 38 comments

One of the fun things to do while traveling is to keep your eyes open for things that strike you as odd, “different” or downright hilarious.

An “I’ve had enough winter” trip to Hawaii produced plenty of grist for my blogging mill, but before we get to the “news you can use” stuff, I thought I’d share some of the more “curious” discoveries from our Hawaiian sojourn.

As you may recall, our 50th state consists of a series of islands, isolated in pretty near the middle of the Pacific Ocean. If you want to get to any other state in “these” United States from any of the Hawaiian islands, you will be taking a boat, airplane or swimming (not recommended). You most certainly will not be driving. So, how do you explain this?

Interstate H1, Oahu, Hawaii

The red line is “Interstate” H1

Interstate H1 on Oahu, Hawaii









Then, there was this sign on the garden island of Kauai. Now, when I was growing up (you know, back before calculators),we were taught that 1 mile equals 1.6093 kilometers. Always. All the time. However, apparently, in some type of parallel universe, it appears that on Kauai, if you go straight to the town of Lihue, one mile equals one kilometer, but if you decide to go right to the airport, be prepared for one mile to equal two kilometers because — because — I have no idea why. (Maybe Hawaiian distances are like Hawaiian time — very approximate.)

 Highway sign on Lihue on Kuaui

First of all, since when does one mile equal one kilometer? Then, it just gets weirder from there….

It was also on the island of Kauai, that I decided to try my first sugar cane. So, I bought this little container of pieces of sugar cane. I didn’t understand why they also insisted on giving me a little paper bag, until I chewed up my first piece and realized that there is very little difference in volume between sugar cane before and after it is “consumed” and it involves a lot of spitting out — probably not a treat you want to share with say, President Obama — or the Queen (any Queen).

Sugar Cane, Kauai, Hawaii

Sugar Cane — Before

Sugar cane, Kauai, Hawaii

Sugar cane — After









I was also hoping to give snorkeling another try. I mean, millions of people do it without having a panic attack, right? However, after I read this ad, I decided I should do some more research about “snuks” and “womb implosion trauma” first. Maybe next time.

Snorkeling Hawaii

??? Snuks ??? Womb implosions ??? Really???

Finally, I was very perplexed by the following sign. Seriously, people, if there’s a tsunami (and they do actually have tsunamis in Hawaii, especially on the Big Island where I photographed this sign), I would think you would want to have your messaging a little clearer.

Tsumami Warning sign, Kona, Big Island, Hawaii

So, if there’s a tsunami warning, I run downhill towards the ocean ?!?!?!


Can you share any oddities you’ve discovered on your travels?  

This blog post is now part of a travel blog hop. Hop on over to join in and/or check it out.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Roz Warren March 5, 2013 at 7:08 pm

Weird signs. Fun essay. Thanks!


Suzanne (Just One Boomer) March 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Hawaii is beautiful, but it does have it’s quirkiness — like most places, I guess. But, after you’ve lived somewhere for awhile, you stop noticing. I mean it’s really hard to believe that no one on Kauai has caught that odd sign with the distances to Lihue and the Airport and that the tsunami warning sign on the Big Island with seems to be sending the wrong message.


Madaline Fluhr March 5, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Okay – your long term memory is suffering, I fear. There is no way you didn’t eat sugarcane when we lived in Mexico in 1963!! I know I did. Perhaps it was offered and you declined?? I’m quite sure that is where I was introduced to that particular sweet treat. As for some of the signage – apparently Obama is correct – more funding is needed for “education” in these United States – all of ’em! Then, again, there is something refreshingly “right brained” about this looseish approach to, well….everything?? from the weather to how far away one is from whereever…and this is probably the tip of the volcano? I’d fit right in. Aloha.


Madaline Fluhr March 5, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Maybe more like “Alice in Wonderland”.


Suzanne (Just One Boomer) March 5, 2013 at 9:33 pm

If I ate sugar cane in Mexico in 1963, the statute of limitations has run, so my Hawaiian sugar cane. Mads, it is absolutely your type of place. General attitude “whatever”, but in a nice way.


Suzanne (Just One Boomer) March 5, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Don’t know about my long term memory, but it would be good if I would finish all my sentences. I was going to say that my sugar cane experience in Hawaii counted as “new”.


Patti March 5, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Did you try Crack Seed? My mother grew up in Hawaii and absolutely loved crack seed. It’s basically a sugared plum, or other small fruit, with the seed cracked inside the fruit so when you eat the packaged fruit, you have to spit out all of the little tiny cracked seed pieces. Oh, and poi. Hubby and I were married in Honolulu and lived in Hawaii Kai for a year. Very, very, (very) different style of life.


Suzanne (Just One Boomer) March 5, 2013 at 9:37 pm

Nope, I never tried crack seed. It sounds like it should be illegal 😉 I tried poi on another trip. People compare it to wallpaper paste for good reason although as one guide asserted, “It seems that a lot of non-Hawaiians must eat wallpaper paste.”


Beth March 6, 2013 at 10:47 am

Thanks for another much needed chuckle, Suzanne!


Steven Albelda March 6, 2013 at 2:43 pm

One of your best posts- very funny. Loved the “womb implosion”


A paranoid reader March 6, 2013 at 8:18 pm

I agree with Steve, one of your best yet!


Just One Boomer March 6, 2013 at 8:52 pm

Thanks, Mr. Paranoid Reader LOL


Leslie in Portland, Oregon March 7, 2013 at 12:24 am

Thanks for the chuckles! This helps me understand why my dear 86-year-old neighbor, an artist, is moving back to the Big Island from Portland, which she found to be too frenetic. formal and precise. Looking forward to hearing more about your trip, Leslie


Just One Boomer (Suzanne) March 7, 2013 at 1:11 am

We heard from quite a few Hawaii residents that they found the pace in what they call “Big America” to be kind of crazy.


Jenny March 9, 2013 at 8:27 pm

This was pretty funny. A lucky girl indeed, I go visit family in Hawaii between travels to other places. I find Hawaii makes a good buffer zone between the US mainland and less “developed” countries. The same attitude which lets them get the signs wrong also makes things more relaxed, less bureaucratic, basically more friendly. Hang loose, as they say.


Just One Boomer March 9, 2013 at 9:50 pm

“Hang Loose” does seem to be the semi-official Hawaii state motto. As a sometimes crazed east coaster, there are quite a few days when hanging loose might be a good idea.


Becc March 11, 2013 at 2:07 am

Thank you for the chuckles!!


Just One Boomer March 11, 2013 at 2:54 am

Thanks. Chuckles are supposed to be good for you.


Laura Sherman March 11, 2013 at 3:09 am

What a fun article! I love it. My husband and I visited Hawaii for our honeymoon nearly twenty years ago. I remember driving around the big island and finding a Dairy Queen in the middle of nowhere. Very surreal.


Just One Boomer March 11, 2013 at 3:18 am

It’s still a quirky place and they like it that way. They think we are way too stressed over here in what they call “Big America”.


Carol Covin March 11, 2013 at 5:42 pm

What a riot! Thanks for the funny signs. I assume the tsunami sign is trying to say, as we learned from several tsunamis in recent years, if the ocean is pulling back, don’t run into it, a tsunami is coming and you will drown when the ocean suddenly comes up on the shore. Instead, head for high ground.

Love your travels.


Just One Boomer March 11, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Thanks for your observation, Carol. I think you’re giving that sign a lot of credit. If it is trying to say don’t run towards the ocean, I would think they would at least have a diagonal line through the picture of the guying running towards the wave. I just found it exceedingly odd. 🙂


Ayngelina March 11, 2013 at 9:35 pm

I am heading to Maui next month and cannot wait for the weather.


Just One Boomer March 11, 2013 at 10:40 pm

Be prepared for variable weather. There are lots of micro-climates, some determined by altitude. When we went up to the top of the volcano, Haleakala, the wind chill was 20 degrees and the lashing rain was sideways. But, Paradise is never far away. Safe travels.


Mary Slagel March 12, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Great post! I love finding oddities while traveling. I especially liked the tsunami sign. Made me smile.


Just One Boomer March 12, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Thanks for your comment. It made me smile. Then it made me wonder.


Leigh March 15, 2013 at 8:33 pm

You could get a job with the Sign Police – crack down on them for misrepresentations and and such.
On my travels I also like looking out for signs that have quite different meaning for foreigners.


Andrea March 28, 2013 at 9:39 am

I have heard so many wonderful things about Kauai – would love to go back to Hawaii and that island in particular. We’ve only seen Maui


Sarah Almond August 4, 2013 at 10:07 pm

This made me smile! I’m also one who spends time marveling at oddities when we go places. Not that I travel much being the unemployed landlocked midwesterner that I am. However, we did take some pictures of some pretty funny signs when we were in Missouri en route to a NASCAR race in Kansas. 😉


Suzanne Fluhr August 4, 2013 at 11:16 pm

Thanks, Sarah. NASCAR itself is probably good for a few funny signs, but the ones in Hawaii were definitely “Hmmmm”-worthy.


Elizabeth Rose December 6, 2013 at 7:19 pm

These are great!!!


santafetravelerssanta December 6, 2013 at 7:56 pm

And you get to go back and for months. Looking forward to following the Hawaii adventure.


Mary February 10, 2014 at 10:25 pm

LOL, I live on the Big Island at the moment and for the life of me I cannot figure out those tsunami signs!


Suzanne Fluhr February 10, 2014 at 10:53 pm

Mary, could you ask someone. I’m really curious. It’s strange.


Mary Ann May 7, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Aloha from Honolulu, Hawaii. As the USA 11th largest city, : ) we do have a unique situation. Bring the most remote land mass in the world, we are not near anyone, but in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, on one side Asia and the other the USA “Mainland”. The island chain is an archipelago, made up of over 200 islands only a few of which are populated! There is even a new island forming under the ocean! Honolulu is the only USA city which boasts a royal palace, the Iolani Palace, having been ruled by a King and Queen. They, by the way, traveled back and forth to Europe and were close friends with European royalty! Imagine that so long ago! Our island home is beautiful and we love to share it with friends.
BTW, that sign shows someone entering the tsunami zone! time to turn around! Mahalo!


Phil Brinks June 18, 2019 at 7:08 pm

Fun article! It makes me want to visit and check it out for my self!


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