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Any person from the Mainland will probably experience a little bit of culture shock when they first arrive in the Honolulu airport. The demographic composition of Hawaiians is considerably different from that of any of the other 49 states, with its significant Asian/Asian-American population. The climate, culture, and colors are all noticeably different from what one would experience on the continental U.S. Unless you arrange for it, no one is going to show up and put a lei around your neck. Fashion is more laid back (slippers, or what you would call flip flops or thongs, are worn everywhere) and life in general slows down considerably. Things don’t always run on schedule, but relax -- you’re in paradise! But the major surprise for many visitors of Honolulu is that it is a bustling cosmopolitan area, not exactly one imagines when thinking of Hawaii. While there are plenty of areas with the renowned natural beauty of Hawaii, there are plenty of options in terms of eating, shopping, and nightlife.
While most tourists tend to hang around the Waikiki area, Honolulu’s cultural sites dot the downtown areas as well. Any visitor wishing to truly see Honolulu should minimize their time in Waikiki and venture into other areas and chill with the locals. Venture to the Kapahulu area, a neighborhood on the Diamond Head side of Waikiki. Along Kapahulu Avenue, you'll find a variety of affordable ethnic restaurants ranging from Hawaiian to Chinese to Mediterrean to Thai. A quick trip into Chinatown will expose you to many options for good, cheap food as well as the new thriving art scene in the area. Stop by the Iolani Palace and see a glimpse of the royal life before Hawaii became a part of the U.S. There is plenty of history and culture to absorb, so don’t spend all your time sunning on the beach!
Other than the obvious in downtown or Chinatown for the tourist. You should also visit Bishop Museum to learn some Hawaiian culture in the past. Also try to find where the local musicians play live Hawaiian music along with hula dancers showing off their moves. Dance and music are important in Hawaiian culture.