7 Things You Won’t Find in Hawaii (and 4 Things You Will)

Things you won't find in Hawaii: billboards.

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We have officially lived in Hawaii for 2 months now and are slowly settling into our new island home.

Moving from the biggest state (Texas) to one of the smallest states has been quite an adjustment. And we are constantly learning new things about this beautiful place.

There are some things that we noticed missing here in Hawaii and a couple of things that are here, that we didn’t expect.

Here are 7 things you won’t find in Hawaii:

Things You Won’t Find in Hawaii


There is not a single billboard in the entire state! I didn’t notice the absence of these giant signs until I saw the fact mentioned in a random video on Instagram. On our next drive I started paying attention and sure enough, there are no billboards along the highways.

The State of Hawaii banned billboards back in the 1920s in an effort to not obstruct the gorgeous views of this beautiful island. While, Hawaii was the first to implement this ban, they’re not the only one. Alaska, Maine, and Vermont have also banned billboards in an effort to preserve the natural beauty of their landscapes.

Things you won't find in Hawaii: billboards.
(Who would want a billboard to cover up even an inch of that ocean view?)

Plastic Grocery Bags

In addition to billboards, Hawaii has also banned plastic bags. It is the first state to ban single-use plastic bags in all counties. This was done in an effort to reduce the quantity of materials that go into landfills and protect wildlife that often get tangled in or ingest these bags.

We have bought plenty of reusable grocery bags since arriving. However, we are still getting in the habit of remembering to take them with us to the grocery store.

Things you won't find in Hawaii: plastic bags.
(Hawaii is very eco-conscious and protective of its animals.)

Saltwater Fishing Licenses

Another thing you won’t find in Hawaii is a saltwater fishing license. You don’t need one to fish in Hawaiian waters. This applies to fishing by yourself and fishing with a charter. Every other state we have lived has required saltwater fishing licenses, so this was unusual to us.

However, you DO need a freshwater fishing license if you plan to fish in any of the lakes, streams, or reservoirs.

**Fun fact: Shark fishing is banned in Hawiian waters.**

(He’s already been fishing with friends & didn’t have to worry about getting a license first!)


Hawaii is a very isolated archipelago (group of islands). In fact, at 2,400 miles from the nearest land mass (the U.S mainland) it is the most isolated population center on Earth! So, the only way for animals to arrive on the island is to swim, fly, or be smuggled in by humans.

It is a Class C Felony to bring a snake to Hawaii. Meaning your punishment could be up to 3 years in prison and a $200,000 fine. Making snakes one of the things you won’t find in Hawaii.

Things you won't find in Hawaii: snakes
(I love that you can hike through this lush landscape and not have to worry about snakes.)

Dollar Stores

One of the things I never expected to miss from the mainland is dollar stores! In both Texas and North Carolina, we had a Dollar General right down the road from our house. It was convenient to stop in for milk, bread, or other necessities without going all the way into town to the grocery store.

Little did I know that would not happen at our new duty station. Hawaii has no dollar stores due to the high import cost associated with bringing goods to the island.

I’ve heard that Daiso is similar, but I haven’t been to one yet.

Things you won't find in Hawaii: dollar stores.
(If everything is expensive and there are no dollar stores, at least there are views like this!)

Daylight Saving Time

Hawaii has never observed Daylight Saving Time, since the state opted out of the Uniform Time Act when it began in 1967. It is one of only 2 states to do so; Arizona being the other state to reject the whole silly notion.

Due to Hawaii’s tropical latitude, there isn’t much change in daylight length between summer and winter, making Daylight Saving Time useless anyway.

**Fun fact: Hawaii has it’s own time zone – Hawaiian Standard Time.**

Things you won't find in Hawaii: Daylight Saving Time.
(No more ‘springing forward’ or ‘falling back’…at least for a couple of years.)

Surprising Things You WILL Find in Hawaii

Wild Mongoose

We were headed to lounge on the beaches of the Ko’olina Lagoons when we saw a huge rat raiding a trash can. Except…it wasn’t a rat. It was a mongoose!

Mongoose aren’t native to the Hawaiian Islands, but they were brought over from India by sugarcane farmers in the 1880s to try to control the rat population. While they made a minimal impact on the rodent population, the mongoose nearly wiped out certain kinds of ground-nesting birds and sea turtles by eating their eggs.

The islands of Lana’i and Kaua’i were thankfully never invaded by mongoose, but the other islands have been trying to get rid of them ever since.

**Fun fact: The plural of mongoose is mongooses, not mongeese.**

Things you will find in Hawaii: mongoose!
Mongoose running away from trash can in Hawaii.

(A hungry mongoose raiding a trash can.)

Red Dirt (& lots of it!)

One of the first things I noticed when we started looking for houses here in Hawaii, was the red dirt staining the pavement outside.

That’s because most of the soil on the Hawaiian Islands is red. And you can’t escape it! It will stain your shoes, clothes, car, and anything else it touches. And it’s hard, if not, impossible to get out!

The red color in the soil comes from iron and aluminum oxide present in the soil from the influence of volcanic ash. This also makes the soil very fertile and results in lush vegetation and productive farmlands on the islands.

Red dirt stained our patio in Hawaii.
(The dirt has stained our patio a reddish orange. Also, hi Milo!)

New Year’s Eve Fireworks

New Year’s Eve is always a night of celebration all across the U.S. However, Hawaii takes it to another level!

We don’t go out on New Year’s Eve and usually spend the night at home or my mom’s house. We share a meal, play cards, and shoot off some fireworks in the yard. And this year was no exception, we stayed home enjoying our family time.

We didn’t have to go anywhere to see fireworks or even buy our own. From our backyard on Wheeler Army Airfield, we could see the sky lighting up and huge explosions of fireworks all over the place. And the next day we saw videos online of different neighborhoods and viewpoints. There were THOUSANDS of fireworks lighting up the sky!

Not only do the big resorts and some towns do professional fireworks displays, but individuals buy fireworks just for fun in their neighborhoods.

(Hawaii has a New Year’s Eve celebration unlike anything I’ve ever seen!)

Cacao Trees

One of the things I didn’t know about Hawaii until we got here was that it is the only U.S state that commercially grows cacao (cocoa beans).

There is a narrow band known as the Cocoa Belt where cacao trees grow. This belt follows the tropics, extending 20 degrees north and south of the Equator. Cacao trees need warm temperatures and lots of rainfall in order to thrive, both of which can be found on the beautiful islands of Hawaii.

**Fun fact: Cacao pods grow from the trunk of the tree instead of the branches.**

Cacao tree growing in Hawaii.
(You can see the pods growing off of the trunk!)

Hawaii is both a strange and wonderful place to us. There are some things you won’t find in Hawaii, but none that are a deal breaker for us.

So far, we are enjoying our time here and look forward to all of the adventures over the next couple of years.

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