Hawaii Living: Island Time

Hawaii Living: Island Time
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You've probably heard of Hawaii's famed Island Time. But what is it and how does it impact daily life here?

• General: Educational

Guide Series: Hawaii Living
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You hear about or even see it in some form on a t-shirt, but is Island Time a real thing and what is it exactly? It's not at all related to the common question: What Time Is It In Hawaii? It really has a single, overall meaning that relates to the uber-relaxed atmosphere that you'll find in Hawaii, and many island cultures around the world.

Vacationing On Island Time

If you're coming to Hawaii for a vacation then you'll be on island time the entire time. If you're not, you really should be! The entire point of Island Time is that the current time really has little to no meaning for you at all.

Think about it, if you're on vacation then why would you care if it's 10:00 AM or 5:00 PM? If you're hungry you'll eat. If you're tired you'll sleep. If you're bored you'll hit the beach, pool, or even eat or sleep. It's a vacation after all, time is meaningless!

Oh sure, it has some minor meaning when it comes to keeping an activity appointment or catching your flight home (should you want to leave that is) but it's mostly unimportant on a vacation. So enjoy your Island Time, it's a wonderful thing!

Living With Island Time

If you live in Hawaii then Island Time is both good and bad. First off, you're dealing with vacationers who don't care about time while you likely do care about time and they outnumber you 10 to 1. So they get in the way, make traffic worse, and generally slow you down. In certain areas like crowded Waikiki this may prove more annoying than in other, less touristy, areas.

When Island Time really becomes a pain is when you're relying on somebody else. If something breaks and you need somebody there right now to fix it, well, you may wait a bit. It all depends on the area, the item that breaks, and how readily available parts are.

If it's a tire on your car and you live on a highly populate island like Oahu, well, you'll get it repaired very fast and move on. But what if a part on your car breaks and you live on the island of Lanai? Not only will repair shops be very limited (likely to one even), but they're certainly not going to have a CV Joint Boot for your 1983 Subaru in stock!

So, in addition to waiting on repair labor, you'll also often be at the mercy of shipping companies. In most cases, parts have to be shipped from outside of the islands. That can take days to weeks. You'll learn to live with it mainly because you have no choice but to live with it. You'll also learn to plan ahead when possible and make sure you're stocked up on essentials.

Shipping Solutions

The good news on this issue of Island Time, where everything takes longer to do and get than the mainland, is that we live in an Internet enabled world. If you're living in Hawaii that really boils down to two words that you'll come to know and love (mostly): Amazon Prime.

You've probably heard of Amazon Prime or are using it on the mainland. If so, you're likely enjoying the ability to click a button and have something delivered, for free, to you in two days. Makes the 1990's feel like the stone age, doesn't it? How did we ever survive back then!

If you're not familiar, Amazon Prime is a service you pay for (around $100 per year) that basically lets you buy a lot of (but not all) items from Amazon.com without any shipping fees. If you live in Hawaii this is the key to saving money when buying online.

Of course, in Hawaii you'll find that Amazon Prime does not mean free two day shipping but instead means free standard shipping which usually means a delivery time of 5-10 days in many cases. Sometimes things take longer, other times they arrive in just a couple of days. In fact, if you order a lot using Prime then you may even find that Amazon.com sits on your order for several days, while they wait to see if you'll make another order, before shipping things out.

The bottom line? If you live in Hawaii then you want Amazon Prime, it's a great way to deal with Island Time as it relates to online buying. It's the easiest, cheapest, and best solution to buying things online and getting them to you quickly and without massive shipping fees. Most other Internet retailers will charge shipping fees that range from a-bit-too-high to time-to-get-a-second-mortgage. For more on this subject, be sure to read Amazon Prime In Hawaii - A Complete Guide.


So what did we learn here? Well, Island Time is very real. If you're on vacation in Hawaii then you'll love the idea and instantly forget all about time. If you live here, you'll quickly find that nobody is in much of a hurry to do anything and that can be frustrating for some to deal with. Yes, you'll still need to be on time for work, appointments, and so on but otherwise will take things a bit slower.

The best advice here is to jump right in and learn to slow down and not be in a rush. Stuck in traffic and late for an appointment? Deal with it and go with the flow and be late, and next time you'll plan ahead better. Once you can accept Island Time you'll probably drop a ton of that mainland stress you've been carrying around.