Getting to live on Maui for 11 years of my life was truly a blessing. I had a wonderful childhood filled with adventures like jumping off waterfalls, climbing volcanoes and surfing in the delightful Pacific.There is also some serious insanity that happens among the community of locals, however.
Like most destinations, actually living in Hawaii is a vastly different experience than coming for the sights.
Whenever I tell someone I’m from Hawaii, the response is always along the lines of, “Wow, that is amazing!” Yeah, a lot of sh*t was amazing, but this one is for the real Maui people.
Here are 27 things only Maui kids will understand:
1. For the ladies, your bikini bottoms were micro-mini
Being a Maui girl means embracing the Brazilian bikini. Saggy bikini bottoms were the best way to pick out a tourist on the beach (well, that and a sunburn). You also had more bikini options than underwear options.
A Maui girl has an ass-out, no-shame bikini collection. Disclaimer: I’m 23 and I still wear them — even in the Hamptons. F*ck saggy bikini bottoms; they look like wet diapers and it’s NOT cute.
2. Even the white kids could speak pidgin when wasted
Pidgin is a hybrid of several different languages, brought to Maui by the multiplicity of cultures that live on its sandy shores. It’s a mix of Japanese, Tongan, Hawaiian and English (and few others, I’m sure). People who live on the island, who are exposed to all of these different cultures, speak pidgin.
I’m a white kid who was born in Chicago, so I thought I could speak pidgin when I really couldn’t. Pidgin is sort of English, and yet, it’s sort of not.
It includes phrases like, “da kine,” which means… well, it means many things… and “ono grindz,” which means “good food.” Anyway, only when heavily intoxicated would a white, non-native person like me decide to speak pidgin and make a damn fool out of herself.
3. Party locations were in very “natural environments”
Only a Maui kid can understand the beauty of a party in Poli Poli Park or a random cane field. Natives are used to doing keg stands using and tree for support or wandering through forests, looking for the light of the antics that are taking place.
4. You use the word “trog” and now all your mainlander friends know what a trog is and probably use it sometimes, too
The common myth on Maui is that a “trog” comes from the combination of the words “troll” and “frog,” but despite this folklore, it is simply not the case. Trog comes from the world “troglodyte,” which is a cave dweller.
It can be used either as a noun like, “You are such a trog” or, “That girl is such a trog.” Or, it can be used as an adjective like, “That is so trog” or, “Why are you being so trog?” It’s a word of complicated meaning, with many different implications, but you used it and still use it, nonetheless.
That’s not trog at all.
5. You always knew to take your shoes off before going into a private residence and even school
On Maui, people follow the Japanese custom to remove shoes before going into someone’s house. You aren’t supposed to track outside dirt inside — it’s dirty. It’s a sign of respect and part of the culture.
6. You know that a Banyan tree provides for the best fort
With their cavernous, loping trunks, deeply grooved bark and insanely long, hair-like tresses, these trees were perfect for childhood hideaways. We used to hunt for Jackson chameleons inside of them when we were little.
7. Flip flops are not a thing
Flip flops? WTF are flip flops? No. You were regular wearer of “slipahs,” which is what Maui natives call them. You wore them everywhere, every day.
8. You didn’t understand the concept of “outerwear”
You wore sweatshirts on rainy, 60-degree days, shivering and complaining of the frigid cold. Needing a winter coat was a foreign concept, reserved for mainland travels in which you experience a real winter.
Lucky for me, I spent Christmas breaks in Chicago, so I had a very different experiences than most Maui folk. But, my first full-length winter was snowy, wet and sad.
9. OH. MY. GOD. Lifted Trucks
They were everywhere you looked, on every street and in every parking lot. Maybe you even had one, who knows? Lifted trucks were super “hip” to have and the island was crawling with them. The tints were always way too dark to possibly be legal and many had gold rims or other chic details.
10. You did NOT pass your driving test the first time
I took my driving test THREE times before I passed. Why is it SO hard to pass a driving test in a place that has about four roads, one highway and is 70 percent forest? I’ll never know.
11. Lahaina was a town to troll for boys and hotel parties
What were we doing partying in hotel rooms at age 15? I’m still not sure, but it was awesome. Since the other side of the island was tourist central, you obviously celebrated birthdays down there and raged the place up, probably making a huge mess and not caring at all.
It was always like going on little vacations.
12. Halloween was like Mardi Gras of the Pacific
You’d see 14-year-old girls dressed in nothing but thongs and body paint. If you were a girl, you were one of them. Oh, and bonus: You also saw your teachers and they not-so-shockingly judged you for dressing like a baby prostitute, just as you judged them for being in a place where it was expected to wear a thong and body paint.
13. Speaking of teachers, yours were very “unusual” and seemed to be everywhere
Ahhh, my history teacher saw me flash the lead singer of 311 while on the shoulders of a nice Tongan man I did not know. Those were the good old days.
14. You learned very quickly what the “Aloha Spirit” meant: really slow
Are you an early riser? Do you like to get your errands over with and then move on with your day? Well then, that sucks for you. Shops are open whenever the shop owner feels like it, which will probably never be early in the morning, so plan accordingly.
15. You had a liver of steel by the time you were 15
As a Maui kid, if there was one thing you were really good at, it was drinking. It wasn’t at all unusual for you to pick up a handle just to have for yourself.
Speaking of which, you could just walk into Foodland, pick up a handle of liquor and walk out without being stopped. Getting alcohol was as easy as getting Gatorade.
16. Instead of The Boogie Man or monsters under your bed, you had menehune and night marchers
I still have nightmares to this day.
17. If you lived upcountry:
Seeing a traffic light was like seeing a unicorn. You were used to waiting behind a line of 15 cars to get to school at four-way intersections. You also had to allow for time in your morning commute for the hoards of inexperienced bikers taking tours of the crater.
18. If you lived in Kihei — or anywhere near sea level:
You always had sunshine, but you lived near nothing.
19. The cops were nice to you…
… If you were a girl and if you cried. One night, two of my friends and I snuck out to meet up with some boys and proceeded to lose one of our friends — or maybe, she went off with some guy? So trog.
Anyway, rather than looking for said friend, we waited in the car for her. Along came the cops. We were way passed curfew at this point and they wanted to take us in… so, in our blacked-out state, we cried and they let us go. If you are a boy living on Maui, this would never happen. Your ass would be in jail in a hot second.
20. Three words: Paia, Flatbread, Life
21. If you needed new clothes:
Your option was Pac Sun.
22. You used to regularly swim with sea turtles that were bigger than you
In fact, they were your most reliable meet-up, considering everyone had the “Aloha Spirit” — meaning, they were really slow and no one was anywhere on time, ever.
23. Maui (nearly) destroys your ability to enjoy weed anywhere else
Heard of the Maui Wowie? Yeah well that sh*t is strong and potent. Also, you could pretty much smoke anywhere you want and you know no one will stop you. Smoking on your porch as a cop drives by? Sure. On a beach with families sitting all around you? Go ahead.
24. Transportation without a care just meant hitchhiking around
Where would a kidnapper take you? Maui is really small; there’s simply nowhere to go. Now, in retrospect, this was probably not the safest choice, but you had places to be.
25. SPAM was part of a balanced diet
Who doesn’t love meat from a can? It was even served with eggs at McDonalds. Da kine, Brah.
26. Speed limits were so bad you probably should have just walked
Do you like driving faster than 50 mph on the (basically only) highway? In Maui, we sure wish we could!
27. When someone finds out you’re from Hawaii, it’s always the same, annoying questions, like you’re a space alien
Do you surf? Do you get lava days? Do you live in huts? ARE YOU STUPID?! No, we don’t live in huts. Maui is in America, people! Oh, and I’ve always loved, “Do you take American money?” That one was a hoot.