If you’re thinking of buying a home here in Hawaii, the first thing to saving time is finding a good Realtor (that’s pronounced REAL-tor and not real-a-tor). A good Realtor knows the different neighborhoods and can direct you where to look quicker than figuring out what your smartphone is trying to pronounce.
I’ve had many clients remark out of frustration that the experience is like going to another country as most of the street names are Hawaiian words.
To make matters more complicated, most of the names look or sound the same…they usually start with K and have a lot of vowels. Or they just don’t sound the way Siri says them. So, if a local person tells you where to go and how to get there, it can be confusing listening to Siri.
The other challenge is reading the street sign when you’re driving at the speed limit, especially IF you’re still trying to figure out which street you are supposed to turn on…
Was it Kaihohonu, Kaiopua, Kaihee, Kekaiholu, Kaiakua, Kaiapo, Kaihee, Kalakaua, Kapiolani, Kalanianaole, Kamehameha, Kapolei, Kaneohe, Kailua, Kalihi, Kalama Valley, Kuliouou, Kaimuki, Kahala, Kalani, Kuhio, Kaawa, Kaikoele?…Well, you get the drift.
The easiest way to pronounce a Hawaiian word is to remember to pronounce each vowel or syllable using short vowels. The vowel “e” is pronounced ‘eh” as in elephant and “i” is pronounced “ee” as in bee.
The other thing complicated is that Oahu is divided into Regions, then Neighborhoods. We have many neighborhoods and then communities within a neighborhood or sub-neighborhood.
DIRECTION TIP: If you stop someone on the street to ask for directions if you don’t have a smart phone or your cell phone died, and someone tells you to “drive ewa or go diamond head”… they mean drive out towards ewa beach or the westside or head towards the monument/extinct volcano cone Diamond Head near the Honolulu Zoo/Waikiki. They might also say, “head mauka” or “it’s on the makai side”. They mean travel towards the mountain (“mauka”) or you will find it on the “makai side” (ocean side) of the street, etc.