Is Uber available in Hawaii?

Both leading ridesharing services Uber and Lyft are operating on the island of Oahu (Honolulu). Uber is also available on Maui, but Lyft is not available on Maui as of this writing. Neither ridesharing service is available on Kauai or Hawaii Island (the Big Island) yet.

If you’ve not used either service, you can use code ‘UBERHAWAII‘ when you sign up for Uber or ‘HAWAIIANSWERS‘ when you sign up for Lyft to receive free ride credit.

Note that Uber and Lyft rideshare drivers are not allowed to pick up passengers from Honolulu International Airport. Only sanctioned taxi companies and their drivers can pick up people at the airport. Although there are popular hacks to circumvent this restriction (taking rental car shuttles off airport property, walking to nearby businesses, etc.), periodic stings by law enforcement make most rideshare drivers reluctant to accept airport requests. On the other hand, all Uber and Lyft drivers can drop off passengers at the airport.

In addition, the Honolulu City Council, like other municipal governments, has proposed ridesharing regulations that Uber and Lyft have said would threaten their ability to operate. So far, however, these regulations have not been implemented and both companies continue to operate.

Note that Uber and Lyft coverage is concentrated in urban areas, although there are usually cars available in larger neighborhoods in Leeward, Windward, and East Oahu. Drivers will usually respond to requests from even more rural locations, but you may find yourself waiting 20 minutes or more.

What is the alcoholic drink ‘swipe’ or ‘swipes’?

Terry J. asks: “I once heard of a sort of moonshine that was made by locals on Maui from fermented pineapple. They may have called it swipe?”

Writes Matthew Rowley in Rowley’s Whiskey Forge:

“Swipes may sound like some modern cleaning product, but, in fact, the term refers to a style of intoxicating drinks from mid- to late-nineteenth century Hawaii… low-alcohol brew made, at its best, from sweet potatoes, honey, sugar, molasses, bread fruit, and other produce or cane products brewers and bootleggers could get their hands on. The ingredients, however, were classic moonshine ingredients; anything fermentable, nearby, and cheap went into the pot. At its worst, the stuff was a toxic slop adulterated by unscrupulous bootleggers for desperate classes of drinkers.”

Rowley cites a Sept. 30, 1900 article in the Omaha Daily Bee:

Honolulu’s Queer Dope
Vast quantities of swipes swiped by the raiding police

The American brand of civilization has taken another fall out of the native article brewed in Hawaii. Liquor inspectors recently raided the districts of Kakaako, Honuakaha and Kukuluaco, captured several native stills and spilled vast quantities of swipes on the thirsty ground. Something like a thousand gallons of native dope were confiscated and spilled, while the makers looked on amazed and weeping.

Swipes to the native Hawaiian is what pulque is to Mexicans, or beno to the Filipinos. It cannot be classified under American revenue laws, nor does it approach the American standard of booze. Besides the natives neglected to procure a distiller’s license. In its simple state, swipes does not equal pulque or beno, but when mixed with hot stuff it is swifter than jersey lightning or forty-rod.

As it is commonly known in Hawaii, swipes is the native beer. The beverage might be made almost of the ingredients found in any well regulated and stocked kitchen. The principal articles used in the manufacture are sugar, corn, pineapple root and Chinese ginger, bran, potatoes and sliced pineapples. It is fermented and strained after standing about four or five days and is then ready for use.

Made with the above ingredients, it is a good drink and not any more intoxicating than ordinary beer. To give it a specially “kill devil” effect, alcohol and tobacco and methylated spirits are often added. When it is dosed this way it is extremely intoxicating and gives the drinker a fighting jab, which improves with age.

The drinking of swipes gives the drinker a terrible thirst. After swipes has been taken and the drinker is put to sleep he naturally wakes up after a while. The first thing he goes for is water. A glass of water starts the swipes going again and in a short time the man is very drunk. It is said that four or five glasses of doctored swipes will keep a man drunk for two or three days if water is taken after awakening from the drunken sleep.

In the 1975 book “WWII: A Chronicle of Soldering,” James Jones writes:

We did have ‘raising jack,’ or what we guys from Honolulu called ‘swipe,’ which was a Hawaiian word for bootleg liquor… We made our ‘swipe’ by stealing a five-gallon tin of canned peaches or plums or pineapple from the nearest ration dump, and putting a double handfull of sugar in it to help it ferment, and then leaving it out in the sun in the jungle with a piece of cheesecloth or mosquito netting over it to keep out the bugs.

It was the most godawful stuff to drink, sickly sweet and smelling very raunchy, but if you could get enough of it down and keep it down, it carried a wonderful wallop. The worst, most terribly awful bar-non hangover I ever had in my life before or after, I got from one of these late night ‘swipe’ parties where I passed out, to wake up lying in the mud in full tropical sunlight in the coconut groves not far from our tents.

The drink is also featured in a November 2015 episode of Booze Traveler, Season 2, Episode 9:


Why is the Hilo airport code ITO?


Hilo International Airport, known as General Lyman Field until 1989, is located about two miles east of Hilo, on the eastern shore of the Big Island. Its three-letter IATA airport code is ITO.

There is no official explanation as to why, but the Hawaii State Department of Transportation lays out a couple of theories.

  • The airport was designated ITO after one of the first Hawaiian Airlines Hilo Airport station managers by the name of “Mr. Ito”.
  • The airport was designated ITO because both ILO (Mandurriao Airport in Iloilo,Philippines) and HIL (Shillavo Airport in Ethiopia) were already taken. ITO sounded a lot like Hilo.
  • Hilo was designated ITO because in the first half of the twentieth century, residents of the Big Island of Hawaii referred to the City of Hilo as Hilo Town, thus HIlo TOwn being the closest city or town to the airport.

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Why is Maui’s airport called OGG?

Photo Courtesy Hawaiian AirlinesKahului Airport is the second busiest airport in the State of Hawaii, located on the northern edge of the land bridge between Haleakala and the West Maui Mountain Range on the island of Maui. It’s three-letter IATA airport code is OGG.

OGG is a tribute to aviation pioneer Bertram J. Hogg. An accomplished pilot, Hogg started his career as a mechanic’s helper with Inter-Island Airways of Hawaii then later became the Captain of Flight Operation for Hawaiian Airlines. Hogg was said to be the first pilot to fly a commercial flight after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

During his 41-year career, he flew a total of 25,000 hours on aircraft ranging from eight-passenger Sikorsky S-38 amphibians to Douglas DC-3s and DC-9s into the late 1960s.

In September 2014, Hawaiian Airlines released a short documentary video featuring “The Man Behind OGG.”

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How expensive is it to live in Hawaii?

It is very expensive to live in Hawaii. Fortunately, it’s a topic that’s frequently researched and reported.

Most Expensive State to Live

In September 2014, Wall St. Cheat Sheet published a list via USA Today that gave Hawaii the top spot in its “7 Most Expensive States to Live in the U.S.” list.

  • Cost of Living Index: 162.9
  • Grocery Index: 159.7
  • Housing Index: 213.1
  • Utilities Index: 227.8
  • Transportation Index: 125.3
  • Health Index: 113.3
  • Misc.: 126.6

“Paradise is expensive. To live comfortably in Hawaii, you’d need a salary of over $122,000, as of late. Dinner and a movie in Honolulu will cost you around $75, which is a little high. Your grocery bill may be on the higher end in this area as well, with the price of bread and eggs averaging over $4 each. The median home value in Hawaii is $518,800 and the median list price is a little higher at $525,000 ($420 per square foot). If you decide to rent, you’re looking payment of just under $2,000 per month, and that’s if you pay the median price. To keep the utilities running in a small apartment in Honolulu, you’re facing a cost of around $285 per month.”

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