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Hawaii recommendations from those who know best

We utilized our contextual research platform so Hawaii locals could show us the destinations and experiences you can't miss.

Words by Ben Wiedmaier, Visuals by Delaney Gibbons

As seasoned travelers know, the best recommendations for any travel destination come from residents.

Ahead of EPIC 2018, dscout utilized its contextual platform to unearth Hawaii's finest sights, hikes and bites from the people who know best. 

Through dscout, we found native Hawaiians, Hawaii residents, and former residents, to show and tell us what to see, eat, and do in their beloved islands. 

Given EPIC members' commitment to immersion, empathy, and the importance of perspective, we also inquired about what it means to be "local" for those who live or have lived in Hawaii.

Using the dscout app on their phones, "scouts" took us on a journey across the islands, giving us context into life through their eyes and offering advice you won't find in the travel guides.

Below are just a few of the destinations participants shared with us. 

For full immersion into all of their recommendations and perspectives, captured in multimedia, data-rich entries, provide your email below and we'll give you access to the project on dscout.

Ready to dive into all of the entries from our Hawaii participants?
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The study in brief

We recruited 20 scouts who live or used to live on the Hawaiian islands. Over 12 days, scouts were asked to complete three phases:
   1) Reflect on what it means to be a "Local" in Hawaii.
   2) Capture moments that showcase the "true" Hawaiian ethos.
   3) Inventory their "must-see" items for visitors to the islands.

What to Eat


Despite making waves on the mainland, poke's roots are plainly Hawaiian. Scouts described how it's not hard to find the best kind (hint: check the grocery stores) and that simpler is more authentic (and better).

"The way that Poké is eaten here, It's very simple. It's not like how it is on the mainland. You don't have all these wild crazy endless toppings. It's just Poké and rice and some seaweed. It's very simple but so delicious and it just really really makes you appreciate Poké."
— Vi D., 31 | Ewa Beach, HI

Try it at:
Silva's, Ewa Beach, Oahu
A Foodland Grocery Store, Anywhere


The "Ham in a Can," oft-maligned on the mainland, has deeper roots in Hawaii. Courtney C. from Wahiawa put it simply: "Spam is life." Gwen G. from Honolulu (seen below) described how spam typifies Hawaii's evolution from food desert to food destination.

Try it at:
Dunkin' Donuts
7-11 (seriously!)

Gwen G., 28 | Honolulu, HI

What to See

Kaena Point Coastal Reserve

"It is located on the North Shore of Oahu. This place is a unique area because the plants and animals you can find here are protected by State and Federal laws. It is a cultural site and a legendary place to the Hawaiian people."
Princess A., 35 | Mountain Home, AR

Kaena Point Coastal Reserve, Oahu

Polynesian Cultural Center

You may not be able to make it to all SIX of Hawaii's islands, but after a visit to the PCC on Oahu, you'll feel like you did. Our scouts mentioned the PCC as a must-do for anyone looking to enrich themselves in the ethos that made Hawaii what it is today.

"I usually take any of my friends who visit the islands to the Polynesian Cultural Center. I just think it’s a good way to encounter the history and culture of the islands in a fun and non-threatening way."
— Candi C., 43 | Waco, TX

What to Do

Bishop Museum

"This museum tells the story of my ancestors. The artifacts were items they used in their day-to-day. It is a place of reverence and brings emotions of sadness as well as joy since these artifacts were able to be preserved."
— Nicole N., 39 | Honolulu, HI

The Bishop Museum

Kahe Point Beach (aka Electric Beach)

Situated next to a power plant (hence the name) scouts raved that Electric Beach is the place to snorkel and get a taste of a non-touristy, local Hawaiian beach life. Be sure to bring a pair of fins if dipping in -- the waves can be strong!

Maruel U., 30 | Ewa Beach, HI

Ethnographers are our ohana

At dscout, we put qualitative research in context and in the moment.

Want to explore how we surfaced these recommendations and discover more hidden gems? Just enter your email address and we'll add you to the project, so you can pour through all 150 entries and filter to meet your interests.

From the mission, you can learn where scouts said to hike, see street art, and find idyllic views of the islands... there also are plenty more recommendations for authentic cuisine! Find all the must-do's for your EPIC 2018 trip.

Dive into the research yourself

Just enter the email address you use (or want to use) with dscout, then we'll add you and be in touch!

Ben is the product evangelist at dscout, where he spreads the “good news” of contextual research, helps customers understand how to get the most from dscout, and impersonates everyone in the office. He has a doctorate in communication studies from Arizona State University, studying “nonverbal courtship signals”, a.k.a. flirting. No, he doesn’t have dating advice for you.

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