Las Vegas is often lauded for its wide-ranging diversity. According to 8NewsNow, four Las Vegas townships, alongside the cities of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, find themselves in the United States’ Top 50 for ethnic diversity. This isn’t a mere number—as a tourist, you’ll be able to experience it when you wander Spring Valley’s bustling Chinatown or taste authentic vegan Mexican dishes in the Arts District. From plant-based quesadillas to the half-scale Eiffel Tower, Las Vegas underlines that it’s home to people of all ethnicities.
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That includes Hawaiians. Despite being in the middle of the desert, Las Vegas is known to be the Aloha State’s ninth island for a reason—it wholeheartedly honors and mimics Hawaii in many ways. Read on to find out how.
It houses a large population of Hawaiians
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One simple reason why Las Vegas seems so much like the sublime Hawaiian islands is that so many Hawaiians have already settled there. The Las Vegas Review-Journal cites the lower cost of living and the similar service-based economy as the main attractions for native Hawaiians. Because of this basis, the population of non-Hispanic Hawaiians and other Pacific Islands in Nevada has doubled from 7,769 to 15,456 during the past decade, resulting in a tight-knit cultural and social network you can spot everywhere.
It showcases the Aloha spirit
What marks the Hawaii islands out isn’t simply their spectacular natural beauty and rich shared history. They also have their distinctive Aloha spirit, an attitude characterized by its relaxed gentleness and willingness to connect. It’s one of the factors that makes Hawaii the happiest state in the nation—and it manifests itself in Las Vegas in various ways, such as the famously hospitable California Hotel’s promise that “Aloha is spoken here.” You’ll even find it in the beautiful way traditions are preserved. This is best exemplified by how Hawaii’s traditional lei greeting, a symbolic act of love and affection, is practiced at many Las Vegas occasions like Mayday and NFL events. During festivities, a greeter may approach you with a hand-crafted lei and drape it across your shoulders. The right response is feeling honored at the show of welcome and respect.
It treasures Hawaiian food
One of the things visitors most enjoy about Hawaii is their sumptuous meals and delicacies. That same delicious islander fare is available in Las Vegas. Aloha Hawaiian BBQ, for example, serves fried mahi mahi, fried scallops, and the renowned oxtail soup. Meanwhile, you can drive downtown to Makai Pacific Ocean Grill for delectable poke bowls and spam musubis. That’s just a sample of the many Hawaiian dishes you can get in the desert city, all authentic and usually whipped up by Hawaiian natives themselves.
It has Hawaiian chain stores
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After a vacation to the Hawaiian Islands, it’d be a surprise if you’re not laden with numerous Hawaiian souvenirs to take home with you. The same can be said after a vacation to Las Vegas. The metropolis is a prime spot to grab a range of wonderful keepsakes. If your tastes tend toward higher-end memorabilia, you’ll be happy to know that Las Vegas has Na Hoku—a store that boasts being one of Hawaii’s finest jewelers since 1924. There, you’ll find a selection of special jewelry designs carefully crafted to celebrate Hawaii’s lifestyle and traditions, like stud earrings formed in the shape of the Plumeria flowers spread throughout the islands or wave pendants that mimic the state’s crystalline waters. If that’s not in your price range, Las Vegas also has the famous ABC stores—the variety shops you can find in almost every corner of Hawaii. This chain began as a mom-and-pop store of two Japanese immigrants who settled in Honolulu. Now, its reach extends all the way to Las Vegas, where you can get groceries, liquor, and all things Hawaiian.
With Las Vegas welcoming the Hawaiian community with open arms and serving as a space for them to celebrate their customs and traditions, it’s no wonder the Entertainment Capital of the World is known as Hawaii’s ninth island. Head there if you want a glimpse of island paradise in the desert.