Going to Hawai’i? How to Avoid Pissing Off the Locals

Going to Hawai’i? How to Avoid Pissing Off the Locals

First time going to Hawai’i? You’re probably planning to relax on the beach, go snorkeling, and enjoy a sunset luau. While that’s all wonderful preparation, it would also be best to learn a bit more about Hawaii beyond the tourist attractions. When visiting another country, you typically try to do your due diligence to learn about the culture. At least I hope you would. Either way, I’d encourage anyone who hasn’t been to Hawai’i to use the tips listed and hopefully avoid pissing off the locals.

Don’t Touch the Wildlife

You may get up close and personal with amazing and beautiful wildlife while in Hawai’i. It may be tempting to get as close as you can, but look, don’t touch!

NOAA Marine Wildlife Viewing Guidelines

Hawaiian monk seals are endangered, and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) recommends people stay at least 150 feet away. Mother seals are protective of their pups, for your safety and theirs, it’s best to keep your distance to avoid disturbance. Similarly, sea turtles (honu) are also endangered and need their space from human interaction. It’s not a suggestion, it’s the law. The NOAA has published marine life viewing guidelines.

Coral Care: Don’t Touch Coral and Use Reef Safe Sunscreen

If you’ve watched Finding Nemo or Finding Dory, you know there’s a lot going on underwater, especially in the coral. Do what you can to protect the ocean ecosystem and avoid contact with coral.

Aside from touching coral, you should also avoid using chemicals on your body when entering the water; reef safe sunscreen is a must. If you plan to picnic or snack at the beach, clean up and pick up any litter you notice. The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program website shares more about coral reefs, and the many ways you can participate in coral reef care and protection.

Be Mindful on the Roads

My husband got pulled over for “driving recklessly” the night before our wedding. He drove faster than the speed limit. At home, it would be considered “normal.” His speed was considered “excessive” in Hawai’i, not just by the police, but also by some locals we know. He could have spent the night in jail, but thankfully he didn’t because he was getting married the next day! Be safe, follow the rules and drive the speed limit — the roads are not the same as they are at home.

Additionally, the locals know the roads better than tourists. They know every curve, how to maneuver during rainy days, and don’t need you to hog a one-lane road that you’ve never been on. So if you plan on driving the circuitous Road to Hana, let the locals pass, you slowpoke! Safely find a spot to pull over that doesn’t block traffic. Read more about the Hana Code of Conduct from the Hana Highway Regulation Authority. The 620 curves and 59 bridges are no joke.

Be Kind and Have Aloha

You’re feeling carefree and relaxed on vacation, I get it. However, don’t leave your respect and manners at home. Whether you’re in the water (don’t drop in on a wave; follow surf etiquette), or on land (see above about driving), don’t act like an entitled jerk. Hawai’i might seem like all play because you’re on vacation, but there are locals that live and work there to ensure you have a beautiful place to enjoy.

Things on the islands aren’t always the same as they are on the mainland. It’s best to refrain from talking down on Hawai’i. There are things Hawai’i has that aren’t available at your hometown too. Respect the land, the people, and the laws there. Be kind and courteous. It’ll go a long way.

Give love, spread the Aloha. I’m certain you’ll feel that Aloha Spirit even more.



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