While the Hawaiian Islands are known for their Aloha spirit, there are some things that make locals cringe, often because we are fiercely protective of the land that makes our islands feel like paradise, or defending the culture that makes Hawaii so unique. Here are 15 things you should never do in Hawaii, whether you are on your first Hawaiian vacation, or you are planning to make one of our magnificent islands home.
1. Joking about how you would sleep on the beach if it meant living in Hawaii.
Homelessness is a major problem in Hawaii - so please don’t expect any laughs.
2. Assuming that life in Hawaii is all paradise, all the time.
Just because we live in Hawaii doesn’t mean life is a perpetual vacation… We still have to deal with terrible traffic, skyrocketing rents, and going to jobs that don’t necessarily value our work.
3. Creating traffic so you can take in the sights.
Seriously, I don’t care that you’re on one of the most scenic roads in the state, there are most certainly people who use that road to get to work - and your slow driving isn’t necessarily making them feel the Aloha.
4. Ignoring posted warning signs.
Warning signs are posted throughout Hawaii for a reason, but unfortunately there are many tourists who don’t heed these cautions – especially when it comes to the ocean. Always check the surf report, and read all posted signs so you know what to expect at a certain beach. Trust us, you’ll be a lot safer.
5. Referring to locals as “Hawaiians.”
Being Hawaiian isn’t the same as being a Californian - Hawaiians are a race, and only those who can trace their roots back to the islands’ original Polynesian settlers. In fact, only about 10 percent of Hawaii’s population are native Hawaiians; everyone else is a Hawaii resident, or local.
6. Using your car horn.
Considering we try to always drive with Aloha, using our car horns is just not something drivers in Hawaii do. If you do, you’ll definitely be ousted as a tourist and given a few dirty looks.
7. Stepping on coral.
Believe it or not, the coral is alive, and stepping on it can wreak havoc on this fragile marine ecosystem - not to mention, cause infections if you were to get cut. Stick to swimming and floating above the coral, okay?
8. Bringing invasive species with you.
There are some strict guidelines on what you can bring in and out of Hawaii - and for good reason, we would like our islands to stay snake free.
9. Never venturing outside of Waikiki.
Waikiki can be great for a night out, but there are so many phenomenal sites across the islands - and even on Oahu. Take your rental car and get out there to explore our secluded beaches, lush jungles, and majestic mountaintops.
10. Don’t tell locals that you’re from “the USA.”
Uh, last time I checked, Hawaii became an American state in 1959. Did you need to use your passport to get here? No, I didn’t think so.
11. Having a rigid schedule.
Whether you’re on vacation, or moved to the state last year, life is a little slower in Hawaii, and the best plan to have is a flexible one.
12. Touching monk seals, honu, or other threatened species.
Touching an endangered green sea turtle could result in up to 30 days in jail or a fine of up to $2,000. Just give the sea turtles and monk seals some space, please.
13. Keeping your shoes on when you enter someone’s home.
Just don't be disrespectful to your hosts, okay?
14. Sticking to the chain restaurants.
There are so many tourists who visit Hawaii and never try the local cuisine. Instead, they stick with boring chain restaurants and resort food - yuck. Trying the local food is of paramount importance on any vacation, but especially in Hawaii. Who wouldn’t want to visit Hawaii and eat spam musubi, loco moco and shave ice?
15. Taking lava rocks home as a souvenir.
While you may think grabbing a lava rock or filling a small tube with sand is an awesome souvenir, it is extremely bad luck to do so. Nobody wants to deal with the wrath of Pele.
Interested in specific things you should avoid as a tourist in Hawaii? Check out our article about the
14 worst mistakes made by tourists in Hawaii.