5 Things Not to Do in Hawaii

Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii
Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) and the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) have come together for a new project aimed at teaching tourists all the dos and don’ts of visiting their gorgeous island chain. And it all comes down to “Kuleana,” which translates to “responsibility.”

To get that message across, the two tourism authorities asked locals across the islands to explain what is OK for tourists to do and what should be avoided in a series of new video messages.

“Many travelers visiting the Hawaiian Islands don’t necessarily understand why we stay on the trail when we hike, why we care about protecting our reefs, and many of the dangers they need to be mindful of,” Jay Talwar, HVCB’s chief marketing officer, told TravelPulse about the Kuleana Campaign. “Rather than scold them, we felt that, if our residents shared the ‘whys’ behind appropriate behavior, then most visitors would follow along; in other words, if we don’t show them the trail, how can we expect them to stay on it? That’s what our new Kuleana Campaign aims to do.”

So, what should and shouldn’t travelers do? Here are a few key pieces of advice from locals.

Don’t enter a space without asking.

As cultural practitioner Sabra Kauka explains, it’s tradition to ask permission to enter a space rather than just barging in. “It really is wise to do so,” she said. “Because you’re not assuming. You’re asking to be invited in.”

Don’t assume you can surf with the professionals.

Hawaii is certainly well-known for its gorgeous coastlines. However, those shores can be dangerous, so just as world champion surfer Duane Desoto explains, it’s important to know your limits in the water and stay alert.

Don’t show up to the beach with plastics (or the wrong sunscreen).

Speaking of the oceans, it’s crucial for visitors to respect the sea. Ocean conservationist, Ocean Ramsey says, “When you go to the beach, travel with your own reusable water bottle, reusable bag, and reduce your use of single-use plastics and use reef-safe sunscreen.”

Don’t accidentally bring tiny visitors with you to the islands.

Nature conservationist Ulalia Woodside encourages visitors to not only be conscientious of where they hike by ensuring their route is on a public trail, but to also always check their shoes before heading out. “Youll see a station where you can wash your shoes. If you might be carrying some seeds make sure to clean that off. Non-native species can be aggressive in the way they grow.”

Don’t come with a closed mind.

Hawaiians want you to come and visit, and they want you to come with an open mind, too. Cultural advisor Uncle Earl Regidor explains, “We hope when our visitors come to visit our beautiful Hawaii island that they come with an open mind and an open heart. And be able to learn from the people that live here in hopes that they too will want to experience the beauty of the culture and the history.”

Do love Hawaii as much as your own backyard.

Not sure what to do? Always ask yourself, “Would I want someone doing this in my home town?” cultural advisor Marques Marzan explains. “I think the most important thing to take away or at least embody is to feel like you are a part of this family and if you think about yourself this way you’ll respect one another and you’ll be able to engage with people and communities in a very different way. I hope they take away a little bit of that passion and love that they experienced in Hawaii and they carry that with them to their home and share that with their community and family.”

Check out all the videos for more advice here.

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