Traveling to a new place is always fun. But when you're going somewhere with a culture that is so different from your own, it's important to be aware of the different customs and traditions that this place has. That way, you'll have the best possible vacation and you won't accidentally do something that is considered rude without even realizing it.
Hawaii is a beautiful tourist destination that has a rich history and a culture all their own. Although it can be a lot of fun to go there for the beaches and the beautiful weather, it's important to know about the customs and traditions in Hawaii. To see 10 etiquette tips to keep in mind before going to Hawaii, keep reading!
10 Accept The Lei
A lei is a garland made of Hawaiian flowers that have been strung together into a circle in order to be worn. After arriving in Hawaii, the first thing that many visitors experience is having a lei put around their neck. Leis are also distributed during times of celebration like birthdays and graduations and represent friendship, luck, and love.
Even if you don't really want to keep your lei on after it's put around your neck, don't remove it until you're in the privacy of your hotel room or Airbnb. Removing a lei before then is considered very rude considering they're made and presented to visitors as a symbol of welcoming and friendship.
9 Be Kind To Others
In Hawaii, you'll be hearing the words "aloha" and "mahalo" all the time. It's important to familiarize yourself with these words before going because you're going to be using them a lot, too! The word "aloha" is one that can mean many things, most commonly "hello," "goodbye," or "love." Meanwhile, "mahalo" is a word that means "thank you."
When visiting Hawaii, make sure that you're kind to others and use these words regularly. Hold doors open for people and say "mahalo" to people that do the same for you. Even if you're typically more introverted, make it a point to come across as friendly and kind to the people that you encounter on your trip.
8 Respect Hula
Hula is a beautiful dance form that is an important part of Hawaiian tradition. Although hula has been used for a long ime as a way to entertain guests and is even the subject of dance competitions, hula is definitely more than just entertainment for visitors.
There are many places in Hawaii where you can watch trained dancers perform hula, but make sure that you're respectful of the art. Hula takes a lot of training and dedication and is a sacred act that connects the dancers to their culture. Don't mock the dance or try to join in without being invited as each movement tells a story.
7 Take Your Shoes Off
Whether you've been invited to someone's home in Hawaii or you're just arriving at your Airbnb, there's one thing you need to remember: take your shoes off. Taking your shoes off before entering a home is an important part of many cultures and Hawaii is no different.
This tradition is said to have been brought over to Hawaii from Japan. It shows the owner of the home respect because you're not bringing in dirt and germs and are keeping their home clean while you visit. Some homes may have slippers that you can wear while in their home while others prefer you stay barefoot.
6 Ask Where (And When) To Surf
Surfing is a really fun pastime in Hawaii. Even if you're not a local and you're just on vacation, it can be a ton of fun to stop by one of the many beaches and take some lessons or hit the waves. But, surfing is a big part of life in Hawaii and it's important to be respectful of the locals if you decide to bring your board.
Ask around about where the best place for a tourist to surf is. Many beaches have regulars that surf there often and just showing up to surf can be considered really rude. Locals that know the area will definitely know the best beaches that will happily accept a visitor to ride the waves. Once you get there, let the others go first. Don't take the first wave that comes in.
5 Call Them "Locals"
Referring to yourself by the state you live in is totally normal. People that live in New York might refer to themselves as New Yorkers, for instance. But Hawaii is different. The word "Hawaiian" is reserved exclusively for people that are of Native Hawaiian descent.
If you're trying to talk about someone that lives in Hawaii and you're not sure if they're a Native Hawaiian or not, just use the word "local." Whoever you're speaking to will definitely know what you mean and you won't run the risk of accidentally misidentifying them.
4 Watch Your Driving
There are so many things to see in Hawaii, you'll probably find yourself driving from place to place while on your trip. Although you may think you know the rules of the road, there are some rules when it comes to driving in Hawaii that are very specific to the islands.
There are some roads, typically located in residential areas, that have signs that specifically say they're only for locals. This is to reduce the traffic in those areas so people who live in the area can get around quicker. Drive slow and do not honk your horn unless it's an emergency, it's considered really rude. And if you're driving on a narrow road and see a local behind you, it's polite to pull over and let them pass you.
3 Don't Take Anything (But Photos)
Even though bringing home souvenirs from your trip is always tempting, there are some rules that you should follow when it comes to taking things home from the islands.
If you visit a volcanic site, you may see lava rocks all over the ground. It may seem tempting to take them, but nature is considered sacred in Hawaii and moving or taking these rocks is a huge no-no. Leave them alone and make your way to a gift shop to pick something up to remember your trip by.
2 Use The Right Phrases
When you're referring to the state you're from or the other Hawaiian islands, it's important to know the right phrases to use. Using the wrong one can be really offensive, depending on who you're talking to and what you say.
If you want to talk about the rest of the US, don't just say "the states." Either name the specific states that you're talking about or call it "the mainland." Hawaii may have a unique culture and feel like its own place, but it's still part of the US and saying "the states" can sound like you think it's not. And if you're talking about any island that you're not currently on, call the other islands the "neighbor islands" or by their specific names.
1 Give The Animals Space
Hawaii is home to a lot of really interesting and beautiful animals. While you're exploring Hawaii or taking a dip in the ocean, you might come pretty close to some of those animals! While it may seem tempting to try to lure it over so you can touch it, please don't.
Disturbing the wildlife isn't cool no matter where you go and this is particularly true when you're in Hawaii. Some of the animals that are found in Hawaii are even endangered and coming into close contact with humans can be dangerous for them. Take pictures and admire the animals from afar, but give them their space.