Respect the Land (‘aina).
The land is very sacred and precious in Hawaii and locals take great care of the islands and its resources. If you litter, take what doesn’t belong to you, or harass endangered species such as green sea turtles and monk seals, you may get some angry words from residents. Always try to eat locally sourced foods, recycle, and clean up your trash.
Show Respect To The People.
You may have heard that there is tension between tourists and locals in Hawaii. As long as you show respect, treat people with kindness and aloha, and try your best to remember the culture and customs here, you will be fine. Here are a few important things to remember during your visit- Don’t speak Pidgin, don’t honk your horn, and learn a few Hawaiian words and phrases. Above all, embrace Hawaii for what it is and try to adapt as much as possible.Travel is all about experiencing something new. So learn about the culture, visit some museums, eat food that you aren't used to, and embrace Hawaii for the beautiful place that it is.
Don't Take Anything from the Beaches or Parks.
According to the myth, Pele grows angry if anyone takes lava rock from her. And while you might be skeptical about this, there are way too many stories about people who have taken lava rock home and then found themselves experiencing bad luck. Every year, people mail lava rock back to Hawaii’s national parks, hoping that Pele will forgive them. So, do not take any rocks, shells, or sand from the islands, and leave the beach exactly as you found it. Littering places a great danger to Hawaii’s already endangered species.
Be Respectful of Sacred Sites.
With Hawaii’s deep respect for its royalty and cultural history, there are many sacred sites (kapu) on the islands. If you see a sign that says kapu, it is probably an ancient burial ground or a place where royalty lived. Many of these sights might just look like piles of rocks to you, but they are sacred. You might also see signs for heiau. These are Hawaiian temples. Some of these may be preserved; others may seem like hardly anything at all. Regardless, show respect by keeping your voice down, not walking on sacred lands, and not leaving trash. This is very important in Hawaii and locals will feel that you are disrespecting their culture if you don't obey the rules.
Learn a Few Hawaiian Words Before You Travel.
Hawaii is the only state that has two official languages: English and Hawaiian. Depending on which airline you fly, you might start to hear Hawaiian on your flight over there. It is also spoken in certain schools, banks, and other institutions. Of course, English is the main language spoken and you can get along fine with knowing any Hawaiian. However, there are some Hawaiian words that are used instead of English, so it's helpful to know them. Restrooms often say "Wahine" (women) and "Kane" (men). Many businesses will have signs that say “E komo mai,” which means welcome and locals give you directions by saying go “makai“ (towards the sea) or go “mauka” (towards the mountain). "Aloha" means hello and goodbye and "Mahalo" means thank you. When you use Hawaiian words and phrases, it shows that you are making an effort to respect, understand, and learn from their culture.
Don’t Try to Speak Pidgin.
third language you might hear from the locals in Hawaii is called Pidgin. It’s a language that developed over many years, created from many different languages that immigrants brought here. Although you might hear Pidgin and be able to understand it, don’t try to speak it to the locals. They consider it insulting.
Island Time is Real.
Hawaiians drive a certain way on the islands. They don’t honk their horns, speed, or rush around. They let people out of driveways and they don't cut people off. If someone takes a few seconds to move when the light turns green, they don't blast their horns. This is called driving with aloha, and if you rent a car you should try it. It's important to drive like the locals do. Service at bars and restaurants might take longer than you are used to. You will never feel rushed. Relax and embrace it. You might be surprised how much you love it.
Hawaii Honors Its Royalty.
Some main-landers have a hard time understanding the importance of Hawaii’s royalty. Keeping the legacy royalty alive is deeply important in Hawaii, and many of Hawaii’s monarchs are revered and honored. In fact, Hawaii celebrates many special holidays dedicated to them, such as Kuhio Kalanianaole Day on March 26 and King Kamehameha I Day on June 11. On these days, many schools and other businesses will close and there will be parades and festivals. Many royal sites are of great importance in Hawaiian culture. Visit Iolani Palace to learn more about Queen Emma, the last monarch to live there. Visit Bishop Museum to get a brief history of all Hawaiian monarchs and view some of their important artifacts. Learn as much as you can about Hawaii’s monarchs and the history of the islands.
Remove Your Shoes.
You will see shoe racks lining the front porches of many homes in Hawaii You will also see stores selling signs that say “Please remove your shoes” that people often hang up outside their home. If you are lucky enough to be invited to a home in Hawaii, remember to remove your shoes. Do this before you even enter the home and leave your shoes outside. Taking your shoes off is a sign of respect and it helps the host keep their home clean. It’s very important in Hawaii.
Not Everyone Who Lives in Hawaii is Hawaiian.
In Hawaii, only people with native Hawaiian ancestry are considered true Hawaiians and just living in Hawaii does not make you Hawaiian. Native Hawaiian is a racial classification, and only those whose ancestors were the original Polynesians that settled the islands, are considered natives. Today, only 10 percent of Hawaii’s population is made up of Native Hawaiians. People who have lived there all their lives or for many years but are not of Hawaiian ancestry are simply called locals or “kamaaina." Hawaii is a popular tourist destination, but don't be a disrespectful tourist. Follow these rules and locals will welcome you with open arms.