How to be a respectful tourist in Hawaii, according to a local
Before you travel, spend time exploring Hawaii—and not just the best beaches. Learn about Hawaiian culture, history and values.
When planning a trip, in addition to planning your itinerary, it’s important to educate yourself about your destination beyond the must-do activities.
If so, please take the time to do some research Hawaiian culture and history, including their values, and put those insights into action while you’re here. I don’t expect you to learn everything, but there are a few key things to understand to ensure you’re seeing the state through an accurate lens.
“Many native Hawaiians feel that tourism has not lived up to its promises, and there are certainly elements of some activities, attractions and marketing campaigns that paint a distorted or misinformed picture of Hawaiian culture,” said Malia Sanders, executive director of the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association.
To me, these are tourists who come to Hawaii thinking the island is all hula dancers in grass skirts and coconut bras.
“When you visit us, you know there are expectations when you’re here,” she said. “Do you know that you have kuleana, which is a responsibility, duty and privilege to learn, aloha and mālama, to care for and respect our home.”
For example, you probably already know that Aha is a general greeting. But it means so much more; It is a philosophy to welcome others and be friendly without expecting anything in return. As a visitor, you should understand Aloha and show it to others.
Likewise, Native Hawaiians have lived in harmony with nature for many years, and everyone is expected to respect the land, or Aina, and the ocean. So don’t litter or take home parts of the island like rocks.
A good starting point to learn more about Hawaiian culture is the Go Hawaii websitewhere you can learn common Hawaiian idioms, history and tales of goddesses such as Pele and the creation of Hawaii.
When friends visit me for the first time, I like to recommend that they see ‘Huang’s World’ by chef and TV star Eddie Huang. Consequence in Hawaii that explores modern Hawaiian identity through the eyes of locals such as farmers and restaurateurs.
I also ask my friends to look around Honolulu Civil Beat, a local nonprofit journalism to learn some of the issues Hawaii is currently facing such as: B. a housing crisis. These resources help dispel the misconception that Hawaii is just an idyllic paradise.