Kula Country Farms in Kula, Hawaii.

Big Island – Local Culture & You

Hawai‘i’s diverse population has made for (excuse the cliché, but it fits here) a cultural melting pot. The aloha spirit is abundant and akin to small town hospitality found on the mainland. After all, when on an island you are bound to run into the same folks and being respectful of everyone’s differences is a necessity. Here are a few things to keep in mind while visiting Hawai‘i that will help you spread the aloha.

  • All land and water is considered sacred to native Hawaiians. To condense an elaborate and ancient paradigm, all parts of the environment, from people to the smallest bug, are interrelated. Any harm that comes to one area will be felt in all others. Treat your time here like you’re a guest in someone’s house. In fact, you are a guest. (Imagine if you had a million people visiting your house. You’d want them to wipe their feet and clean up after themselves, right?)
  • Don’t litter. We’ve must admit that most visitors are very good about this. So here’s a better idea that we practice. Try leaving a place better than you found it. You’ll feel good and nothing brings out an appreciative smile more than picking up trash on the beach that someone else left behind.
  • Do not take anything from the environment or cultural sites (heiau). This could be rocks, seashells, sacred offerings, plants and even sand (apart from what sticks to your feet and ´okole after sitting at the beach).
  • Don’t try to imitate local dialects unless invited to. (Usually for resident’s amusement, because a visitor trying to speak pidgin sounds exactly like…a visitor trying to speak pidgin.)
  • Be a courteous driver. Things may move at a different pace than back home, but everything moves slower here, including the drivers. Take the opportunity to look around and enjoy where you are. Don’t be in a hurry to get there—you are there. Drivers here only honk their horn if it’s absolutely necessary, so if you want to get some stink eye, just honk your horn at someone. As you’re looking around, pull over onto the side of the road (when safe) and let the faster drivers go around you. This isn’t a competition. Why be in a hurry while you’re on vacation?
  • If invited into someone’s home, take off your shoes, or slippahs at the door before you enter. This Asian custom is the norm across Hawai‘i and nothing will annoy a local resident more than wearing your shoes inside their house.
  • If in doubt, ask someone what the proper way to go about something is. If it is ordering from a local restaurant or about access to a waterfall, most locals are happy to help if you just ask.

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What Readers Have to Say

“Just a short note to say how much I am enjoying your latest book on Oahu. I now have all 4 of your books and can hardly wait for our next trip to Hawaii to explore some of the new “places” you’ve “revealed” on Oahu that I’ve somehow missed during our previous 10 trips there. ”

- B. Morgan, MI