Don't Go to Hawaii Without Reading This
Posted on 12/08/2017
You probably don’t need another reason to go to Hawaii this winter: The soft sun-soaked beaches, spectacular landscapes and sick surf breaks are most likely enough.
Before you buy your sunscreen and shades, here is a quick primer on what to do and what not to do when you arrive.
DO Slather on Your Sunscreen
You’re going to need a lot more than a travel-sized bottle. Hawaii sits further south than Florida and is the only part of the USA to officially lie in the Tropics.
Remember, getting a perfect vacation tan is a marathon, not a sprint—so layer that sun on slowly.
Don't Disrespect the Local Culture
Native Hawaiian culture runs deep on the islands, and all visitors should make full effort to respect it. Don’t try to take lava rocks or sand home as souvenirs (it’s considered bad luck and disrespectful).
Whatever you do, don’t make like Jennifer Lawrence and rub your posterior on ancient rocks and then laugh about it.
Also, remember that things go a little more laid back in Hawaii, so adjust your stopwatch accordingly. And if you find yourself behind the wheel, lay off the horn: Honking is considered rude.
DO Sample Some Shave Ice
It may seem like a cliche, but cool Hawaiian Shave Ice is the real deal. You can try these soft syrup-soaked snowballs all over the islands—just look for long lines of locals to know you’ve found the right spot.
DON'T Forget That Hawaii Is in the USA
You may have flown thousands of miles, but you are still in the United States of America. In short, just don’t tell anyone you are “from the USA” and you will be fine. And if you are curious, the 48 contiguous states are usually just referred to as “the mainland”.
DO Head Out of Honolulu
There’s plenty of reason why we flock to Hawaii’s biggest city—Waikiki Beach is an especially beautiful one—but don’t forget that there’s a whole state out there. In between sips of a tiki drink, take out your smartphone and start researching the natural wonders Hawaii has to offer.
This list includes, but is certainly not limited to, the moonscape of Mt. Haleakala, Waimea Canyon—the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific—and the breathtaking Na Pali Coast.
Don't Attend Any Old Luau
Luaus are genuinely an authentic part of Hawaiian culture, but they are usually lower-key family celebrations compared to the flamboyant parties you may have seen on TV. Unless you get adopted by a local family, you are going to have no choice but to attend a staged luau, (though that doesn’t mean it can’t be an amazing experience).
Research different luaus and pick one that is known for great food and authenticity.
DO Give the Local Greetings
“Aloha” is the way to say hello and goodbye in Hawaii while “mahalo” is the way to say thanks. Use them!
And also feel free to bust out the shaka—extending your thumb and pinky while your other three fingers remained curled—while saying thanks.
DON’T Skip the Local Food
We’ve already covered shave ice, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Poke is perhaps the most famous, as this scrumptious salad of marinated raw fish can be found everywhere. Do like the locals do and pick it up at the supermarket. Other must-tries are saimin—a comforting noodle soup— and manapua—soft steamed buns filled with succulent pork.
DO Go in Low Season
While Hawaii is great all-year round, why not have your travel agent book you in during shoulder season to avoid the busiest times on the islands? Generally, this is spring (post-Easter to June) and fall (September to just before Christmas).
PHOTO: Make time to see the Napali Coast, one of Hawaii's most stunning sights. (photo via Flickr/Garden State Hiker)