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Things You Should Do And Never Do In Hawaii

Discover the Dos and Don’ts of Hawaii: Your Perfect Guide for a Flawless Trip

Are you dreaming of an unforgettable vacation on the mesmerizing Pacific islands of Hawaii? Consider yourself lucky! Hawaii is a sought-after destination for beach weddings, romantic honeymoons, or simply unwinding amidst paradise. Contrary to popular belief, this tropical haven offers much more than just pristine beaches—although they are hard to resist!

From exhilarating hiking trails and immersive visits to Pearl Harbor to mesmerizing whale watching and invigorating encounters with cascading waterfalls, Hawaii presents a plethora of activities and attractions. Whether you opt for eco-tour operations or immerse yourself in the rich cultural and historical sights, the 137 islands of Hawaii have something for everyone.

However, like any savvy traveler, you likely want to ensure you make the most of your Hawaiian getaway while respecting local customs and traditions. In this comprehensive guide, we will unveil the essential dos and don’ts of Hawaii, equipping you with the knowledge to embark on a flawless journey from beginning to end. So, let’s delve into the tips that will make your trip to Hawaii truly unforgettable.

hawaii beach at sunrise

Things You Should Do in Hawaii

Visit During the Off-Season

Before you even get there, it’s best to avoid the high season, which is usually around Christmas and New Year’s. The best time to visit is during springtime, April, and May, and from September to mid-October. The weather is great during those seasons, though it can get rainy in some areas. The oceans are swimmable year-round, and you’ll avoid the crowds. Plus, it’s going to be all-around cheaper. If you can only go during the high season, then make sure to book way in advance since Hawaii is practically on everyone’s bucket list.

Why Visit Hawaii During the Off-Season?

Planning a trip to Hawaii? Consider visiting during the off-season for a truly unique and rewarding experience. While the allure of Hawaii is present year-round, there are several compelling reasons why the off-season can be the ideal time to explore this Pacific paradise.

  1. Affordable Prices: One of the biggest advantages of traveling during the off-season is the potential for significant cost savings. Accommodation rates, flights, and various activities tend to be more budget-friendly when demand is lower. This means you can enjoy the beauty of Hawaii without breaking the bank.
  2. Lesser Crowds: If you prefer a more serene and tranquil vacation, the off-season is your best bet. You’ll encounter fewer tourists and shorter queues at popular attractions. This allows for a more intimate experience as you explore the breathtaking landscapes, pristine beaches, and cultural sites without feeling rushed or overcrowded.
  3. Mild Weather: Hawaii enjoys a pleasant climate throughout the year, with minimal temperature fluctuations. During the off-season, you can still expect comfortable temperatures and ample sunshine, making it an ideal time for outdoor activities such as hiking, snorkeling, or simply lounging on the beach. Plus, the chance of rain may be slightly higher, but it often results in vibrant rainbows and lush, verdant landscapes.
  4. Cultural Immersion: Traveling during the off-season provides an opportunity to engage more closely with the local culture and community. With fewer tourists around, you can interact with residents, attend traditional festivals or events, and gain deeper insights into the authentic Hawaiian way of life.
  5. Wildlife Encounters: If you’re a nature enthusiast, the off-season in Hawaii offers unique wildlife encounters. From migrating whales to sea turtles and various bird species, you may have a better chance of spotting these magnificent creatures as they make their seasonal appearances.
  6. Availability and Flexibility: Securing reservations and booking activities can be easier during the off-season. You’ll have a wider range of options and greater flexibility in choosing accommodations, tours, and dining experiences. This allows you to tailor your trip to your preferences and make spontaneous decisions as you explore the islands.

Visiting Hawaii during the off-season unlocks a world of benefits, from cost savings and a more peaceful ambiance to cultural immersion and remarkable wildlife experiences. Consider planning your trip during this time to enjoy the best that Hawaii has to offer while relishing a more intimate and authentic Hawaiian experience.

Hawaii’s off-season typically falls during the spring (April and May) and fall (September and October) months. These periods are considered to have lower tourist traffic compared to the peak season, which usually occurs during the summer months (June to August) and major holidays such as Christmas and New Year. However, it’s important to note that the concept of off-season may vary slightly depending on the specific island and destination within Hawaii. It’s always a good idea to research and check with local tourism resources or travel agencies for the most accurate information regarding the off-season for your desired location in Hawaii.

Stay Somewhere Other than a Resort

When we think of Hawaii, we think of luxury resorts and hotels. While that’s a dream for many people, it also doesn’t suit the budget of many. If you’re a family traveling, planning to stay a long time, or have a tight budget, you could consider renting a condo or looking for non-beachfront accommodations. It will save you money, not to mention it would be practical to have a kitchen. If you want something more hardcore, you could also consider some great camping spots across the islands (Matador Network). There are some beautiful campsites at beaches and national parks.

There are several reasons why staying somewhere other than a resort in Hawaii can enhance your travel experience.

Here are a few compelling reasons:

  1. Authentic Local Experience: Opting for accommodations outside of resorts allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture and experience the true essence of Hawaii. You can choose to stay in boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals, or even explore options like homestays or farm stays. This provides a more genuine and intimate connection with the destination and its people.
  2. Unique Locations: Hawaii is known for its diverse and stunning landscapes, and staying outside of resorts gives you the opportunity to discover hidden gems and less-touristy areas. You can find accommodations nestled in lush rainforests, overlooking breathtaking coastlines, or near charming towns and villages. Embracing these alternative locations can lead to unforgettable experiences and picturesque settings.
  3. Cost Savings: Resorts in Hawaii often come with higher price tags due to their amenities and services. By choosing alternative accommodations, you can potentially save money on your stay, allowing you to allocate your budget towards other experiences like dining, activities, or exploring multiple islands.
  4. Flexibility and Independence: Staying outside of resorts gives you the freedom to create your own itinerary and explore at your own pace. You won’t be bound by resort schedules or limited to their on-site amenities. You can easily venture out to local restaurants, markets, and attractions, discovering hidden gems that may not be featured in typical tourist itineraries.
  5. Personalized Experiences: Many non-resort accommodations in Hawaii provide personalized service and unique touches that cater to individual preferences. Whether it’s customized recommendations from local hosts, insider tips on lesser-known attractions, or personalized attention to make your stay memorable, these accommodations often offer a more tailored and personalized experience.
  6. Supporting Local Businesses: By choosing alternative accommodations, you contribute directly to the local economy and support small businesses. You can engage with local hosts, interact with community members, and experience the genuine hospitality that Hawaii has to offer.

While resorts provide convenience and a range of amenities, opting for other types of accommodations in Hawaii can bring a sense of authenticity, affordability, flexibility, and personalized experiences that may enrich your overall trip. It all depends on your preferences and the kind of travel experience you seek in the islands.

Rent a Car

There are ways to get around the islands, but you’d be better off renting a car. Hawaii’s so much natural beauty, but it’s not easy to get from one place to another without a car. It’s going to be the most convenient way to get you back and forth from your lodgings and the only true way to explore Hawaii.

Renting a car in Hawaii can greatly enhance your travel experience.

Here are several reasons why it is beneficial to have a rental car:

  1. Freedom and Flexibility: Having a rental car gives you the freedom to explore the islands at your own pace and on your own schedule. You can easily venture off the beaten path, discover hidden gems, and access remote locations that may not be accessible by public transportation.
  2. Island Exploration: Hawaii’s natural beauty extends beyond the resort areas, and having a car allows you to fully explore the islands. From scenic drives along breathtaking coastlines to venturing into lush valleys and exploring volcanic landscapes, a rental car opens up a world of possibilities for island exploration.
  3. Convenience: Public transportation options in Hawaii, such as buses, may have limited schedules and routes, making it less convenient to reach certain destinations or to travel on your desired timeline. With a rental car, you have the convenience of door-to-door transportation and the ability to easily move between different attractions, beaches, and activities.
  4. Access to Remote Beaches and Hiking Trails: Hawaii is known for its stunning beaches and hiking trails, and many of these hidden gems are best accessed by car. With a rental car, you can easily reach secluded beaches, embark on scenic coastal drives, and access trailheads for unforgettable hikes.
  5. Local Dining and Shopping: Exploring local cuisine and shopping options is a delightful part of any Hawaiian vacation. Having a car allows you to venture into towns and neighborhoods to discover local eateries, farmers’ markets, and unique shops that may not be easily accessible by other means of transportation.
  6. Time Efficiency: By having your own transportation, you can maximize your time and make the most of your itinerary. You won’t have to rely on scheduled pickups or drop-offs, and you can minimize waiting times, allowing you to spend more time enjoying the attractions and activities that interest you.
  7. Island Hopping: If you plan to visit multiple islands during your trip, having a rental car makes island hopping more convenient. You can easily explore each island’s unique offerings and make seamless transitions between airports, ferry terminals, and accommodations.

While Hawaii does have public transportation options and tour services, renting a car provides the utmost convenience, flexibility, and freedom to create your own adventure. It allows you to discover the hidden treasures of the islands, access remote locations, and make the most of your time in this tropical paradise.

Follow All Regulations

Rules and regulations are put in place for everyone’s safety. When in a location like Hawaii, where there are tons of outdoor adventures to go on, whether it’s swimming, surfing, camping, hiking, visiting volcano sites, cruising the islands with a car, and more, there’s always a risk of getting hurt during your trip.

Following all regulations is crucial when visiting Hawaii for several important reasons:

  1. Environmental Preservation: Hawaii is home to diverse ecosystems, fragile habitats, and unique species found nowhere else on Earth. Adhering to regulations helps protect these natural wonders. Regulations may include restrictions on hiking in certain areas, guidelines for interacting with marine life, and rules to prevent damage to coral reefs. Respecting these regulations ensures the preservation of Hawaii’s delicate environment for future generations to enjoy.
  2. Cultural Respect: Hawaii has a rich indigenous culture with deep-rooted traditions and customs. Regulations often aim to preserve and respect the cultural heritage of the islands. By following regulations, you show respect for the local communities, their traditions, sacred sites, and cultural practices. It contributes to a positive and mutually respectful interaction between visitors and the local population.
  3. Safety and Well-being: Regulations are designed to prioritize the safety and well-being of both visitors and residents. For instance, regulations may include guidelines for water activities, such as swimming or snorkeling, to ensure visitors are aware of potential hazards and practice responsible behavior. Adhering to safety regulations helps minimize risks and accidents, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.
  4. Legal Compliance: Following regulations is essential to avoid legal consequences. Violating regulations, such as trespassing on private property or engaging in prohibited activities, can result in fines, legal issues, or even criminal charges. It is important to familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations to ensure compliance and avoid any legal complications during your visit.
  5. Preserving the Aloha Spirit: Hawaii is known for its warm and welcoming spirit, often referred to as the “Aloha Spirit.” Respecting regulations contributes to maintaining this spirit by being mindful of the environment, culture, and well-being of the local community. It ensures that visitors continue to be welcomed with open arms and that the unique charm and hospitality of Hawaii are preserved.

By following regulations, you actively participate in the responsible and sustainable tourism practices that promote the preservation of Hawaii’s natural beauty, cultural heritage, and the well-being of its residents. It allows for a harmonious and respectful experience that benefits both visitors and the islands themselves.

What You Should Not Do in Hawaii

Don’t Forget to Check Beach Safety

Not every beach is going to be suitable for every water activity. Some beaches might be better for surfing or boating, others for swimming, and some might be closed altogether for safety reasons. For instance, you can find active beach alerts online for some of the most popular shores of Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii (The Big Island). These notifications will alert you about the beach, shores, and weather conditions in real time and tell you if there are hazardous conditions and if it’s safe to go.

It is crucial not to forget to check beach safety when visiting Hawaii for the following reasons:

  1. Water Hazards: Hawaii’s beaches can have various water hazards, including strong currents, powerful waves, and undertows. Checking beach safety information helps you assess the current conditions, understand any potential risks, and make informed decisions about swimming or engaging in water activities. It can help prevent accidents, injuries, or even fatalities that can occur due to unsafe water conditions.
  2. Preventing Drownings: Drowning is a significant concern, and being aware of beach safety guidelines can help reduce the risk. Checking for warnings, advisories, or flags indicating unsafe conditions or areas can guide your choices and help you select beaches that are appropriate for your swimming abilities. Following lifeguard instructions and practicing water safety measures, such as swimming with a buddy or wearing a life jacket, can significantly enhance your safety.
  3. Hidden Hazards: Some beaches in Hawaii may have hidden hazards, such as submerged rocks, coral formations, or strong currents beneath the surface. Checking beach safety information can alert you to these potential dangers, allowing you to take appropriate precautions and avoid accidents or injuries while enjoying the water.
  4. Marine Life Awareness: Hawaii’s waters are home to diverse marine life, including certain species that can pose risks to humans, such as jellyfish, Portuguese man-of-war, or potentially dangerous fish. Checking beach safety information provides valuable insights into any recent sightings or known risks, enabling you to take necessary precautions and ensure your safety while swimming or snorkeling.
  5. Changing Weather Conditions: Weather conditions in Hawaii can change rapidly, affecting beach safety. Checking for weather updates and beach safety information helps you stay informed about any incoming storms, high surf advisories, or other weather-related hazards. It allows you to adjust your plans accordingly and make informed decisions to ensure your safety and well-being.
  6. Enjoyment and Peace of Mind: By checking beach safety information, you can have peace of mind knowing that you are taking appropriate measures to protect yourself and your loved ones. It allows you to fully enjoy the beach and water activities without unnecessary worries, ensuring a memorable and safe experience in Hawaii.

Remembering to check beach safety is a responsible practice that prioritizes your well-being and allows you to enjoy Hawaii’s beautiful beaches while minimizing risks. Stay informed, be aware of your surroundings, and always prioritize your safety when visiting the beach.

Don’t Stray

Gorgeous Hawaii is known for its active volcanoes. Kilauea and Maunaloa are two of the most popular volcanoes to come face to face with. Kilauea has been erupting since 1983. You certainly don’t want to miss a visit to Hawaii Volcano National Park. The rock falls from volcanoes can be unpredictable, so stay on the open trails and don’t go into unauthorized places, and don’t visit these areas after dark as it could be dangerous.

There are several important reasons why you should not stray or wander off designated paths or areas when visiting Hawaii:

  1. Safety: Straying from designated paths or areas can put you at risk of encountering hazards or dangers that may not be immediately apparent. This could include treacherous terrain, unstable cliffs, hidden crevices, or hazardous wildlife. Staying within designated areas helps ensure your safety and reduces the likelihood of accidents or injuries.
  2. Environmental Protection: Hawaii’s natural landscapes are delicate and vulnerable to damage. Straying off marked paths can disrupt fragile ecosystems, harm native plants or wildlife, and contribute to erosion or degradation of the environment. By staying on designated paths, you help preserve the natural beauty of Hawaii for future generations to enjoy.
  3. Cultural Respect: Hawaii has a rich indigenous culture with deep respect for the land and its sacred sites. Straying from designated paths can lead to unintentional disrespect or trespassing on culturally significant areas. Respecting and honoring these cultural spaces is important for maintaining the integrity of Hawaiian traditions and fostering a harmonious relationship between visitors and the local community.
  4. Legal Consequences: Venturing off designated paths or areas may result in legal consequences. Some areas may be protected by law, and trespassing or unauthorized access can lead to fines, penalties, or legal issues. It is important to respect the rules and regulations set forth by local authorities and landowners to avoid any legal complications.
  5. Personal Well-being: Staying on designated paths or areas ensures your own well-being and minimizes the potential for getting lost or disoriented in unfamiliar terrain. It allows you to enjoy your visit without unnecessary stress or anxiety related to navigation or finding your way back to safety.

By adhering to designated paths and areas, you prioritize safety, protect the environment, show cultural respect, avoid legal complications, and ensure your personal well-being while exploring Hawaii’s natural wonders. It allows for a responsible and enjoyable experience that respects the beauty and integrity of the islands.

Don’t Leave Trash Behind

Anytime you’re out, be responsible and keep the island clean (NOAA). Make sure you toss your trash into the bins when out on the beach or taking a stroll. Keep the trash with you when hiking until you can get rid of it appropriately. 

There are several important reasons why you should never leave trash behind when visiting Hawaii:

  1. Environmental Impact: Leaving trash behind in natural areas can have a detrimental impact on the environment. It pollutes the land, waterways, and marine ecosystems, endangering wildlife and marine life. Trash can take years to decompose and may leach harmful chemicals into the soil and water, disrupting the delicate balance of Hawaii’s ecosystems.
  2. Conservation and Preservation: Hawaii is home to unique and fragile ecosystems, some of which are found nowhere else on Earth. By leaving trash behind, you contribute to the degradation and destruction of these natural treasures. Respecting and preserving the environment helps protect the diverse flora, fauna, and habitats that make Hawaii so special.
  3. Aesthetics and Enjoyment: Trash left behind can spoil the natural beauty of Hawaii’s landscapes, diminishing the experience for both visitors and residents. Pristine beaches, lush forests, and scenic trails lose their charm when littered with trash. By properly disposing of waste, you help maintain the aesthetics and ensure that others can enjoy the beauty of Hawaii’s natural surroundings.
  4. Public Health and Safety: Trash left behind can create health hazards for both humans and wildlife. It can attract pests, spread diseases, and contaminate water sources. Additionally, sharp or hazardous items can cause injuries to people or animals. By properly disposing of trash, you contribute to a cleaner and safer environment for everyone.
  5. Cultural Respect: Leaving trash behind is disrespectful to the local culture and communities in Hawaii. Hawaiian culture emphasizes the importance of caring for the land and sea, known as “malama ‘aina.” Respecting this cultural value means taking responsibility for the impact of our actions and leaving no trace behind.
  6. Legal Consequences: Leaving trash behind is not only irresponsible but may also result in legal consequences. Littering is generally against the law and can lead to fines or penalties if caught. It is essential to adhere to local regulations and take personal responsibility for properly disposing of waste.

By taking the simple step of properly disposing of trash, you contribute to the preservation of Hawaii’s natural beauty, protect the environment and wildlife, and show respect for the local culture and communities. Let’s all do our part to keep Hawaii clean and beautiful for present and future generations to enjoy.

chalk drawing of person throwing trash into garbage can

Final Thoughts:

There are a lot more things to do in Hawaii than things you shouldn’t do. The natural beauty and landscape of the 50th state is a piece of heaven on earth. Just as you would when taking any other trip, make sure you’re in contact with someone back home and keep them updated that you’re safe. On a final note, don’t wait to book your trip and enjoy the Aloha spirit. 

Hawaii, with its stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and warm hospitality, is a dream destination for many. As you plan your trip to the islands, remember to embrace responsible and sustainable practices that ensure the preservation of Hawaii’s treasures for generations to come.

From following regulations and beach safety guidelines to respecting local culture and traditions, every action we take can make a positive impact. Whether it’s exploring beyond resorts, renting a car for flexibility, or being mindful of our environmental footprint, we can create unforgettable experiences while honoring the natural and cultural wonders of Hawaii.

By immersing ourselves in the local communities, supporting local businesses, and leaving no trace behind, we can contribute to a harmonious and sustainable tourism industry that benefits both visitors and the islands themselves.

So, as you embark on your Hawaiian adventure, cherish the beauty, embrace the spirit of aloha, and leave a positive legacy. Hawaii awaits with its enchanting landscapes, vibrant culture, and warm-hearted people. Enjoy your journey and make memories that will last a lifetime!

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