Episode 99: 7 Essential Things to Know Before Visiting Hawaii

by | Aug 9, 2023

Embarking on a Hawaiian adventure? Dive deep into the heart of the islands with this quick guide. There are some essential things you need to know before stepping off the plane in Hawaii.

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This post gives general info and isn’t legal or authoritative advice. It helps travelers with tips but can’t replace personal abilities, fitness, experience, or local knowledge. Marine activities have risks; assess conditions and follow local laws.

Things to Know Before Visiting Hawaii

1. Embracing the Spirit of Aloha: The Lei Tradition

The lei—a floral garland—is more than just a beautiful accessory in Hawaii. It’s an emblem of aloha, symbolizing love and affection. When offered a lei, accept it with a gracious smile. Wearing it signifies your respect and appreciation for Hawaiian traditions.

2. Eco-Conscious Travel: The Plastic Bag Ban

To protect and maintain the beauty of Hawaii, the state has implemented a plastic bag ban. As an eco-conscious traveler, always have a reusable bag on hand for your shopping needs.

3. Marine Life

Hawaii’s waters are teeming with marine wonders—from playful dolphins to the majestic green sea turtles. While it’s tempting to get up close, it’s paramount to observe from a distance, ensuring their habitats remain undisturbed.

4. Ocean Safety: Swim Smart and Sunscreen Right

The blue waters of Hawaii are inviting, but remember, they can be unpredictable. Prioritize safety by choosing beaches with lifeguards. And when it comes to sun protection, opt for reef-safe sunscreens. Traditional sunscreens can harm the delicate coral ecosystems, so Hawaii has made the switch to protect its marine life.

5. Learn Simple Hawaiian Phrases

Immerse yourself deeper into the Hawaiian experience by picking up common phrases. A simple “aloha” (hello/goodbye) or “mahalo” (thank you) can bridge the gap between visitor and local, making your interactions more meaningful.

6. The Made in Hawaii Festival

If your travels take you to Oahu, the Made in Hawaii Festival in Honolulu is a must-visit. Revel in the authentic Hawaiian culture, savor local cuisine, and discover unique products that capture the essence of the islands.

7. Tread Lightly: Respecting Land and Sacred Sites

Hawaii is a land of natural wonders and sacred spaces. Whether you’re hiking up trails or visiting historical sites, always be mindful of local customs and laws. Leave no trace behind and ensure your presence is respectful and non-intrusive.

In Summary:
A Hawaiian vacation promises unparalleled experiences, but the true magic lies in immersing oneself in its culture and traditions. By being informed and respectful, you not only enrich your own journey but also contribute positively to the islands. Dive deep, explore with an open heart, and let Hawaii’s magic envelop you. Mahalo for joining us on this guide, and aloha until our paths cross again!

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Bryan Murphy
Host
00:00
Before visiting Hawaii. There are a few things you need to know that will help your visit be even more incredible. This episode is packed with seven things you must know before visiting Hawaii, so stay tuned for this one and let's cue the intro.
Hawaii's Best
Announcement
00:15
Aloha. Welcome to Hawaii's Best. Here you'll learn what to know before traveling, as we discover Hawaiian culture, local businesses and the experiences that make Hawaii one of the most incredible places in the world. And now your host, brian Murphy.
Bryan Murphy
Host
00:32
It's hard to believe that summer is almost over, as we're kind of in mid-August already schools getting back in session. That means less crowds in Hawaii, which could be cool if you're planning a trip in September, october. You know I just wrote an article about Hawaii in September, so we're going to link that in the episode description of this and you can just see what Hawaii is like in September. Personally, I love September. I love traveling in September. I really love traveling in October. That's actually one of our favorite months to visit Hawaii. But next week, next week is going to be a big episode. I'm really excited because it's going to be a Made in Hawaii episode.
01:13
The Made in Hawaii Festival is happening at the Convention Center in Honolulu on August 18, 19, and 20. The Made in Hawaii Festival is in its 29th year and this is a great time to come together, support Hawaii, buy Hawaii for Hawaii, its local vendors, and there's going to be stuff that you can't get anywhere else at this. And it's not just about products. There's also going to be chef demonstrations and, as well, there's going to be music. And next week why I'm excited, next Wednesday, is we're going to be featuring some of those vendors and some of those chefs and some of those musicians that will be at this year's Made in Hawaii Festival. So, if you're lucky enough to be on the island of Oahu for this incredible festival, definitely would encourage you to go to the episode description of this and I'll link up an article that I wrote all about the Made in Hawaii Festival, how you can buy your tickets and what to expect for this year's festival, because it's a very first year it's going to be at the Convention Center, so there's some things to know about it before you go. But today we're talking about all things what to know before visiting Hawaii and we're going to cover things like lay etiquette, plastic bags, marine life, ocean safety, sunscreen Hawaiian word snow and leaving no trace.
02:32
Some of these I have covered in depth on previous podcast episodes, so be sure to go back and look for that. One, for example, is the Hawaiian language. That was with our friend, kahanuala Solitorio, who is a Hawaiian language teacher, kumu of Hawaiian language, and I encourage you to go back and listen to that one. And we've touched on a lot of these on different episodes and kind of passing, but I just kind of want to compile a short list, a short seven, and we're going to go quickly through this. I love to keep these solo episodes pretty quick. I don't know about you, I just love to get the info, save the info and so I can refer back to it when I need it. So I try to keep these solo episodes pretty quick and to the point. So we're going to start off right now.
03:16
Number one All right, so this is lay etiquette. So when you arrive or you leave, you may be given a lay, and this is a gesture of aloha, love, affection. So you should always graciously accept it and not reject a lay. And the hug or kiss on the cheek that comes with the lay more often than not, is part of the customary of it. Now, a closed or a tied lay should rest on the shoulders, so half drape in the front and half down the back, and open, untied lay are worn around the neck with each side hanging evenly down the front. And if you happen to be pregnant, you should wear only open lay, as closed lays are considered bad luck. So if you're pregnant, wear an open lay.
04:04
Number two Number two bring your own bags. Be aware that Hawaii has banned plastic bags because of environmental concerns, so plastic is one of the major contributors to the huge garbage patches floating in the ocean. As a result, many marine animals become entangled in it and they eat it. So, mainly because of this, hawaii has banned plastic bags. So carry your own bags when you shop, or you'll be charged for each reusable bag that the store provides for your purchases, so be aware of that extra expense. The best way is just to bring your own bags and just a bonus tip that prices are just higher in Hawaii than the continental US because many goods have to be shipped to Hawaii.
04:48
Number three Number three keep your distance from marine life. While Hawaii is home to so many stunning sea creatures, it's important to respect marine life and their habitats, as human interference could have serious impacts. One such federal law requires all people in the oceans to stay at least 100 yards from the humpback whale. For other sea life, including dolphins and endangered green sea turtle and monk seal, 50 yards is a recommended viewing distance while on the shoreline. It is also important to remember that it is illegal to closely approach, touch or feed any marine mammal or sea turtle in the wild Now. Additionally, please don't step on or remove pieces from reefs, as they are built by coral. Another marine animal. Number four All right Number four, going alongside of marine life ocean safety.
05:45
The waters in Hawaii are warm and inviting, but they also can be very dangerous and can change pretty quickly at any given time. So swim at beaches staffed by lifeguards, always go into the water with somebody else and be alert. One of the phrases that you'll hear a lot is when in doubt, don't go out, and that's just great advice. And also, never turn your back to the ocean and look for beach hazard rating signs and always heed warnings and closures. You can check out Hawaii beach safety dot com for current ocean conditions. Also, be aware of box jellyfish, which their stings can cause swelling, itching, welts, rash, burning, pain, which is terrible. So jellyfish usually appear off south facing beaches eight to 10 days after a full moon. To get an idea of what those times are, I'll link in the episode description about the box jellyfish calendar and you can go ahead and see when to be aware of when those jellyfish are more likely to appear.
06:53
Number five number five most sunscreen is illegal in Hawaii. Any sunscreen that isn't resave the sale of it is banned from the Hawaiian islands and recently, in the last six months or so, maui County, which includes Maui, lanai and Molokai. They have went a step further. They are now making it illegal to use those types of sunscreens. If you're not sure if the sunscreen you're bringing is reef safe, I would just recommend to wait and buy that in Hawaii, because everything that is sold in Hawaii is supposed to be reef safe according to the law Number six.
07:38
Number six Hawaiian language. Learn some common Hawaiian words by checking out the article that we've written on the on the website. But here are a few to know Ahuyo means until we meet again. Another one you might hear is Aina, which means land, alii, royalty, ecoma, my welcome. Honohou means encore One more time. Hey. Al is a place of worship, connie is man, wahine is woman. Kapu means forbidden. Keep out. Kiki is children. Lanai is patio. Mahalo, thank you, ohana, family. Ono, licious or delicious, and those are just a few. Probably, as you're there, you'll see some of those as you go about your day. But feel free to use aloha, mohalo. Just get in the aloha spirit, get in. You're in Hawaii. Using those phrases is totally acceptable and you're not being awkward or anything like that for using those phrases. And along with that, feel free to throw the shaka. That is totally acceptable as well. And finally, number seven. All right, number seven, the last one leave no trace.
09:01
Hawaii has strict laws about trespassing on both private land and government land not intended for public use. Trespassing is always illegal, no matter how many other people you see doing it. It reminds me of the episode that we just released about the Hayaku Stairs, or the stairway to heaven. No matter which way you go about climbing up the mountain, as soon as you step on the structure of the Hayaku Stairs, it is considered trespassing, also known as being illegal.
09:31
As a visitor to the islands, it's important to respect all kapu. So if you see that sign or hear that it's the keep out, no trespassing sign, same thing. So always keep clear from kapu. Throughout the islands You'll see signs that are carved. They might be printed, doesn't matter, but if this has kapu on it, simply put it, this means keep out. However, the deeper meaning is forbidden or taboo, and it references the ancient Hawaiian system of laws known as the kapu system. That's kind of an interesting system. Maybe we'll cover that in a future episode, but these laws are to help keep a sense of sacredness to these areas, for example, ancient burial grounds or sacred meeting places. So please be respectful and honor the surrounding land and customs. Also, with leave no trace.
10:20
If you are hiking, make sure that it is a maintained trail. So anything that you hike in, make sure you hike out with it. So if you see any trash, you can pick it up. If you have trash, be sure to pack it out as well. Also, a lot of the trail heads have brushes for your shoes. You wanna make sure that you do that before you hike the trail and then after you hike the trail, so not to cross contaminate any of the land.
10:54
So there you have it seven quick things to know prior to visiting Hawaii. We'd love to know which one I've missed. I'm sure there's a lot of things I could have covered in this, but I just wanna give you some quick, actionable things to know before visiting Hawaii. And be sure, like I said, coming up next week is the Made in Hawaii episode, so hit follow for that. If you're on Apple or Spotify, make sure you hit follow so you'll get that episode as soon as it's released next Wednesday. All right, my friends, thank you so much again for joining me on this episode of Hawaii's Best and until next time, be well aloha.
Hawaii's Best
Announcement
11:32
Mahalo for listening to this episode of Hawaii's Best. To stay up to date on future episodes, please subscribe and visit us at Hawaii'sbesttravelcom.

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Bryan Murphy

Bryan Murphy

Bryan Murphy, owner of Hawaii’s Best Travel, is a certified Hawaii destination expert from the Hawaii Visitors Bureau. He actively participates in the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau as a member and has a strong educational background focused on local culture and sustainability. As the host of “Hawaii’s Best Travel,” a top-30 US travel podcast, Bryan combines his years of experience with valuable insights. He connects with a broad online community, reaching nearly half a million people, and offers a richer, more responsible way to experience Hawaii.