Here’s What a Native Hawaiian Wishes Tourists Knew Before They Visited the State

By: Lauren Wurth | Last updated: Mar 21, 2024

Hawaii is one of the top tourist destinations in the world for many reasons, such as art, culture, food, and stunning beaches. Regardless of why you’re visiting Hawaii, you’re definitely in for a treat.

However, there are certain things that are important for tourists to be aware of before visiting Hawaii.

Ashley Probst Has Lived in Hawaii all Her Life

A native Hawaiian recently pointed out several things she felt tourists should be aware of before visiting the state. Ashley Probst was born and raised in Hawaii, and she grew up seeing throngs of tourists visiting over the years.

A picture of Ashley Probst smiling.

Source: ashley.kepala / Instagram

According to Ashley, she has seen tourists make certain mistakes that range from silly to serious. She believes that knowing some of the points she raises will help tourists behave better and have a fun vacation.


It's Important to Shop Local

First, Ashley mentioned it is important for tourists to patronize local businesses. With several popular high-end franchises in the state, it’s important to find locally operated businesses. Especially those that use local products.

A bowl of soup with meat and vegetables.

Source: hurley_otter / X

According to Ashley, patronizing such businesses has a direct impact on the community because money goes directly to the local owners. Also, customers are treated to top-quality products and a culturally rich experience.

You Pack it In, You Pack it Out

“It’s a well-known concept among outdoor enthusiasts that if you pack it in, you pack it out,” Ashley said, speaking about the trash in Hawaii and keeping the state clean.

A Do Not Litter sign.

Source: Pinterest

She emphasized it is important for tourists to pick up their trash when exploring hiking trails, beaches, and so on. “Show respect for the land and its people by cleaning up after yourself. Better yet, pick up any litter you come across and make a positive impact,” she added.

Hawaii Has Fragile Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are one of the main attractions in Hawaii. However, the corals are fragile organisms that can be damaged by stepping on them or exposing them to certain toxic chemicals found in several products, especially sunscreens. In an effort to protect the reefs, the state government banned all products containing these chemicals.

A colorful coral reef.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

“Remember to refrain from walking on the reef or tearing off pieces. Additionally, if you are going to bring your own sunscreen to Hawaii, please ensure it is not of the spray variety and does not contain oxybenzone or octinoxate,” Ashley cautioned.

Learn Hawaiian Culture and History

Another important point Ashley mentioned is that tourists need to take their time to learn Hawaiian history and understand their culture. The Hawaiian state is one of many that was originally occupied by indigenous tribes but was eventually stolen by explorers and colonizers.

Tourists in front of the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Hawaii was once a state that thrived with a rich culture and people living cautiously with the knowledge that the land was sacred and needed to be protected. However, following the ousting of Queen Lili’uokalani in 1893, the beautiful islands have been commercialized into a dream tourist location that attracts thousands of people annually.


Not Everyone in Hawaii Is Hawaiian

Ashley also explained that not everyone in Hawaii is of native descent. Some people like herself just happen to be born and raised in the state. Ashley’s family immigrated to Hawaii in the 1900s and has been there ever since.

Three Hawaiian dancers performing on stage with smiles on their faces.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

She explained it is common for people who have lived in the state for a long time to identify as Hawaiian, even if they aren’t. So, tourists need to be careful not to call everyone they come across Hawaiian.


The Weather in Hawaii Is Quite Hot

The Hawaiian islands have a warmer climate because they’re closer to the equator. So, it is important for tourists to be prepared and equipped with the right outfits and sunscreen before visiting to avoid sunburns and heatstroke.

Several people at the beach swimming and strolling.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Even with the right sunglasses, hats, and sunscreen, one can still get a sunburn in Hawaii. So, it’s important to ensure you watch your exposure to the sun so you don’t end up looking like a lobster.


The Wildlife Is Protected

Tourists should also be careful about the way they interact with the wildlife in Hawaii. It’s common practice for tourists to want close contact with animals like dolphins, turtles, and seals. However, there are laws against close contact with certain animals like turtles.

A turtle on the shore of a beach.

Source: Pinterest

Some of these animals are threatened by extinction. So, the law protects them from tourists touching or feeding them. Thankfully, there are wildlife centers that can provide such intimate interaction with the animals.


Drive Carefully

Ashley also warned about the road and driving habits in Hawaii. She said it’s important for tourists to pull over sometimes, especially when driving through curves or one-lane roads, to avoid traffic piling up or accidents.

A winding road with several curves between a forest.

Source: Pinterest

She also mentioned that Hawaiians are careful drivers who rarely speed or honk. A habit tourists could learn from.


More Tips for Tourists

Ashley mentioned other things, such as the need for tourists to be careful when going into the water because of dangerous waves, and to not overstay their welcome because they had a few good weeks.

Tourists wandering around with face masks.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

She also warned against tourists assuming that the locals would be interested in being a one-night stand or a vacation hookup.


Hawaii Is Sacred

Finally, Ashley said it’s important for tourists to respect local superstitions and beliefs. One such superstition is that one could get bad luck by taking rocks off the islands. Another popular superstition is the Night Marchers.

An art illustration of the Night Marchers standing within the forest.

Source: Pinterest

As a result, people return rocks back to the island because they believe they started to experience bad luck because of it. Also, when they hear the beating drums of the Night Marchers, they run for safety.