Mistakes to Avoid When Visiting Hawaii

3 Tips to Keep your Hawaiian Vacation Fun

If you plan on living in or visiting Hawaii, there are a few simple rules that you should be aware of. Hawaii has developed its own rich culture from exposure to Asian, Native Hawaiian, and American customs. Here are some tips for behaving with courtesy in the islands.

1. Take Off Your Shoes When You Enter Someone’s House.

Whether they are shoes, sneakers, sandals, slippers or “flip flops”, whatever is on your feet must come off at the door. Usually you can just kick off your kicks as you step in, leaving them on the greeting mat at the front door. There may also be a shoe rack inside. You can take your cue based on where the family keeps their footwear. This no-shoe rule comes from Japan, where shoes are taken off before entering houses, classrooms, and even some restaurants. In Hawaii it is just common courtesy not to bring dirt into the house.

2. Use the Local Slang with Caution

Most people in Hawaii speak some form of pidgin English, or “Hawaiian Creole English.” In Hawaii, it’s just known as speaking pidgin. In some people it only appears as an inflection in some words. Other people’s pidgin is so thick that it may be hard for foreigners to understand what they are saying. Visitors to the islands will probably pick up on this manner of talk if they hang out with locals. However, unless you have lived in Hawaii for a long time it is not recommended that you try to imitate speaking pidgin. Some locals may think that you are mocking them and may confront you. Many speak pidgin with pride as a sign that they are truly local and resent foreigners who pretend to have a stake in that claim. Also, imitating pidgin usually just sounds forced and strange when the speaker isn’t used to the language.

3. Never Take Lava Rocks Home

Locals hear time and again of stories of visitors to Hawaii who decide to take lava rocks home as souvenirs. We hear about it because many visitors mail them back with frightened notes about the bad luck that they suffered from the rocks. Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes, is a mighty deity and not one that you want to trifle with. The story goes that taking a rock from her off the island will give you bad luck until the stone is returned. Notes returned with the rocks site broken marriages, lost jobs, and poor health as reasons for mailing them back. So if you are tempted to pocket a little lava rock in Hawaii, do yourself a favor and just take a photo.