Five secrets about getting along with locals in Hawaii

Navigation://Five secrets about getting along with locals in Hawaii
Five secrets about getting along with locals in Hawaii2019-01-08T08:57:25+00:00
Rubbah slippahs are where it's at in Hawaii!

The locals in Hawaii are very proud of their islands, beaches and culture.  There are several native Hawaiian activist groups leading movements to preserve traditional Hawaiian culture, food and practices. There is tension between the Caucasian and native Hawaiian races in the islands.  It can seem intimidating to approach locals because of this, however there are a few ways to get along with locals in Hawaii.

1. Don’t get too close to the turtles or the monk seals.

Sea turtles, monk seals, and many other types of wildlife are protected by the state because they are endangered. Hence, you’re required to stay 50 yards away from them when they’re resting ashore.  However, when this happens, a lot of people love to get really close to them because it’s a great photo opportunity.  I’ve seen this happen on numerous occasions, with monk seals, too. For example at a popular Waikiki beach, there’s a particular monk seal that naps on the beach frequently.  Lifeguards have grown accustom to her and now put temporary barriers around her when she arrives on the beach to prevent tourists from bothering her.  However, this isn’t always the case at beaches.  So, if a turtle comes up on the beach, don’t run to take pictures with it, that’s probably the easiest way to piss off a local.  

Even the honus (turtles) don’t like daylight savings time.
Green SeaTurtle – Maui, Hawaiian Islands by LASZLO ILYES is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Image may have been resized or cropped from original

2. Clean up after yourself on beaches or hikes.

Native Hawaiian communities take pride in the beauty of Hawaii and work to preserve it.  As a new member to Hawaii, you should also take pride in the beauty of our beaches and pay your dues by cleaning up.  For example, if you bring snacks to the beach, take the trash with you.  Sometimes there are trash cans there, but most of the time they are at full capacity.  So, if you see a trash can that’s very full, don’t stuff your trash in it.  That’s not a good idea.  Take your trash home with you and dispose of it there.  

If we want hikes to be available for future use, then we need to take care of them now! Source: credits pixabay, source:

3. Donate some of your time to volunteering for local preservation groups.

Like I mentioned earlier, taking care of the beaches in Hawaii are valuable to locals. It wouldn’t hurt to get involved of some of the local groups that organize beach clean-ups. For example, the group helps put together events for the public to participate in. Showing your care for the Aina (land,) shows that you care about Hawaiian values.

locals in Hawaii

Beach clean-ups are very popular across the islands. Photo copyright CyberCom, Inc.

4. Don’t honk at people in traffic.

Locals absolutely hate it when people honk. For example, mainland drivers honk more frequently for less significant reasons compared to Hawaii’s drivers that rarely honk. It’s abnormal to honk at someone here unless your life is utterly in danger. If someone is about to hit you, you can honk, but if someone cuts into your lane, don’t honk! The person that merges into your lane will most likely throw up a shaka or a thank you sign to appreciate you letting them in!

Ugh! Honolulu traffic. by 44728494@N06 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Image may have been resized or cropped from original.

5. Don’t act like you know everything about the overthrow.

The Hawaiian overthrow was one of the most terrible, illegal acts that occurred in the Hawaiian islands. The U.S. was so embarrassed from it that President Bill clinton issued a formal apology to the Hawaiian monarch in 1893 for the overthrow. There is still controversy and tension surrounding the issue today. However, don’t act like you are absolutely knowledgeable of the overthrow. Locals hate that. It’s good to know the basic facts of what occurred but an individual whose “high maka-maka” (arrogant,) about this issue can be shunned by locals.

King Kamehameha Statue - Leis Closeup by Daniel Ramirez is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The airport greeting was probably overly cheerful.
King Kamehameha Statue – Leis Closeup by Daniel Ramirez is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Image may have been resized or cropped from original


  1. MJ Solati 12/27/2017 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    Planning on moving to Maui late 2018…I’m doing well with all your suggestions. I already do almost all the things you mentioned…I’m looking forward to being a influential part of the island. 2017 winter i visited for 10 days and had a number of people ask me for directions…LOL…I left my heart in Maui! Mahalo Peter, for everything you do!

    • Peter Kay 12/27/2017 at 6:23 pm - Reply

      Thanks! Please let me know how things work out!

  2. David 12/24/2017 at 5:58 am - Reply

    Do locals want mainlanders out of the islands or is it only some? Is showing respect for the land and people the only thing that is the concern? I’ve been reading the history of Hawaii and it doesn’t seem like locals would feel good about how the islands were acquired.

    • Peter Kay 12/24/2017 at 8:08 am - Reply

      Hence the last item. It’s a huge and incredibly complex topic that’s been unresolved since the 1800s

  3. Yuliya 12/22/2017 at 11:08 pm - Reply

    It is all about being respectful to others, no matter if you are an immigrant or live in the country where you were born and raised. Last time I visited Oahu I stayed for a month. I was quite tired and probably looked like I was. All locals I just met and / or became friends with were very kind and wanted to help in any way they could. I felt like I was home.

  4. Dave 12/22/2017 at 8:55 pm - Reply

    I wasn’t sure I wanted to click the news link, but I seemed to remember visiting a site like this and wanting more info.
    I’d like add something that I’ve noticed here.. I ride a bike, exclusively, and have found the drivers to be MUCH more patient as I climb a hill. They’ll wait for me to pass by before they go, as not to squeeze me against the curb on some of the narrow streets around St. Louis Heights or Wilhelmina Rise. I continually find myself in surprise, as you would get A) close passed,B) the finger,C) and the horn all in one, where I was before, as there is no patience, whatsoever, where I was in on the mainland.
    I think I’ve heard about 1/2 dozen horns since I arrived (I live in a busy section of Waikiki)
    I was aware of the monk seals (I saw one on Kaua’i) and there was yellow tape around it, with signs. Kapa’a.
    I clean up after myself, beaches and otherwise. Humans, in general, are slobs, and don’t care where they throw trash, whether it be the beach or the side of the road in Overland, KS. It’s not a nice gesture to Mother Earth.

  5. Joel 12/22/2017 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    Good stuff here! My family of 4 is planning to move from the Midwest to the islands within 2 years; we absolutely love the culture and are all about the preservation of the Hawaiian lands. It’s so AWESOME! These tips are great and I agree with the other commenter- it’s all about your attitude. Love and respect for the people and the place.
    We can’t wait

  6. Skip Thomsen 12/22/2017 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    Well, all those suggestions are fine, but unless they are genuine, heartfelt and founded in a deep respect for the Island culture in general and the Hawaiian culture in particular, they don’t work very well. It’s been my observation after 20 years in Hawaii that newbies should immerse themselves in continually striving to learn the culture, and that doesn’t mean going to hotel luaus! It means getting quietly and humbly involved in any ways that present themselves, keeping your “we do it this way on the mainland” ideas under wraps, and doing a lot of listening.

    The farther you get out into “local areas” the more important these things are, too. I haven’t spent much time in Honolulu or any of the tourist areas, but I’m sure these same principles apply there. They’re maybe just no as “in your face.”

    Be real, show respect, and listen. Above all, show respect!

    Aloha Nui!

  7. Dalyn " Jay " Dyer 12/22/2017 at 5:31 pm - Reply

    Us CANADIANS in the the NORTH know not to invade our other surroundings of creatures that live up NORTH TOO.We have values too up here,& the NATIVES & some what of us WHITE PEOPLE know what to do when things are NOT RIGHT to our MOTHER NATURE CREATURES. When people do wrong things & we educate these people what to do & not what to do…

    With Thks; Dayln ” Jay ” Dyer

    • Peter Kay 12/22/2017 at 5:39 pm - Reply

      Make sure you tell your other friends in the NORTH who frequently get too close to the seals with their cameras lol!

  8. Linda Morehouse 12/22/2017 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    This is my third time moving to the islands, it will be my last. I am older now and have always known it is where I belong. I lived on Oahu for seven years all together and three months ago moved to the island of Hawaii. I have lived next to, worked and played with locals, never have had a problem, ever. It is all about attitude, if you love and respect the people and the culture, it works

    • Peter Kay 12/22/2017 at 4:09 pm - Reply

      Yes! Well said!

    • Sally Erwin 12/22/2017 at 7:04 pm - Reply

      My husband ad I moved here, and would love to get involved. I saw the one group above on clean up, are there others that work with animals?

  9. Suzie 12/22/2017 at 1:14 pm - Reply

    yes I share your values and ideals and when I am in Hawaii I will always follow these steps in honor of your homeland. I am sorry for my turtle close up I was more like 10 yards away from the beauty of it but now I know better….Go to Seaworld for the close ups folks….

  10. Jay 12/22/2017 at 12:30 pm - Reply

    Thank u for that important information

Join the conversation! What do you think?