No matter where you travel, you should always consider the etiquette and customs of the place you’re visiting. People are usually forgiving of visitors, but they’ll be way more appreciative and patient if you at least made an effort to learn the basics beforehand.
1. Don’t say “back in the States” when referring to other parts of the country. Hawaii is the U.S. and other states are referred to as “the mainland.”
2. Do not try to speak Pidgin English to others, even if you’re just trying to be funny. It can be misconstrued for mocking.
3. Do not get offended if someone refers to you as “haole”. It’s a common term and means “stranger” or “foreign”, usually reserved for Caucasians.
4. Do not disturb the sea creatures, including sea turtles, dolphins, humpback whales, or monk seals. Not only is it dangerous and disturbing to the animal, but there is actually a law against it in the state of Hawaii. The same goes for coral reef! Make sure to maintain distance from protected reef on your snorkeling or scuba diving trip.
5. If someone gives you a lei, do not remove it in front of them. It’s considered rude.
6. If invited to someone’s home, remove your shoes before entering. This is a Japanese custom that was adopted by the Hawaiians. It’s also considered polite to bring a small gift, such as dessert or a side dish.
7. If you plan on doing a lot of driving, especially the Road to Hana, keep an eye on your rear view mirror for locals and pull over to let them pass. Imagine if you lived along a one way road that was constantly filled with tourists looking out their window and driving 10mph. Be polite and let them by.
8. Don’t honk in traffic. You’re on Maui time. You’ll get there, relax.
9. Don’t call locals “natives”. It’s considered derogatory.
10. If you plan on doing any serious surfing (not taking lessons in a crowded and popular area), abide by surfing etiquette. Respect the lineup, wait your turn, don’t drop in on someone else’s wave, etc. Talk to the lifeguard beforehand if you have any questions.
11. Yes, you should leave a tip. Tipping is necessary and appreciated, as in all parts of the country.
Follow these basic rules and you’ll be just fine. People on Maui are very friendly and welcoming. Accept the “aloha” culture and practice it the next time you’re in Hawaii.