A trip to Kauai has been on your bucket list for years, and now that you’ve booked your ocean view villa at Koloa Landing Resort, you want to make sure you’re a responsible traveler during your time in Hawaii. Hawaiian culture has plenty to offer, and local people are often eager to share the aloha spirit with visitors. Supporting and respecting their culture in return makes your visit even better.

Respect Local Traditions When Visiting Hawaii

One of the first local traditions you’re likely to encounter when visiting Kauai is being gifted with a lei. Visitors are often given a lei as a welcoming gift, and it’s polite to keep your lei on until you get in your hotel room or another private space. Hula is another tradition you’re likely to encounter during your Kauai vacation. This dance is performed by people from all over Hawaii, and it’s considered sacred by native peoples. This means you should watch respectfully when seeing it performed and not try to join in without an express invitation.

Explore Hawaiian Culture

Part of the fun of visiting Hawaii is getting to know the native people who live there. Make it a point to talk to locals and ask about Hawaiian history and stories about the island. You can also ask for travel tips since locals are likely to know about lesser-known restaurants, beaches or attractions that most tourists never see. Hearing about something via word of mouth from a local person is a time-tested way to discover new places and events in Hawaii.

When you have the option, choose local providers over national or international companies. This includes seeking out locally owned adventure companies that respect native practices as well as purchasing locally grown foods to enjoy during your stay.

Keep in mind that the term Hawaiian is typically reserved for people of Hawaiian descent. People with other cultural backgrounds are considered locals but should not be referred to as Hawaiian. You can also learn a few words in the Hawaiian language to show your respect for Hawaiian culture. A few of the most common words and phrases you’re likely to hear include “aloha,” which can be used to say “hello” or “goodbye” in addition to being used as a slogan that means “love,” and “mahalo,” which means “thank you.”

Follow Local Restrictions

Part of respecting native Hawaiian people includes respecting the regulations and restrictions they enact. This includes COVID-19 restrictions such as mask requirements in restaurants or hotels, as well as health and safety guidelines in place when participating in sports activities. Respect private property, obey posted signs and avoid sacred sites revered by native Hawaiian peoples. If you plan on hiking during your stay in Hawaii, stick to marked trails. Some sites may have designated viewing areas, and you can usually find a sign indicating the significance of the place. Always park in designated areas, and don’t trespass on private property.

While many locals appreciate visitors to the Hawaiian islands, the tourism industry has sometimes caused problems. Because the islands are such a popular vacation destination, regulations are sometimes needed to protect marine life, local vegetation and coral reefs off the coast. Some local species, such as the monk seal, are endangered, and the ecology of Kauai can be fragile. If you’re planning to spend time on the beach or snorkel in the ocean, make sure to remain a safe distance from local wildlife during your adventures and choose a reef-safe sunscreen to help reduce potential harm to coral reefs. Consult local experts before choosing a surfing spot, and be sure to respect the land while you visit Hawaii.

Locals consider the native fish, birds and even the land to be part of their heritage, so tread lightly, whether you’re on the beach or exploring the island’s jungle interior. During your travels throughout Hawaii, be aware of everything from ocean life to wildlife you see along hiking trails so you don’t inadvertently cause harm. You might also consider volunteering while in Kauai as a way to give back to the islands you’re visiting.

Support Locally Owned Native Hawaiian Restaurants

Food can be a big part of your Kauai adventure, and there are plenty of local farmers and restaurants owned by native Hawaiians to help you experience the true flavors of the islands. Make it a point to try out local delicacies during your trip to Hawaii, such as poi, kalua pig and poke. Consider seeking out food trucks and farmers markets with vendors selling locally grown fruits to explore local cuisine even more. When it comes to tips, consider tipping 20% or more, since servers in Hawaii are often dependent on this income. Also keep in mind that the culture in Hawaii tends to be slower-paced than mainland culture, so don’t expect rushed service at restaurants.

Buy Locally Made Native Hawaiian Souvenirs

Think about where you spend your tourism dollars while staying on Kauai. Shop for souvenirs at locally owned businesses and visit markets where you can find local crafts to bring back home. Spending money in the community you’re visiting has a positive impact on the local economy and helps Hawaii residents make a living sharing their culture. Hawaiians who live in Kauai recognize that their island paradise is a big draw for tourists from all over the world, and locals appreciate visitors who show respect for the places and traditions of the islands. Embrace the spirit of aloha as you explore the rich culture of Hawaii to ensure a meaningful trip you’ll remember for years to come. Start your Hawaii adventure by booking a private villa at Koloa Landing Resort today.