I was born and raised here on O’ahu and over the years, I have learned just how special our home is, but also how unique. While Google may be filled with the best places to visit in Hawaii, there is so much culture beyond our beautiful beaches and million dollar sunsets. Our land is full of history, language, culture, and a nation of people who want the soul of our ancestral land to thrive. If you take the time to learn about these things, I'm sure it will make your trip even more memorable and meaningful!
If you are planning to visit Hawaii, here are some of my tips that you won't find on Google searches or travel websites:
Learn about the history - trust me, it’s shocking.
Learn about the history of Hawaii starting with the annexation of Hawaii in 1898. Before we became a US state, we were a thriving nation run by a monarchy with a rich culture and language. If you’re visiting O’ahu, take some time to see ‘Iolani Palace (the home of our last reigning monarchs). The palace has been preserved and holds so much history. Even living here, it is a place I like to visit often. It is also the only official palace in the current United States. Bishop Museum is another great place to spend the day. It holds many artifacts and historical knowledge of our nation.
Leave wildlife alone.
When visiting our natural outdoors, don’t approach wildlife. Part of what makes Hawaii so special are the animals that also call this place home. Turtles, monk seals, fish, birds, among so many others mate, reproduce, and trust that they will be safe here on our land and in our waters. Side note: it’s actually illegal to get close to monk seals and turtles. But in general
Use common sense; seems simple, but it’s weirdly not.
Pay attention to signs! We have beautiful hikes, beaches, and picturesque spots that seem perfect for a photo. If it’s a safe place, go for it! But, if a sign says “don’t enter”, don’t enter! It’s not worth the instagram picture and it’s not worth risking your life. It seems common sense to say this, but believe me, it’s surprisingly not. Ask ANYONE from Hawaii.
Learn to swim.
The ocean here is not like a swimming pool. We have one of the strongest currents and it will sneak up on you if you’re not a skilled swimmer. If you don’t know how to swim, learn before you come. And learn well!
Be respectful of our land, our culture, our language, and our people! Ultimately, approach your stay with the mindset that you are a malihini (a tourist/visitor). Native Hawaiians have a lot of hurt and anger towards the overthrow of our nation and how so much is still being taken from us. It’s a conversation for another time, but know that people live in this paradise you’re vacationing in and there is so much beyond the crystal clear beaches and palm trees. Maybe even learn some basic Hawaiian words:
- Aloha: hello, goodbye, love
- Mahalo: thank you
- Ke ‘olu’olu: please
- A hui hou: until we meet again
- Malama pono: take care