Be the Perfect Houseguest in Hawaii

Staying with friends in the islands not only saves money but gives you an opportunity to experience local life. We like hosting people in our home and have come up with some ideas on how to make this a good experience for both host and guest.

Arrival Tips:

1. Shoes off at door.

Here in Hawaii, it is customary to remove footwear before entering a home. We do that to keep bugs and indelible dirt off of our floors. It makes a nice impression when you do this without being asked.

2. Bring a Welcome Gift.

Something from your local community is a nice touch.  We also have a welcome gift in our guest’s bedroom.

3. Don’t arrive with jet lag (Updated)

Your visit will probably go better if you spend the first night in a hotel to recover from the flight and jet lag. Alternatively, remember that your hosts likely already have a schedule, and in Hawaii, it usually doesn’t include late nights.

Update:  If you’re staying with friends a few nights, you’re probably spending half (or more) of your vacation in a hotel.  I’m suggesting you start your vacation in a hotel and book in with your friends later.  This way you’ll be over jet lag and feel more like socializing with your host.

4. Rent a car.

Be self sufficient so you can come and go as you please.

During Your Stay:

1. Keep the sand outside.

If you’ve come from the beach, wash sand off your feet before entering your host’s home. For example, we have teak floors which sand makes a mess on and turns slippery. Here’s a tip. Fill an empty bottle with water and keep in car to wash feet.

2. Conserve electricity.

We have by far the most expensive electricity in the USA. Help your hosts by turning off lights not in use. Conserve hot water for the same reason.

3. Be your own tour guide.

Even though you’re on vacation, your host isn’t. I usually offer to be a guide for a half day if I can. Do not expect your host to entertain you.

4. Plan your own meals.

Eat out and buy your own food. As a host, I usually prepare one dinner for guests. If your host has invited you for meals, be sure to be on time.

5. Respect property and leave your room clean.

Keep your room clean and don’t damage furniture. One of our guests left permanent water rings on an antique night stand. She completely missed the coaster, and left a lasting impression on us too.

When it’s Time to Go:

1. Donate your beach equipment.

Your hosts probably do not want leftover beach towels, snorkel gear, and more. Ask first and then donate anything left to Salvation Army.

2. Leave a gift.

You may also want to consider taking your hosts out for dinner or buying them a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant.

3. Don’t overstay your welcome.

Ben Franklin once said, “guests, like fish, begin to stink after three days.” We normally have a 3 night maximum stay (unless we’re entertaining relatives or close friends). With a three night stay you don’t wear out your welcome.

4. Send a thank you note soon after you arrive home.

Final Thoughts:

I think it’s important to be honest with yourself about the reason for staying in someone’s home. Am I doing this just to save money, or do I want to see and spend time with my hosts? I think it’s a mixture of both. If the reason is only financial, from our experience, it’s better to pass on the idea.

4 thoughts on “Be the Perfect Houseguest in Hawaii”

  1. Thanks for the comments so far. There was a recent article about this subject in Kauai’s Garden Island newspaper and I thought it would make an interesting post.

    Oliver–Good point!! The related post feature is automated and I’m not sure how tiger sharks fits the subject. I guess I should have manually picked another post. Most of our guests have been great and I think (hopefully) they would say the same about us. Note to hosts: if you don’t enjoy entertaining guests overnight, it’s best to say no and preserve a friendship.

    Pua: You’re right, this is a delicate issue and it’s important for both host and guest to feel comfortable. There’s a lot of work that goes into having guests–and it can disrupt the household schedule–so that’s why we try to limit to 3 nights. No one gets tired of the other. We can still see and help friends with their Hawaii vacation and have a life too.

    Joe: Here’s what I meant about jet lag. Most people are coming to Hawaii for a week or more. If your plans involve staying some of the time with friends, I think you’ll enjoy your visit more not to schedule this right at the beginning (after a long flight when you don’t feel like socializing).

    As far as a gift is concerned–I think it’s nice to bring something from home–as a thank you to your host.

  2. So how is the “12′ Tiger Shark in Kauai’s Hanalei Bay” story related to this? Are your guests tiger sharks, or are you a tiger shark? Just wondering 😉

  3. Being a perfect house guest is a delicate issue even more so when staying with friends in Hawaii.

    So most of all, the hosts have to make their point clear that the free stay is limited to a certain time and I think Jeff’s 3-night limit for friends is totally OK.

    Joe, you would not believe how many people suddenly remember that you live in Hawaii and are your friend! If you don’t stand up for your position, you might never be alone in your home in Hawaii anymore.

    Remember when when you get invited to Hawaii, make sure to not take advantage of the hosts’ generosity. Ask how many nights are OK before you book your flight to Hawaii. There are nice affordable vacation rentals available these days. So stay with your friends for a few nights and book the other nights with hosts who offer vacation rentals.

    If you leave them snorkel gear, boogie boards or such, they will welcome those. As long time vacation rental owners, we were grateful when we could restock old or lost beach stuff with new equipment from guests who did not want to take it home.

    In any case, show courtesy and appreciation whether you are staying with friends in Hawaii or AZ. And yes, it’s shoes off in Hawaii though I would not go so far as to have the guests wash off their feet with a bottle of water. In most cases, there are showers on the beaches anyways. Still keep the sand out of the houses is a big request we have to guests (includes sandy beach towels).

    Just imagine, this was ‘your’ house in Hawaii, and everything will work out fine!

  4. Most of these are reasonable. Two of them however, suggest that it is more of a freeloading experience for you as opposed to friends staying with you and scheduling some time to visit.

    Don’t come with jet lag makes US laugh and shake our heads. If you want them to get over jet lag and then come over, just ask them to stay in a hotel instead. Hawaii can’t be reached without jet lag. Move into a hotel, then come over? but no more than 3 days…Maybe you meant they should be quiet when they are up early or late due to jet lag.

    The other is the gift upon arriving – and not just any gift…make sure it’s useful!

    If folks are friends that you enjoy spending time with or appreciate seeing them enjoy the islands, you don’t expect them to be over jet lag or bring gifts. (The rest, for the most part, you should expect).

    Just tell them to stay in a hotel, but you’ll meet them for dinner!

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