Hawaii Vacation Pitfalls That Now Demand Your Attention

Hawaii Vacation Pitfalls That Now Demand Your Attention

What are some of the mistakes you’ve made on your Hawaii vacation? No matter where we travel, there’s always a new learning experience. Sometimes, good, and sometimes, not. You’re assured of a great time in the islands by staying clear of these errors.

Forgetting how the surf changes with the seasons. Simple, right?

We hear this a lot. There’s a common misconception that a favorite beach to swim in summer will also be the same in winter. For example, our beloved Hanalei Bay is perfect for swimming in summer with little to no waves. Editor Rob competes in the Hanalei Bay Swim Challenge there every year in July. The competition is not held in winter because the surf goes way up on the North Shore then, and the South Shore (Poipu) is where the ocean surface is calm. As you decide what part of the islands to stay, remember to pick the ocean environment that is right for you.

Advance reservations have become more important than ever before.

It’s not possible to show up at Hanauma Bay, the road after Hanalei, or at Diamond Head without advance reservations. These are examples of places where visitor numbers are limited each day, and you’ll need to reserve your spot before leaving. As we’ve just traveled in Europe, we see this as the new norm as destinations try to protect the environment from worldwide over-tourism.

You may also want to book some activities and restaurants in advance or at the start of your Hawaii vacation to avoid disappointments.

hawaii turtle

Swimming or snorkeling close to Hawaii wildlife is trouble.

Volunteers usually rope off areas where Hawaiian monk seals and turtles are resting on the beach so you know the boundary not to pass. If the area is not roped off, a 50-foot distance is required for your safety and wildlife.

But what about in the ocean? It’s a 10-foot distance. We can do that most of the time, but once, Jeff had a turtle suddenly appear on his face while he was swimming. The main lesson here is not to be the one to approach wildlife, and if that turtle does appear up close, let it swim by to give both of you the required distance for safety.

Showing up without a gift if you are invited to someone’s home?

If you are lucky enough to be invited into a local residence, consider it an honor that few visitors ever experience. But there’s more to removing your shoes at the door. Sharing Aloha goes both ways. If you know about the home visit before you leave, it’s nice to bring something from where you live to share with the host. Otherwise, consider a gift from Hawaii to show your appreciation. It will make a big impression – especially if this is a new acquaintance.

KCC Farmers Market Honolulu Must Do

Missing out on Hawaii’s truly unique and diverse culinary scene is a loss.

We like to start by exploring local farmer’s markets, sampling foods not commonly found on the mainland, and savoring the unique flavors of Hawaii-style cuisine. Our favorite in Oahu is the Saturday KCC farmers’ market, which is not far from Waikiki. It’s the ideal spot for breakfast. We tend to head for the Pig and the Lady food stand when we go there for the most unusual ever breakfast. Be prepared to wait in line and then sit on the curb with others to eat.

And that’s just for starters. Do some research and find great, award-winning, and often reasonably priced Hawaii restaurants, particularly in Honolulu. Those include award winners not to miss. Consider avoiding chain restaurants entirely.

Airbnb Updates Their Cancellation Policy for Hawaii

Local customs: please do not remove rocks, coral, or sand.

Did you know that it is not only discouraged due to Hawaiian cultural beliefs but it is also prohibited by state laws? Removing lava rock, in particular, is considered offensive. Additionally, don’t take rocks from heiau (Hawaiian temples). The stacking of rocks as a form of recreation is considered offensive to Native Hawaiians.

More Avoidable, Tragic Hawaii Drownings Perplex

Ignoring Hawaii ocean safety can be deadly.

From snorkeling drownings that we’ve written about scores of times to being struck by waves standing on rocks, the dangers of the ocean here are very real and largely underestimated by many visitors. Remember that, on average, a visitor dies here in the islands each week. The risk of serious ocean incidents happening to visitors is 10 times that for residents.

Pearl Harbor

Failing to explore beyond the beach is truly another missed opportunity.

While Hawaii’s beaches are prominent visitor destinations, and there’s nothing wrong with limiting your time there, there is much more to Hawaii. Seek, and you will find cultural events and hula. Waikiki is an iconic destination, but there’s much more to discover on Oahu, including the North Shore, Pearl Harbor, and cultural venues like Iolani Palace, Honolulu Museum of Art, and the Bishop Museum. And as beautiful as our beaches are, the islands’ interiors offer incredible hiking, as another example.

Speaking Pidgin English?

We’ve said this before. That can undoubtedly raise many eyebrows unless you were raised in Hawaii, and it isn’t the same as trying to order in French in Paris. Hawaii Creole is similar to English but distinct. It is primarily spoken by those who grew up in the islands, no matter their ethnic heritage, and it’s often heard in neighborhood conversations. Listen and enjoy.

Getting sunburned to the point of misery is a guaranteed trip-wrecker.

This is common due to the deceptively strong Hawaii sun in combination with the cooling tradewinds. Even on cloudy days, sunburn is very real. The wind also tricks you into thinking the sun isn’t as strong as it is. Hawaii state law mandates the use of reef-safe sunscreen to protect the environment.

Two Reasonably Priced Honolulu Restaurants + 2022 James Beard Award Winner

Being frugal when tipping? What that isn’t encouraged.

It’s still true that Hawaii’s hospitality employees most often work multiple jobs to make a living and afford to stay in Hawaii. So it’s obviously appreciated when visitors are generous. At the same time, we’re not the ones to try to tell others what to do, so we consider this to be our best suggestion.

Over-planning and underestimating your Hawaii vacation is a common mistake.

Hawaii’s relaxed pace and changeable weather may not perfectly align with an overly planned and highly ambitious schedule. Plus, use Google Maps to estimate sometimes unexpectedly long travel times between destinations before you set out, as we who live here do. That can avoid so much frustration and keep your Hawaii vacation moving smoothly.

Jaywalking in Hawaii is more dangerous than you think.

We see this all the time, and it presents significant dangers in Hawaii. On the surface, our roads don’t look as dangerous as those on the mainland. But in reality, they are. That two-lane road on Kauai, for example, is our highway.

Please don’t get ripped off in Hawaii.

Crimes here are often petty and can be avoided. Leaving items visible in your rental car poses a real safety risk. To prevent problems, move your belongings to the trunk first, before heading to the beach.

Please give us a hand with your suggestions! Mahalo.

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31 thoughts on “Hawaii Vacation Pitfalls That Now Demand Your Attention”

  1. Even going there is a mistake because of the price gouging Even if you have the money it offends you to be totally ripped off on everything..it’s simply not worth the money anymore there’s far better places to go at a third the price… I won’t be back.. I’ve been coming for decades no more… Everybody I know feels that way…

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  2. We visited last year in early March to honolulu. We only scheduled one thing, which was kayaking (it was great but so much more work than a river lol) me and my husband both chose things we wanted to check out. We avoided at all costs any overly touristy type things (mostly due to the insane costs)and most beaches, but we were there for 3 days and touched each corner of the island! We even made sure to stop by the Sunday swap by the stadium on our way out. So much more to do than typical tourist stuff. Plus avoiding that saved a whole lot of money and made it extremely affordable! We walked to Waikiki every night and bar hoped, got tattoos and took in the sights! Had to grab a pin from hard rock for my adventure collection though!

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