How do Hawaii Travelers View Other Visitors and Residents

Some of your comments give us ideas for posts. Like today’s from Rich in England who has been a loyal follower for years. In the past, earlier we wrote about the feelings between Hawaii visitors and residents, which yielded nearly 500 of your comments. Rich is suggesting we take that a step further and look at how visitors see other visitors.

That got us thinking about our own travels too. When your editors travel internationally, we do so independently so as to get to know people and cultures better. Just like we did exactly a year ago when we drove throughout South Africa and Namibia. And that’s a whole different story, and perhaps another website. In any event, years ago we tried a “one and only” bus tour. It was in Thailand. That lasted only a few days. Then Jeff unceremoniously announced to a flabbergasted tour leader that both of us were renting a car and leaving the tour. Once we did that, we got to be closer to people living there, and have a far more authentic experience.

Rich, who is from England, has, since 2014, been a part of Beat of Hawaii’s community and commenting. He said today,

“What do visitors think about other visitors perhaps is a good question. When I see ignorant people disrespecting the culture and not following requests and instructions I do not think much of my fellow visitors (for although I am a regular repeat visitor (4-5 times a year for almost 30 years) I class myself as a visitor. I find there is an inverse correlation between belonging to and being welcoming.” He went on to suggest that long time visitors (Kamaaina) to whom visitors show respect are very welcoming where newcomers to Hawaii (Malahini) “tend not to be and what to tell everyone else what to do.”

So how do you see other visitors in Hawaii and their behavior when you travel here? We came up with a shortlist of questions we’ll ask to get the discussion going.

1). You arrive at a popular destination like Queen’s Bath on Kauai or Haiku Stairs on Oahu and see the trail is closed (Haiku has been closed for decades). Do you respect the sign and look for another trail to hike, or decide to hike the closed trail because other visitors are doing it.

2). You see a visitor talking down to someone working in the service industry. Now what?

3). You hear a visitor complaining because it works differently in Hawaii than it does on the mainland. (And oh boy is that the truth). They offer advice on how it should be done. Does that make you feel uncomfortable or do you see it as helpful?

4). Enter social media. Someone is standing on rocks during high surf to get a photo and not respecting the ocean. Would you do the same?

5). Parking permits and limited access to beaches. One example is Kee Beach on Kauai. Do you see that as protecting Hawaii or a problem?

6). Are you a visitor who thinks Hawaii is all about the beach or are you a visitor wanting to tap into Hawaii culture?

We look forward to your added thoughts and questions?

74 thoughts on “How do Hawaii Travelers View Other Visitors and Residents”

  1. I am literally shaking my head…who raised these people?!? I would no sooner be rude to the guy behind the counter at my local convenience store, let alone anyone I come into contact with while on vacation. Been to several islands in 5 different trips over the years, and never once felt unwelcome. And I have seen people exhibit rude behavior to others in restaurants and grocery stores where I live. I think it’s not necessarily unique to the islands, but maybe just a sign of an entitled generation who should have been raised with more manners and taught to respect others.
    I just recently found Beat of Hawaii, and I thoroughly enjoy the read! Thanks for your insights! Mahalo!

  2. Some of the questions above made me smile.
    “Someone is standing on rocks during high surf to get a photo and not respecting the ocean.”
    The ocean (actually, the surf) will solve that problem very easily. Not to worry.
    “Are you a visitor who thinks Hawaii is all about the beach or are you a visitor wanting to tap into Hawaii culture?”
    If you go to HI to surf, and surf with locals, and hang with them, isn’t that Hawaiian culture? It sure is as far as they are concerned. If you mean history, there are a lot of very good books. And of course one can study the language if that’s an objective.

  3. I was born and raised in hawaii. But unfortunately had to move. I came back to visit after 10 years… and wow has waikiki changed. My visit wasn’t long but I did ran into some quite privileged tourist. They scream and yell at the locals, being rude, and just had a nasty attitude. I was upset. It literally ruined my whole trip. I just wish, if you are planning to visit hawaii… be kind. Hawaii is a place for aloha (love). Learn the culture. Talk to the locals kindly and please stop yelling at them. They have it rough as it is. Its a place to enjoy your vacation, no time for rudeness. Mahalo.

    1. I have spent several months a year, for 12 years, mostly in Waikiki area. That ended with COVID. Never once heard anyone yelling at a local (heard locals yelling at kooks in the water, though). Maybe the hard-core tourist traps and really upscale hotels are different, but never went there so I can’t say.

  4. Years ago I had just been assigned as a US Government engineer to a middle Eastern country. Very early on a local holiday allowed some travel to Istanbul with mostly State Department employees. At a rooftop Cafe we observed another group of Americans being loud and critical. I was told “We (State department employees representing America) don’t act like that.” From that day on, as I have traveled to a couple of dozen countries and Hawaii, I have tried to remember that advice.

  5. Aloha, I have been a resident of Hawaii for 45+ years. Your inquiries can be answered simply. As a child, my mother told me as a child growing up in the midwest, that when you are a guest in someone else’s home you abide by their rules and respect their property. Keep in mind. Hawaiians are proud and unique people. infringing on their land has been an issue they’ve dealt with for generations. Keep away from sacred Hawaiian sites, such as heiau they are not tourist attractions.
    As for the ocean, if you do not respect her power, you may well be her victim.
    When you enter places clearly marked you are setting yourself up for serious injury or a possible rescue by over-taxed rescue workers.
    Simple respect should mark every interaction you have with all people, especially service workers. Hawaii is a very special place, damaging reefs, wildlife, and forested areas are unacceptable. And right now, wear a mask, just do it. Because it’s right and after all, you are in someone else’s home.
    PS FYI you spelled malihini wrong in the questions, there is no A in the word, and kamaaina are long-term residents not born in Hawaii, not frequent visitors.

  6. My sister has lived on Kauai for over 20 years and has built a home and started a business which employs locals. Recently at a local food market her cart was shoved against a wall and some locals assumed she was a tourist. This is really outrageous behavior and is not endearing local residents to their concerns. That combined with what is happening on the North Shore beaches does not make anyone want to come as a tourist or resident. Really sad.

  7. I have been to Hawaii 14 times. My uncle lived on the BIG Island for awhile doing construction and that is how I became interested in visiting Hawaii and learning more of the culture. Definitely not mainland. I have Bern lucky to have made friends with many locals over time. I think it comes down to respect and not imposing mainland values and mindsets and being open to the Hawaiian lifestyle. I’m hoping to go back soon.

  8. My answers:
    1) look for another trail
    2) become disgusted, discern the situation, determine if I should help
    3)uncomfortable and smh
    4) No. Remind them those surfs can be dangerous
    5) Protecting the Islands
    6)Tap into the culture

  9. I have lived on Oahu in the 60s and Maui early 2000s. It always amazed me that visitors were in a hurry, honking car horns and not able to relax. You came for vacation..

  10. My husband was stationed at Pearl Harbor some years ago. As a family, we were thrilled for the chance to experience the island and its culture. What a disappointment. My 11 yo was beaten up numerous times and my 8 year old was threatened and intimidated by the “locals” because they had blonde/red hair and blue eyes. We tried our best to be good visitors/citizens. And the location is spectacular. But with my kids begging to stay home every day, and a very hostile attitude permeating our ever interaction, I finally brought them back to the mainland until my husband’s tour was over. We’ve lived in wonderful, welcoming and beautiful places around the world that we’ve returned to several times. But none of us, including my grown children and grandchildren have ever been (back) to Hawaii. The “spirit of aloha” is a myth….you can keep it!

    1. Sadly that sort of abuse of haoles has been going on for a long, long time. We encountered it as kids going to HI for the first time in the mid-50s. And it is well described at the start of a major surfer’s autobiography (title escapes me at the moment). Funny thing is, once I hit 65 or so locals were a lot nicer to me. Call me “uncle” or “dat crazy old haole”. At the Elks Club, on the other hand, I’ve been a member for years but still made to feel like an outsider. But that’s more a “locals only” thing than an ethnic thing.

  11. I thank the wonderful Hawaiian people for excepting me as a visitor. Spending two winters in Hawaii I was able to experience their hospitality, food and culture. I found if you give respect you will receive respect. Friends I met brought me into their homes, shared activities and gave me the privilege of calling me Uncle. I will always cherish the friends made there and the beauty of the islands.

    Uncle Joe B

  12. Just canceled my flight and vacation to Hawaii because of a false positive Covid test. Follow up testing through my primary care found that I was negative for Covid. The false positive test was administered by Hawaiian Airline’s “trusted” partner Worksite Labs. How many false negatives have been handed out, allowing Covid positive travelers to freely infect the people of Hawaii?

  13. Wherever places you visit, you should and always follow the rules in that country. If a sign says “closed or do not enter” then don’t do it. Enjoy the time,the local people, the culture especially the food. Respect their tradition and the country. If you can’t stand it then why even bother traveling to other country or you can just stay in the resort until it’s time for you to leave.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top