You may have heard that on two separate occasions recently, Hawaii visitors drove down a boat ramp at the Big Island’s Honokohau Harbor and into the ocean by following GPS instructions. That’s a snafu not to be forgotten soon on Big Island. We’re scratching our heads because the Honokohau boat harbor does not look like the “puddle” one of the visitors suggested.
In the Instagram video embedded below, people fishing helped the visitor while they filmed the incident as the car sank into the harbor with the headlights still on. Even after realizing they had just driven into the ocean and as their vehicle is sinking, the visitor tried to remove their belongings before exiting.
The two who are filming said, “What a way to end the day, huh?, after they watched the visitor drive straight into the ocean. He said they were “screaming the whole time to get her attention but her GPS had told her to go there so she drove right in.”
Fortunately, only the car was harmed in both instances. But it got us thinking about how to have a blooper-free Hawaii vacation that doesn’t necessarily go viral on Instagram.
And moreover, on the topic of terrible mistakes, read on for some whoppers that happened to BOH editors.
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1. Disturbing Hawaii wildlife.
BOH: This includes green sea turtles and monk seals to start. You must keep a safe distance that is appropriate and required by law. We’ve witnessed all kinds of improprieties (by both visitors and residents, by the way), including visitors sitting on sea turtles and this article about visitors and monk seals.
2. Removing coral, sand, or rocks.
BOH: First, the removal of coral and sand is illegal in Hawaii. It’s also an affront to Hawaiian cultural beliefs. And when it comes to lava rock that’s related to the Goddess Pele, that’s offensive too. Please never disturb rocks at heiau (Hawaiian temples). Rock piling, too, is a misguided practice and offensive to Native Hawaiians.
3. Talking pidgin English.
BOH: Also known as Hawaii Creole, this has a fascinating history which was based on needing a common language among diverse people who all spoke different languages during Hawaii’s plantation days.
Visitors speaking pidgin isn’t really appropriate. It’s spoken by those who grew up in Hawaii and can be heard at the beach, in stores, and anywhere in neighborhood conversations. We suggest visitors stick with English.
4. Not looking beyond Hawaii beaches to experience authentic Hawaii.
BOH: Hawaii wants visitors to understand and experience something more. Please let us share that with you. On Oahu, that might include the North Shore, Pearl Harbor, the Honolulu Museum of Art, and Iolani Palace.
5. Not eating like people in Hawaii do.
BOH: Hawaii’s food is culturally rich and diverse, just like its residents. Eating at Denny’s and Mcdonald’s is all well and good, but it is monotone and a clearly missed opportunity. No matter your taste in food, Hawaii has something memorable for you to enjoy. That includes farmer’s markets nearly every day on all the islands. Also, try foods not seen on the mainland—including our restaurants in every price range and a fast-growing, vibrant food truck community. Depending on your taste buds, we’d also suggest iconic poke, shave ice of all varieties, including organic and renowned Hawaii malasadas.
6. Getting a severe Hawaii sunburn where you can no longer enjoy your vacation.
BOH: The Hawaii sun is more potent than you think or feel when in it. Refreshing water and trade winds can also confuse your senses, and you can get a severe sunburn on cloudy days. Hawaii state law requires reef-safe sunscreens only.
7. Cheap tipping.
BOH: Please be generous with Hawaii’s overworked and overlooked hospitality workers. Many still work up to 3 jobs to afford to live here and be able to serve you.
8. Underestimate Hawaii’s unique pace.
BOH: We’ve seen visitors get married at 5 on the north shore, plan a 90-minute drive to the south shore, where they have dinner reservations at 7. It just doesn’t work, is stressful, and where’s the enjoyment in that anyway. We use Google Maps to see how long it takes at any time to drive between points A and B here in Hawaii. Even living here, we can get caught off guard by traffic and even short distances can take much longer than expected.
BOH: Leaving things visible in your rental car is nearly a guarantee of trouble. Before you go out, move things to your trunk without others watching.
10. Speeding, inappropriate U-turns and other turns, and honking
BOH: These won’t make friends and could result in far worse. We have seen and told you about visitors turning left at the last minute from the right lane, making illegal and unsafe u-turns on the highway, and honking the horn. That isn’t island behavior so please leave it on the mainland.
11. Dangerous Jaywalking.
One of BOH’s editors saw this just yesterday. A group of visitors walked across a dangerous highway, albeit two lanes, to get to a restaurant. Drivers won’t expect that, and you or someone else could get injured or killed.
12. Ignoring Hawaii ocean dangers.
Hawaii visitor drownings are frequent and 10x more common for visitors than residents. Swimming or snorkeling alone, where no lifeguard is present, is obvious. And underestimating the ocean or overestimating your abilities is a near guarantee of trouble.
13. Spending too much and unexpectedly.
BOH: This is one of the most frequent topics on Beat of Hawaii; like underestimating the cost of accommodations after first buying non-refundable Hawaii flights. Or not realizing that 50% taxes and fees could suddenly be added to that great Hawaii vacation rental or hotel rate.
14. Forgetting to check and re-checking bookings.
BOH: Did you check MyTSA before heading to the airport? Did you use FlightAware to see where whether your plane will be on time and where the incoming flight is? From personal experience, we’ve had reservations on the wrong dates and have missed or paid for things we couldn’t use.
One of us received a call from Hawaiian Airlines saying that a flight had been changed to another date. On checking, your editor realized that was a lucky thing. The flight he had initially booked was not for the day he had intended to fly. Without the airline’s change, there would have been a missed flight or worse.
15. Placing undue trust in travel reviews.
BOH: What a complex subject. We can’t live without them and yet we simply can’t have confidence in them the way we once naively did. We continue to believe that success or failure is based in part on reviews. Perhaps up to one-half of all travel reviews are financially motivated. BOH just had some travel debacles itself based on following TripAdvisor reviews — stay tuned for that.
16. Not bothering to recheck prices on cars, air, and hotel.
BOH: Check to be sure prices haven’t changed from the time of booking to the time of travel. As a result, it may be possible to get airline credit or otherwise improve rates by rebooking hawaii flights. It takes a little time but can be well worth it. We have sometimes saved 50% by re-booking our car rental the day before travel.
17. Trespassing on private property or ignoring warning signs.
BOH: Be careful here. Not respecting private property can land you in trouble on your Hawaii vacation. One visitor nearly died not long ago when nearly falling off a cliff!