Nearly 8 million travelers flock to the Hawaiian Islands every year packing trendy new bikinis, slippers (flip flops ) and wide-eyed enthusiastic grins.
Although Hawaii prides itself on the generous, "Aloha spirit," you will feel even more welcomed when you adopt a few simple principals. Wise travelers learn about local customs before they go and a little Mahalo magic can go a long way. The last thing you want to do is scream you are a tourist. To avoid tourist traps and car break-ins, keep these key things in mind.
There is Such a Thing as Beach Etiquette
Always malama ka ʻaina or in other words, take care of the land. Both the land and beaches in Hawaii are considered sacred and protected. Visitors should respect Mother Nature and the ancient Hawaiian wonders. What does this mean?
When Hawaiians see tourists trying to touch turtles, swim with wild dolphins, step on coral, or douse themselves with toxic sunscreen right before dipping into the water, it shows disrespect and a lack of care.
Beach etiquette comes back to respect. It also means you should give yourself space. You are not in the city or on the subway anymore, enjoy your space and plop down with enough room to experience the vast wonder of nature surrounding you!
Ditch the Digital Devices
Stop taking so many photos! Yes, we know it is amazing, and the Instagram filter takes your photos to WOW!, but you are missing the moment by looking through your tiny screen. No need to pump your feed with more "right now" photos of pristine paradise; instead be in the moment and fully enjoy it. You can take some key shots but update your social feed when you return to your hotel or condo. The point is while you are out in nature play with the world.
Get Rid of Your Tan Lines
Have you ever noticed that people who live in Hawaii don't have tan lines? They live under the sun and their golden-kissed skin is a wonder. To get this effortless glow wear sun block and switch out your cover ups, or yes, find a nude beach and let it all hang out.
Don't Lock Your Car Doors
Locals respect one another, and there is a quiet confidence that permeates the Islands. Cars that are locked scream tourist. It sends the signal that you have something to hide, and this heightens many locals sense of curiosity. Do your vacation and yourself a favor -- don't leave valuables in your car and don't lock the doors.
Smile at Strangers
Cars passing by, people on the street or beach, or the neighbor walking out of their condo, always say "Aloha." Smiling is a form of acceptance and a welcome invitation, honoring the other person. Make eye contact and always say "Aloha," it is considered rude if you don't.
There is no need to rush to get anywhere because, as Hawaiians know, the best time and place to be is right here and right now. When you honk your car horn, get impatient in the coconut stand line, or flip out because the buff surfer is taking too long to cross the road, you are missing the magic of the moment. Island time means chill-lax time. Ask yourself why you are in such a rush. Aren't you on vacation anyway?
In Hawaii, less is more. This relates to everything from drama, negative attitudes, the gear you bring to the beach, and to the clothes you wear. It is okay to live in T-shirts and shorts. The less makeup you put on the better and did you forget to brush your hair today? You'll fit in perfectly. Embrace the laid back culture, here less really is more.
Take Your Shoes Off Indoors
Here in Hawaii it's customary to take your shoes off before entering the home. It's a tradition that came to the islands with the Japanese immigrants, and it caught on fast. It is considered very rude to leave your shoes on, so just wear "slippahs" or opt to go barefoot.
All photos Getty Images royalty free collection
Shannon Kaiser is a travel writer in currently working from Hawaii. To follow her adventures and travel updates like her Facebook author page @shannonKaiserWrites