One of Hawaii's most cherished resources is the Hawaiian culture. After years of ignoring it, it is flourishing more than ever today. Part of the Hawaii school system are the Hawaiian immersion schools, where all children (not just Hawaiians) can attend schools from kindergarten to college taught in the Hawaiian language. And cultural events in Hawaii are very popular. If you want to see the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, for example, which is the "Super Bowl of hula," where the top halau compete each year during the week after Easter, you had better get your tickets by the end of December -- it's sold out by January 30.
If you want to support Hawaiian culture, plan to attend cultural events like Hawaiian music and dance performances.
Search out locally owned establishments (look for recommendations in this guide). Attempt to buy souvenirs made in Hawaii by local residents.
If you visit a cultural site, like an ancient heiau (temple), the protocol calls for reverence. Be as respectful as you would at a cathedral or church. Never climb or sit on rock walls at a heiau. Never take anything from a heiau, even rocks, and never pick flowers there. You may see offerings of flowers or fruit -- do not disturb them.
How to Fit in Like a Local
Most visitors to Hawaii want to fit in, and be respectful of the local residents. The best way to do that is to be friendly and practice the same common courtesy that you do in your own neighborhood. If you smile and are polite to local residents, chances are they will smile back at you. There are a few things you might want to think about:
1. Be superpolite when driving. People in Hawaii do not use their car horn as a comment on other people's driving. Most Hawaii residents use their car horn only as a greeting to a friend.
2. Another driving comment: You may be on vacation, but not everyone here is, so check your rearview mirror. If you are impeding traffic by driving slowly, pull off the road. If you want to watch the sunset, pull off the road. If you have a long line of cars behind you, pull off the road. If you are traveling on Kauai, where there are lots of one-lane bridges, read up on Kauai bridge etiquette.
3. Dress respectfully. Just because it's Hawaii and warm does not mean that it is acceptable to wear your swimwear into a restaurant. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself this: Would I wear this outfit to a restaurant or retail store at home?
4. Remember Hawaii is part of the United States, and is, in fact, a state. A good way to alienate local residents is to say something like "I'm from the States," or "Back in the States, we do it this way."
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.