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6 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid on Your First Trip to Hawaii

Thinking about planning a vacation to Hawaii? You’re not alone. Almost 10 million tourists chose Hawaii as their paradise vacation destination in 2018. 

But, not everything about Hawaii is paradise. Just like any other vacation destination, there are a variety of rookie mistakes that could ruin your first trip to Hawaii. 

In the land of sunshine, rainbows, and beaches, a lot can go wrong. Keep reading to learn what not to do on your first trip to Hawaii.

1. Forgetting the Sunscreen

Nothing ruins a vacation quicker than a sunburn on the first day of your trip. For this reason, locals often recommend not spending your first day in the sun. 

You may be tempted to start enjoying the beach right away, but the sun in Hawaii is harsher than most places around the world. For this reason, give your skin and body a little time to get used to the climate before sunbathing or swimming. 

Instead, spend your first day exploring the local town. Talk to locals, visit some shops, and eat authentic Hawaiian cuisine.

When you are ready for the beach, make sure you’re using the right sunscreen. Pack a sunscreen that’s at least 30 SPF, you’ll still get a tan without getting the dreaded sunburn. Remember to reapply this often throughout the day. 

Hawaii recently passed a sunscreen ban that goes into effect in 2021, but we suggest you abide by their recommendations now. Make sure your sunscreen does not contain the reef-damaging chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate. This helps ensure that the coral reefs will remain healthy for years to come. 

2. Taking Souvenirs From the Beach

If it’s your first time to Hawaii, you may be tempted to grab a free souvenir from the beach. 

Many island beaches enforce fines for people who take lava rocks or sand from the beach. If every tourist who visited Hawaii took a lava rock or a bottle of sand, the scenic beaches wouldn’t be the same. 

Even more convincing than a fine is the story of the Hawaiian Deity Pele. For years, people who take items from the beach find themselves subject to bad luck until they return the item. Locals believe Pele, the creator of the Hawaiian Islands, is responsible for the bad luck. 

So to protect your wallet and your karma, buy your souvenirs from a store.

3. Not Following Local Laws

Hawaii has a plethora of weird local laws that tourists wouldn’t know about. 

For example, in Hawaii, it’s illegal to have more than one alcoholic drink in front of you at one time. While it may be tempting to order two drinks after finally getting the bartender’s attention, don’t risk it! Instead, order one drink at a time and follow the local law. 

Even the fundamentals of prosecuting crimes in Hawaii are different than in other states. If you find yourself arrested for breaking any weird local laws, make sure you find yourself a Hawaii defense attorney. They’ll help you navigate the Hawaii judicial system quickly so you can get back to enjoying your vacation. 

4. Staying at the Resort

It happens all the time, tourists spend months researching the best island to visit in Hawaii for the first time. They find a ton of amazing activities on the different islands and write out a daily itinerary. But, when they arrive, they never actually step foot off their resort. 

Hawaii resorts are amazing with a lot of amenities and entertainment options during your trip. While there may be enough activities to keep you busy at the resort, don’t fall into the temptation of staying onsite the whole time. When you do this, you’re missing out on the local culture, personalities, and everything the islands have to offer. 

Instead, make it a point to spend at least one full day outside the resort. Find a local town to explore, hike a scenic trail, or drive to a unique beach. No matter what you do, you’ll have a more authentic Hawaii experience than your resort offers. 

5. Ignoring Swimming Safety 

Swimming in a pool and swimming in the ocean are two totally different things. And swimming at a Hawaii beach is a unique experience altogether. 

To swim safely, never swim alone. Even if you were on the swim team in high school, swimming alone is just foolish. Instead, always have a swimming buddy or someone on the beach keeping a lookout to make sure you’re okay. 

Then, make sure you pay attention to posted signs or flags referring to the water’s condition. Not all beaches have lifeguards and it can be hard to tell if the water is safe to swim in or not. These signs and flags will warn you about dangerous shore breaks or rip currents. 

6. Saying You’re From the USA 

When someone asks where you are from, do not — under any circumstances — say that you are from the US, USA, or the states. Many times people forget that Hawaii is part of the USA and make this mistake.

Not only is your answer unhelpful, but it’s also rude to locals. Instead, always respond with the state your from. Also, avoid using phrases like the midwest or east coast as these phrases only take the contiguous United States into consideration. 

Make the Most of Your First Trip to Hawaii

By avoiding these things, you can help make the most of your first trip to Hawaii.

But remember, if you do end up making a mistake, don’t let it ruin your whole trip. Brush off the mistake, apologize to anyone you may have offended, and move on. You’d have to try really hard not to enjoy a trip to paradise. 

Looking for more great advice before you head to Hawaii? Bookmark the Travel and Leisure section of this site and check back often for new content. 

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