Are you preparing to visit Hawaii for the first time and want to avoid common mistakes? Discover the most frequent tourist blunder made in Hawaii (and how to avoid it)!
Have you ever taken a long vacation only to return home and discover that you could have avoided wasting a lot of time, money, or stress by making a few small changes?
This article is all about how to steer clear of Hawaii blunders that will set you apart from other visitors.
I’ve been to Hawaii more than 35 times in the past 20 years, so trust me when I say that I’ve seen everything there is to see.
So, I essentially wrote down every mistake I’ve observed others make over the years. And yes, I did make some of them myself.
However, I want you to take what you can from them and plan your trip to Hawaii expertly!
Before visiting Hawaii, consider the following information.
FAQs on Hawaii Mistakes
What drawbacks exist in Hawaii?
The high cost of living in Hawaii can have an impact on travel. Traffic on a small island with a high population and influx of visitors can be extremely frustrating. The use of illegal drugs is also a significant issue.
What must I stay away from in Hawaii?
The main things to avoid in Hawaii are sticking to resorts, chain restaurants, and major tourist attractions. Hawaii offers a ton of fun activities that are totally worthwhile.
How frequently do shark attacks occur in Hawaii?
They’re not as common as one might imagine. When they do occur, there’s a reason why it makes the news. In reality, Florida experiences far more shark attacks than Hawaii. Due to the area’s favorable shark habitat, Maui has recently seen the deadliest shark attacks. The risk is slightly higher from October to December, and they typically occur during the day.
What Should I Avoid in Hawaii? 25 Common Mistakes in Hawaii
1. Too many activities are planned
If this is your first time visiting Hawaii, you probably want to pack as much into your trip as you can.
And it makes perfect sense. A luau, snorkeling tour, scenic drive, beach time, sightseeing tours, surfing lessons, boat excursion, etc. are all simple ways to pack as much as possible into a Hawaii itinerary.
Sincerity dictates that you won’t be able to complete everything on your schedule. It’s better to remind yourself that you’ll return someday and to simply enjoy the things you can do right now.
2. Spending a lot of money on a resort just to sleep
This is undoubtedly a travel blunder I made when visiting Hawaii. In Hawaii, there are so many lovely places to stay that it is simple to spend a little extra on one with fantastic amenities.
However, it might not be worthwhile to spend the extra money if you plan to spend the majority of your day exploring the island rather than at the resort.
Split stays are something I love to do in Hawaii.
We prefer to stay in an affordable hotel or condo for the first half of our trip to Hawaii. In this manner, we won’t feel guilty about spending the entire day traveling and then returning home to sleep.
Then, we move on to a nicer resort (like Disney Aulani) where we can unwind and take advantage of the resort’s fantastic pool areas, kids clubs, on-site luaus, restaurants, and room service, among other Hawaii-themed amenities.
3. Overlooking resort or parking fees
It’s crucial to read the fine print when making reservations for accommodations in Hawaii.
Hawaii’s hotels and resorts typically charge a resort fee, which can be expensive. Just be sure to take that into account when you are looking into the best family-friendly resorts in Hawaii.
The parking fee is the sneakiest charge, particularly in Waikiki. Many Waikiki hotels have exorbitant parking fees.
If you’re staying in Waikiki and considering renting a car, you might want to think about doing so only for a portion of your trip to avoid paying parking fees.
4. Attempting to travel to too many islands
I participate in many Hawaii-related Facebook groups, and I always shudder when I see people who want to visit Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island all in the same week.
Inter-island flights are the only means of access to these islands. This results in the loss of valuable vacation time as every other day is spent at the airport, dealing with car rentals, and packing (and unpacking) at the hotel.
Additionally, with only a short amount of time, you won’t be able to see much on each island.
Planning at least 3-5 days per Hawaiian island is my general rule of thumb. In this manner, you get to experience the top attractions on each island, do some exploring, and even have some downtime.
Personally, I believe that 10-day trips to Hawaii that include five days on each of two different islands are the best.
5. Picking the incorrect island
I am aware that. Hawaii’s islands are all fantastic and wonderful places to visit while on vacation.
However, some individuals don’t pre-plan and enquire as to where they can see lava on Maui or believe Pearl Harbor is located on the Big Island.
Or they arrange a trip to the Big Island or Kauai and are dismayed to learn that everything closes down pretty early in the evening.
Which of Hawaii’s islands is the best to visit, then?
It really depends on what you want to do while visiting Hawaii. Each island is fantastic and offers something different. Do your homework before making any reservations!
6. Visiting in the summer
It’s amazing how many other people plan trips during that time without realizing it, even though I completely understand that many families can only visit Hawaii during school breaks (which is high season).
I’ve heard families with young children in Hawaii who didn’t realize it was Spring Break and who could have saved a ton of money if they had waited a few weeks.
In the spring, the shoulder season in Hawaii lasts from mid-April to June (between Spring Break and Summer Break), and in the fall, from September to mid-December (after school starts until Winter Break.)
Avoid high season if your vacation dates are flexible. The most expensive times to travel are then, as are hotel rates. Additionally, it’s more difficult to reserve activities, and attractions are frequently very busy.
7. Budgeting insufficiently
Vacations to Hawaii can quickly become expensive. Along with the hotel, car rental, and airfare, there are also expenses for meals, activities, and attractions.
Food costs a lot in Hawaii, and if you plan to eat out for every meal, the cost will add up quickly. The cost of grocery shopping is likely higher than at home.
But it’s the activities that really blow a budget. It can be challenging to stay within a Hawaii travel budget when you’re on the island and having a good time because there are so many exciting things to do there.
Not that it’s impossible to visit Hawaii on a tight budget. If you know what you’re doing, you can cut the cost of a trip to Hawaii in a variety of ways.
8. Leaving out the packing list
I am aware that some people prefer to wing it rather than use packing lists. However, mistakes can also be made at that time.
We’ve forgotten things like swimsuits, prescription drugs, my husband’s C-PAP machine, and other sporadic items in the past.
Although you can shop in Hawaii, you won’t always find the same brands or a wide selection as you would at home.
Additionally, do you really want to use your vacation time for tedious chores?
Instead, prepare your packing list a few weeks in advance to give yourself enough time to order any items you might be missing.
Additionally, make sure to try on any clothing you intend to pack. The fact that things don’t fit the same way might surprise you.
9. Not using enough powerful sunscreen (or using tanning oil)
Most tourists have made this critical Hawaii travel error. They choose a sunscreen with a lower SPF because they want to return home looking nice and tan.
After that, they suffer a severe sunburn on their first day in the sun and must spend the rest of their trip in the shade. That is really unfortunate.
In Hawaii, you should use sunscreen with a higher SPF to protect your skin. And in Hawaii, a new law mandates that sunscreen be reef-safe.
Additionally, stay out of the sun from 10am to 2pm if your skin is prone to burning easily. In Hawaii, that is when it is at its strongest.
To avoid burning throughout your entire vacation, it is best to limit your time in the sun to just an hour or two at the beginning of your trip.
10. Only packing tank tops and shorts
One of the most frequent statements tourists to Hawaii make is that they only need shorts and tank tops.
Yes, that’s acceptable if your vacation consists solely of lying on the beach all day.
However, you’ll need some extra clothing options if you’re going to a luau, going out to a nice dinner, playing golf, going to Haleakala, exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, etc.
The same is true of shoe choices. Some activities call for water shoes, closed-toe shoes, or footwear other than flip flops.
Make a list of every Hawaii activity on your schedule, is the advice I would give. Then, determine if you need to wear anything particular.
11. Snorkel equipment rental
I am aware that renting snorkel gear is very common in Hawaii and that people believe they are saving money by doing so. However, it’s only a good deal if you rent it for a brief period of time.
It will probably make the most sense to simply purchase snorkel equipment in Hawaii if you are truly interested in snorkeling in Hawaii.
For casual snorkeling, you can find inexpensive sets at Walmart, Target, or the ABC Store.
You can use the snorkel set whenever you’re at the beach if you simply keep it in your rental car.
12. Avoiding local cuisine
I find it astonishing when people in Hawaii only eat at chain restaurants, unless they have extremely strict dietary requirements.
The delicious food is a huge part of what makes Hawaiian culture so amazing. And it’s a great place for foodies.
Favorites range from Kalua Pork to Garlic Shrimp to Kalbi Ribs to Beef Stew, among many others.
Hawaii is a true melting pot, so you can find influences from Asia and Polynesia in all kinds of local cuisine, which is even more awesome.
Additionally, you must try shave ice!
13. Making plans to eat a late dinner
Hawaii is a popular beach vacation destination, but it has extremely early closing times.
We’ve had to run to the store a few times to make sure we had food for dinner because we forgot.
It’s difficult to find places open after 8 o’clock.
Therefore, if you want to eat out, be sure to either make reservations for the latest time or make dinner plans for early.
Of course, you can always buy groceries and prepare dinner yourself if you’re staying in a condo or vacation rental home.
14. Disregarding beach cautions
Beach safety in Hawaii is very important. Additionally, they post beach warnings so that visitors and locals are aware of when it is unsafe to be near the water or on the beach.
Sometimes the signs are merely warnings that the beach or ocean may one day become inaccessible due to testing or another event.
However, occasionally it is a high surf advisory (meaning swimming is dangerous) or a water quality warning (like with sewage spills.)
And on occasion, it serves as a warning that you might get stung by jellyfish or Portuguese Man-of-War.
To be informed and to protect yourself, always read the beach signs.
15. Excessive proximity to wildlife
Hawaiian monk seals and the well-known Hawaiian green sea turtle are just two examples of Hawaii’s amazing marine life.
They enjoy self-tanning on the beach, and it can be very alluring to approach them to take a selfie.
However, touching wildlife is definitely prohibited in Hawaii, and getting too close to it is also illegal.
Tourists have attempted to place their children on sea turtles in order to take pictures. Don’t do that, please!
Just enjoy them from a distance instead.
16. Not renting a vehicle
The world is full of locations where a car is not necessary. Hawaii is not one of them.
On the islands, there is bus service, but it’s slow and a hassle to use to get around. Additionally, there aren’t many Ubers or Taxis.
Plan to simply rent a car so you can drive to all the best Hawaii tourist attractions.
Only if you are staying in Waikiki and participating in activities that involve shuttles and hotel pickups is there an exception.
Otherwise, renting a car is the best way to explore Hawaii.
Discount Hawaii Car Rental is the place I’ve discovered to rent a car for the lowest price in Hawaii. For well-known national brands like Alamo, Budget, Dollar, Avis, Thrifty, Enterprise, and Payless, they offer the best prices.
17. Driving too quickly (or honking)
Driving over the speed limit or using your horn is one of the best ways to stand out as a tourist.
People in Hawaii operate on “island time,” and many of them are polite drivers who allow other vehicles to merge in front of them.
Additionally, you won’t hear many horns being honked.
In addition to doing it at home, one of the reasons tourists drive so quickly in Hawaii is that they are running late because they are unaware of the traffic.
Because of this, it’s crucial to account for travel time when creating your Hawaii itinerary (instead of the distance.)
And before starting down the road, take a deep breath and shake it.
18. Having car sickness
Car sickness is a real thing in Hawaii. And occasionally it affects individuals who don’t typically get car sick.
The two drives on Kauai and Maui’s Haleakala National Park that really stand out in my mind are the ones up to Waimea Canyon and beyond.
Both of these drives include some switchback roads and a significant altitude change. Halfway through the drive, it’s normal to start to feel a little queasy.
Then there is the well-known Road to Hana, a winding highway with hairpin turns and one-lane bridges.
It’s worth bringing Dramamine if you know you’ll be taking a scenic drive with an altitude change (or a windy road).
19. Leaving valuables in a moving vehicle
One of my most important pieces of advice for visitors to Hawaii is to always lock your car doors and remove any valuables from the trunk.
Tourists to Hawaii are notorious for leaving their rental car while they go on a hike or eat at a restaurant with fully packed suitcases, expensive camera equipment, and valuables.
Parking lots are lined with signs warning you not to leave valuables in your car. Attend to them!
See if you can check out early or late if it’s a travel day, or leave your belongings at the hotel until it’s time to catch your flight.
If not, pack a smaller bag with your valuables and make plans to carry it wherever you go.
20. Visiting illicit locations
If social media has taught me anything, it’s that people in Hawaii enjoy breaking the law to capture the perfect Instagram moment.
But in Hawaii, this is actually one of the biggest threats.
People love to take selfies on the Stairway to Heaven hike, which is completely illegal. Because the stairs were damaged during a storm and nobody fixed them, there are no trespassing signs there.
There are numerous hikes and waterfalls that are located on private property without the permission of the owner.
You’ll have to pay a fine if you’re found out. But you also put your own security and health in danger.
Just stay in the permitted areas.
21. Bringing shells and rocks from lava home
I frequently observe newcomers to Hawaii making the error of taking lava rock and shells back to the United States.
If everyone does it, there won’t be any shells left on the beach for people to enjoy, which is the issue with taking shells home.
You run the risk of incurring the wrath of Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes, if you bring lava rock home.
However, the primary justification for not bringing either of these home is that it is disrespectful.
Leave these in their original location. You can also use them in a photo.
22. Not learning a few words in Hawaiian
Every time we go on a trip, we make an effort to pick up a few words in the native tongue.
It demonstrates respect while also being useful.
Most people are aware that “Aloha” and “Mahalo” both mean hello and goodbye.
Knowing that “Mauka” means toward the mountains and “Makai” means toward the ocean is also helpful. When giving directions, locals will refer to those terms.
And “Kokua” will be written on garbage cans. That’s not the Hawaiian word for trash, though, nope. Actually, it means to help.
Families will undoubtedly be interested to learn that the Hawaiian word for children is “keiki.” That applies to admission costs, kid-friendly menus, and kid-friendly activities all over Hawaii.
23. Referring to all residents of Hawaii as “Hawaiians”
Typically, when visiting a new location, you refer to the locals as being from that region.
We’re referred to as Washingtonions and I’m from Washington State. People in Egypt are Egyptian, while people in Italy are Italian. You get it.
Hawaii, though, is a different story.
People from other ethnic backgrounds who are born and raised in Hawaii are referred to as “Locals,” and only Native Hawaiians should be referred to as “Hawaiians.”
Other residents of Hawaii are referred to as “Hawaii Residents.”
To call everyone in Hawaii a Hawaiian is a huge no-no.
24. The Mainland is referred to as “the States”
It may seem like you are traveling to a foreign country when you are making your first travel arrangements to Hawaii. However, you’re not.
Therefore, avoid claiming to be from “the States” or that Hawaii is more expensive than “the States” in front of locals.
As the 50th state, Hawaii is now a member of the United States. It’s critical to understand that.
The Mainland is how people from Hawaii refer to the continental United States.
25. Not having some knowledge of Hawaiian history
Even though it’s the last on my list, this is undoubtedly a crucial Hawaii tip.
Hawaii is so much more than just a beach resort where visitors can enjoy mai tais while taking in hula performances and ukulele music.
Many people are unaware of the political motivation behind the United States’ annexation of Hawaii in 1898 and the reasons why organizations are still fighting for Hawaiian sovereignty today.
Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen, which was written by Queen Liliu’okalani, the final monarch of Hawaii, is one of the best books I’ve ever read.
It discusses this time period and can give you some insight into the current unrest in Hawaii.
The myths and legends of Hawaii are an integral part of Hawaiian culture, so knowing a few of them will be helpful if you want to go further back in time.
Topic: What Should I Avoid in Hawaii? 25 Common Mistakes in Hawaii
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By: Travel Pixy