Simple and honest, here are a few tips to help visitors and locals blend harmoniously. Island lifestyle is a whole other way of living. It’s all about sharing Aloha even in the smallest of things. If you are already here – E Komo May (welcome!). If you are planning your trip or merely entertaining the idea – let us begin by saying E Kipa Mai (come visit!). The following suggestions are two-fold: they will help us, and they will help you – locals respond kindly to shared Aloha!
Relax and slow down… We’re on island time and that means we take our time – with everything! Honestly, if you take a deep breath, slow down, and leave the hurry, hurry, hustle behind you will find that your time here seems to pass by a little more slowly. If you rush and pack your days full your time will seem to fly by and no one wants that, after all, you worked hard to get here! Take a few lazy days and lay on our sugar cookie beaches, listen to the surf and the whisper of the palms and feel the soul of the island.
Aloha on the Road: Please do not drive like you are on your way to a fire! Forget you have a horn, honking is not nice Aloha. If you want to look at something beautiful, which happens a lot, pull over so as not to cause sudden stop accidents. Be respectful at 4 ways (intersections with each corner having a stop sign). Go in the order you arrive at the stop, if you pull up 3rd, you go third – all you have to do is pay attention to the order in which you arrive at the stop. To go before your turn shows disrespect, and we are all about kokua. Please, always use the side mirrors on the passenger side of your vehicle to be aware of bicycles and mopeds. These are main modes of transportation for many locals and they are literally everywhere, often coming up along side you as you prepare to make a right hand turn. Many accidents and injuries are avoidable if everyone does their part to be on the lookout. Beware – pedestrians are everywhere too! Lastly, if you are meandering the beautiful coastline, the road to Hana, or any other twisty turny 2-lane by vehicle or as a cyclist, please, for the love of all things good – locals beg please, pull over and let us pass by. We want to get home, or to work, and while we appreciate that you are sightseeing, we cannot tell you how much we appreciate even more the Aloha you share when you don’t make us sightsee behind you. Mahalo nui loa for letting us go around!
Tipping: It’s how many of us eat dinner at the end of the day. Many visitors to Hawai’i are unsure about tipping here and how it works. For those of us in the service industry your generosity by way of gratuity is a large part of our income with regular wages on a lower end scale making it hard, without tips, to meet the cost of living. We love it here, we love what we do, and we love that you visit us! We do our best to help make your dreams of the perfect tropical island paradise vacation all you hope for and to serve each of you, our visitors, in the Spirit of Aloha. Please factor tipping into your budget as you plan your time and activities in Hawai’i. From coffee house baristas, food trucks and restaurant servers, hotel valet, room service, housekeeping, boat tours crewmembers, helicopter tours, zip line, hiking guides; the list goes on and on. 15-20% of your total receipt is considered typical gratuity and is very much appreciated by all who spend their days making sure your Hawaiian vacation is the best in every way. You may share your appreciation and Aloha in a tip jar, the receipt book, or directly into the hand of the one providing service. As manager for a private boat charter company my favorite tip for tipping is this: The wind and waves may rock the boat, but only you can tip the crew! Mahalo nui loa!
Surfing: It’s a great feeling! The joy of a stoke-filled session can be addicting, but the thirst for great waves needs to be balanced with respect for your fellow surfers. So, in the spirit of keeping everyone’s surf experience fun and trouble-free here are a few guidelines to help you out with some basic rules of thumb. The person closest to the curl has ‘right of way’ and is in position to catch the next wave. This rule applies regardless of whether the curl is breaking from left or right. Luckily there are plenty of waves to go around, so take a deep breath and wait your turn. On a good surf day the sets will keep coming. Focus on having a good time and not on the number of waves you catch, that way you don’t accidentally end up becoming a wave hog. You don’t want to be that guy! And it’s inevitable, cut offs, drop ins, and snakes happen, so enter the water knowing that if someone hops on your wave just let them have it and brush it off, the karmic wheel will reward you with plenty of nice swells in return. Some spots are known for intense localism, while others are more mellow. To make sure you don’t end up with a sour session keep your eyes and ears open, gauge the crowds mood before making the decision of whether it’s welcoming new wave riders. Once established, a good approach is to err on the side of goodwill and let the locals have contested waves regardless of wave priority. Whether they accept the wave with thanks or entitlement, you are doing the right thing and will put yourself in a better position for the next wave, and possibly, most likely, a new friend.
Maui Revealed: A great guide publication that has become extremely popular with visitors. It is a wealth of information that ranges from highly sought activities and destinations to secret, sometimes remote, little known gems. Broken down by areas and townships, you will find the best places to eat: food trucks, local favorites, fine dining top chefs and restaurants, or simply where to find the best poke. The book will tell you all about the best beaches with sand like brown sugar, black sand beaches, waterfalls and waterfall pools for swimming, well-known trails and remote hiking adventures (please secure a hiking guide, these can be extremely dangerous and put you at great risk). You’ll find drum circles and fire spinning, upscale shopping and hippie towns, information on snorkeling, whale watching, scuba diving, deep sea fishing, helicopter tours, lava tubes, horseback riding, hunting, and wine tasting – it’s hard to name something that isn’t covered in this book. You will find cultural information as well. If you purchase Maui Revealed, we highly recommend you read it in its entirety. There is much information that will help you understand not only discovering Maui, but also about some things that are very important to those who live here, like: kuleana (responsibility), kokua (help/respect), kapu (a very serious no trespassing), and malama pono keep da aina ono (take good care of the land). You can purchase Maui Revealed here or explore some other wonderful books about Hawaii’s culture, myths and legends, marine life, etc. locally. Some can be found at Maui Friend’s of the Library, many at a mere fraction of the cover price! Find them located in The Wharf Center in Lahaina or The Queen Ka’ahumanu Center Shopping Mall in Kahului.
In all of Maui’s beauty, always remember much is still rugged and never go above your physical limitations or explore without local assistance. We want you to fall in love with our beautiful island and at the end of your visit take home nothing but a great tan, the best memories, your souvenirs, and the Spirit of Aloha!! Imagine if everyone who visited Hawai’i would take the Aloha home and spread it wherever they go how much better a place the world would be.
From our Sea Monkey Ohana to yours, know you are always welcome to contact us for any island advice, we are happy to help (firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 808-491-9141). Aloha Nui Loa!