Etiquette

Hawaii may be a relaxed and laid-back place, but it pays to show good manners on your visit.

  • Two words you will hear every day are aloha (hello and goodbye) and mahalo (thank you). Use them with sincerity.
  • If you are given a lei, always accept and wear it with gratitude and never take it off in the presence of the person who gave it to you.
  • Hawaii is a US state, so gratuities are expected in accordance with American standards. For example, 15% to 20% tips are the norm in restaurants
  • If you are invited into someone’s home, always remove your shoes before going inside.
  • Be respectful at Native Hawaiian historic, sacred or religious sites.
  • Don’t damage the coral by touching it or stepping on it.
  • Don’t take lava rocks or black sand – it is considered to bring bad luck.
  • Use public access at beaches – don't cross private land to get to them.
  • Always pick up and properly dispose of garbage. You will upset locals if you trash their treasured environment.
  • Don't honk your horn in traffic unless it's absolutely necessary and let faster traffic by if you are driving slowly.
  • Surf carefully – give way to local surfers and be careful of others on the beach and in the water.
  • Hawaiian people have great respect for their elders – visitors should show deference to the elderly too.