Hawaii Etiquette Tips When Visiting The Island Of Maui

If you’ve ever heard the axiom, When in Rome, do as the Romans do,you’ll understand why that wherever you travel, you should observe and respect certain customs. Nowhere is that more evident—and more important—than when visiting the Island of Maui, or anywhere in the Hawaiian Islands.

Hawaii Etiquette Tips When Visiting The Island Of Maui

Although Hawaii is a U.S. state, it was originally its own country with its own culture and traditions. Because Hawaii is so far removed from the Mainland, most of those traditions remain. It helps to learn some of the local etiquette before you visit so that you understand the customs and how to be a respectful guest in Maui.

Aloha And Mahalo

These are the two most important words to know when visiting Maui, or anywhere in Hawaii. Use them often, and of course, genuinely.  

Aloha is a greeting that is used for both “hello” and “goodbye.”  Most people have heard aloha, but you’ll find that you use it frequently during your visit.

Mahalo (pronounced “muh ha lo”) is the Hawaiian word for thank you.Of course, you’ll want to practice this before you visit so that it becomes more comfortable and comes naturally to you when you’re visiting. Use it

Accept A Lei, Leave It On

Long a symbol of Hawaii, it’s also a tradition dating back to the Polynesian settlers. If someone offers you one, accept it with a sincere mahalo wear it and keep it on as long as you’re in the presence of the giver. Removing it in front of the giver is a big breach of etiquette, as is wearing it in any other way but around the neck and shoulders. The exception is for pregnancy—the woman explains that she is “hapai,” (pregnant) and the giver will understand. Some leis are open-ended for pregnant women, symbolizing a safe delivery.

Take Off Your Shoes

Best known for Japanese households, it’s also considered customary to remove your shoes when entering someone’s home in Hawaii. This custom was introduced by the Japanese and became part of Hawaiian culture as well. You’ll generally see shoes neatly lined up by an entrance. Make sure you keep it that way when you remove yours.

Hula Is More Than Just A Cultural Dance

It’s a cultural tradition that isn’t just performed for the benefit of visitors. Hula is a tradition that is an expression of local tradition and culture. If you are visiting someone’s home, are invited to a wedding or other party, or other type of celebration, you’re likely to see several people stand up and Hula. If you’re invited to join in, do so, but don’t make fun of the other dancers. People in Maui take Hula very seriously, and everyone loves to join in. If you’re not comfortable taking part, enjoy the chance to see real hula during your trip.

Rules Of Maui Roads

When driving, don’t honk in traffic unless it’s absolutely an emergency, and allow others to pass. And if you’re driving anywhere, pull over and allow locals to pass. Many people are going to work and have to take a one- or two lane road in order to get there.

When taking public transportation, allow locals to board first. Again, many are headed to work, and it’s expected that tourists can take the next bus.

Always Respect The Land

Hawaiians take their land very seriously, especially sites that are considered sacred. Although beaches are open to the public, private property isn’t, so make sure you don’t cross someone’s property to get there.

Leave coral alone, since touching or stepping on the coral can cause damage, as do sunscreens.

Always pick up trash wherever you go, and do not attempt to take lava rock or black sand—to do so will bring very bad luck.

Please Don’t Approach The Animals

Hawaiian wildlife is on the land and in the sea, so it’s critically important to leave them alone and don’t approach them. Monk seals, humpback whales and sea turtles are endangered and legally protected. Binoculars will help you see them up close without actually getting near them.

Speaking To Locals

Not everyone is “native Hawaiian,” so it’s better to say “locals.” The term “natives” is considered offensive by many. Maui has people from a wide range of nationalities, even if they were born on the island.

Always refer to the continental US as the “Mainland.” Hawaii is also a state, and making the comment of “back in the States” is insulting.

You may be referred to as a “haole.” This is a common term for a person not of the area, and only means “stranger” or “foreigner.”  

Leave Pidgin To The Locals

Many locals speak a language called “Hawaiian Pidgin,” which is a native English-based creole language. Incorporating English as well as other languages spoken on the Islands, Pidgin is a conversational language not normally used in the presence of tourists. Should you experience locals speaking in Pidgin, it’s best to leave it to them, or you’ll be seen as mocking them. It’s along the same lines as someone from New York City attempting to speak in a Southern accent in Georgia.

What Not To Wear

Because Maui is so laid-back, anything formal or black-tie ensures that you look out of place. Formal wear such as a tuxedo and high-end eveningwear with very high heels will make you obvious as well as difficult to navigate, especially on a beach. Stick with comfortable summer clothes and shoes, a light sweater, waterproof shoes and a jacket for the rain, and of course, your new favorite swimsuit. Any special-occasion wear should be equally comfortable and non-fussy.

Your Friendly Home In MauiHana Kai Maui Is Ideal All Year Long

Headed to Maui? Hana Kai Maui’s comfortably designed beachfront condos on Waikaloa Beach are a great place to stay any time of year. Whether it’s your first visit or your fifteenth, you’ll feel the warmth of Maui when you book your stay at Hana Kai Maui. 

Call to book your next reservations at 1-800-346-2772, or book directly online. We’re open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Hawaiian time to answer all of your questions.