Here is what I remember when I was visiting Hawaii…I always wanted to “NOT look like a tourist” and it was a challenge! I overcame it after several trips to the Islands. So, if you are coming to visit Maui, and you do not want to look like a tourist, here are my tips:
1. They’re Slippahs… not Flip Flops… not Thongs…Slippahs … Got it? And do not show up with just any Slippahs, you have 2 choices: they should be the cheap rubber ones from Longs usually called “Locals” (Da Rubbah Slippah of choice) or the really nice ones called Olukai’s. There are a lot of other choices out there, but your first step on the islands should be in one of these brands to be safe and avoid looking like a tourist! Trust me on this, when you get here look down and you will see what I am talking about… Oh and get them before you leave and get them a bit dirty and broken in before you arrive. This also means leave the bright white new tennis shoes at home along with the calf length white socks…and oh my gosh, please do not wear your socks with your Slippahs that is 100 yard give away!
2. Beach etiquette: there is plenty of room on the sand… walk an extra few feet and give us all some space. For some reason tourists like to set up camp right next to someone else on the beach, maybe because they bring to much stuff and can’t carry it all. The moral of this tip is you need a towel to enjoy the beach, that’s about it. Enjoy the moment not the stuff.
One other thing to keep in mind … our beaches are usually a bit more pleasant in the mornings. The trade winds pick up in the afternoon and get a bit breezy, so plan your beach time and boating in the morning and your shopping and other activities in the afternoon. If you like sunset, come back to the beach sunset time.
3. If you are fair complected and you spend the whole first day in the sun…you’re Toast literally and figuratively and a dead giveaway that you are not from these parts! Take it easy and take precautions with the sun. It is strong and powerful in the tropics… don’t get burned on your first day of vacation. It can definitely ruin a great trip. Be sure to use protective clothing and sunscreen…but not any sunscreen, please use a sunscreen that will not destroy our coral reefs use one of the following products like Reef Safe – Biodegradable Waterproof Sunscreen, Stream2Sea or Natural Sunscreens by Badger Balm that you can order online. Do some research before you leave and pack them in your suitcase (not your carry on. )
4. If you are not well versed in speaking in Hawaiian Pidgin dialect … please do not try. Most local people that are long time residents are not even able to speak in the local slang (Hawaiian Pidgin English) and when tourists try, they look like knuckleheads. So keep the “Eh Brah” to yourself and talk like a regular person. That also goes with tossing a shaka. There is an art to it. Hold back the urge, and you will be one step closer to not looking like a tourist.
5. How you drive in Hawaii…is a dead giveaway that you are a tourist. Here are some simple things to keep in mind when you are behind the wheel:
- We only use the horn with a light tap to say hi…nothing else, it’s just not cool to blast your horn at someone because they cut you off…you should have let them in the first place, that’s the way we do things in Hawaii, with aloha.
- When somebody is standing on the side of the road and they want to cross, stop and let them cross, when you stop the oncoming traffic will typically stop as well and everyone is safe. Keep it Island style, slow, easy and laid back, that’s what you love about it here… so live the dream.
- Same thing also goes for when a car wants to pull out into traffic it is typical that we let people in without jamming them up. Keep this in mind when you are driving and behind someone, be prepared to slow down or stop especially if you see pedestrians or merging traffic.
- Ok here is another thing to be aware of… whales breach… pretty girls and good looking guys with hardly any clothes on walk down the road and these things tend to slow down traffic… if you want to watch pull over and park, so please… be aware of possible distractions if you are behind the wheel. Whales jumping probably cause more accidents than anything else here on Maui so if you are driving keep your eyes on the road, not the whales. Even when your passengers scream with excitement!
5. Oh it is a delicate balance: the right Aloha shirt and the right shorts… dressing to not look like a tourist is probably the hardest one of all the tell tale signs of a tourist….
Many of the people who live on Maui wear Aloha Shirts as everyday dress. However, the bright loud aloha shirts are the ones that come from the mainland stores and we try not to wear them; especially with plaid pants it just doesn’t look right and you will be spotted from miles away. (Please don’t be like this guy on the left).
Locals also wear T-shirts and Tank Tops a lot. Very often, the T-shirts say Maui or something with Aloha. We like where we live and we like spreading Aloha. And if you want to blend in, try wearing a “used” shirt. As you’re picking out your wardrobe to come to Maui, throw in a few of those well-used t-shirts some of your board shorts and get comfortable. By all means don’t even think about bringing a tie or speedos for that matter… neither one of those bode well in Maui. You wear board shorts on the beach, not a speedo.
So if you’re wondering what brands locals like, keep an eye out for Quiksilver ,Tori Richard, Reyn Spooner and Tommy Bahamas they’re all available on eBay and Amazon to buy before you get here ; and as I mentioned in my first tip, leave the closed-toed shoes at home or on the running trail. Ok, if you plan to run or hike, bring the appropriate shoes, otherwise, enjoy wearing your Slippahs.
I hope this helps keep you off the cover of the Hawaii Tourism magazine and you enjoy a laid back Maui vacation.