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Things to Know Before You Vacation on Hawaii: Part 2

Last time, we discussed a few general things to keep in mind before spending a vacation on Hawaii. Here’s something a little more specific.

Nature is a big deal in Hawaii. There’s limited land, lots of people, and beautiful traditions that revolve around the Hawaiian homeland. So, please, don’t be a jerk and mess it up. Even if you don’t believe in the Hawaiian gods and traditions, you are guest in this place and should respect their rules even if you don’t believe them.

So the first thing you should know is this:


Now, I know that delivery may seem a bit extreme, but for people who live here, it’s a big deal that tourists don’t usually care about.

Image via Haunama Bay Snorkeling 

I’ll give you an example. On the island of Oahu there’s a wonderful place to go snorkeling called Hanauma Bay (see above). It’s a beautiful, colorful coral reef, or it was. Before you get in, everyone has to sit down and watch a half-an-hour-long video that explains the rules of the bay such as how it’s illegal to touch the sea turtles and not to touch the coral because all it takes is one touch for the coral to die and 100 years for it grow back. The video is in many languages to get the point across to everyone who visits, yet, as soon you go into the bay, you may see at least five different people at a time WALKING all over the coral reef. this has already ruined most of the coral, which means it’s going to take a hell of a long time for it to go back to the spectacular work of nature that it was.

So, listen to the instructions you’re given. Read the sins that are posted. And actually follow them!

There’s another important rule that sometimes goes unsaid. Don’t take anything from nature without giving something back. You can’t just take that pretty flower on the side of the road or that shell you found on the beach. You have to ask permission first and give something important in return. Sometimes that’s a bit of money or some food. Again, this is one of those traditions that may not mean a lot to you, but it’s still important.

Image via YouTube

There is an exception, though, to this rule. If you’re on the Big Island (a.k.a. the island of Hawaii) then you aren’t allowed to take anything – even if you give something in return. The reason for this because it’s the goddess Pele’s property and she curses people who steal from her. For more information, visit Volcano National Park. There’s an entire museum there featuring things people had taken from the park then returned due to the onslaught of bad luck they received. And some specific things, like sand from the Black Sand Beach, is actually illegal to take off the island.

So, just don’t do it.

Even though it’s not your home and you may not agree with the beliefs, don’t break these rules and don’t mess with the nature. If you do this then your trip will be much more enjoyable both for you and everyone else.

Zoe Philippou

Gettysburg '20

(she/her) From Arizona, Zoe is officially a Psychology and Anthropology double major, a German minor, and an unofficial a Theater inhabitor. She loves all thing having to do with culture or really just people in general. She's also a huge nerd who loves crafts.
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