25 Things You Didn't Know About Traveling To Hawaii

25 Things You Didn’t Know About Traveling To Hawaii

People usually associate Hawaii with a great place to hike volcanoes, a beautiful tropical vacation destination to escape the winter, Pearl Harbor, and the home state of President Barack Obama. The Aloha State has a much more complicated and diverse history, culture and lifestyle. Knowing what to expect and how to conduct yourself will only help you make the most of your vacation. You don't want to seem rude to locals – for example, by calling them "Hawaiians" – and they may tell you of secret gems only they know.

All beaches are public

Hawaii's beaches belong to "no one and everyone." All beaches are public property. Regardless of whether you're staying at a high-end resort, you are welcome to go to the beach in front of it.

Maui pineapples have more Vitamin C

Maui Gold® pineapples provide 100 percent of the daily recommended value and three times the vitamin C of traditional pineapple, according to Pineapple Maui. The fruit is cultivated on the slopes of Haleakala and takes about a year and a half to ripe. Kids would love a tour of the Hali'imaile Pineapple Plantation.

Mt. Haleakala is the world’s largest dormant volcano

Rising more than 10,000 feet, Haleakala offers some of the most mesmerizing views you'll ever see. The crater is huge – 7 miles across, 2 miles wide and 2,600 feet deep. It last erupted in 1790.

Don't call everybody "Hawaiian"

The term "Hawaiian" is only used to refer to people of Hawaiian descent. They are just about 10 percent of the state's entire population. Everybody else, born and raised in the state, is referred to as "local." If you don't know whether someone is of Hawaiian descent, call him or her "local." You don't want to be rude.

Hawaii has two official languages

Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. with two official languages – Hawaiian and English. There was no written version of the Hawaiian language until 1820 when western missionaries living in the islands first standardized one, according to Instant Hawaii. There are just 13 letters – eight consonants and five vowels.

You can ski on the Big Island

Mauna Kea is a 13,796-foot volcanic mountain with a top that occasionally gets just enough snow for people to ski. There are no lifts, no grooming, no resorts, but a road that goes to the summit to serve the observatories located at the top, according to Hawaii Info Guide.

Don’t talk pidgin

This is the third unofficial language in Hawaii that is widely spoken by locals. Pidgin is a slang influenced by immigrants and different island cultures. Unless someone is teaching you phrases, don't try it. You probably have the best intentions, but it can come off as arrogant and pompous.

Don’t disrespect kapu sites

Kapu refers to ancient Hawaiian code of conduct that was very important to Hawaiian culture. You may see a sign that says "kapu" as you walk by a beach or a park. This means this is a sacred site and you should treat it with respect. Don't leave trash or take anything.

Oahu draws most visitors

You may think that tourists go primarily to the Big Island but Oahu is the most visited of all the Hawaiian islands with nearly 4.7 million visitors a year, according to Hawaii Guide. Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, and the famous beach known as Waikiki are there. Oahu is also one of the coolest surf places in the world.

Kilauea volcano is the world’s most active

As the most active volcano in Hawaii, Kilauea has had a history of eruptions. A major eruption in 1983 produced Pu'u 'Ō'ō vent which still produced lava flows. Kilauea is one of the most incredible active volcanoes you can actually hike. Try hiking the Kīlauea Iki Trail. You will descend through a lush rainforest to the floor of the solidified, however still steaming Kīlauea Iki Crater lava lake, according to NPS.

The Big Island is getting bigger

The Big Island is getting bigger every year by about 42 acres because of lava flow from the Kīlauea Volcano. It can even be seen from space. The phenomenon is known as lava delta – when lava flows into the ocean over a long period of time resulting in the formation of new land.

Eat the locals’ favorite – Spam

Locals eat more Spam than any state in the U.S. – about 7 million cans a year. The canned meat was used to feed soldiers during World War Two, and it stayed. Spam musubi is a native sushi dish where a slice of cooked Spam is put between rice and wrapped in seaweed. Even fast food restaurants serve spam.  

One drink in front of you at a time – it’s the law

Technically, you can have two standard servings of drinks in front of you at any one time. But if the serving is more than 16 oz. for distilled spirits, 6 oz. for wine, and 22 oz. for beer, you are limited on one drink. Any drink exceeding a single standard serving is prohibited.

All gambling is illegal

Hawaii is only one of two states – the other is Utah – that have no legalized gambling of any kind, according to Hawaii Aloha. That means no lotteries, horse races, sports betting, or even bingo. Locals are against gambling because they think it changes the family atmosphere in a bad way and creates too many problems. Only social poker games where nobody makes a profit are OK and they cannot be committed in any business establishment or public place.

World’s tallest sea cliffs are on Molokai’s north shore

These superb cliffs soar between 3,600 and 3,900 feet above the ocean, according to GoHawaii.com. Tourists can't really drive to see them because there are no roads to take them, but they can take a helicopter tour, a direct flight to Molokai, or go to the Kalaupapa overlook from Pala'au State Park.

Hawaii is the only state with a tropical rainforest

Molokai's east end is a tropical rain forest that receives 240 inches of rainfall a year. Go on a gorgeous  hike through the lavish forest along mountain streams and pools and past ancient Hawaiian taro patch and hale. Make sure you make it all the way to see the 150-foot waterfall in the jungle where scenes from LOST, Hawaii Five-0 and Jurassic Park were filmed.

There are no billboards

Billboards were banned in Hawaii in the 1920's. There are going to be no distractions on the road, if you don't count your cellphone, of course. All you see is the awe-inspiring scenery and natural splendor in all directions.

World’s largest observatory is in Hawaii

The 4,200 meter (13,779 feet) high summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii houses the world's largest observatory for optical, infrared, and submillimeter astronomy, according to the University of Hawaii Institute of Astronomy. The biggest telescope, which will allow scientists to see 13 billion light years away, will also be built there.

Snakes are illegal

Bringing a snake to the islands is a Class C felony. Many have been confiscated as people hide them in packages and in their luggage. Violators could be jailed for up to three years and fined up to $200,000. The problem is that snakes have no effective predators living on Hawaii, except for the mongoose, according to University of California, Santa Barbara.  

Remove your shoes when entering someone’ home

Take them off. This is a sign of respect to your host and the people who live in the house. It shows that you're trying to keep their home clean and not bring in germs.

You mail a coconut with no wrapping

Instead of sending a traditional paper postcard with a pretty photo of a beach, mail a coconut. Decorate it any way you want, write the address on it, put a stamp on it, and your package is ready. No need for any kind of wrapping or a box. Just make sure you pick a coconut that has already dried out. 

Don’t handshake, hug

The Hawaiian handshake is a hug. They hug for hello and goodbye. Hugging strangers is not a strange thing at all. Sometimes even a visit to the doctor will end in a hug.

“Aloha” is both “hello” and “bye”

Hawaii is the Aloha State for good reason. The word is used to say hello and goodbye. However, literally, the real meaning of Aloha in Hawaiian is that of love, peace, and compassion. The word aloha is used in a combination with other words, such as aloha kakahiaka, which means good morning; aloha auinala used as a greeting that means good afternoon; and aloha ahiahi is how you can wish good evening in Hawaiian, according to To-Hawaii.com.

The islands are the most isolated, inhabited in the world

They are located almost 2,400 miles from California, 3,800 miles from Japan, and 2,400 miles from the Marquesas Islands – from which the first settlers arrived in Hawaii around 300-400 AD. This explains why Hawaii was one of the last inhabitable places on earth settled by man, according to About Travel.

Think again before taking volcanic rocks from the Kilauea volcano

Tourists do it all the time, but many return the lava rocks because they, allegedly, bring bad luck from Pele, the goddess of fire, dance, lightning, volcanoes and violence. This legend is attributed to a disgruntled park ranger who was annoyed that people who kept taking rocks home. It is against the law to remove lava rock from a national park.