I was born and raised in Honolulu. Here are 7 things I wish tourists knew before they visited Hawaii.

I was born and raised in Honolulu. Here are 7 things I wish tourists knew before they visited Hawaii.
  • I was born in Hawaii and spent 18 years living in Honolulu.

  • I wish tourists knew more about our history and how tourism is displacing Native Hawaiians.

  • Visitors should be careful to use terms like "Hawaiian" and "aloha" correctly.

I spent the first 18 years of my life in Honolulu.

When I tell people that I grew up there, they often ask me what life was like there or what they should do when they visit.

However, Hawaii is home to much more than beautiful beaches, and visitors should take it upon themselves to learn more about the rich history and culture that have shaped the state into what it is today.

Here are seven things I wish people knew before they visited Hawaii so they can be educated, more responsible tourists.

Hawaii is the most culturally diverse state in the US

View of mountain from a Hawaii beach
Hawaii is very diverse. Jennifer Adams

Growing up in Hawaii, you could take a good look around you, and it would be easy to recognize that Hawaii is a melting pot of cultures.

I'm Japanese, Alaska Native, and white, and many of my friends were also multiracial.

In fact, nearly a quarter of people living in the state identify as multiracial, and more than a third identify as Asian alone, according to the 2023 US Census.

Such cultural diversity trickles down into the food we eat, too. Hawaii is home to foods like spam musubi, manapua, and malasadas, which have all been influenced by the rich mix of immigrant communities.

The term 'Hawaiian' is reserved for those who have native Hawaiian ancestry

I've noticed many people use the term "Hawaiian" to refer to anyone from the state of Hawaii. But a lot of people are surprised to learn that Hawaiian is an ethnicity.

Just as you wouldn't call a white person living in Japan "Japanese," the same principle applies to "Hawaiian."

If you're referring to someone who simply resides in Hawaii without Hawaiian ancestry, it's more accurate to call them a local or resident.

Tourism is displacing Native Hawaiians at a disproportionate rate

Car driving through greenery in Hawaii
Tourism is huge for Hawaii, but it also has negative impacts on locals. Jennifer Adams

According to CBS, every year, around 15,000 Native Hawaiians are left with no choice but to leave Hawaii, in part due to the increasing cost of living.

Growing tourism and expanding luxury housing developments, coupled with a lack of economic opportunities, are making it unfeasible for many to live in the state.

In fact, according to census data obtained in September 2023, more Native Hawaiians live on the mainland than in the Hawaiian Islands.

Hawaii used to be its own kingdom until the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown

Before becoming the 50th state, Hawaii was a thriving sovereign nation. Its last queen was Queen Liliuoukalani, who led her kingdom to economic and civic success.

During her reign, Hawaii was recognized by over 80 embassies in the world, and the state enjoyed universal healthcare and a 95% literacy rate.

This all eventually changed when she was arrested and forcefully removed from the throne in 1893 in a US-military-backed coup.

When you litter, it ends up in Hawaii's oceans, threatening marine life and various ecosystems

When you carelessly toss trash on the ground, it'll likely end up polluting the pristine beaches of Hawaii, and there's a good chance you'll encounter it firsthand.

Tragically, it's not uncommon to see marine life like turtles, sea otters, and monk seals trapped in plastic or trying to eat a piece of garbage.

If you have any garbage to dispose of while you're in Hawaii, place it in a trash can.

Your TikTok has the power to ruin a beach

Guy flipping into water in Honolulu
If you find a beautiful place, consider keeping it close to your chest. Linka A Odom/Getty Images

Although it's OK to take plenty of photos and appreciate the beauty of Hawaii, it's important to be mindful about sharing your photos on social media.

Just one viral TikTok or Instagram post promoting a beach or hike can quickly turn a once serene spot into an overcrowded nightmare.

Therefore, it's crucial to consider the potential impact your posts will have and the importance of preserving the beauty of Hawaii for generations to come.

In Hawaii, 'aloha' has a much deeper meaning than 'hello'

You may know that "aloha" is used as a greeting to mean "hello" or "goodbye." But what you may not have realized is that aloha is also a human value that embodies love, peace, compassion, and respect.

The importance of embodying the "aloha spirit" is taught in schools, which I think contributes to the genuinely warm and kindhearted nature of Hawaii's people.

So, if you do plan on visiting Hawaii, it's important to also have aloha for the land and its people.

Read the original article on Business Insider