How to Not Look Like a Tourist in Hawaii

To begin with, there’s nothing wrong with being a proud tourist. Unlike some other tropical destinations around the world, the Hawaiian islands are safe for all visitors (with a few small caveats) so feel free to let your sightseer flag fly. However, there are a number of travelers who prefer to blend in when vacationing among us. How to not look like a tourist in Hawaii, you ask? Avoid doing any of the following and you just might pull it off!

8 Things to Avoid Doing to Keep from Looking Like a Tourist When on Vacation in the Hawaiian Islands

Wearing Tacky Aloha Shirts

Aloha shirts are most definitely a part of the modern culture of Hawaii. We wear them for a night out on the town. We don them for weddings, graduation ceremonies, and other special occasions. Our local TV news anchors button them up as part of their broadcast attire. Et cetera. But what we don’t do, is buy tacky ones from souvenir shops such as ABC Stores – a mistake thousands of tourists make when they first make landfall. Get your aloha shirts from one of these authentic shops to blend right in with the rest of us.

Driving Those Ridiculous Polaris Slingshot Three-Wheeled Cars

How to Not Look Like a Tourist in Hawaii

You see the unsightly Polaris Slingshot cruising Waikiki Beach’s Kalakaua Avenue every so often. They even let these things on the pavement on Maui and on the Big Island. It may look like fun, but in addition to letting everyone know that the driver (and passenger) is a tourist, it also screams douchebag. If you want a fun way to get around the island with the wind blowing in your hair, stick with a moped or convertible Mustang rental and leave the Slingshot where it belongs – out of sight and out of mind.

Getting Worked-Up About Chickens Around Your Table

Nothing gives away status as a tourist quite like getting worked-up about seeing feral chickens (and other local birds) around or on your table when dining outdoors. By “worked-up” we mean both excited (enough to snap photos of them) or upset, the latter of which happens more often than not with highfalutin types.

Trying to Speak Pid’gin

How to Not Look Like a Tourist in Hawaii

You’ve probably seen the books at a gift shop in Honolulu International Airport (HNL) or Barnes & Noble at Ala Moana Shopping Center. They promise to teach visitors all about the local lingo known as Hawaiian pid’gin. While extended stay visitors will eventually pick up a few affectations along the way (it’s only natural) doing so purposely leads to embarrassing over-enunciations and awkwardness for all involved in the verbal exchange.

Lining Up at Matsumoto’s

How to Not Look Like a Tourist in Hawaii

Skip the t-shirt slinging tourist trap that Matsumoto’s has become over the last decade. There is much better shave ice across the road at Aoki’s, or further back at Kaimana Shave Ice, the latter of which is one of the best in the world. Simply put, if you’re in the line above, everyone will know that you’re a tourist.

Visiting Turtle Beach

There is something seriously unnatural about standing around a rope to snap photos of sea turtles (honu) who want to be left alone to recharge in the sun. This tourist activity has gotten so out of control that it’s solely responsible for the traffic jam between Haleiwa Town and Waimea Bay. Don’t become a part of the “turtle traffic” and instead roll your eyes with us locals while stuck in queue. With the sea turtle population restored to healthy numbers we guarantee that you’ll see them elsewhere if you keep your eyes to the sand and sea during your time on the islands.

Renting a Soft Top Surfboard

Definitely go surfing when on any Hawaiian island. If you don’t know how, most certainly take a lesson from the best surf school. However, when it comes to renting a board you’ll stick out like a sore thumb from Oklahoma (no offense, Oklahoma) if you rent one of the florescent blue, pink, or yellow soft-tops or the worst violation of them all – the “Gerry Lopez 8-foot Soft Surfboard” that has made its way from Costco to rental shops around the islands. While you’re at it, don’t rent boards from Dive Oahu, a transplant that ripped the permit away from Hawaiian owned and operated beach concessions. Stick to sturdy hardtop rentals like NSPs which will give you a steadier stance than highlighter-toned foam.

Taking Photos of These Foods

Taking pictures of food has become commonplace across all cultures. Us locals do it too, especially when presented with an especially innovative and eye-catching culinary treat. However, there are certain run-of-the-mill grinds that are as ubiquitous in Hawaii as 5-minute rain showers that tourists can’t help but snap photos of before digging in. These include the following:

  • Loco Moco or any “plate lunch”
  • Ramen
  • Poke
  • Spam musubi
  • Garlic shrimp
How to Not Look Like a Tourist in Hawaii

On second thought…damn that looks good

Ruffled some feathers? Feel free to vent in the comment box below.


  1. James J. Taglia says:

    All those things sound horrible. Visiting Hawaii is like visiting a third world country. Not interested in traveling there.

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