How to Be a Responsible, Respectful Tourist on the Big Island

  • Karen E. Bail
  • 03/11/22

The Big Island is one of the world’s most sought-after destinations for travelers across the world—and with plenty of good reason! But make no mistake: the Big Island is also a place of significant cultural and spiritual presence, a place in which it’s of the utmost importance for visitors to show aloha to the ‘aina and for its abundant native culture. The following are but a few of the ways you can spread the aloha and responsibly enjoy your time as a visitor for your next trip over to the Big Island of Hawai’i: 

  1. Give aloha to the ‘aina and conserve the land: 
  • Leave nothing behind and take nothing with you from the surrounding environment. The Big Island is home to some of the world’s most diverse ecologies and natural beauty, but our ecosystem has been hammered as of late by visitors removing things or otherwise disturbing the lands. Make sure you check all around you whenever you leave somewhere to ensure no refuse has been missed, and please leave all your destinations undisturbed and just as you found them. 
  • Use reef-safe sunscreen! Check out our previous blog for more information on how to malama ‘aina and keep our coral reefs safe as you shield yourself from the sun’s powerful rays. 
  • Always be cautious of your surroundings and please don’t trespass onto lands that aren’t public! Heed all signs and postings that you see, and always respect the rights of those around you. 
  1. Buy local! There are so many local options for crafts, cuisine, and entertainment to be explored here on the Big Island. Supporting our local establishments and businesses helps to keep our island economy thriving and our kama’aina able to provide a sustainable living for their family. 
  2. Please please do not touch the animals! We know it’s tempting to race towards that basking honu (sea turtle) on the beach but think twice before you disturb any of the amazing animals that also call our island home. Additionally, you can also note that keeping your distance from many protected specials is in fact the law—any unwarranted touching or interactions with our island wildlife can get you in trouble with the authorities, as some unfortunate recent examples in the news have illustrated. 
  3. Consider giving back during your stay on the Big Island. Recently, the state of Hawai’i has produced several videos to publicize some new initiatives intended to help visitors to give back while also enjoying all the islands have to offer. With a growing sector of voluntourism opportunities to choose from, check out the state’s official page for six wonderful organizations helping tourists to give back to the lands!
  4. You know what they say…give aloha, get aloha! Indeed, aloha is so much more than hello and goodbye: it’s the very embodiment of our islands and their culture, it’s the celebration of our past and the traditions that extend into the present and the future. No matter where we’re from, we were all raised to give respect to those around us, and letting this be your guiding light here on the Big Island is truly the secret to having an unforgettable vacation experience. 

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