There are some obvious signs that some people show when they are clueless about Hawaii’s culture. Although it’s really easy to pick up on the aloha culture from the minute you arrive in our open-aired airports, it can still be difficult to express the aloha culture through your own actions. For example, even though one may know how to say aloha, it can still be difficult to express it!

1. Driving fast and honking at people in traffic

Honking at people in traffic is rude and unacceptable in Hawaii! The traffic in Hawaii is some of the worst, and locals here are used to it. People will stay parked in west-bound traffic for hours and hop out of their cars and talk to others nearby. If you sit there and honk at someone to move forward 3′ when there’s a slight advancement in traffic, you are clueless about Hawaii culture.

IMG 0019 by Sun Brockie is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Image may have been resized or cropped from original.

2. Being demanding at a restaurant

If you’re overly demanding at a restaurant towards your server, a lot of people around you will notice it and make a judgment. If you’re rude towards your server, it’s a sign of disrespect and impatience. These two values are highly looked down upon for locals. If you’re showing impatience (like in traffic or in restaurants,) then you’re really not living the relaxed, Hawaii lifestyle. There’s a reason the shaka sign means “hang loose.” If you can’t be relaxed about small things like service in a restaurant, then you’re probably clueless about Hawaii culture.

finger pointing

Ya gotta be nice to your server at restaurants, don’t make a fool of yourself! Image is in public domain.

3. Not cleaning up after yourself

If you leave a mess behind at a public place like a beach or a hiking trail, you’re clueless about how important our land and natural beauty is to the culture here.  If you can’t take the time to clean up your trash, then you shouldn’t have the privilege to enjoy some of the world’s best beaches; with privilege comes responsibility. If I haven’t emphasized this enough, I’ll say it again, care for the land is a cornerstone to the culture of Hawaii!  If you can’t show how you care about the land, then you are clueless about Hawaii culture.  

Opala is the Hawaiian word for “trash.” credits pixabay Pixabay image. No attribution required.

4. Parking like a jerk

There is a less supply of land in the islands, and high demand for it.  This contributes to the high prices for land, houses and real estate in general.  There is also a lot less supply of parking lots here, as well.  For example, our parking lots are much smaller with much tighter individual spaces.  If you park like a jerk, people are not going to like you.  Of course, this is a standard for anywhere you go, but especially here where parking is limited.  This also goes back to the idea of respect for the land.  If your parking occupies 3 stalls, you obviously don’t have an understanding of the value of land scarcity here.  

5. Being impatient

Patience is a virtue.  However, some of us don’t possess that.  That’s OK, but it shows that you’re clueless about Hawaii culture.  For example, honking at people driving slowly in traffic is seen as a taboo here. Impatience can be seen as a lack of respecting the beauty of the land.  For example, to “soak in,” a view, you can’t be impatient and stand there for a few seconds.  You need the patience to sit there and look at the same thing for hours and find appreciation in every second of it.  


Part of enjoying Hawaii’s beauty is the patience to sit there and look at it. Image Copyright CyberCom, Inc.