Why was I redirected here? Read the apology
(UPDATE: SO SENSITIVE! This is not an “us or them” stance. There are unconscientious people both visiting and living here. This post was written for those that treat our land as a disposable playground. Let us know how you feel in comments, and we’ll get back to you. ALOHA to ALL!!!!)
Many visitors to Maui get ready for paradise by shutting off their brains and pretending anything goes on our island. Yes, this is one of the most beautiful and welcoming places to visit on the planet, but that doesn’t mean you can be careless or disrespectful.
We’ve listed 16 things we see bad tourists doing everyday on Maui.
This is a no-brainer. Bring your ALOHA and you’ll get it back. If you don’t, understand that even though this is paradise, we have problems too. Some people are unhappy and grumpy, just like everywhere else. Smile and move on.
Use crap sunscreen that kills the reef
BUY REEF SAFE SUNSCREEN! If you use anything else, it will float off your skin and kill our reefs. This is a really big deal. Please also let it soak in before getting in the water. There’s little point to putting sunscreen on then jumping in the water immediately afterwards.
Drive like a mainlander
Let people merge in, be prepared for others to let you merge in, drive the speed limit, beware of pedestrians, and don’t honk! We don’t use the horn in Hawaii unless there’s imminent danger. EXCEPTION: Driving through the Pali tunnel between Maalaea and Lahaina. That really ought to be mandatory, seeing that it’s fun.
Let your kids go wild
Discipline doesn’t go out the airplane window once you’re on vacation. Don’t let your kids run amuck just because they’re also on vacation. You can ruin other people’s hard-earned trip as well as upset people who live here. It’s a peaceful place, and your kids should do their best to be conscientious, which starts with you!
Leave valuables in a rental car
Theft is a problem everywhere, and when you’re visiting a popular tourist destination (even if it’s in the rainforest), keep your valuables either on you or at your hotel. There are 3-4 pretty standard rental cars on Maui, and every resident knows which cars are tourists. If you leave your bag in view, your window can get smashed and your goods taken for good.
Bring Maui home
You’ll undoubtedly find beautiful shells, coral, rocks, sands, and other goodies worth taking home. You may not think taking a handful of sand from a big beach will amount too much loss, but consider the almost 3 million other tourists that come each year. If you all do this, our beaches become rocky shores. Plus, you don’t want to end up like the Brady Bunch. Bad joo joo.
Attempt to speak pidgin
Just don’t. It comes off as patronizing.
We see this everyday. ESPECIALLY from smokers. Don’t leave your chemical-ridden butts on the ground. Clean up after yourself. That can of Coke can be recycled. Our landfills are limited.
Tip like crap
We find that a lot of people tend to tip poorly, even when they get good service. It could be that visitors feel they won’t be back to that restaurant ever again, so why not save a few bucks? Or you could be from a country that’s not used to tipping. Well, many people survive on this expensive island from their meager tips. It’s hard enough to get by with average tips. If your server does a great job, 20+%. If they don’t do a good job, tip less.
Plan too much
“Let’s do the Road to Hana, Haleakala Crater and make dinner reservations for our first full-day on Maui!” No, you’ll end up hating yourself, driving dangerously, and upsetting everyone around you. It’s too much. Enjoy this island in a leisurely manner.
Drink and Drive
Alcohol is synonymous with vacation for many visitors. That’s fine, but plan ahead and get rides or stay close to home. There’s already too many bad drives on this island, adding intoxicated ones brings the annual death toll up.
Move to Maui and live in the bushes to do meth
Too many people feel that if they hit rock bottom, moving to Hawaii will fix everything. It won’t. You’ll just be poorer. It’s an everyday challenge to have empathy for these people who do meth and live in the bushes. If you’re prone to poor choices, deal with it at home and get help.
Ride a Turtle
If a green sea turtle comes up to you when you’re swimming or snorkeling, check it out without crowding it. If you swim to the turtle, you’re looking at fines and pissed off locals. If you try to ride it, there’s a good chance you can kill it. Keep your distance and enjoy these beautiful creatures calmly.
Rent motorbikes or scooters and drive like an idiot
Yes, you can legally ride without a helmet. Many people find this follicle freedom luxurious… until their scalp is being scraped off the pavement. Just because we rent scooters doesn’t mean you should drive them on the Pali at night. Use your head!
This is a big problem. We still have some guidebooks that tell you to go where you shouldn’t. There’s so much to see on Maui without having to trespass. So much can go wrong, including dangerous situations like rock slides, flash floods, and angry locals.
Treat the ocean like a big safe swimming pool
Every time we go to Big Beach (Makena Beach), we watch at least a few tourists getting JACKED by the shore break. Because the water is pristine and perfect, people assume it’s safe. We’d love to get a record of spinal injuries per year at Big Beach. And we also see people going snorkeling in big surf. Bad idea. You won’t see anything good and you’ll likely drown. And then there are people that swim too far out without notifying anyone only to find themselves drifting out to sea.
Hike off trails
A little different from Trespassing above. You’ll find many parks that have great hiking trails, and even though it’s a park and totally legal, if you go off trail there are many dangers. Flash flooding is a real thing. People die. Stick to trails with signs.
Hopefully you’re not “that guy” and you behave on your vacation. What did we miss? Let us know in the comments below.
We recently published an update to a post about moving to Maui. The update was meant to share how screwed up the changing face of Maui is becoming (local Hawaiian moving off island due to cost of living, and wealthy mainland people moving to Maui because they now can work remotely.) It was paired VERY poorly and placed in the wrong spot. We’re terribly sorry for the way this came across. It should have had more thought put behind where it lived. Please know this wasn’t a colonialist attitude and instead an attempt to bring light to a tragic situation that went off very badly (and in the wrong place.) We blew it. I blew it for not having paid enough attention, and I’m pretty mortified. I hope to find some forgiveness through redemptive posts like this one above (not all our posts are poorly-conceived, though this one pissed a lot of people off too.)
Now that, hopefully, the air is clearer, I hope we can move the conversation towards positive solutions. There’s so much slamming going on on the internet, much for good reason, but not enough positive solutions. How can we steer the tourism conversation towards Road to Hana tolls and restrictions directly benefiting the Hana communities, dramatically raising taxes on 3rd, 4th, etc.. vacation homes, outlaw or at least crack down on AirBnBs, island/cultural education classes for hotel discounts… Tourists have been at an all time obnoxious level (NOT ALL OF THEM), probably due to being pent up locked down. Also, It’s so hard to find rent that doesn’t require 5 jobs, and it’s near impossible to buy a home for 95% of the local population. There are so many problem to solve and we can’t have another summer like this last one. (This paragraph isn’t meant to take away from the apology. I just need constructive solutions.)
These are hard times for everyone, and tourism is still important for the livelihoods of quite a lot of residents. We can encourage new industries to take the bulk of it away, but it takes time. In the meantime, I hope we can come up with solutions where tourism helps to educate visitors and preserve culture and land. We all saw what it was like here during the shutdown. Paradise island. A broke, scared island, but paradise. I had hoped we would see change come when things came back, but it didn’t. Instead it got worse.
While frantically trying to keep my business afloat, juggling and wearing too many hats, scraping to get out of the debt that came during the shutdown, I’ve reached out to leaders in the industry and in the local community over the last few months, trying to figure out a way to transition these sites and social accounts to better serve the community. The solutions are not easily found, and I’m working on it. I hope you’ll be patient and continue to call out stupidity. Hopefully in a less damaging, stressful way. “Hey, this post is bust! Please change it to this… ASAP!” “MAHALO, I’ve fixed it and am looking at similar posts to make sure I didn’t blow it there too.” We’re a community, we want to continue to be a part of it, so please work with us!