- High levels of tourism haven’t gone without a negative impact on the islands of Hawaii.
- A 2022 Booking.com survey found that 66% of respondents said they wanted to experience the local culture of the places they visit.
- Visitors should take the time to research the destination beforehand to plan for more authentic experiences.
With year-round warm weather, stunning natural beauty, and a rich culture, Hawaii has earned its spot on the top of many people’s bucket lists. Each day, thousands of people arrive, excited to experience the island chain.
Unfortunately, the high levels of tourism haven’t gone without a negative impact on the islands. From overcrowded trails to traffic congestion, the islands are now seeking a new type of visitor, who wants to create a deeper connection with Hawaii.
“It is important to Hawaii to uphold the values of our native culture and we have been excellent in portraying the spirit of aloha in Hawaii and across the world, but we also need to ensure that our visitors are also on the same page,” Malia Sanders, executive director at the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, told USA TODAY.
A new kind of visitor
“The visitor of today wants to learn, they want to engage, they want to play an active role in protecting the environment and preserving the natural wonders and beauty of Hawaii so that they can continue to enjoy it again and again,” Sanders said.
In a 2022 Booking.com survey, 66% of the 30,000 respondents said they wanted to experience the local culture of the places they visit, and more than half of the respondents said they wanted to leave the place better than when they arrived.
“If you plan your itinerary full of things that are educational, cultural, leave a positive impact and make you a better visitor, you are bound to have a truly authentic experience when visiting Hawaii,” she said.
Here are a few ways you can learn more about the islands’ history and culture on a trip to Hawaii – without breaking the bank.
1. Volunteer (and it could get you a cheaper hotel bill)
Give back to the islands with your time, and in turn, you’ll meet dedicated locals and make a positive impact on the community. Many local nonprofits welcome visitors to volunteer, and you can find opportunities at travel2change.org.
Your volunteer work may even result in a cheaper hotel bill. The Hawaiian Tourism Authority recently launched the Malama Hawaii Program, offering visitors special discounts at certain hotels when they participate in a dedicated volunteer activity, such as beach cleanups or reforestation.
2. Don’t act like a tourist
Failing to take the time to research your destination beforehand can actually hinder your trip, Sanders said: “At most, you will only discover what you accidentally stumble on to, you may encounter misinformation that isn’t authentic, and you may not have an enjoyable experience if it ends up taking you into places where you may not be safe or do not belong.
“As visitors, we have a responsibility to be as best prepared as possible, whether here in Hawaii or any other destination around the world. Preparing ourselves for a deeply rich cultural place requires us to do some homework as a…
Read More: How you can be a respectful visitor