How to be a better tourist when traveling to Hawaii
John and I travel to Hawaii often and we’re always trying to be the best visitors possible to the islands. A local once told me that for every Hawaiian local there are 10 tourists. Thats an insane number right?! Imagine if at least half of those people tried to give back to the islands.
When Alaska Airlines reached out to me and asked if I wanted to travel with them and help celebrate one of the most beautiful places they fly to with their message of Malama (giving back /to care for) I immediately said yes. I was excited to share this message and share more on how we can be better tourists. The whole trip was so beautiful. I always knew I liked Alaska Airlines from all the times I’ve flown them before, but this time just solidified my love for them. I appreciate them trying to do their best and also reaching out to people like me to help spread the message.
Read below for a recap of my trip . Our trip started the moment we arrived to the airport gate. We were greeted by dancers and musicians who welcomed us and made us feel like we were already in Hawaii. Alaska encouraged visitors to sign the pledge to Keiki (a pledge created by students across the islands of Hawaii to respect and care for the islands for future generations. We all signed to promise to leave the island having done something constructive before we left. I’m dropping the pledge here so you can read it because I think it’s important for all visitors traveling to the islands of Hawaii to read and sign.
From our elders we have learned we are part of the environment, not above it. The life, lands, and waters are more than just our surroundings, they are our family.
From our children we will learn that Hawai‘i is not inherited from our ancestors, but borrowed from our future generations.
So when you are welcomed here, you become part of this ‘ohana that is responsible for us and our island home too. Just as na keiki o ka ‘aina, the children of Hawai‘i, pledge to care for these islands, we ask that you make this pledge to us:
- For a rare and endangered place, where a destructive foreign species is introduced every day—I will bring only what is invited and be mindful of where I explore.
- For an island community that defines wealth not by what is kept, but what is shared—I will give my respect and leave what is not mine to take.
- For an indigenous culture that has evolved with these islands, both unique and intertwined in their existence—I will experience sacred places and practices with a bowed head and open heart.
- For this birthplace of aloha that typically welcomes more visitors than has residents—I will live aloha, tread lightly amongst this beauty and make it cleaner than I found it.
- For a Hawaiian people whose ancestors sailed here using only the stars to guide them in search of islands to sustain them—I will learn from your legacy and support your ongoing voyage toward sustainability.
The flight over was a super fun experience because Alaska kept the celebration going by hosting a fun trivia game as we flew and giving away free swag like treats and even free flights to the winners. It was definitely entertaining and helped the flight feel so short. On a more eco friendly note, I was happy to see they also didn’t have the plastic water bottles most airlines have, but instead had Boxed water (saving 1.8M pounds of plastic from our oceans) and support habitat restoration projects to offset 100% of their water usage.
We touched down in Oahu and immediately went to enjoy our hotel with the epic view from our balcony (Sheraton Waikiki) and then headed to beach, grabbed a quick dinner and went to bed early so we could have all the energy we needed for the next day of activity.
The next day we travelled to the North Shore to volunteer with Travel2Change and some of the Alaska Air team. We spent the day doing some plant control by helping restore native Kukui trees and remove any invasive plants. John and I got down and dirty and got some good sun tanning in at the same time woo! Travel2Change is a local Hawaiian organization that connects travelers with local community to help bring positive impact. They help organize volunteer opportunities like beach clean ups and reef restoration and so much more. I highly encourage anyone visiting as a tourist to give back whenever they travel and check them out! It’s a great way to contribute positively and learn a little more about the culture.
I was honestly surprised by how many trees we planted and how many invasive plants we got rid of in such a short amount of time. This crew was amazing. After working in the hot sun for a bit we all headed over to a locally-owned spot called Farm to Barn Cafe . All their food is locally sourced and they even have a little farm in the back we got to tour. It felt amazing to experience more than just Waikiki. We always love hanging out in North Shore because you can really feel the peace and tranquility of the island. Oahu is so much more than just hotels and bars .
Back in Waikiki we had an amazing dinner with the Alaska Airlines crew hosted by the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa at their new Queensbreak restaurant. I had never been there before, but loved the look of it and the view. All the food & beverage were made with local ingredients using 75%-100% products from 50 mile radius. It’s always nice to support places that make an effort to support local.
On the last day, John and I just spent it relaxing on the beach and exploring new restaurants and places we hadn’t visited before while visiting Waikiki. I honestly prefer hanging out in the North Shore away from crowds, but Waikiki definitely has some amazing food that I thoroughly enjoy. If you need more Information on Waikiki, make sure to check out my guide to Waikiki here .
So to sum it up, here are some easy ways you can be a better tourist when traveling to the Hawaiian islands:
- Take the pledge to Keiki
- Volunteer to help out and give back with local/indigenous organizations like Travel2Change
- Support / eat local.
- Respect the wildlife! Keep your distance from the animals (like the sea turtles or dolphins)
- Stay on marked trails- don’t trespass on private land just for the gram!
- Try to learn about and respect Hawaiian history and culture. It’s alive, not in the past.
***This post is sponsored by Alaska Air ***