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  • 4 Tips for

    Responsible Tourism

  • Ocean spray texture
October 18, 2021

From its lush, green valleys and cascading waterfalls to breathtaking, 4,000-foot sea cliffs, Kauaʻi is nothing short of paradise. And whether you’re a first-time visitor to the island or a longtime resident, being in paradise comes with a responsibility — both to the local community and to the land itself.

At its core, responsible tourism is about actively making choices to benefit and care for the local community by contributing to conservation of nature and culture here on the Garden Isle. Curious about how you can do your part? Read on for four simple tips for responsible tourism on Kauaʻi.

Step Back in Time

Knowing the history of our island home is a great first step in becoming better, more effective stewards of the land. The oldest of the Hawaiian Islands, Kauaʻi has a rich cultural history dating back more than 1,500 years, and the Kauaʻi Museum is a great place to immerse yourself in this fascinating history. Established in the 1960s, the museum is home to cultural and historical artifacts that offer a compelling glimpse into the island’s storied past.

If you’re looking to take a deeper dive into all things Hawaiiana, check out Talk Story Bookstore in the historic town of Hanapēpē — located about a 30-minute drive from Hōkūala and ideal for day trips. Opened in 2005, this locally owned shop-turned-community-hub boasts more than 25,000 unique titles, along with exciting events like readings and book-signings.

A Love of the Land

Aloha ‘āina is a traditional Hawaiian philosophy that weaves together culture, cosmology, and spirituality. The term, which roughly translates to “a love of the land”, is centered on the conviction that all living things are connected, and goes to the heart of sustainable tourism practices here on Kauaʻi.

What the philosophy of aloha ‘āina looks like in practice can mean many things. It begins with simple acts aimed at reducing your ecological footprint, from using a reusable shopping bag to responsibly disposing of your trash. But it extends to more complex gestures of respect toward this land, such as taking the time to understand which cultural locations are welcome outside visitors, and which are sacred and potentially kapu (forbidden). Celebrating the land by staying mindful of cultural boundaries like this helps to build local pride and trust.

Location: Unknown

Part of the charm of an island adventure is uncovering hidden beaches, waterfalls, and other unexpected delights. But the increasing ubiquity of social media has begun to put some of our island’s most delicate natural treasures at risk. Scenic social media “hotspots” are now receiving far more visitors than in years past — with devastating consequences to some of Kauaʻi’s most beloved nature trails, beaches, and cultural sites.

Inspired by the philosophy of aloha ‘āina, a new movement has emerged in Hawaiʻi to discourage the use of geo-tagging in certain vulnerable areas. Instead, visitors are being encouraged to maintain a little of the island’s mystery by leaving some of Kauaʻi’s most ‘grammable spots untagged.

Looking to do your part? Hold onto that sense of adventure and think twice before geo-tagging. Instead, use your social media platform for good by tagging local businesses and restaurants — the community will thank you!

Eat Local, Shop Local

Whether you’re a visitor or a resident, supporting local small businesses on Kauaʻi can be hugely beneficial to the community as a whole. And while the concept of shopping local may seem like an obvious one, it doesn’t hurt to take a moment to think about how you can help stimulate the local economy here on the Garden Isle. Need some ideas?

Get a taste of exotic, locally grown tropical fruits like pitaya and apple-bananas at an affordable price at one of the island’s many farmers’ markets or sunshine markets. Head to a historic town like Kapaʻa or Hanapēpē where you can experience an art night, complete with music, crafts, art, and local food. Or check out one of the many small, curated shops around Hanalei, Kilāuea, Kapaʻa, Kalāheo, and Hanapēpē, where you’ll find everything from zero-waste shampoo and conditioner bars to reef-safe sunscreen and locally made swimwear.

With its natural bounty and diversity of cultural influences, it’s no surprise that Kauaʻi is home to a vibrant and exciting food scene, whether you’re dining out at one of the island’s top-rated restaurants to enjoying street food at a night market. Some of our favorites include the roving Pineapple in Paradise food truck (check instagram for daily location updates) or Wailua Shave Ice in Kapaʻa town for a sweet treat!