10 Things to do and not do on Kauai

Kauai is known for its simple and laid back lifestyle with less emphasis on being on time and more emphasis on maintaining a go with the flow vibe.  It is not uncommon for local residents to be on “Hawaiian Time,” meaning being 20-30 minutes late is sometimes perfectly acceptable.  From the casual attire (flip-flops or slippers are the staple footwear) to the brightly hued aloha shirts that are worn every day as formal wear (in lieu of suits), there is a certain way of life that quietly guides the Kauai lifestyle.  Since many customs and basic etiquette are not covered in the guidebooks, we give you an insider’s guide of 10 things to do and not to do on Kauai.


1. DO….

Heed ocean safety signs and warnings.  Go to life-guarded beaches and see your lifeguards for advice.  The ocean currents can be unpredictable and sometimes produce an undertow that you can’t see.  A great source for current ocean conditions is kauaiexplorer.com.

2. DON’T

The shoe rule in Hawaii- don't wear your shoes in the house!

Wear your shoes in someone’s home.  Removing your shoes is a customary sign of respect and also prevents Kauai’s infamous red dirt from being tracked into a home.


3. DO…

One land bridge rules on Kauai - let 5-6 cars pass then wait your turn

Wait your turn.  There are many bridges on the north shore of Kauai that consist of one-lane, which means that one side of traffic must stop to allow the other side to cross.  Local etiquette is five to seven cars should cross at a time.  Don’t forget to wave thank you to the people who stopped to let you cross.  Even better – throw them a shaka!

4. DON’T…

Remove a flower lei in the presence of the person who gave it to you.  This is considered offensive or rude to the giver.

5. DO…

Pull over to let locals pass while you are slowly enjoying the scenic view while driving to Kokee State Park.

6. DON’T…

Stacking rocks at hanakapiai beach on Kauai is not ok

Stack rocks at Hanakapiai Beach or any beach or heiau (ancient Hawaiian rock platform).  Also, do not walk on the heiau.  While some visitors mistakenly believe stacking rocks is a way to make an offering to the gods or will make a cool instagram photo, it is actually a desecration of sacred sites.

7. DO…

Hawaiian monk seal resting on Poipu Beach

Give the adorable sea turtles and monk seals some breathing room when they are resting on the beach.  This is for your safety and theirs.  They are protected by the Endangered Species Act and you could be imposed with a fine for approaching within 100 feet of them.  Mama monk seals nursing their calf on the shore may also become aggressive if you get too close to them.  It’s okay to take photos of these cute creatures from a proper distance.  If you see anyone breaking these rules, please notify the local lifeguards.

8. DON’T…

Go off the beaten path when hiking.  We can’t stress this one enough.  Staying on the marked trail and following all trail signage is a must.  By deviating from a trail, you are putting yourself at risk to get lost, hurt or something worse.  There are many marked trails that provide challenge and adventure with the stunning unobstructed views of Kauai.


9. DO…

Helping to keep Kauai beaches clean - we all need to do out part!

Leave everywhere you go a little bit better than when you arrived.  Help pick up trash where you see it and clean up after yourself.  Kauai is called “The Garden Island” for a good reason and it’s our job to keep it that way.  Want to help with a beach clean up?  Check out https://kauai.surfrider.org/ for a list of beach clean up days.

10. DON’T…

Forget to roll up your car windows at night or put the top up on your convertible.  It rains often on Kauai – pretty much every day.  Although perfectly sunny during the day, Kauai’s downpours are unpredictable and it rains at least a little every night.  How else would the island stay so green and lush?

11. DO…

It goes without saying, but always remember to lock your cars when venturing around Kauai.  Don’t leave anything of value in plain sight and if you have things you can’t carry, lock them up in the trunk.  The same goes for your vacation rental.


Follow these rules and we can guarantee that your experience on Kauai will be unforgettable.  When in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask for some friendly advice from the locals.  They are happy to share their culture and their island!