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How to Blend In and Not Stick Out as a Tourist on the Big Island of Hawaii

When you’re exploring the Big Island of Hawaii in a campervan from Sun + Salt Campervans, the goal is to enjoy the island's beauty while respecting the local culture and environment. By following a few simple guidelines, you can avoid standing out as a tourist and help preserve the Aloha spirit of the island.


a girl laying in a Sun + Salt Campervan on Hawaii island with a palm tree, ocean, and lava rock in the background.

1. Respect the Environments

Use Reef-Safe Sunscreen

Hawaii is home to some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world, and it’s important to protect them. Many sunscreens contain chemicals harmful to marine life, so opt for reef-safe sunscreen. Either purchase sunscreen ahead of time you know for sure is reef-safe or buy here on the island for more confidence. Look for brands that are mineral-based and oxybenzone and octinoxate-free to ensure you're not contributing to coral bleaching.


Here's some of our favorites:

  • Native Sunscreen (can get at Target) - this is my favorite body sunscreen, it's mineral but rubs in well, smells good, and doesn't feel like you're covered in residue

  • Little Hands (made in Hawaii, can get at most stores) - this is my favorite face and neck, the tin rubs in well and is mineral and supports local!

  • Blue Lizard

  • Salt + Stone


Pick Up Trash

One of the simplest yet impactful ways to show respect for the island is by picking up trash. Whether you’re at the beach, hiking a trail, or parked at a scenic overlook, take a moment to pick up any litter you see. This small act helps keep Hawaii’s natural beauty pristine and demonstrates your commitment to preserving the environment.


When you rent a campervan with us, we include extra trash bags so you can bring one with you on a hike or to the beach to collect trash as you go.





2. Embrace Local Cuisine

Eat at Local Favorites

Exploring local cuisine is a delightful way to immerse yourself in the culture. Skip the chain restaurants and fast food joints, and opt for local spots like Matsuyama's for grab-n-go beach food.


Here, you can enjoy fresh poke (or make it yourself!), musubi, and other local favorites. Not only does this support local businesses, but it also gives you a true taste of Hawaiian flavors.



3. Stealth Camping Tips


Laverne, a pink glampervan with Sun + Salt Campervans parked next to some palm trees on pavement by the side of the beautiful blue ocean in Hawaii.




If you’re planning on stealth camping, it’s crucial to be mindful of local regulations and customs. Here are a few tips to ensure you don’t stick out:


Don’t Overstay Your Welcome

Typically, you should only stay one night at each stealth camping spot. This helps prevent drawing attention to yourself and keeps the location available for others to use.


Arrive Late, Leave Early

A good rule of thumb for stealth camping is to arrive late in the evening and leave early in the morning. This minimizes the chances of being noticed and reduces your impact on the area.


Leave no trace

Avoid setting up elaborate camp setups. Keep your area tidy and avoid making noise. The goal is to leave no trace and blend in as much as possible. Our campervans (more like glampervans!) are outfitted with a sink, toilet, and shower to help you leave no negative impact once you're done staying at a spot.


4. Show Respect to Locals and Their Culture

Learn Basic Hawaiian Phrases

Using a few basic Hawaiian phrases can go a long way in showing respect. Simple words like "Aloha" (hello/love), "Mahalo" (thank you), and "E Komo Mai" (welcome) are appreciated by locals and demonstrate your effort to connect with their culture. Check out our blog post with a cheat sheet of 12 words to know before coming to Hawaii.


Follow Local Customs

Be aware of local customs and traditions. For example, always remove your shoes before entering someone’s home, and be mindful of sacred sites like Heiau and areas that are Kapu (forbidden, keep out) and cultural landmarks. Respecting these traditions shows that you value and honor the local way of life.


Support Local Artisans

When shopping for souvenirs, choose items made by local artisans instead of mass-produced goods. This not only supports the local economy but also ensures you’re taking home a genuine piece of Hawaiian culture. Our favorite place to shop locally made quality goods is Tasty Kona, but you'll find many shops around the island supporting local artisans.


5. Be Mindful of Your Campervan’s Impact

Park Responsibly

Always park your campervan in designated areas or legal parking spots. Avoid blocking driveways, parking on private property, or occupying spaces for longer than necessary.


Use Facilities Wisely

Utilize public restrooms and facilities instead of natural areas. This helps keep the environment clean and reduces your ecological footprint.


Dispose of Waste Properly

Ensure you dispose of all waste properly, including greywater and trash. Use designated dump stations and recycling facilities to manage waste responsibly.


Conclusion

By following these tips, you can enjoy your adventure on the Big Island while respecting its natural beauty and vibrant culture. Sun + Salt Campervans encourages all travelers to be mindful of their impact and to embrace the spirit of Aloha. Enjoy your journey, and remember to leave the island even better than you found it.




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