How to be a Responsible Road Tripper in Hawaii


The islands of Hawaii are home to some scenic drives that are reminiscent of the beauty found in the Cascadia region. If you’ve enjoyed our post on The Cascade Loop, you’ll find that Hawaii similarly offers the perfect opportunity to explore the region by car. With its natural beauty and lush landscapes, it’s no wonder that the Hawaiian islands have become a beloved tourist destination, attracting approximately 10 million visitors each year.

Unfortunately, the robust tourism sector puts Hawaii at a heightened risk of tourist-related issues. This includes the pollution of beaches and parks, coastal erosion, habitat destruction, gentrification, and overcrowding, among other issues. As such, it’s important to practice mindfulness when visiting to ensure that you’re a responsible traveler. Here, we have compiled the best practices to keep in mind for any road-tripper looking to visit Hawaii.

Plan Your Route Carefully

Planning ahead for a road trip has many benefits. For starters, establishing your route prevents you from getting lost and wasting gas trying to find the right roads, which can add to the air pollution within Hawaii. Plus, having a planned route means you can pencil in excursions to enjoy local activities. This can include surfing lessons as you stop by Oahu’s North Shore or hiking trails in Waimea Canyon State Park on the island of Kauai. By planning ahead, you can tailor your road trip to suit the kind of adventures you’re looking for while also cutting down your emissions.

Choose the Right Car

In addition to your route, choosing the right car can greatly enhance your road trip experience. Not only does the right car ensure that you’re safe and comfortable throughout, but you can also optimize its fuel economy, as gas prices in Hawaii have increased by 7% from the past year. As such, renting a Jeep Wrangler in Hawaii is often a popular choice for road trips. This is primarily because the vehicle’s four-wheel drive (4WD) capabilities are well-suited for the diverse landscapes and topography found around the island.

Since the Wrangler is better optimized for the local terrain, it uses up gas more efficiently. The vehicle also offers maximum ground clearance and rugged tires that can handle off-road routes without issues. So, whether you’re visitingthe famous Jurassic Park Gate Trail or Polihale State Park, a Wrangler can accommodate the challenging roads without causing a hassle for other motorists. Above all, you won’t even have to stress about securing your rental, as Jeep Wranglers are available at rental locations throughout the Hawaiian islands.

Book Hotels with Cultural Advisers

As your road trip takes you to different parts of the islands, you may want to spend the night at local lodgings. Rather than simply staying at a generic chain hotel, why not respect and honor the culture by booking at a hotel with a cultural advisor? In Hawaii, cultural advisors have become an important part of the hospitality industry to educate visitors.

For example, if you book rooms at the Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua, you have the privilege of connecting with Native Hawaiian advisors on the staff. These trained professionals can educate you on the history of the islands while also allowing you to immerse yourself in traditional activities and sacred destinations. For instance, some cultural advisors can teach you how to make leis, while others can lead tours to sacred places like Honokahua. This provides an educational and spiritual experience like no other and ensures that visitors are not overstepping any boundaries.

Support Local Businesses

Above all, it’s important to support local businesses as you complete your road trip. When you buy from local businesses, your money can directly support Hawaiian residents. Not only does it help create jobs and build a livelihood, but it also strengthens the island’s economy. Supporting locals is easy, as you can simply choose farm-to-table restaurants or the local markets showcasing various cuisines. For example, you can pay a visit to the Honolulu Night Market, which is a popular event for tourists and locals alike as you can enjoy live music and great food offered by Hawaiian residents.

Furthermore, you can opt to buy gifts or products made by local artisans for your loved ones back home because it allows the vendors to continue to preserve their culture and craft. In Oahu, there are numerous stores where you can purchase handmade Hawaiian quilts, which are filled with colorful patterns that depict designs inspired by nature. Or when you head to Maui, you can grab a few jars of local specialty jams containing lilikoi, guava, or passionfruit mango. By buying from these businesses, you get to appreciate new things on your travels while directly supporting the local residents.

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