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Travel etiquette questions

Vancouver...
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Travel etiquette questions

My family will be visiting the Big Island in April of 2014. We are coming from a fairly eco-friendly part of the mainland, in the Pacific Northwest, and I would appreciate any tips and advice on how to visit and enjoy the island without causing unintentional damage to the inhabitants, fauna, and wildlife.

For instance, what brands of sunscreen are reef safe? I have rheumatoid arthritis and some of the medications I take will require a high SPF. Which are best? Where is it best to view whales and dolphins without interfering with their natural habitat? We have no desire to "swim" with either. Do the boat tours interfere with the dolphins resting in the bays? Are there places to rent (and more importantly charge) a zero emissions vehicle? Any reading that you would recommend first? I have a 15 year old enrolled in an advance human geography program back home that would like to learn about the Polynesian culture. How can we do that while avoiding some of the tourist trap type activities? I guess what we really want to know is...what activities should we avoid that might cause harm to the environment?

We will be staying in Kohala on the coast, but visiting VNP for 2 and half days. Flying into Hilo and out of Kona (hopefully). Not sure how to do this, but pretty sure I can figure it out. Any advice or recommended reading would be great. My husband lived on Oahu for about 10 years, so some the obvious stuff he will likely know, but this will be our first time on the BI.

Many thanks

California
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1. Re: Travel etiquette questions

You should check with your rental company. We rented Alamo through Costco, and there was no drop-off charge flying into Kona and out of Hilo.

Seattle, Washington
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2. Re: Travel etiquette questions

we skip the sunscreen and wear rash guards to protect the reefs. It works out better for the environment and for your skin.

Big Island, Hawaii
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3. Re: Travel etiquette questions

Thanks for being a responsible visitor! Some of the Top Questions on the right hand side (desktop version) address many of your questions, so that's a good place to start. There is a TQ with some ideas of cultural activities and how to be a responsible visitor.

A good way to vet potential whale/dolphin watching companies is to post your possibles here for feedback and also look at the potential companies' websites. If they're advertising swims or snorkels with dolphins or whales, run away! Most companies offering only dolphin and whale watching from boats are ok choices and they are required to stay a certain distance away from whales and dolphins and not interfere with their transit. Some adhere to this more than others, but if their aim is not to get you in the water with them, you're probably fine. Kohala Coast companies like Mauna Lani sea Adventures and Hawaii (Waikoloa) Ocean Adventures are good choices.

Sunscreens that are reef safe should have the designation on the bottle, there are several options. Rash guards are a good option but don't protect the backs of legs which I see many visitors forget to protect! A full length Lycra skin is a lightweight option and provides a little but of warmth.

Regarding what to avoid, it sounds like you already have a good common sense base and sensitivity. Don't drive on unpaved roads or roads marked private, stay well away from turtles, dolphins, whales, monk seals. Don't hike back into Pololu or Waipio Valleys, stick to the beach (or up the Mulawai trail in Waipio) or take a tour (Waipio). Try to avoid beaches on weekends when local families are enjoying their time off with their families. Shop and eat local, meaning local produce and meats and seek out restaurants that attest to being majority sourced local. Of course while these are "don't dos", many add to your enjoyment too, we have great local meats and produce, and you'll find beaches more enjoyable on weekdays.

I highly recommend the less traveled heiaus and historical parks of north Hawaii. Puukohola, Lapakahi, Mo'okini. You can visit the cultural centers at Hualalai and Mauna Lani. If your dates coincide, definitely seek out Twighlight at Kalahuipua'a at the Mauna Lani. The farmers markets and shops in Waimea and the artists town of Holualoa are great to patronize.

Seattle, Washington
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4. Re: Travel etiquette questions

Oh sorry, yes I have bottoms besides my rash guard.... (1/2's) But then I find the water in Hawaii on the cool side so I wear them for protection and warmth. You could rent a shorty wet suit.

Big Island, Hawaii
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5. Re: Travel etiquette questions

Having been in the dive culture a while....I know what people do in and to those suits. I would bring my own :-)))))

Seattle, Washington
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6. Re: Travel etiquette questions

Shea, I had to laugh when I read your comment about renting wetsuits, and although I have my own gear, I thought it was like saying you'd never sleep in a hotel bed .... I can imagine a wetsuit rental company not keeping their gear clean and how fast that would get around. Anyway, I think we lost our OP.

Vancouver...
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7. Re: Travel etiquette questions

Thank you so much for all the helpful tips! You didn't lose me. Lol. I do work a 13 hour night shift though, so sometimes I am pretty tired after 13 hours in the icu. Must be getting older or something. It will take me a bit to research some of them, but then we have a fair amount of time before the trip. Any particular companies that you would recommend (or not) for beginning snorkeling?

Big Island, Hawaii
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8. Re: Travel etiquette questions

The shore snorkeling here from many places is fine for beginners if the ocean is flat. Otherwise most of the boat tours are used to accommodating snorkelers and do a good job providing flotation device and supervision. The two Kohala Coast companies I mentioned for whale watching do snorkel tours, and if the ocean conditions are better down south you can try the Hula Kai. They go to deeper water spots but as long as that doesn't freak you out, it's a really nice tour. Fairwinds is popular and good for beginners, but I don't encourage people to go to Kealakekua Bay as it's so overused and in need of a rest, plus frankly it's seen better days with all the use it gets.

Lol Zubsin. Oh, I know they wash and rinse the wetsuits after every use, but repeated, um, bodily fluids, seeping into Lycra is hard on those suckers. When I used to be in charge of cleaning suits, I tried lots of different cleaning agent combos but believe me, it's not as easy as just throwing cotton sheets in a washing machine with a bunch of bleach. :-)

pzp
Kauai, Hawaii
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9. Re: Travel etiquette questions

Just as an aside, I think by April most of the whales will have headed back north, although you might get lucky, You didn't mention when in April you'll be here.

Auckland, New...
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10. Re: Travel etiquette questions

It's funny how "those people" get back on the boat and think that nobody will notice when they unzip their wetsuit. :-)