Yes, Hawaiʻi is a US state, but it is the most isolated land mass in the world. In the center of the Pacific, it has influences from all its neighbors, including Japan, Korea, China, the Philippines and Pacific Islands you may have never heard of.
In addition, if you spend the time to research the history of Hawaiʻi you will find strong roots of a kingdom which, like Kilauea volcano, lives just under the surface and has a strong influence on life here. As such it is best to treat the culture with as much respect as any foreign country.
Here is rundown of island culture.
A land and people rich in legends and respect for the islands they steward (not own, steward). According to legend, the land itself is the stillborn older brother of the Hawaiians; they treat it like family, caring for it as it cares for them. It is precious, thus permission is asked whenever a plant is used, and preferably returned to where it was harvested when done.
- Take your shoes off before entering a home and line them up with the others.
- Say "Auntie" or "Uncle" rather than Mr. or Mrs. when addressing an elder.
- When visiting someone for the first time, bring a small gift for the host. Food is ideal.
- A hug or kiss on the cheek is a form of greeting.
- Don't touch the honu (sea turtles) - they are an endangered species.
- Please don't litter or leave your trash. We take pride in our land as it gives back to the people. It's extremely disrespectful when you don't clean up.