A healthy heritage and responsible regeneration can make your culture trip to Hawai‘i all the more magical…
By Doug Wallace
The sun and sand, the rainforest and rugged natural terrain – this truly is paradise. A visit to Hawai‘i is a vacation like no other, a tropical island experience that lures 10.5 million visitors per year – and a safe and welcoming destination for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Hawai‘i is historically hospitable
People have been visiting and loving Hawai‘i since the mid-1800s, originally arriving to see the Kīlauea volcano, an overwhelmingly beautiful – and still very active! – environment. But Hawai‘i’s long history of LGBTQ+ identity and acceptance began in pre-colonial times, when the Māhū – or “in the middle” people – maintained respected social and spiritual positions within the community, often as healers. Fast-forwarding to today, you will easily recognize that all six of the major Hawaiian Islands to visit are diverse and inclusive, the 50th US state being an early adopter of same-sex marriage in 2013.
Anchor your trip to Pride
Honolulu Pride is Hawai‘i’s biggest LGBTQ+ celebration, with the parade route along Kalākaua Avenue in Waikīkī drawing approximately 30,000 people each year. This fun-fest of diversity, creativity and solidarity radiates an overwhelming spirit of togetherness throughout Honolulu Pride Month in October, which coincides with LGBT History Month, National Coming Out Day and Spirit Day. The Festival at Diamond Head Greens is a family-friendly day of music and activities, and the Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival celebrates its 33rd year in 2022. E komo mai means “everyone is welcome.”
Take only pictures, leave only footprints
It’s easy to breeze through an island vacation without a care in the world. But with tourism making a comeback, a renewed interest in kuleana, or “responsibility,” is taking shape in Hawai‘i. Visitors are encouraged to mālama ka’aina– take care of the land – in the spirit of giving back to the land, the seas, the wildlife, the forest – really the whole community. When you travel responsibly, you are part of the continuous circle of island life, keeping it going through regenerative tourism. Pay-it-forward initiatives promote cleaning up the coastline, beaches, hiking trails and parks, as well as tree-planting and fish-pond rejuvenation. Tourists can also connect with the land in other ways, exploring the world of sustainable farming and making a positive impact through environmental stewardship.
Help preserve the Hawaiian culture
A warm welcome is the hallmark of Hawaiian hospitality. But more than just a simple greeting, “Aloha” is a concept. It expresses a sense of being in the presence of and sharing the essence of life, which in turn promotes peace, kindness and compassion, and champions a responsibility to the future of the land and of the people. This construct is expressed through heritage arts, including music, the hula and traditional chants. These chants describe the islands, the spirits that surround them, the forces of nature that shaped them and the things that live on them – further fostering the theory that everything truly is related. This connection is the very root of Hawaiian culture.
When you visit Hawai‘i, you can help champion this need to care for the environment and each other, support local festivals and events, buy from local vendors, and preserve Hawaiian heritage and cultural practices.
Start packing your bags!
The GoHawaii website is an excellent reference for great ideas, travel tips and insight into the Hawaiian Islands. Canadians planning a winter escape or a destination wedding can find more information at gohawaii.com/ca. For details on how to experience a rewarding trip to Hawai‘i that gives back, visit gohawaii.com/malama. And for information on the Hawaii LGBT Legacy Foundation, head to hawaiilgbtlegacyfoundation.com.
DOUG WALLACE is an international travel and lifestyle writer, photographer and custom-content authority, principal of Wallace Media and editor-publisher of TravelRight.Today. He can be found beside buffet tables, on massage tables and table-hopping around the world.