Hawai’i Souvenir Faux Pas: 5 Things That'll Haunt You (And Your Luggage)

Taylor Martin

Aloha, fellow adventurers! Hawai'i beckons with its beauty, but before you stuff your bags with souvenirs, heed this warning. Some items are best left in paradise – unless you're itching for bad luck and raised eyebrows. So, ditch the temptation and let's explore the top five no-nos when it comes to Hawaiian mementos. But fear not, because we've also got a delightful list of Hawaiian treasures you'll be proud to bring home.

  1. Sand 🏝️: Sure, it seems like a harmless souvenir, but trust us, you don't want to mess with Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes. Taking sand from the beaches of Hawai’i is not only frowned upon, but it's also believed to bring about a curse. Plus, no one wants to deal with sand in their suitcase for the rest of eternity. Leave it where it belongs – on the beach.
  2. Sea Shells 🐚: Contrary to popular belief, you won't find the sound of the ocean magically trapped inside that pretty shell you picked up on the shore. All you'll find is a whole lot of bad juju and a guilty conscience for disrupting marine ecosystems. Plus, your luggage will thank you for not adding extra weight with these shellfish souvenirs.
  3. Flowers 🌺: While it may be tempting to pluck a vibrant hibiscus or fragrant plumeria for your hair or as a keepsake, just don't do it. Hawaiians believe in respecting the ‘āina (land), and that means leaving the flowers where they belong – on the plants. Plus, you don't want to be caught smuggling plant contraband through airport security. That's a floral faux pas you don't want to make.
  4. Plants 🌴: Speaking of plant contraband, unless you want to spend your vacation explaining to TSA why you're trying to smuggle a coconut palm tree in your carry-on, steer clear of taking plants home from Hawai'i. Not only is it illegal, but it's also a surefire way to introduce invasive species to your home turf. Your garden will thank you for not turning it into a botanical battleground.
  5. Lava Rocks 🪨 : Ah, the allure of Pele's fiery handiwork. While it might seem like a cool idea to pocket a piece of lava rock from the Big Island, it's actually considered extremely disrespectful to the Hawaiian culture. Legend has it that Pele will unleash her wrath upon anyone who dares to take lava rocks from her domain. So, unless you're a glutton for punishment, leave the lava where it lies and stick to lava-themed keychains instead.

Remember, souvenirs are meant to bring back memories, not curses or environmental destruction. So, the next time you're tempted to smuggle a piece of Hawai’i home in your suitcase, just remember: What happens in Hawai’i, stays in Hawai’i (especially the sand and lava rocks).

Looking for souvenirs that won't land you in hot water? Check out these delightful items from Hawaiiverse:

  1. Loose Leaf Mamaki Tea: Volcano Red from Hawaii Forest Farms 🌋
  2. 14k Gold Cone Shell Threader Earrings from Emakai 🐚
  3. Car Air Freshener: Gardenia from Manalani Collection 🚙

These treasures from Hawaiiverse will bring a touch of the islands into your home without incurring the wrath of Pele or TSA. So, shop smart and bring home memories that'll last a lifetime.


  Written by: Kamalani Castillo-Johnson


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