Native Hawaiian Woman Urges People To Stop Visiting Hawai'i

Lex Gabrielle
Unsplash | little plant

Many people dream of visiting various places throughout the world. When it comes to traveling, there are some destinations that are at the top of people's lists due to the natural beauty and the perception that this nature makes it more beautiful and magical.

However, there are some destinations that are now overrun with tourists and locals are not happy about it. Hawai'i is one example of a place where the locals are "tired" of tourists coming.

Despite the pandemic and many travel restrictions, Hawai'i continues to be a popular travel spot.

Unsplash | Karsten Winegeart

Over the last few years, many travel restrictions prevented tourists from flying and going places. However, this did not stop many from going to the tropical U.S. state of Hawai'i, where there were over 6 million people visiting just last year.

To showcase how tourism has a negative impact, one TikTok user has been speaking out about issues impacting the locals.

Lily Hi'ilani Okimura is a 24-year-old native Hawaiian who shares a lot of information about her culture and home on social media. Recently, on TikTok, she has been speaking out about how tourists have caused more harm than good to Hawaiians and their native land.

In videos, Lily says that Hawai'i is "not Disney World."

Hawai'i Tourism Stop
TikTok | TikTok l hiililylani

Lily claims that many tourists come into Hawai'i and think that everything is theirs and they can do anything they want—like ignoring signs about dangerous locations, endangered species, and forbidden beaches.

In one video, Lily shares how a couple was "fined" for touching an endangered seal on the beach.

In the video, Lily shares that the couple shared photos and videos on social media, and then received a hefty fine from Hawaiian officials. The couple said they "didn't see any signs" on the beach telling them not to touch the seals.

Lily shared several photos of signs posted on all beaches.

Unsplash | Edwin Hooper

Despite the signs, however, the couple still ignored the rules and the laws. After the story went national, many argued that tourists and visitors shouldn't "have to know" all of the rules and laws as they don't actually live there. Lily explained how this is exactly why tourism is detrimental to Hawai'i and their native culture.

Another video shared by Lily showcases how a tourist almost fell to his death after ignoring a danger sign near a waterfall.

In the video, a tourist was trying to get a "better" photo of Akaka Falls, and instead of reading a sign about the dangerous location, proceeded to go onto the cliff nearly falling to his death. A native Hawaiian had to come to his rescue, risking his own life to save him.

Lily also called out people who "romanticized" living in Hawai'i.

In a video stitched with a content creator who showcases her life living in a treehouse in Hawai'i, Lily said that it's a "romanticized" version of living on the island. She also shared that no one in Hawai'i lives in a treehouse such as that. The only reason that she can is because her family is rich.

She continued by stating that the homeless population in Hawai'i is made up of native Hawaiians.

Unsplash | Luke McKeown

Lily continued to share that the cost of living in Hawai'i is so high, that it drives a vast majority of people into homelessness. If not that, then they have to leave the island altogether and move inland off of the island altogether.

While some believe tourism may help the local economy, Lily doesn't believe it does.

Some think tourist sales would help the native and local population and economy. However, Lily said the money earned from tourism does not go back into the island and instead, is pocketed by hotels, resorts, and travel companies.

However, many still want to travel to Hawai'i and see the native land and culture.

Lily shared that at this current time, there is no way to "ethically" travel to Hawai'i and not harm the natives and the economy with the way it is structured. However, she did offer some advice to people who do want to travel there.

She shared that people should try to stay with friends or family rather than feed into the resort trap.

Also, avoid AirBnb's which are "mostly owned by non-natives." In addition, she shared to only shop local and support native-owned businesses, and try to avoid going to the "tourist trap" locations, and instead go see safe places that other people might not be at.