How to build local pride and community confidence on Kaua‘i
Whether you are a first-time visitor or a returning resident, being in paradise comes with a responsibility not only to the local community, but also to the native land that surrounds you. However, responsible tourism is more than picking up your trash or going to a cultural event. While that’s a great start, at its core, responsible, ethical tourism looks to actively make choices that benefit the local community, contributing to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, diversity, and local economy. In turn, visiting the garden isle of Kaua‘i comes with the responsibility to build local pride and community confidence.
Learn about Kaua‘i’s history
As the oldest island, Kaua‘i has a rich cultural history. As visitors, we also become tied to the community and so it is our responsibility to learn about its history in order to be better stewards, and the Kaua‘i Museum is a great place to start. Established in the 1960’s, the local museum is home to cultural and historical artifacts, providing snippets of the island’s rich past. For more on all things Hawaiiana, you can also visit the locally-owned Talk Story Bookstore in the historic town of Hanapēpē.
While the past is important, so is the present, and there are many locals and kānaka maoli (Native Hawaiians) that are vocal about the state’s political, civil, and social issues. Building community confidence and local pride starts with community support, and while that may look like a lot of different things, a good place to start is to simply take the time and learn about current events. Not sure where to look? The Honolulu Civil Beat and the Garden Island Newspaper are great starting points.
Aloha ‘Āina: A love for the land and its people
Aloha ‘āina is a Native Hawaiian philosophy that weaves together culture, cosmology and spirituality. Grounded in the philosophy that all things of life are connected, the Hawaiian term roughly translates to “a love of the land.” In turn, understanding the relationship between land and community is vital, and turning that concept into something tangible manifests itself in many ways. On one hand, it could mean minimizing your footprint through simple tasks like using reusable shopping bags and packing your trash, or something more complex like understanding which cultural locations are sacred and potentially kapu (forbidden) for non-Natives to visit, and which ones welcome visitors. In turn, respecting and celebrating the native land through potential boundaries and mindfulness builds local pride and trust.
While discovering hidden beaches and waterfalls is part of the island adventure, the rise of social media has promoted certain locations to be overpopulated, potentially leading to the destruction of Kaua‘i’s beloved and beautiful trails, beaches and cultural sites. Along the lines of aloha ‘āina, there has been many social media movements in Hawai‘i that discourage the use of geo-tagging certain areas, and instead let visitors discover certain spots on their own. When posting, hold onto that sense of adventure and think twice before geo-tagging. Instead, use your social media platform to tag local businesses and restaurants — the community will thank you!
Promoting the local economy directly benefits the community, and supporting Kaua‘i’s small, local businesses is a foundational aspect of being a community member, regardless of whether you are visiting or a resident. While the concept of shopping local may seem obvious, it doesn’t hurt to take a moment to think about how you can help stimulate our local economy. Need some ideas?
- Farmers Markets, or Sunshine Markets, are a great place to try locally grown, exotic and tropical fruit like pitaya and apple-bananas for affordable prices, or check out local artisanal foods. From Hanalei to Hanapēpē, there are tons of farmers markets to visit. Looking for a night out on the town? The historic towns of Kapa‘a and Hanapēpē also host art nights where you can enjoy local food, crafts, art, and music.
- While local businesses are scattered throughout the island, many can be found clustered around Hanalei, Kilāuea, Kapa‘a, Kalāheo, Hanapēpē, and more! From small shops curated by Kaua‘i’s community members, to locally made, reef-safe sunscreen, zero-waste shampoo and conditioner bars, and swimwear, Kaua‘i is home to an abundance of special gifts and everyday items.
- Tropical flowers, whether in the form of bouquets or leis, have deep roots in Hawaiian culture. While it may be tempting to buy a bouquet from a grocery store, consider seeking out some local florists. Hint: You can find them at farmers markets!
- Considering that the island is a melting pot of many cultures, enjoying the local food is by far one of the best experiences Kaua‘i has to offer. Whether eating out at one of the island’s top-rated restaurants to enjoying street food at one of the night markets, Kaua‘i’s cuisine is always exciting and pushing boundaries. Need some suggestions? Check out the roving Pineapple in Paradise food truck (check instagram for daily location) or Wailua Shave Ice in Kapa‘a town for a sweet treat!
Responsibility and sustainability starts at Timbers Kaua‘i
Covering over 450 acres, Timbers Kaua‘i at Hōkūala has worked to cultivate a collection of authentic Hawaiian experiences that promote sustainability, aloha ‘āina, and a strong sense of local heritage. From man-made lagoons that support five species of endangered waterbirds — including the Nēnē, the official state bird of Hawai‘i — to the cultivated Hawaiian plants, including kalo, noni and breadfruit, that grow on the Farm at Hōkūala, Timbers Kaua‘i fosters cultural and social responsibility and encourages visitors and residents to do the same. With so much to see and do on the island, Timbers Kaua‘i provides easy ways to enjoy paradise, respectfully.
With these tips in mind, go out and enjoy the sunshine. Aloha!