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Hawaii Laws You May Not Know About

hawaii beach with turtle

From the way we speak (Pidgin English) to the things we eat, Hawaii is known for being unique in many different ways. And while Hawaii is part of the United States, there are a few things beyond its size and distance that make it stand apart from the other 49 states, including some laws and rules that you may encounter only in the islands.

Here are a few laws worth knowing about if you’re planning a trip to the islands in 2018:

Plastic Bags are Banned

In an effort to keep plastic out of the waters that surround our island home, in 2015 Hawaii became the first state in the U.S. to ban the distribution of single-use plastic bags. That means grocery markets, retail outlets, and convenience stores will not provide a plastic bag for your purchased goods. While many Hawaii retailers now provide paper bags at check out, there are a few (like Target) that won’t provide a bag at all. So it’s always a good idea to carry around a light, reusable tote just in case.

Traveling with Fruit or Critters

In an effort to protect its beautiful environment and local farming, Hawaii has very strict laws regarding importing and exporting produce. The Hawaii Department of Agriculture can confiscate any type of plant or animal from baggage at the airport that may pose a threat, such as fruit that may be carrying tiny pests; snakes, lizards, bees, certain kinds of birds and other animals; and invasive plant species.

Bringing home fresh pineapples is a must-do on any Hawaii vacation, but be sure the pineapple has been pre-certified by agricultural authorities to avoid delays at the airport. Our airport-ready boxes of Sweet Gold™ pineapples are available for $28 and will be delivered to you at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) as you disembark from your Roberts Hawaii shuttle. Each box contains 10 lbs of Sweet Gold Pineapple™ that have been pre-inspected, packed, and sealed at a USDA-approved facility.

Smoking with Keiki in the Car

Earlier this month, Honolulu City & County’s mayor signed a bill that bans the use of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, in a car where a keiki (child) is present. This law is just the latest to be added to a growing list of tobacco bans in the state. Hawaii is also one of just five states that require tobacco buyers to be 21 years or older.

Don’t Touch the Sea Turtles

Honu (green sea turtles) attract hundreds of visitors to Oahu’s north shore daily, and while they are beautiful and gentle creatures, please keep your distance. In Hawaii, it is illegal to touch, pick up, disturb, kill, or harm any type of sea turtle thanks to its status as an endangered species. Harming a sea turtle can result in a fine of up to $25,000 and time in prison. So if you see one, be sure to show your aloha from a safe distance.

Don’t Text in a Crosswalk

Not only can you not talk or text on the phone while you’re driving in Hawaii, it is now illegal to text and walk in a marked crosswalk. In October 2017, Hawaii became the first state to make it illegal to text or look down at your phone while crossing the street — even in a marked crosswalk. The “distracted pedestrian” law can fine pedestrians a minimum of $15 for a first-time violation.