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Weird Laws In Hawaii (You Will Be SURPRISED!)

When you think of Hawaii, you think of the sun, the stunning blue beaches, gnarly surf waves, tropical lush reserves, volcanic parks, unique mountainscapes, mouthwatering food and incredible culture!

What you don’t think of are weird laws that make you reconsider the definition of normal and perhaps even the word logic. Few of them barely make sense, and some hardly sound sane.

With that in mind, let’s see what these weird laws are and what you, as a traveller holidaying in Hawaii, should ensure to abide by.

Related: Guide to the Hawaiian Islands

9 Weird Laws In Hawaii

Hawaii Buildings and Palm Trees

1. You are not allowed to put coins in your ears!

Sorry folks, you can no longer engage in parlour tricks using coins. It does sound insanely silly, and like most of the rules we highlight, it does beg the question – why? Believe it or not, there is a valid reason.

In the past, the US state government issued an order to destroy the native currency. So, the natives hid the coin ingeniously in their ears – now it’s unlawful to do so.

2. It is illegal to intentionally release balloons outside in Hawaii

Since the 1st of January 2023, it is illegal to release balloons into the atmosphere in Hawaii, regardless of the type or amount. This law was enforced as a means to minimize the marine debris that has a detrimental effect on Hawaii’s ecosystem.

The law is to be strictly enforced statewide while fines may be as high as $500 per violation. However, indoor or unintentional balloon releases do not count as a violation!

3. Billboards are not permitted

Next on our list of weird laws in Hawaii is not so bad. We’d rather be looking at a lovely scenic view without it having a nasty over-the-top billboard advertisement blocking our view. It helps improve the scenic picture.

The lawmakers of the state made this unanimous decision to ban billboards, and we couldn’t be happier.

4. In Kauai Hawaii, building structures cannot be taller than Palm Trees

The average palm tree can be roughly 10 to 15 meters in height. So, if you see a building that you believe is taller, chances are, that building is in trouble.

But, all jokes aside, this development law might sound weird at first – but it’s a protective step taken towards preventing Kauai Island from turning into a run-down, tourist spot filled with tall structures.

5. It’s illegal for Police officers to have sex with prostitutes during an investigation

We are not entirely sure how long this happened until it actually become a rule. But it’s crazy as it is true. They do say never to mix business with pleasure – but after 2014, it is downright illegal for police officers.

Hopefully, this helped them get a lot of investigations completed on time.

6. It’s illegal to sink islands!

Fascinatingly enough, there are laws that make you scratch your head – this one fits there well. Sinking islands can’t be an easy task (unless you are Māui, the demi-god), and it’s also important to realize that this law dates back to 1418.

But there is a certain sense of relief (obviously), to know that such a devastating act is illegal (just in case).

7. It’s Unlawful to keep more than 15 pets at home

You may feel doubtful about this one. But it is in fact, an official order being upheld. Why or what made this rule come to be is not exactly clear, but it is illegal to own more than 15 pets.

If you were found out, you will actually get into a certain amount of trouble – and that is one weird law!

8. It’s illegal to cause disturbance to birds in a Public Park

You can get into serious trouble with the law if you were found guilty of disturbing or causing irritation to the birds that come to public parks. This law applies to every type of bird at every kind of park. You don’t disturb them. Period.

9. An individual may only have one alcoholic drink in front of them at any given time

Last on our list of weird laws in Hawaii is an alcohol-related one. While this is an actual law, it’s noteworthy to mention that state authorities have placed official orders for bars to only serve one alcoholic drink per customer.

While this law was put in place to discourage alcoholism, it backfired a little when some started literally chugging their drinks just to get to the next one. Not a bright idea.

Related Article: What is the legal drinking age in Hawaii?

5 Hawaiian Laws Travellers Should Know About

Tourists in Hawaii

Laws are present to maintain peace and protect our general safety. They can be strange sometimes, especially if you are not a local – but they remain the law and if you break it, you can be in trouble.

So here are a few things you should make sure to not do, to enjoy your holiday as a law-abiding tourist.

1. Plastic Bags are banned

Plastic bags are convenient but they are hazardous to the environment, and in most cases, many tend to handle them very irresponsibly.

Due to these circumstances, plastic has been banned – this is a very good initiative and it will contribute positively to safeguarding the environment.

But there are better options, like reusable tote bags and for smaller items- paper bags.

2. Don’t text while at a crosswalk

It’s very dangerous to text while driving but it’s no safer at a crosswalk either. Hawaii is the first state to make texting while crossing illegal, and we cheer on Hawaii for doing that.

So if you are used to doing that in your hometown, make sure you don’t when in Hawaii.

3. Touching Sea Turtles is illegal

Snorkelling is famous in Hawaii. Many do it to observe the incredibly diverse marine life in the Hawaiian waters. One such incredible species you’ll see is the Green Sea Turtle.

These curious beauties will definitely swim up to you.

But if you touch them, pick them up, disturb them – you will be in a lot of trouble. It’s illegal to come into physical contact with them, and if caught you will have a hefty fine to pay.

4. Travelling back with certain fruits/vegetables is illegal

This rule is put in place to protect the local environment and farming. There are strict laws in place to control the inflow and outflow of agricultural produce. If found – especially at the airport, the items will be confiscated.

5. Smoking with a child in the car is illegal

It’s a no-brainer that smoking is generally bad for your health, but doing it with a minor in the vehicle would mean you are risking the health of the child (Keiki in Hawaiian) as well.

Smoking is a growing issue in Hawaii so this law is strongly upheld. This includes e-cigarettes and other tobacco products as well.

Note: Legal age for smoking in Hawaii is 21