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5 Hawaiian Souvenirs that say F#@k You

Your Hawaii vacay was perfection.  The photos, pure magic.  Specially the one of you hugging a sea turtle that’s blowing up on Instagram.  It also happens to be photographic evidence of a federal crime that comes with a hefty fine and jail time.  Looks like your next stay in paradise will come with shiny bracelets and complimentary lodging!

Don’t get stuck with a souvenir that will burn you long after the tan lines have faded.  Preserve those happy memories of Hawaii.  Before you leave, be sure to triple check your bags for any of these souvenirs that will have you wishing you’d never set foot in the 808 state.   

Ukes Not Ukus: 

shaka hat
Photo by Hawaiian Imports

Does that trucker hat with the shaka look cute enough to try on?  Maybe the one that says Aloha with a pineapple for the O? So clever!

Yeah, you’re probably the seventh person to think that and the six people before you might not possess your dedication to persnal hygiene.  Ukus, or head lice, are more common in Hawaii than they are on the Mainland, due the constant heat.  While ukus love the warmth of a human scalp, they are known to jump from head to headwear, just to fuck up the next unsuspecting fool who wants to take selfie wearing a pineapple hat. 

Pick the hat from the very BACK of the rack unless you want to spend the rest of your vacation smelling like pine tar and having all your friends avoid you because you have super lice.  That’s right, even hair lice have overachievers.

Life is Like a Giant Melted Ball of Chocolate:

Everyone requests chocolate covered macadamia nuts from Hawaii, never mind that you can find them in big box stores all over the country. Maybe knowing you had to lug those damn candies across the Pacific Ocean makes them superior to the same ones on aisle 6 at Walmart. 

Chocolate is one of the most popular gifts to bring back from Hawaii, but one hour of your luggage sitting on the hot tarmac or in the underbelly of a plane and those beautiful seashell shaped chocolates will look like one big pile of Triceratops shit.

Either carry them on the plane or buy something that won’t melt, like a magnet.  You can’t eat a magnet, but it also won’t leave your suitcase looking like a rest stop bathroom.  Or better yet, get your cocoa fix at one of these local chocolatiers and take pictures to show your friends.  I mean, why do they get a present, when you paid for the plane ticket, right?

Think Before You Ink:

Pineapple tattoo
Photo by TattooBlend

It should go without saying that inked souvenirs of a memorable trip should be done while sober. Ish.  And, maybe towards the end of the trip, when you don’t have to worry about your delicate, tattooed skin getting painfully sunburned? 

Do you really love pineapples so much that having one on your calf is a statement you’d like your legs to make for eternity?  Or better yet, plaster the Hawaiian Islands across your chest for all those geography emergencies!  Maybe the flora and fauna of Hawaii isn’t your style, but a Polynesian tattoo could be dope.  You’d look just like the beefy, oiled up fire dancer at the Polynesian Cultural Center that your girlfriend stared at all night.

Make sure the local tattoo artist isn’t withholding valuable tips because he thinks you’re some dumb tourist.  Wouldn’t you want to know that the Polynesian tattoo you picked out is actually a woman’s tattoo before it’s inked on your face?

The Curse is REAL:

Every year, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park gets mailed lava rocks by fools who dismiss Pele’s curse, only to be plagued by horrible luck until the stolen rock is returned to its rightful home.  This shit happens so often that there is a volcano rock return service.  Someone will wrap your stolen goods in ti leaves and place them at a volcano with orchids as a special offering to leverage Pele’s forgiveness. 

The rule in Hawaii is simple: Don’t take something unless you first offer a gift.  And say a prayer.  And spin around five times.  And do the Nae Nae.  Mostly, just show some respect.  Curse or not, if every visitor to Hawaii took a vial of sand home, those picturesque beaches would be bedrock.  Though, the sand on most Hawaii beaches isn’t native to the islands (shhh!) so taking a little wouldn’t technically get you cursed.  But, taking lava rocks will.  That curse is Snopes verified, bitches.

There is, however, more than one way to piss off a Hawaiian goddess.  Make sure you don’t accidentally bring home a different curse, when you visit any of these spooky sites.  Unless, curses are your jam or whatever.

Salty balls… of dried plum:

Li hing mui
Photo by Kay’s Crackseed

Crackseed is a souvenir you should always have in your arsenal when you return from Hawaii.  For that friend.  For your idiot brother who films himself eating ghost peppers to post on YouTube.  For your coworker who loves to microwave salmon in the break room.  Just make sure to be recording when they try it. 

If you’ve tried li hing mui before, the mention of it will probable activate a Pavlovian salivation response, because those shriveled little plums are preserved in salt. A shit ton of salt. 

But, if you’ve never tried li hing mui before, don’t let its bad rap scare you.  The assaulting tart flavor that people hate soon gives way to a subtle sweetness (thanks to the aspartame!) if you can hang on long enough.  Locals love it as an umami-ish topping on fruit, candy and popcorn, and can even be found on some of Hawaii’s best luau’s.  You’ll find it in cocktails, salad dressings, meat rub, pastries.  Literally everything.

Buy a bag of the li hing powder and add it to some dishes for a surprising zing.  If you really want to impress a local, just pop a whole li hing mui in your mouth.  Instant. Fucking. Respect.

Whether your motto is “take only pictures, leave only footprints” or you stash an extra duffel for all the keychains you like to buy, don’t let your souvenirs be extra baggage.  Those airline fees are bad enough.



  • Brian K

    Brian K has been a writer and publisher for 10+ years and has worked for LiveYourAloha as a freelance author and content manager for several of them. There's not much about Hawaii he can't tell you about!