Visitors to Hawaii are often urged to wear a hat and sunscreen. However, that advice may not be specific enough, as recent visitors demonstrated to me. They wanted SO much to wear the pretty flowers behind their ears rather than crushing them beneath a hat.
I realized that I had not been specific enough about hats when they arrived from the plane wearing sun hats with large brims. While those are perfect for the beach, they’re a little unwieldy for every day use and Hawaii has enough breeze that they may take flight. Ball caps are popular choices, and I wore one for most of my first year here. The brim covers the face well, but leaves the neck exposed. Be very certain to put sunscreen on the area between your hairline and shirt collar EVERY time you go outside. Even after being in Hawaii for a couple of days, skipping that step will produce a painful red neck.
I now have a hat with a brim that goes all the way around. There are several versions, often called fishing or boating hats. I got one that has a brim large enough to cover my face and neck but not so large that the wind catches it. It is also convenient for the light misty rain in Hawaii, keeping the droplets off my face and glasses.
It’s easy to underestimate how much sun you’ll be getting in Hawaii. Often there are clouds and light breezes so it doesn’t seem really hot, but the sun is powerful. On the second day of my recent visitors’ stay, we were scheduled to take a tour of downtown Honolulu that included riding in the trolley and walking a couple of shady blocks. As is often the case, we actually wandered a little farther than that and were outside for several hours.
When we began the day, they had told me they were not wearing their sun hats (understandable) but rather the beautiful flower hair ornaments they had discovered in the store nearby. They had sunscreen and felt that was sufficient. You already know how this ends, right? So, here is my amended and much more specific advice about hats: wear a hat that at least covers your face (and neck if possible) AND sunscreen every time you are outside in Hawaii. Save the big sun hats for the beach, and the flowers in your hair for inside or evenings.
Posted by: Bruce Fisher on Oct 8, 2010