Tattoos and Paradise

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Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Tattoos and Paradise

Many who travel to Hawaii come with the intent of getting tattooed while visiting. Hawaii’s tattooing roots run deep and it is a wonderful lifetime reminder of not only the beauty of our islands but the deep cultural heritage of the ancient art of tatau’. There are a few things a visitor should keep in mind while looking for a tattooer in Hawaii:


Hawaii was one of the first states to implement tattoo regulations back in the 80’s. Today we are still one of the forerunners for licensing, shop inspections, etc. in the U.S. ALL tattooers working in Hawaii must take and pass the state test which is only offered twice a year. They can ONLY work in inspected, licensed studios. Anyone caught tattooing unlicensed or tattooing (licensed or not) outside of a studio faces a $5,000 fine per tattoo. If you are inquiring with a person for tattoo work ask for their license number and verify at the state’s website You can also verify their studio’s license at the same site. Support professional tattooing, please.

There is no allowance for guest artists unless they have taken and passed the state test. There is no reciprocity for those holding licenses in other states or countries. Our regulations state clearly the guidelines for studios and tattooers. Please review at the above website and if you have any questions feel comfortable calling our DOH!


Hawaii is one point in the Polynesian Triangle of tattoo origins and many visitors come with the idea of getting their tattoos done the ancient way, hand tapped. It is imperative that you inquire about sterilization and the sanitation protocol of the tattooer. Many of the ancient tools can NOT be autoclaved and rendered free of bacteria and virus spores which can regenerate if not killed via autoclaving. A few tattooers have developed tools using steel needles that are single use only AND can be autoclaved. It is your right to know exactly what is being used on you and how it has been sterilized for your protection. Also inquire about the work environment. As with modern tattooing all surfaces must be non-porous and barrier protected.

In today’s world we must protect ourselves against a myriad of dangerous diseases too easily transmitted through exposure to body fluids. Be smart, ask questions and expect thorough answers.


It is important to know that after your tattoo you MUST stay out of the ocean, the sand, swimming pools, saunas and the sun for at least a week. Even though we are in the middle of the ocean our shorelines contain a myriad of blood born pathogens. Any open wound can lead to dangerous exposure to staph, strep, MRSA and even necrotizing faciitis (flesh eating bacteria). Try to plan your tattoo for the last few days of your journey. If you are being tattooed the day you leave make sure to tell your tattooer. They may choose to bandage you for travel. Most bandaging should come off a few hours after application but the chance of exposure on an airplane may warrant a longer bandaged period. PLASTIC WRAP IS NOT A BANDAGE AND IS OUTLAWED IN HAWAII. If you are tattooed below the knee make sure you are up and moving on that airplane! Lower leg tattoos will swell and get angry after a flight. Do not hesitate to call your tattooer with any questions once you get home. A professional knows their obligation to their clients and will be there for you.

Tattoos have been a part of Hawaiian culture for centuries, and they continue to be a popular way for people to express themselves and connect with their heritage. Today, there are many tattoo shops in Hawaii that offer a variety of styles and designs.

When choosing a tattoo shop, it is important to do your research and find a shop that is reputable and experienced. You should also make sure that the shop is clean and hygienic, and that the artist is knowledgeable about the style of tattoo that you are interested in.

Here are some additional tips for getting a tattoo in Hawaii:

  • Book your appointment in advance. Tattoo shops in Hawaii can be very busy, so it is important to book your appointment in advance, especially if you are traveling from out of town.
  • Be prepared to pay a deposit. Most tattoo shops will require you to pay a deposit to hold your appointment. The deposit will usually be applied to the cost of your tattoo.
  • Bring a photo ID. You will need to show a photo ID when you arrive at your appointment. This is to verify your age and identity.
  • Be clear about what you want. The more specific you can be about what you want, the better your tattoo will turn out. Bring photos or drawings of tattoos that you like to give your artist an idea of what you are looking for.
  • Be prepared to be in pain. Getting a tattoo can be painful, but the pain is usually manageable. If you are concerned about pain, you can talk to your artist about using a numbing cream.
  • Take care of your tattoo after you get it. Follow your artist’s instructions for aftercare carefully. This will help your tattoo heal properly and prevent infection.

Here are a few of the most popular tattoo shops in Hawaii:

  • South Shore Ink: This shop is located in Honolulu and offers a variety of styles, including traditional Hawaiian tattoos, Polynesian tattoos, and Japanese tattoos.
  • Tattoolicious Tattoo Waikiki: This shop is also located in Honolulu and specializes in realistic and portrait tattoos.
  • Victorian Tattoo Waikiki Hawaii: This shop is located in Waikiki and offers a variety of styles, including traditional Hawaiian tattoos, Polynesian tattoos, and tribal tattoos.
  • Aloha Tattoo Waikiki Hilton Hawaiian Village Rainbow Bazaar: This shop is located in Waikiki and offers a variety of styles, including traditional Hawaiian tattoos, Polynesian tattoos, and Japanese tattoos.
  • Lilium Tattoo Hawaii: This shop is located in Honolulu and specializes in traditional Hawaiian tattoos.

Getting a tattoo is a big decision, so it is important to take your time and choose a shop and artist that you are comfortable with. With a little planning, you can have a positive and rewarding experience getting a tattoo in Hawaii.

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