Every state has its fair share of weird laws. Hawaii is no different. While most of these laws serve a purpose— whether it’s public safety or preservation— it’s still a little silly to see them in writing. From outlawing buildings taller than palm trees to banning the harassment of birds in public parks, here are some of the weirdest laws in Hawaii.


On Kauai, it is illegal for buildings to be taller than a palm tree.

While this law is technically true, you won’t find it verbatim in the Kauai County Code. Instead, building codes on Kauai prohibit structures taller than 50 feet— or the equivalent of four stories. Meanwhile, Hawaii’s ubiquitous coconut palms can grow up to 100 feet. The law helps preserve Kauai’s natural beauty and prevents developers from turning the island into Honolulu 2.0. Could you imagine what Waikiki would look like if it had adopted this rule?!

Weirdest Laws In Hawaii Kauai


As of 2014, it is illegal for police officers to have sex with prostitutes during an investigation.

Hawaii police officers working in prostitution busts used to be legally allowed to sleep with their targets. The exemption was enacted in 1970 to protect police officers from persecution during undercover prostitution stings. But that changed in 2014 when the state legislature passed a bill cracking down on prostitution and removed the exemption. Honolulu Police Department initially objected to the change, stating that the new bill would give criminals explicit knowledge of what cops could and could not do. HPD eventually changed course and gave the bill their OK. However, per department rules, officers were never permitted to sleep with prostitutes during stings in the first place.


It is illegal to take lava rocks from a state park.

It sounds like this might be the one of weirdest laws in Hawaii but there is a story behind it. Removing rocks, plants, and wildlife from state and national parks in Hawaii is prohibited. Not only is taking natural items against the law, but it could also cost you more than just a ticket. Legend has it that taking volcanic rocks from Hawaii is bad luck and brings the ‘curse of Pele’ upon the thief. What makes this weird is the repercussions. Haleakala National Park receives hundreds of packages of returned lava rocks every month. Some come attached with apologetic notes or tales of misfortune that have followed since taking rocks from Hawaii. Whether you’re superstitious or not, leaving lava rocks and other natural items behind is the right thing to do.

Weirdest Laws In Hawaii Lava Rocks


Having and setting off aerial fireworks is illegal unless you have a permit.

While “consumer fireworks”— the type you can pick up in packaged boxes at Costco or Walmart— are legal, having and setting off aerial fireworks is unlawful without a permit. But if you’ve ever been in Hawaii on New Year’s Eve, it’s clear Hawaii residents take the law with a grain of salt. Although Hawaii has tried cracking down on illegal fireworks and increased fines to $2,000 for violations, rooting out offenders is like looking for a needle in a haystack: tens of thousands of aerial fireworks are smuggled to the islands every year.

Weirdest Laws In Hawaii Fireworks


Breaking off mineral deposits and speleothems from a cave is against the law unless you have permission from a cave owner.

Rocks aren’t the only thing you shouldn’t take home as a souvenir. In 2002, Hawaii made it illegal for anyone to knowingly or recklessly break off, mark, carve upon, or harm any surfaces or cave resources, including speleothems and sedimentary deposits. On the other hand, you can do whatever you like to a cave if you receive written permission from the cave owner first (which really doesn’t seem right).


Dynamite, poison, and electrical currents can not be used while fishing.

In Hawaii, fishing with dynamite, poison, chemicals, and electro-fishing devices is illegal— and thank goodness it is! Could you imagine someone blast fishing or using poison on a busy beach?! To further cement the ban, it’s unlawful to even be in possession of these things near the shoreline. While these fishing techniques might result in an easy bounty for fishermen, they are extremely destructive and can seriously harm marine life.


It is unlawful to annoy birds in Honolulu public parks.

In fact, it’s illegal to annoy any animal in a public park in Honolulu. Weird that this needs to be a law, but there are some weird people out there. Even stranger, the city and county of Honolulu have some pretty stringent rules banning what most people would consider normal park behavior. Tree climbing, bike riding, kite flying, and throwing baseballs, tennis balls, and basketballs are prohibited outside designated areas. It is also illegal to shape or repair surfboards in any Honolulu public park. So much for Oahu being a surfer’s paradise.

Weirdest Laws In Hawaii Bird


It is illegal to hoard more than 15 cats or dogs in a home.

While all states have animal protection laws, Hawaii’s animal hoarding rules are ultra-specific. No one can hoard more than 15 cats, dogs, or a combination of the two. The Hawaii legislature agrees that pet animals deserve an adequate level of care, including food, water, and shelter. Again, this law is weird due to the fact that we have some weird people doing weird things here.


Billboards were outlawed in the 1920s

Hawaii is one of only four states— including Vermont, Alaska, and Maine— to have outlawed billboards. And it’s no coincidence that these states are also known for their scenic beauty: maintaining Hawaii’s natural splendor is precisely the point of the ban. The rule took effect in 1927, and we can’t help but thank Hawaii’s lawmakers of the roaring twenties.


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