5 Tips to Getting a Tattoo on your Hawaiʻi Vacation

Looking to get inked in Hawaiʻi on your trip? Then you need to read these five tips.
Tattoo Artist Making A Tattoo On A Shoulder
Photo: Getty Images

Getting a tattoo—small or large—can be a fun, unique way of remembering your Hawaiʻi vacation. It stays with you forever and seeing it will always make you remember the time in your life when you were in Hawaiʻi, basking on the golden sands of some remote beach, far away from the problems of your daily life back home. But, getting a tattoo can go very, very wrong if you don’t know what you’re getting into. From infections to shoddy work, there are numerous pitfalls to look out for when getting a tattoo on your Hawaiʻi vacation, so follow these five tips on the matter to make sure your ink—and vacay—turns out just fine.

1. Don’t Get Tattooed Drunk

While it’s often thought that getting a tattoo at the end of a fun, wild night is normal—it’s really not a good idea. Since alcohol thins your blood, tattoo artists have a very difficult time working with people who are inebriated and more often than naught, the tattoo comes out terribly. In fact, many tattoo shops won’t even tattoo those who are clearly intoxicated and will turn them away at the door. Instead, what you really want to do is drink plenty of water and have a good meal before getting your tattoo, since you’ll lose blood in the process and you don’t want to run the risk of fainting.

2. Don’t Get Your Tattoo Too Early

The one thing you really, really don’t want to do is get your tattoo too early into your vacation—and this goes doubly for Hawaiʻi. It’s good to think of tattoos as open flesh wounds—you are literally being pierced thousands of times by a needle—that are prone to infection for one to two weeks after the deed has been done. That means those with fresh pieces shouldn’t go in pools or the ocean, two things you probably want to do on your vacation.

Tattoos also hurt, and tattooed areas can remain sore for a few days after your appointment, meaning things like hiking and other active outdoor activities may be taken off the table.

3. Go to a Clean Shop

Tattooist With His Machine Tattooing On The Arm With The Design Drawn

A mask and gloves are a must when looking for a clean shop.
Photo: Getty Images

Not every tattoo parlor is equal, and some are less sanitary than others. They may lure you in with cheaper prices, but the risk of infection at these locations is high and not worth the risk. When looking around for where to get your tattoo done, avoid shops where tattoo artists don’t wear gloves and disregard sanitizing their workstations. On Oʻahu, there are numerous reputable shops to choose from in Waikīkī, such as Skin Deep Tattoo and Piercing and Sacred Art Tattoo Waikīkī.

4. Choose Iconic Hawaiʻi Imagery—Or Don’t!

Getting a plumeria, honu (Hawaiian green sea turtle) or hula dancer as a tattoo are all common and great choices to remember your time in the islands. But, if you want something that’s not the norm, don’t be afraid to work with your tattoo artist to make your dream tattoo a reality. From the outline of Leʻahi (Diamond Head) to that mai tai you really loved sipping away, just about anything can become an iconic and memorable tattoo of your time in the islands.

5. Schedule Your Tattoo Ahead of Time

If you know that you’re getting to get a piece—big or small—done on your vacation, treat it as an item on your itinerary and get it locked down far in advance. Many shops and artists here in the Islands don’t have completely free schedules, and walk-ins can be tough to find—especially if you have a specific shop and artist in mind for your tattoo. So make your appointment sooner than later. This way, you can also make sure that your tattoo session is closer to the end of your trip—see the second point on this list for reference—and not based on your artist’s availability.

Categories: Arts + Culture, First-Time