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Broaden Your Horizons with Hawaiian Culture

Welcome to Dream Vacations, a lifestyle column on travelling to amazing destinations with practical advice and my revelations about locales from years of personal experience. Hawaii often gets billed as a paradise, a watersport mecca but not too often as a great place to soak up a cultural experience.  Hopefully this blog changes your mind. The Hawaiian peoples are a fascinating and unique indigenous culture that has a long and storied history with wonderful traditions. Here are just a few.

An Ancient Kingdom to Explore

There still rages a great scientific and cultural debate on when Hawaii was first settled with dates of modern Hawaiians arriving from the Polynesian Islands as early as 100 AD to as late as 1200 AD. Yet oral tradition speaks about the first Polynesian arrivals having to push back menehune, little people, into more remote areas of the islands. Which ever is the truth, there is plenty of ancient history and tradition in Hawaiian culture that in itself is a mix of other Polynesian and Asian cultures.

There are museums, heritage sites and historical buildings that represent this illustrious past just waiting for you to explore.

Art is Life

Similar to any advanced society the Hawaiians developed their own sense of art through all forms of expression including dance, music, and visual arts. The art of Hula is one that many non-Hawaiians have heard about, but may not entirely understand. Traditional Hula encompasses dance, chanting and is typically accompanied by percussion instruments and is literally considered ‘life itself’ in the culture. It is oral history and a connection between their land, culture, and gods.

Other Hawaiian art includes the making of lei, visual and creative arts and even the art of film, with Hawaii providing some of the most famous back-drops for Hollywood movies.

Breezy Island Music

The ukulele, the slack-keyed guitar, falsetto or ‘Jawaiian’ are some of the most prominent aspects of Hawaiian music which can be found on any of the islands with local music being played live weekly at bars, festivals and beaches or on local radio. The flow of nature is invoked in the unique, breezy and flowing nature of island music. Be sure to ask your concierge where the best local music can be heard.


Another very important cultural tradition, that everyone is familiar with, is the Luau. But did you know, the Luau was started by King Kamehameha II in 1819 as way to mark the new era, and do away with the ancient tradition during celebration meals where women were not allowed to eat with men. Luau refers to the taro leaf that was traditional served at a Luau. In modern day, Luau’s are used to celebrate a whole range of celebrations including birthdays, retirements, anniversaries and weddings.

Want to get involved and enjoy these cultural activities? Many of the top resorts in Hawaii, like those that we represent, including the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort or the Marriott Maui Ocean Club have many of these available to guests. Call us today for your booking.

Tags: Hawaii, Maui, culture, luau, hula, history, experiences, family vacation