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Exploring Hawaiian Traditions

Hands holding several pink and yellow leis

Hawaii is a diverse island with a deep-rooted culture that stems from generations of tradition. If you’re interested in the military house rentals at Kapilina, then it helps to have a basic understanding of the island’s traditions. Just like moving from one area to another, knowing the people’s customs is an excellent way to make your transition easier.

Greetings and Meetings

Whether it’s meeting someone on the side of the street or being invited into their home, there a couple things to remember about Hawaiian customs. First, Hawaii shares a standard greeting found around the world. Most people say hello with a kiss on the cheek. This is similar to the British custom of greeting someone, but don’t expect it every time. Most cheek kisses are reserved for friends and acquaintances.

When you do make some friends, being invited over to their house is an honor. Never show up to someone’s place empty handed. A gift is customary, however small it may be. Remember, it’s the gesture that counts.

At the same time, you want to respect the person’s home by taking your shoes off before entering. American customs generally have a visitor take their shoes off by the door after entering, but they key here is to do so beforehand. Leave your shoes on the porch. Why? Aside from sand, Hawaiians don’t want dirt tracked into their homes anymore than anyone else in the world.

Gift Giving

Cultures across the globe celebrate gift giving from birthdays to loving reminders. Hawaii is no different, but there are a few things they do differently. One shared custom, however, is to bring back a gift for friends and family when you travel. This kind gesture solidifies your relationships with these individuals.

Flower lei are a common gift amongst Hawaiians, especially during birthdays and holidays. The lei marks a special occasion, but it also signifies good will towards visitors you’ve invited into your home. When in doubt on a gift idea, the flower lei never fails to bring a smile to someone’s face.

The only time the giving of the lei changes is when a woman is hapai, or pregnant. Lei can have their flowers closed or open, but you should never under any circumstances give a closed flower lei to a pregnant woman. Hawaiians consider this bad luck for the health of the baby.

Another consideration for hapai is to never give a flower lei featuring Hawaiian Screwpine. This flower is considered a bad omen for mothers to be. While the meaning of that bad omen can change, it is one of the rudest things you can offer as a gift.

Gift giving also extends to birthdays. Out of all the birthdays a Hawaiian will have, their first is the largest. These luaus find their roots in a time when babies struggled to make it past age one. Natives continue to go all out while celebrating the first luau. So, make sure to bring a gift to match the importance of the celebration.


While every culture has their fair share of holidays, some are always more important than others. New Years is always a major one, and the people of Hawaii celebrate the Chinese New Year. Two popular customs during this celebration are the Lion Dance, which signifies good luck, and to give money in a lucky red envelope called the Lai See.

Hinamatsuri, or Girl’s Day, is another popular holiday. This Japanese tradition celebrates young women across the island and features the mochi, a Japanese-style rice cake. Lei Day, or May Day, is another celebrated statewide with festivities and get-togethers.

Finally, there’s Thanksgiving. Instead of serving a turkey as the main dish, Hawaiians incorporate a wide variety of multi-cultural dishes. You’ll find traces of traditional Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Portuguese cuisines.

Acts of Respect

There are two customs you won’t want to accidentally forget while in Hawaii. The first has to do with your car horn. While you might be used to honking at a distracted driver or out of road rage, it’s something you never want to do on the island. Your horn is for one thing only, and that’s saying a friendly hello to another driver on the road.

The second is the wearing of a flower in your hair (specifically for the ladies). A flower in your left ear means you’re taken. A flower in the right says you’re available and searching. Respecting those relational boundaries is essential.

One other consideration is respect for the island. The general rule is to leave nature the way you found it. Never takes sand or rocks from the beach, and never take lava rocks from a volcano. Hawaii is one of the most gorgeous locales in the world, and locals plan to keep it that way.

Understanding the Language

Pidgin, commonly referred to as Hawaii Creole English, is commonly spoken throughout the island. This language is a unique mixture of cultures and languages ranging from Japanese to Filipino. It was created by native Hawaiians and immigrant laborers out of a need to communicate with plantation owners.

While Pidgin contains its fair share of Hawaiian words, it is not the island’s actual language. Hawaiian dialect is its own set of words and phrases that existed long before the island was colonized. Regardless, it helps to learn as much Pidgin as you can to help you make the most of your new home.

One Odd Fact

Spam is a favorite snack in Hawaii. Yes, canned Spam. One of the most popular handheld snacks takes this meat and grills it, then combines it with rice wrapped in nori (dried seaweed) to make what is called a musubi.

Military House Rentals

Nestled at Iroquois Point in West Oahu, Kapilina Beach Homes provides a luxury island experience like no other. Find your home amongst pristine lagoons, secluded beaches, and first-class amenities in garden-style homes complete with everything you could need and then some. From top-tier resort-style accommodations to NEX with on-site fuel for military residents and gated access, this is the high live in Oahu.

Welcome to Kapilina Beach Homes, where your resort awaits.