Hawaii’s diverse population and location have created a beautiful blend of cultures that extend far beyond just food and language. People living on “island time” and the Aloha Spirit are part of what brings visitors to Maui and neighboring islands, but respect is another huge part of Hawaiian culture. Here are a few of the unwritten rules to live by while visiting that you might not have known!

When in doubt, don’t go out

This is a common phrase used any time there are hazardous ocean conditions . Maui’s beaches and the surrounding ocean are some of the most consistently clear and relaxing places in the world, but unpredictable weather and wildlife demand a healthy respect of the ocean. In places with dangerous shore break (large waves that crash hard directly onto the sand) signs are often posted. Murky or brown water is another one to stay away from. If you’re ever unsure or uneasy about going in the water, it’s a good idea to check with a lifeguard, nearby signs or enjoy just the view from the beach. 

Drive like a local.

For the most part, drivers on Maui are very laid back and prefer to drive a bit slower than drivers on the mainland. They are very courteous, letting other drivers merge and letting pedestrians cross and it’s very rare to hear someone honk their horn unless they see a friend on the road. Driving with the flow of traffic is normally your best bet, but for areas with narrow one lane roads like the Road to Hana, Upcountry etc. it’s best to pull over quickly to let residents (or Kama’aina) pass.  Locals very familiar with these roads typically travel them daily and know the twists and turns by heart it’s much safe to stop quickly than try to keep up. 

Understanding Pidgin

Hawaiian Pidgin comes from a mix of Hawaiian, English, Japanese, Filipino, Chinese and Portuguese culture and languages. Some common words are very well known (like Mahalo, Aloha and Ohana), but some you’ll only hear when you’re on island.  This is by no means a recommendation to attempt to use all of these words in conversation, but it can be a helpful guide in understanding what someone is saying and clear up a little confusion if a sentence doesn’t quite make sense!

Dakine- the thing (when you can’t remember what its called)

Shoots- agreement (like “alright” or “yeah”or saying goodbye)  

Choke- A lot

Howzit- How is it/ what’s up

Uncle/ Auntie- Used as a sign of respect from kids (even some young adults) to any older adult 

Grindz- Food

‘Aina- Land (normally talking about the island)

Slippah- Flip Flop/ Sandals

Lanai- Porch/ Balcony 

Pau- Done

 

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