Local traditions and culture in Hawaii (Big Island)

  • Local Customs
    by cjg1
  • Local Customs
    by cjg1
  • Local Customs
    by cjg1

Most Viewed Local Customs in Hawaii (Big Island)

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    Humuhumunukunukuapua`a : Try Saying That

    by cjg1 Updated Dec 23, 2013

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    Humuhumunukunukuapua`a is the name of the State Fish of Hawaii. Just try saying it without getting tonge tied. This fish makes the coral reefs of the Hawaiian island its home. The fish has multiple colorings blue, green, black and yellow across its body. Look out for them when you snorkel or scuba...you just might get a glimpse.

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    Macadamia Nuts

    by cjg1 Updated Nov 5, 2013

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    Macadamia nuts are very popular in Hawaai and are used in a a variety of foods as main ingredients and well as garnishes. Macadamia Nut candy and nuts are a popular souvenir item on the islands; sold whole or in chocolate coverings.. I like the nuts crushed and used as a crust on local fish; which is very good. My wife on the other hand can't eat nuts so she can only buy some for family back home.

    The wild pigs are the only animal on the island with a strong enough jaw to break into the extremely hard shelll of the nut. I never knew that fact until we tourned a Macadamia Nut Plantation.

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    Kukui Necklaces

    by cjg1 Written Mar 7, 2013

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    The Kukui nut lei is made from the Kukui Nut Tree.The Kukui Nut Tree is also known as the Candlenut Tree and in ancient Hawai’i the nuts were burned to provide light and the oil also has many cooking and medicinal uses. The nuts are used also in necklaces (leis) and bracelets. The colors of the nuts can be black, brown or white and often painted with decorative colors.

    The meaning of kukui is a symbol of enlightenment, protection and peace. During our travels to Hawaii my wife has bought several Kukui nut leis for herself, friends and family; it makes a great souvenir gift.

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    Farmers Markets

    by GracesTrips Updated Oct 5, 2010

    I love browsing through Hawaii's Farmers Markets. You can find the sweetest bananas, beautifully crafted jewelry, hand crafted soaps, fresh flowers and so much more. The Farmers Market in Kona is located on Alii Drive (cross street Hualalai Road) and open from Wednesday through Sunday 7am-4pm.

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    Pupu, Poke and Laulau

    by GracesTrips Written Jun 22, 2010

    Pupu (pronounced poo-poo) Hawaiian for appetizer or relish. Egg rolls, Poke, SPAM Musubi, Teriyaki chicken or beef, Katsu (breaded and fried pork, chicken or beef), barbecued spare ribs, sushi, Portuguese sausage skewers, etc.

    Poke (pronounced pou-kei) is a raw fish appetizer. Poke in Hawaiian means section, slice or cut. Usually, consists of Ahi tuna sashimi marinated in sea salt, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili pepper, chopped tomato and seaweed.

    Laulau is pork wrapped in a taro leaf and placed in an underground oven and steamed. Laulau can also be fish, beef, chicken and is usually served in a plate lunch.

    Sometimes you will find a tiny shack-like building that will say Pupus. This is about as local as it gets to eating Hawaiian "fast food". You typically find all of the above food or some of it anyway.

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    Hawaiian Treats!

    by GracesTrips Updated Jun 18, 2010

    I hate wasting time on vacation looking for gift and/or souvenirs to bring home. So, I like to browse the internet for ideas before I go and then I know exactly what to pick up if I happen to be in that area. Food is always a great item to bring back and I have found Big Island Candies located in Hilo, HI. It may be a bit pricey but I think the shortbreads and candies look amazingly good! New product I think I have to try is the green-tea dipped macadamia nut shortbread!

    Address is 585 Hinano Street, Hilo, HI 96720

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    Write Words on Lava -- Beats Paint Graffiti!

    by AKtravelers Written Nov 11, 2008

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    The Big Island is Hawaii's place for Big Drives, so it's nice to be entertained by lava graffiti. Don't worry -- there is no paint involved. Rather, people gather up white coral stones on the beach and take them to roadside lava deposits where they write words and draw pictures. The white stands out well against the dark black lava, creating the worlds most eco-friendly vandalism (if you would call it that!).

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    Konane: Ancient Hawaiian Checkers

    by AKtravelers Written Nov 14, 2007

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    If you visit Puuhonua O Honaunau, you will see lots of game stones, where the ali'i of Hawaii would play an ancient hawaiian version of checkers known as konane. The concept is very similar, though only jumping is alllowed. Each player gets 32 pebbles (either white or black, amply available in the nearby sea rocks) that fill in all 64 indentations in the konane rock. One player picks up a white and black pebble and hids them in his hand. The other player picks a hand and gets to start withthat color. Players commence to jumping each other's pieces just like in checkers, except no direction-changing jumps are allowed. Double and triple jumps are allowed as long as there is a landing place between pieces jumped (like checkers). The game ends when no more jumps are possible -- the winner is the last person to have completed a jump. In the picture adjacent to this article, it's already clear that I'm going to win, isn't it?

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    Flip-Flops (Slippers) are Appropriate Footwear

    by AKtravelers Written Oct 21, 2007

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    Everywhere you go in Hawaii, you'll see people of all ages wearing flip-flops, known locally as slippers (or "slippas" if you want to try the local accent). You'll see children wearing them to school and adults wearing them to mid-scale restaurants. They're especially appropriate when visiting friends, as it is Hawaiian custom to take your shoes off when entering a home -- and slippas are easy to remove! I never liked them personally, hating that rubber between my toes. But I got used to it and now I wear them frequently around town.

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    Hawaiian Religion Centers on Pele

    by AKtravelers Written Oct 12, 2007

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    At Helama'uma'u on 20 August, there are native Hawaiian religious celebrations focused on the god Pele, who is rumored to live in the volcano (note, if you steal lava rocks from the National Park, Pele will curse you according to local custom). In recent years, as the Hawaiian cultural identity has surged, there has been a renewed interest in Hawaiian religion. we got to witness some of that in the parking lot, as you can see in the accompanying photos.

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    Independence for Hawaii?

    by AKtravelers Written Sep 9, 2007

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    About 20% of the state of Hawaii's population is made up of native Hawaiians and an important segment of that group advocates restoring Hawaii to its status as an independent nation. Another portion of this population is fighting for some lands to be returned as ancestral homelands, much like the arrangements Native Americans have on the mainland. Their arguments are based on the way Hawaii was coopted by American agricultural elites who toppled the monarchy and pestered the United States government into annexing the islands. Their current concern is the plight of today's Hawaiians, who are economically disadvantaged compared to other ethnic groups in the state. Of course, some of them may just want casinos -- after all, Hawaii is the only state in which no form of gambling is legal -- not even the lottery.
    Anyway, one of the customs of Hawaiian nationalists is to fly the state flag upside down. If you see this, it is not a mistake.

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    Graffiti Hawai'ian Style

    by keida84 Written Aug 6, 2006

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    One of the most interesting things to see while on the Big Island is the "Island Graffiti" that runs along highway 19 from Kona to Kohala Coast. These are all "written" with white coral and leave a striking image in one's mind with the juxtaposition between the black lava rock and the white coral stones.

    There are many types of messages left ranging from memorials to loved ones who have died, marriage proposals, proclamations of love as well as messages to people passing by. It has been around for ages and people are generally good about not disturbing the messages or taking rocks to make their own message. The residents ask that the white coral not be harvested or moved from the beach.

    The photo shows our message we left on Kiholo Bay beach....we did NOT take our white stones away from the beach or farm it from the ocean as this is illegal. We only used coral stones that were already on the beach and the message was left on the same beach. No harm no foul. Sort of like building a sand castle when the tide comes it it will reclaim it to its natural state.

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    Tin Roof and Water Collection

    by raraavis Written Jan 5, 2006

    Hawaiians collect rain water for daily use.

    When driving around the Big Island, you'll notice tin roofs on buildings. Next to the roof, you'll often see a gutter that channels rain water into a gigantic wooden barrel (or a small water tower) used for collection. The collected water is then used for various purposes.

    Volcanoes National Park has several such barrels and collects enough rain water to sustain its daily operations. Smart indeed.

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    The Hawaiian Language

    by KiKitC Written Oct 25, 2005

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    The Hawaiian language is beautiful, and soft when spoken. When in Hawaii, it may help to know a couple of words, as many of the people that really know the island use terms like "mauka" and "makai" for directions. Also, the language is really easy, once you get the hang of it, and the locals will like that you are making an attempt.

    Anyway, here's some words you might want to know...

    "mauka" (mow-ka) - toward the mountain
    "makai" (mah-kigh) - toward the sea - good to know for direction
    "heiau" (hey-ee-ow) - temple
    "pakalolo" (pah-kah-low-low) - marijuana - the two above, also good for direction...hehe
    "kapu" (kah-poo) - forbidden, keep out, taboo - like the above...
    "kane" (kah-neh) - boy/man
    "wahine" (vah-hee-neh) - woman - the above two are useful to know for restrooms
    "wikiwiki" (wee-kee-wee-kee) - hurry up...often heard outside the "wahine" rooms
    "keiki" (kay-key) - children - so you don't try to order "keiki" on the menu...
    "mahalo" (mah-hah-low) - Thank you

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    Rest your spirituality

    by KiKitC Written Oct 2, 2005

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    Here in the US, it's common to find a copy of Gideon's bible in your hotel room. This allows all travelers a chance to continue their spiritual enlightenment, even when away from home. Here in Hilo, other idealogies exist, and it is shared with us. In our room, we found a copy of the Bible as well as a copy of the Teachings of Buddha. You know what? It worked. During this time of conflict in my life (recovering from our accident and the trauma of the injuries) I found many words of hope in those pages. When I returned home, I ordered my own copy...to continue on my path to enlightenment.

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