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Relax. Slow down. Take your time. Get into local time by slowing down. Walk slower. Drive slower. This might not sound like much in the way of advise, but it's something that's hard for a lot of us mainlanders to do. In order to really see Hawaii with your eyes, ears, nose, taste and touch you have to take the time to do it.
Visit the Hawaii Shrine at to see more.
Photo by Karen Byerly.
Updated Sep 29, 2007
Every syllable ends with a vowel. Every consonant is separated by a vowel.
Only 13 letters in their alphabet:
A, E, I, O, U, H, K, L, M, N, P, W, and ‘
That last character is considered by linguists to be a consonant in the Hawai‘ian language. It is the ‘okina and not just a punctuation mark. View all pictures for more Hawai‘ian grammar information.
The ‘okina, or glottal stop, looks like a backwards apostrophe or an open quote that separates only vowels in words like Hawai‘i or comes at the beginning in words like ‘Ohe‘o. To produce the sound represented by the ‘okina, just say the expression uh-oh in American English. It is the guttural utterance in the middle of uh-oh that you also produce for the ‘okina in Hawai‘ian.
Where there are multiple vowels together in a word and there is no ‘okina separating them, you need to remember these rising dipthongs: ei, eu, oi, ou, ai, ae, ao, and au.. And then there is the even dipthong: iu. A rising dipthong produces a single-syllable-like vowel where stress is applied on the first letter and an off-glide is applied to the second while producing a fluid pronunciation of each vowel flowing smoothly and quickly into the next. An even dipthong applies equal stress to each vowel. End result: Sounds almost like a single vowel.
Say: Hawai‘i. The W is pronounced as a V. The A+I are a rising dipthong (see above) and the I after the ‘okina produces the 'ee' sound (as in feet). Remember to emphasize the guttural sound of the ‘okina at the beginning of the last syllable. Some purists also believe the H to be silent.
What is the importance of the ‘okina? Here it is inserted correctly in two island names often mispronounced:
Lanai / Lana‘i (lah-nah-ee)
Molokai / Moloka‘i (moh-loh-kah-ee)
These pronunciations may be considerably different from what you may have become accustomed to hearing.
Updated Nov 25, 2006
Spam is a very common food item in the Hawaiian diet. They consume more of it per capita than any other state in our great union. Since it is such a highly prized commodity, according to a show I saw on the Travel Channel, the State has a secret warehouse full of it to prevent any public panic in the rare event of a national shortage.
Why not try the Spam, Sam I AM? Just try it and you will see. Try the Spam, Sam I Am. You will like it. I guarantee.
I will not try it. Just let me be. I will not eat it! Can't you see?
On our first trip there in 1993, I found these little cakes of rice with a slice of meat all wrapped in nori (paper-thin dried seaweed) sitting on the counter by the register of a convenience store. When I inquired as to what they were, they said it was called musubi. I thought it was interesting when the cashier said the locals eat them all the time. It's just a simple snack made with Spam. So, while totally disgusting my wife and the other couple we traveled there with, I ate it. I actually enjoyed it very much. Every trip since then, I've eagerly sought them out.
You'll find musubi at many convenience stores on the islands. And as for Spam on a menu, it'll be there, too. Just look for it. Heck, you may even find it on some very well-to-do restaurant menus.... seriously. All I can say is to try the musubi. It will make for a good introduction. My wife finally did... and she likes them now, too.
Okay! Okay! I'll try just one. Just a tiny bite and then I'm done!
I like it! I like it! Are there anymore? I'll eat it! I'll eat it! I'll complain no more.
Return to my main Hawai`i page.
Updated Mar 15, 2006
ABC stores is THE chain of convenience stores in Hawaii. They pretty much have anything you could possibly want on earth that weighs less than 10 lbs. And they are everywhere, at least in the more urban areas of the islands. If for some odd reason you can't find that special Hawaiian souvenir, of that particular kind of soda, of that brand of sun block at one ABC store, chances are there will be another one right down the street, if not right across the street. This is the place to go if you need that small certain something in a hurry. Well, or the other one 1 block over! :)
Written Jan 28, 2006
If you've ever noticed a hand gesture where the person extends their thumb and pinky finger, and tucks their middle fingers in, then you have seen the Shaka. It is a signal to greet someone, or just to say "What's Up?". It's origins come from Hawaii, and it dates back to the early 20th century. The story that I have been told is that there was a guard on a sugar plantation on Oahu that had lost his middle fingers in a mill accident. When kids would try to steal sugar cane, he would yell and wave his hand at them. Of course having only the 2 outer fingers, it was a very distinct wave. The kids adopted the hand gesture of tucking in their middle fingers to look like the guard's hand to signal to each other that the guard was nearby. Ever since then, it has been used on the islands. Surfers use it quite frequently as well, as Hawaii has some of the best surf in the world. This has spread the Shaka worldwide. So if you see someone give you a Shaka, don't be offended, just Shaka them back!
Updated Jan 28, 2006
Poi, pronounced P-O-Y, is a staple of traditional Hawaiian cuisine. It is made from the root of the Taro plant, a native plant of the Hawaiian Islands, as well as other islands of the south Pacific. The root is pounded into a paste, and generally served with other Hawaiian foods such as kalua pork or lomi salmon. If you attend a luau, you will most certainly have an opportunity to try some poi out for yourself. It is purple in color, which initially makes visitors a little stand offish. The taste though, at least in my opinion, and from several others that I have conversed with, is pretty bland. But again, it is for the most part to be enjoyed with other main courses. So if you have a trip planned to the islands, make sure you try some Poi!
Updated Jan 27, 2006
It’s all in the shoes. Flip flops are welcome almost everywhere and is a big indicator if you are a tourist or local.
Be nice and slow down.
Some Hawaiians can be touchy towards the lighter skinned U.S. “Mainlanders.”
Written Jul 6, 2005
Fortunately, we were in Maui during the month of January, which is a good time for seeing the whales.
The best place to learn about the whales is at the Island Marine Institute.
Every year from mid-December through mid-May, the humpback whales make Maui waters their home. These whales migrate almost 3,500 miles from their Alaskan summer feeding waters. Because of Maui's warm waters, this is where they have their calves.
The Island Marine Institute does research each winter/spring season on the humpback whales. They have whale watch vessels, which they combine the resources of a successful commercial operation with the needs of the marine research team.
You can go aboard one of their whale watch vessels to see the whales.
The Photograph is of the Captain of the Whale Watch Boat Giving the "Hang Loose" Sign.
They are located at: 658 Front Street, #101
Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 96761
Updated Jun 4, 2005
Phone: 1 800 275-6969
The History Channel aired a great two-hour program called Conquest of Hawaii recently (Oct., 2003). If you missed it, you can buy it on their website. I thought it was thorough and quite interesting. Some segments were graphic (in their descriptions, not on the screen) with the brutal history of these people. I only noticed one small misrepresentation. Someone well-studied in Hawaiian history and culture may find more.
Updated Nov 5, 2003
Some people just take a holiday to relax, some to do things and some to see things but the british usually expect people to adjust to them.
Personally (and I know of many VT'ers with the same mindset) I like to become somewhat "local" when I travel. This means learning the language and customs and actually meeting people.
Well this is Jamie who I met in Waikiki, if you see her give her a wave from me.
The frame is cheap but the subjects high quality!
Updated Jul 8, 2003
4 Reviews and 753 Opinions Upon arrival to the Halekulani you are greeted at the desk and assigned a staff member to tour you...
Royal Kona Resort Kailua-Kona
5 Reviews and 1175 Opinions The hotel room I had, had a balcony. When I looked to the right, I had a view to the ocean.