Hawaiian Traditions, Oahu
Lei is Hawaiian meaning garland or wreath. Leis can be made of shells, beads, leaves or flowers. Most peoplle associate the giving of Leis as a welcoming token of affection. This welcoming lei was popularized by the tourism boom to Hawaii in the 19th and 20th century.It is a nice gesture that many of the hotels present guests with a welcome lei upon arrival.
There are also services that arrange for Lei greetings at the airport; this is a nice gift if someone is visiting for the first time or for a special occasion.
I love that there are free local guides and maps available on the street, in hotels at the airport and cruise ports. These are little gems of information of the area and the local happenings. There are also some great coupons and savings in many of the guides. Definitely pick them up where available; you never know what you might find useful.
It is said that the Mai Tai was invented in Oakland, California by Trader Vic, but Don the Beachcomber Vic's rival claims to have invented it in 1933. Either way this drink was made widely popular in the late 1950's and 1960's when tiki-themed restaurants and bars started serving them. The Mai Tai was also featured in one of Elvis Presley's movie, Blue Hawaii.
Today, the Mai Tai can be found in many restaurant and bars throughout Oahu. I particularly prefer the Blue Hawaiian while I am in Oahu, but I have tried the Mai Tai and liked it quite much.
The Mai Tai is made of dark rum, amber rum, ogeat syrup, orange curacao, triple sec, grenadine, and lime juice. (There are many variations of this drink).
The Ukulele is a small guitar like instrument that was first introduced to the Hawaiian islands by Portuguese immigrants in the late 19th century.
The name Ukulele can loosely be translated as "jumping flea" as the Hawaiians described the player's fingers jumping quickly from string to string.
Making a Ukulele is considered a respected art form and there are many factories where you can find high quality hand crafted instruments.
You can hear sounds of the Ukulele throughout Oahu since the instrument is part of any band. and its quite a nice and enjoyable sound.
Lei, the Hawaiian word for garland is an old tradition which was made more popular through tourism in the 19th and 20th century.
The Lei is offered as a symbol of affection. For the residents of Hawaii, it is also used for special occasions like graduations, births, weddings, etc.
There are many types of leis with many different materials used. Normally we see the leis which are made of flowers, but they can also be made of shells and other objects.
In Hawaii the lei is such an important part of the culture that every year on May 1st there is a festival. You can find leis everywhere in Hawaii and if you want you can order leis that can be shipped directly to your home for any occassion.
Most people who travel know the term "island time". Island Time is that relaxed and casual attitude that means don't rush...just go with the flow. Island Time is alive and well in Hawaii though not always in big tourist areas such as Waikiki and Honolulu. It takes some time to adjust from the rush and hustle of the Mainland but you will get accustomed to the change and actually enjoy not caring about time.
My wife and I are early risers so breakfast for us is usually 6am or whenever the place opens. So naturally we get hungry for lunch earlier than most people and I like the fact that so many places in Oahu open early for lunch. Many places started serving lunch as early as 10:30am and with alcoholic drinks...awesome.
The Hawaiian flower-garland is called Lei and it’s a symbol of many things.
First of all, let me disappoint you, forget what you see in the movies, you won’t get “lei’d” at the airport; these happy days are long gone.
However, giving lei to someone means care, friendliness, love.
The most popular type of lei is made of flowers, orchids or more often plumeria. The latter grows on trees all over the Hawaiian Islands. You can try and make your own lei; there are many places that offer lei-making lessons. Just remember that there are tons of ways to make lei, so concentrate on one or two styles, unless you want to spend the entire vacation on making Hawaiian garlands.
And, not only flowers considered lei-making material, it can be made of shells, beads, leaves, and of course those fabric and plastic flowers that are sold on every corner.
Rumor has it that there’s a special way to toss your lei when it’s no longer fresh and pretty. Apparently it has to be returned back to the nature, thrown to the sea or hanged on a tree. I’m sure if you ask locals they’ll have a lot to tell about the tossing ceremony.
Our Oahu nature tour strolled passed this small cemetery on our way to Kapena Falls.
The guide explained that those who have loved ones here place all sorts of thing on their family graves. Items which would be appreciated by those who passed on.
At one time people would stop by the cemetery and make use of the bottles of beer or alcohol left on the graves. They had wild parties here. Now, any such item has to be uncorked or uncapped to discourage revelers.
Nowhere in the United States have I ever seen more fireworks blown off for New Year's Eve than Hawaii. My first experience was for the the last day of 2006 when I had to drive from Kailu to Hawaii Kai for a party. Waimanalo was like a war zone, with locals firing mortars at the Koolau from the middle of the street! It was like I was driving the western front in Ypres. And then when I arrived at the party on a ridgetop overlooking Diamond Head, I got a birds-eye view of all the neighborhoods blowing off rockets and arials. These weren't mere sparklers, these were high-powered explosives! Soon, the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Kahala Town Center and Aloha Tower started their midnight displays -- combined with the neighborhood pyrotechnics I felt like George Bernard Shaw of CNN declaring that the air war had begun in Baghdad. Hawaiians love their fireworks!
Oahu is the island where no sunset is the same; every evening mother-nature paints the sky with different colors.
Different shades of red, orange, yellow, and gray cover the shore of Waikiki and make every taken picture a screensaver. Sometimes, when the colors are really strong it looks like the ocean is on fire, and there’s, truly, nothing more beautiful than this.
I never thought that one day I’ll be sitting and writing a tip, about a sunset, that will contain more than just a few words. I was sure that in my hometown, Tel Aviv, I’ve seen all the possible beauties of the twilight. How wrong I was! During my visit, several times I’d run to the famous Waikiki to create another digital masterpiece, shooting pictures from the first colorful hue to show, till the last orange ray that’d disappear in the horizon.
Those stunning sunsets will always remain one of my best memories of Oahu.
Many of you who arrive at Honlulu International Airport will be greeted with a lei (a ring of flowers, nuts or other vegetation), be it by a tour group company emp[loyee or (better yet) a thoughtful friend. Leis are a traditional Hawaiian welcome, and they come in flowery assortments that are for female, male or either sex. Additionally, if you get an award or promotion, it is typical for a lei to be bestowed upon you. In my opinion, this is a great tradition!
If a woman wears a flower behind her left ear, it represents she is taken.
If a woman wears a flower behind here right ear, it represents she is single!
If she wears the flower in a ponytail or bun behind her, well!
It means" Follow me and ask no questions!
It was the Polyneasians that invented the tatoo so it shouldn't be surprising that body art is very common in Oahu. I am definitely in the minority when I bring my unpainted body into the gym in Kaneohe. Most people, regardless of age, have some sort of tatoo on their bodies -- actually most people have more than one. If you're of the mind that tatoos are worn only by sailors and social misfits, you'll have to reassess that when you come to Oahu.
For someone from a cold climate, Christmas on Oahu can seem strange. For our entire lives, we've associated Christmas with short days, cold, snow and ice (usually in all their positive connotations), so it was really hard to get in the spirit when we first arrived. And, with all this great sunshine, who wants to duck in a mall and go through the drudgery of Christmas shopping? But it gets more bizarre. First was the Christmas music, which is piped in everywhere, still consisted of the old northern standards -- "Let it Snow"; "White Christmas" "Walking in a Winter Wonderland", etc. Hearing those songs in Hawaii was jarring. Then came the lawn decorations: blow up snowmen and snowflakes. But wierdest of all was driving past a parking lot of a church which had trucked in some artificial snow for the kids to play in! It all seemed so very ... Canadian!
Don't enough Americans live in warm climates now that we can dispense with the association of snow with Christmas -- at least in those warm places? What does snow have to do with the actual celebration of Christmas anyway? Some day we ought to spend christmas in Australia to see how they do it.