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12 Hawaiian words you should know before traveling to the Big Island

an underwater photo of a sea turtle swimming above coral.
Photo credit: Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

A little effort at the language can go a long way! When I first arrived at the island, I made a game out of pronouncing the names of streets before I passed them. If you're traveling around the island in a Campervan with a partner, make a game out of it to see who can correctly pronounce street names first.

Here are 12 (twelve) words to get you started before you arrive.

  • Aloha - a greeting that means love and friendship

  • Mahalo - thank you

  • A Hui Hou - until we meet again

  • Howzit - how are you?

  • Honu - Sea Turtle

  • Kama aina - "child of the land" - refers to someone who lives on the island

  • Ohana - family

  • Lilikoi - passionfruit

  • Haole - a foreigner or white person (can be both derogative and playful)

  • Makai - towards the water

  • Mauka - towards the mountain

  • Pau - finished, all gone

For learning more Hawai'ian, I recommend joining Duolingo!


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