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15 Hawaiian Phrases and Words to Learn for Your Hawaii Vacation


April 24, 2020

Visiting a new vacation destination is not always easy, especially if you need to learn something new just to blend in. Depending on the place you want to travel to, you might sometimes need to get a better understanding of their culture and norms, learn how to eat the type of food and drink they have available, be more at ease with the weather conditions or know how to speak their language. If you ever decide to visit Hawaii for the first time, you will have to do all of these, too. And if you want to be better acquainted with the locals, here are 15 popular Hawaiian phrases and words you will need to learn for your Maui vacation.

1. Aloha

The most popular Hawaiian word that everyone around the world is probably quite familiar with is “Aloha”. If you want to know how to say hello in Hawaiian, aloha is the word. It basically translates to three different words. Apart from a greeting or salutation, it can also be a word of love or affection as well as goodbye! It can mean differently depending on how and when it is said. When combined with other words, aloha also takes on a different meaning, from “Aloha kakahiaka” (Good morning), “Aloha ‘auinalā” (Good afternoon) and more.

2. Mahalo

If you want to always sound courteous and make a good impression to the locals in Hawaii, you should also learn how to say thank you in Hawaiian. To show their gratitude, Hawaiians say “Mahalo”. And if you are feeling extra thankful, you can say “mahalo nui loa” (pronounced as mah-hah-loh noo-ee lo-wa).

3. ‘A’ ole pilikia

If someone says mahalo to you to show their gratitude, this is the reply you should give them. Pronounced as ah-oh-leh pee-lee-kee-yah, this phrase translates to “You’re welcome” or “No problem.”

4. E kala mai

If you want to say “Excuse me”, “Sorry” or “Pardon me”, e kala mai is the phrase you should use.

5. Hauʻoli Lā Hānau

Want to know how to say happy birthday in Hawaiian? You say, “Hauʻoli Lā Hānau” (pronounced as how-oh-lay la ha-now). “Hau`oli” means happy, “Lā” means day and “Hānau” means “born or birth. This can also be accompanied by a Maui made gift from Hawaii to make for the perfect birthday wish!

6. E komo mai

Once you arrive in Hawaii, e komo mai may be one of the first things you will hear. This phrase means welcome. and most hotels, luaus, and events in Hawaii will have this put up on signs and brochures to welcome guests.

7. Ohana

If you encounter restaurants serving ohana style or small hotels treating their guests like ohana, keep in mind that the word means “family.” Many small businesses and establishments in Hawaii offer ohana-style or ohana-friendly services since many families visit the island for vacations.

8. A hui hou

What do you say to the great company you’ve made in Hawaii, if you wish to see them again in the future? You say, “A hui hou,” which means “until we meet again.” If you are saying it to a group of people, you say “a hui hou kakou”.

9. Keiki

This is another term that you will usually encounter in restaurants or during events. Keiki means child, so when you have kids in your group, you will surely be offered a keiki menu in a restaurant.

10. Hau‘oli lā Ho‘omana‘o 

Celebrating your anniversary with your special someone? If you are, then get ready to hear this greeting frequently. Hau‘oli lā Ho‘omana‘o means “happy anniversary”.

11. Mele Kalikimaka

If you are spending your Christmas vacation in Hawaii, you will want to know how to say Merry Christmas in Hawaiian. To greet locals and fellow tourists during Christmas, you say “Mele Kalikimaka”.

12. Hau‘oli Makahiki Hou

If you are celebrating the New Year in Hawaii, you greet people Happy New Year by saying “Hau‘oli Makahiki Hou.”

13. Aloha au ia ‘oe

Want to express your love in the Hawaiian way? Then you’d better practice how to say I love you in Hawaiian. The phrase Aloha au ia ‘oe (pronounced as a-lo-ha-aw-ya-o-we) means “I love you”.

14. Hoaloha

For you to make the most of your stay in Hawaii, you might want to make some hoaloha, which means friend.

15. Pehea ‘oe?

If you want to ask someone how they are doing in Hawaii, you say, “Pehea ‘oe?” which means “How are you?”

There are a lot more words to learn if you want to be better at speaking Hawaiian. But learning the basic and most popular Hawaiian phrases and words is a good start!



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