Oahu Hawaii, The Birthplace of Surfing, Still Shreds

May 18, 2008 by  
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On the island of Oahu, the ancient Polynesian people used their surfing skills to get to market with their fish catch, gain status in the community, and even to mark royalty. The best boards made of the best woods were reserved for the king, and the royal family had their own private beaches. King Kamehameha was noted as a fantastic surfer. When Captain James Cook and his crew arrived at the islands in 1778, they saw people surfing on large, heavy boards and described it in amazed, glowing accounts.

Today the island’s beaches boast nearly one hundred fifty surfing spots, ranging from the gentle waves of central Honolulu’s Queen’s to the immense and dangerous swells of the North Shore’s Banzai Pipeline. Surfing shops, teachers, lessons, and classes line the shores of the island to take advantage of these pristine conditions. Learning surfing in its birthplace can be an experience bordering on religious, even for the timid on the smallest curls. One of the appeals of Oahu is the wide range of options it offers to surfers of all levels of expertise.

For the pros, Oahu is the site of some of the biggest and most renowned surfing competitions. The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, the world’s top championship for big-wave surfing, is held on Oahu’s vaunted North Shore. The first event is the ODP Pro, held at Alii Beach in Waimea Bay. Sunset Beach hosts the second event for men, the O’neil World Cup of Surfing, while the Roxy Pro for women is held at Sunset Beach. For the final women’s event the competitors move to Maui for the Billabong Pro at Honolua bay. The Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters is the final men’s event, held at the Banzai Pipeline – one of the most dangerous surfing spots on Earth.

Also held in Waimea Bay on the North Shore is the Quicksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau, which is only held when the waves are twenty feet or higher, usually in mid-winter.

Though prizes run most often in the $10,000-$250,000 range, these competitions can net up to $815,000 for the champion – not to mention the corporate sponsorships, promotions, and even TV and movie work.

kiss the bride film divx

More importantly, they test the skill, balance, and sheer athleticism of thousands of surfers every year, and give spectators a chance to see the Sport of Kings played in a truly spectacular, breathtaking setting. 

History of the Hawaiian Hula Dance

May 18, 2008 by  
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Hula dance is a form of storytelling, expression, religious practice, and art that stretches back to ancient times.

Ancient Times – Hula Kahiko

The ancient origins of hula dance are shrouded in mystery and mythology. In a pre-literate society, an oral history was preserved through this music and dance, and it was used as a form of prayer. Often it was also used as amusement, celebration, and performance. The traditional musical instruments were gourds, drums, rattles and sticks, many made from gourds. Songs or ritualized chants tell stories of history, mythology, and morality, across all phases of life and the range of human emotion. There were many different “types” of hula, such as the Dance for the Chief, the Dance with Bamboo Pipes, the Dance as an Image, and others.

Monarchy – Hula ‘auana

During the monarchy period from 1810 through 1898, hula was derided by foreign Calvinist missionaries as a lewd and pagan practice. King Kamehameha II banned the art at the missionaries’ request, but enforced the ban only halfheartedly and continued to personally support it. Outside influence on the dance forms changed them drastically. The costumes changed as well, from merely to traditional bark-cloth skirts and leis to including tops and less revealing cloth skirts. European musical forms and harmonies were introduced.

Late Monarchy and Republic – Hula Ku’i

As the monarchy began to more openly support hula, a new form emerged. This combined poetry with chanting, dance, and a more limited selection of musical instruments. In particular, the ipu gourd-drum was prevalent. Religion remained a strong component of the dance.

Twentieth Century – Hula ‘auana / ku’i

Hula came to the world’s attention on the silver screen. Growing external influence combined many hula movements with other types of dance movements, solidifying this fusion as its own style. The dance’s sensual elements were emphasized and its vocabulary limited to those movements that looked compelling on film and in tourist performances, rather than those that carried meaning. Melodic music, as opposed to traditional drumming and chanting, rose in prominence. Hula became largely secularized, though a few traditional practitioners kept the older knowledge alive.

A resurgence of interest in the ancient hula forms has produced a tremendous respect for the Hawaiian dance community elders. The Hula Preservation Society has dedicated thousands of hours to filming and recording the songs and dances of elderly practitioners. These hula masters learned the dances from their grandparents, preserving the monarchy-era dances in living memory. These newly discovered and re-created ancient dances, called ai kahiko, are modern attempts to return the hula to its more spiritual roots and to preserve the oral histories they expressed.

Five Great Places to Visit in Honolulu and Surrounding Areas

May 18, 2008 by  
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Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii, is one of the most interesting places to visit. There are many different things that you can do in Honolulu on your vacation to this great city. Surrounding this great city are a number of attractions as well. Here are five great places to visit during your stay.

Visit the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum while you are in Honolulu. This is located in Kalihi, and it houses some of the most legendary Hawaiian and Pacific artifacts in the world. The statues, tools and other visions from the ancient history of Hawaii are on prominent display and are worth your time while visiting in Hawaii. As you observe the way Hawaii once lived, it is almost a spiritual experience. The history and feel of the island are very clearly felt as you observe these old artifacts.

Chinatown is another fantastic place to visit. The food alone in this thriving Mecca of downtown Honolulu is worth the visit. The incredible variety of foods and aromas in this little piece of Asian culture will have your stomach grumbling the minute you walk down the street. Chinese, Vietnamese, and other great cuisine are available for you to sample in Chinatown. You can also find Lei shops, noodle markets, fish stands, and keepsakes of any kind. Chinatown is thriving and one of the true melting pot cities in the world. The diversity of the cultures in Hawaii are on proud display in Chinatown.

Another wonderful place to visit is the Iolani Palace. This is the last official home of Hawaiian royalty. The impressive stairway and incredible chandeliers are breathtaking as you move through the historical halls and rooms of the palace. This is the last place that Royalty in Hawaii lived, and you can see the incredible riches as you tour the grounds. The crown jewels are a must see as well.

In Manoa Valley, you want to visit Lyon Arboretum. This is a wonderful place to observe the flora of the island, as well as various palms and spices that are indigenous to the island. This is one place that will leave you relaxed after visiting. This is situated at the base of Koolau mountain, and the walls rise up before your eyes. This is an incredible sight and one you will remember forever.

Finally, Waikiki Aquarium is a must see in Hawaii. This incredible aquarium will allow you to rub elbows with the sea life of the island up close and personal. From sharks to skates to seals, the Aquarium is a wonderful get away. This place lets you see the dangerous and the beautiful that exists below the surface of Hawaii’s pristine oceans.

While there are literally thousands of places in Hawaii to visit, these five places are all popular and with good reason. Each of them allows a visitor to truly experience the history and culture of Hawaii, both modern and ancient.

The Religions and Superstitions of Hawaii

May 18, 2008 by  
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Hawaiian religion is as diverse as its rich culture. The earliest Hawaiians practiced what is called a polytheistic religion. That is they believed in a number of demi-deities. This gods ranged from Pele, a goddess of fire and volcanoes, to Maui, a prankster god. This particular strain of religion still remains but in more of a traditional folklore among the Hawaiians of the islands.

Though this ancient religion is largely only folklore now, many Hawaiians still adhere to some of the customs. That said, some live in fear when ancient graves are dug up, or remains are disturbed. These superstitions are quite common among the Hawaiian people as compared to American superstition. Though much of the old ways of religion are gone, some remnants remain until this day.

Around 1820, the first Christians arrived and began to convert some of the population. Soon afterwards, a number of religions found their way to Hawaii such as Methodists, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Mormons.

The Chinese were very important to the religious choices of the Hawaiians. The Chinese, largely believing in Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism became one of the largest groups of religious teachings in the Hawaiian islands.

Though Christianity is spreading throughout the Hawaiian chain, the largest groups seem to be the Buddhists. There are also a number of the old school polytheists still around, but they are surely in the minority.

The superstitions of Hawaii are largely based on the religious beliefs of the older Hawaiians. Some of the superstitions are quite elaborate. Here are some selected customs and superstitions of the Hawaiian people.


Some Hawaiian people believe in the “Night Marchers.” These were the ancient warriors of the land that would travel the paths along the ridges of the Hawaiian coastline. They are often seen carrying torches at night to light the way to the battlefields.

One of the biggest and most well known customs is the handling of the discovery of bones or burial grounds. While clearing land, if bones or burial grounds are found, a foreman must contact archeologists and Burial Council Officials so that they can properly process the scene. This can cause significant delays in construction but it keeps the spirits of the island happy.

Lava rocks play a prominent role in Hawaiian superstitions as well. It is a well known Hawaiian belief that if anyone takes away lava rocks as a keepsake, that bad luck will follow them everywhere they go. This belief stems from the demi-god Pele, who would create and destroy with fire. This was a clear example of volcanic gods.

Feng shui is another Hawaiian custom that has spread to every corner of the islands. It is a manner of living in which you are one with the environment. The Chinese are masters of Feng shui, and brought this custom along with them when they came to Hawaii.

While these are a few of the better known religions and customs of the Hawaiian people, it is far from all inclusive. The Hawaiian culture is varied and deep, and many variations of all of these ideals are in existence. The Hawaiian people are a true melting pot of societies, and this is part of the allure of this beautiful place nestled in the Pacific Ocean.

The People of Hawaii

May 18, 2008 by  
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Hawaii has a diverse population of people that spans the globe in representation. It has been said that their are no actual minorities in Hawaii, as most groups are equally distributed throughout the state. The largest groups of the population are the people with ties to southern Japan and Okinawa.

Other ethnic groups well represented on the islands of Hawaii include African Americans, Polynesians, immigrants from the mainland of America, and China. This is in addition to the pure Polynesian Hawaiians on the islands. This rich mixture has created a melting pot of culture on many of the islands, in addition to the Hawaiian culture found throughout.

The history of the Polynesian Hawaiians began as far back as 800 AD, and the first began to come in from islands in the south. From the Asian mainland, Southeastern Asians travelled through Tahiti on the way to the Hawaiian islands. Over time, they would go back and forth in canoes from Tahiti with seeds, animals, and other necessities to their existence. These trips helped to establish the Polynesian Hawaiian population.

Over time, the mixture of Polynesians and other inhabitants of the islands began to reduce the population of true bloods. This led to a severe drop in population that was further complicated by diseases in and around 1875. Over time, the population recovered a bit, but has never been overly large in Hawaii. The recent influx of true Hawaiians has led to a resurgence in Hawaiian customs and traditions.

Around one half of the population of Hawaii is of Oriental origins, and many were brought over as indentured laborers initially. The Chinese Americans hold a strong position in the Hawaiian economy, and they are strongholds of the old Hawaiian ways. This is due in large part to the socioeconomic success of the Chinese Americans.

Now, about one third of the population are Caucasians. Some of these haoles as they are called are early descendants of the settling missionaries early in the history of Hawaii, and others are immigrants from the American mainlands. The black population is largely made up of Samoans, as well as immigrants from the mainland.

At one time, racial divide was quite a problem in Hawaii. Today, interracial marriages are more common than same sex marriages, and money is the indicator of respect as opposed to skin color. Any race is welcomed, and people are judged in a much different way than before. The melting pot of Hawaii is a wonderful place indeed.

Hawaii is a place rich with tradition and culture. As such, the people of Hawaii embrace their heritage and encourage visitors and immigrants alike to embrace them as well. It is one of the top places in the world to visit and feel welcomed right away. Much of the island is largely uninhabited as far as people, but much of the natural beauty remains. Most people that visit Hawaii never want to leave. Much of that is due to Hawaii’s most valuable resource… it’s people.

Hawaiian Hula Customs

May 18, 2008 by  
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Hawaii has long been a state rich with customs and traditions. The art of hula is perhaps one of the most famous of those traditions. The iconic vision of beautiful Hawaiian women and men hula dancing is one of the first things that comes to mind when one thinks of Hawaii. The history and reasons behind hula are as interesting as the dances themselves.

Nobody actually knows for sure exactly when the first hula dance happened, but most Hawaiian traditions say that the god or goddesses were the first. This Hawaiian belief makes hula dancing a very important sacred ritual of dance. While originally the hula was thought to only be done by men, it is now known that the tradition was for men and women. While originally a religious form of worship, the hula today is done primarily as a source of reverence and entertainment.

To an outsider, the hula appears to be a series of random movements and motions. The reality is that hula has a very specific meaning, and each of the motions are part of that communication.

Some movements represent certain animals, plants, or even past achievements or wars. When a hula dancer performs the movements, they actually feel that they are that thing that the dance is representing.

The hula dance is a dance that tells a Hawaiian story. Every movement is a part of the story, and often chants are performed along with the dance. These chants are often in a native tongue. The movements and gestures are almost operatic in nature, and a wonderful expression of the dancer and their heritage.

The hula dancers also wear specific costumes for the dance. This usually consists of the Hawaiian lei, a hula skirt, and ankle and wrist jewelry made of animal bones. These traditional Hawaiian costumes are quite attractive and often are very colorful like the island itself.

Hula was religious in origin, and the training was extensive and strict. All students were held to a strong code of conduct, and were not allowed to do many things. This is the classic hula kahiko, or the old style of performing hula.

The new style of hula is called hula auana. This new and modern version of hula dancing allows for great musicality. This hula includes songs, guitars, and even other instruments and nontraditional costumes.

While the art of hula has changed over the years, the old style of hula is still alive and well. There are hundreds of hula schools called halau hula all over every island on the mainland. The important traditions and culture is still alive and well.

Though hula is strong today, it was almost not so. In the 19th century, hula was considered to be an aberration and vile. Local missionaries tried to eliminate hula as a form of worship or entertainment. Fortunately, Kind David Kalakaua revived the custom when he restarted the hula schools and formed a troupe of hula dancers in the late 1800′s.

The Hawaiian Flower Leis

May 18, 2008 by  
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Of all the Hawaiian traditions, the giving of the flower lei is probably the most well known. All the way back to the royalty of Hawaii, the lei has been an iconic gesture throughout Hawaiian history.

Given as an expression of love, respect, and any number of other reasons, the lei is one of the most identifiable gestures in Hawaiian culture.

The lei is rich in Hawaiian tradition. The original lei was not made of flowers only. Original leis were made of anything from human hair, to bird feathers, to shells off the beautiful Hawaiian coastline. Over time, the leis developed into the more modern flower leis that have been seen throughout the last several decades. The Awapuhi flower is one of the more popular flowers used to construct leis today. All flowers used are colorful and fragrant, and can be quite elaborate.

Hawaiian leis came to Hawaii via the Polynesian travellers from Tahiti. These travellers brought along the beauty of the lei, and it originally was an expression of peace between rival tribes. They would often string the leis of tribes together to signify that they are at peace with one another. The leis also were used to signify individuality and beauty of individuals in the tribe. This tradition continues to this day as Hawaiians craft the beautiful leis every day.

Leis are often given to someone as they arrive in Hawaii, and they are also used to express love or respect. This custom is steeped in Hawaiian tradition, and the construction of the lei is a serious Hawaiian custom.

The lei flowers are produced in various hot houses of Hawaii, and then distributed to lei makers throughout the great state of Hawaii.

Putting together a lei is actually a labor of love and enjoyed by many Hawaiians. The method most commonly used is called the “kui” method. This method uses about 40 flowers, always fresh. You take a piece of string and a lei needle which is about twelve inches long with a knitting hook on the end, and work the flowers along the length of the string. This is a tedious process, as the flowers are quite delicate. After threading the flowers onto the string, you tie it off and you are done. Some leis get ribbons or other decor to dress them up.

The presentation of the lei has been done with tradition for many many years in Hawaii. Many famous people have received leis as an expression of Hawaiian love and respect. When presenting a Hawaiian lei, you should give a kiss on each cheek according to custom. Some leis should not be given to some people. For example, pregnant women are thought to be at risk for the health of their baby if they accept a lei. This is an old Hawaiian piece of folklore.

Leis are an important and enjoyable piece of Hawaii, and a great expression of the kindness and friendliness of the Hawaiian people.