People love Hawaii, not just for the blue ocean, sandy beaches and sunsets..they love the people. The culture and people of Hawaii create the unique experience that people come from all over the world to experience and be part of. As we say, learn Aloha and take it home with you and spread it around. Visiting Hawaii Island offers an opportunity to experience the unique and vibrant culture of the Hawaiian people. Central to this culture is the concept of aloha, which extends far beyond a simple greeting.
- Understanding Aloha: Aloha is more than just a word; it is a way of life. It encompasses love, compassion, respect, and harmony. It’s about treating others and the land with kindness and care. To truly embrace aloha, take the time to learn about the history, customs, and traditions of the Hawaiian people. Recognize the importance of preserving their rich cultural heritage and the significance of the land and sea that surround you. Aloha is a profound cultural value. Take the time to understand its deeper meaning before your trip or before moving here. The Hawaiian culture is rich and vibrant, and by showing aloha, you become part of this beautiful tapestry.
- Respect for the Land: Hawaii Island’s natural beauty is breathtaking, and it’s crucial to treat it with reverence. Follow the principle of “malama ‘aina” (care for the land) by practicing responsible tourism. Stay on designated paths, respect wildlife, and refrain from removing or damaging any natural resources. Avoid littering and help preserve the island’s fragile ecosystems. By showing respect for the environment, you honor the spirit of aloha.
- Connect with the Local Community: Engaging with the local community is a fantastic way to experience the true spirit of aloha. Attend local events, such as hula performances or festivals, where you can learn about Hawaiian traditions firsthand. Support local businesses, artisans, and farmers by purchasing their products and crafts. Engage in conversations with residents, listen to their stories, and show genuine interest in their culture. By forging connections, you can gain a deeper understanding of the island and its people.
- Cultural Sensitivity: When visiting sacred sites, be respectful and mindful of their significance to the Hawaiian people. Follow any guidelines or instructions provided and never touch or remove any cultural artifacts. Take the time to learn about and understand cultural customs and protocols to ensure that you are honoring and preserving the traditions of the local community. (Including understanding KAPU means Do NOT enter)
- Practice Humility and Respect: When interacting with locals, display genuine humility and respect. Hawaiians have a strong sense of community and value kindness and consideration. Be mindful of your actions and language, and always treat others with courtesy and empathy. Remember that you are a guest in their homeland, and showing respect fosters meaningful connections and mutual understanding.
- Embrace the Spirit of Aloha: The spirit of aloha is not just a word; it’s a way of being. Practice aloha by demonstrating warmth, hospitality, and gratitude. Greet others with a genuine smile, use “aloha” and “mahalo” appropriately, and engage in conversations with sincerity. Embrace the slower pace of life on the island, allowing yourself to connect with nature, appreciate the beauty around you, and find joy in simple pleasures.
- Throw Shaka: Throwing a shaka is a quintessential gesture that embodies the spirit of aloha in Hawaii. This simple hand gesture involves extending the thumb and pinky finger while curling the remaining fingers into a loose fist. With the back of the hand facing outward, the shaka represents friendship, solidarity, and the laid-back vibe of the islands. It is often accompanied by a warm smile and a nod, conveying a sense of welcome and positivity.
Whether you’re a local or a visitor, throwing a shaka is a genuine way to connect with others and share the aloha spirit, spreading good vibes and creating a sense of camaraderie in any setting. (I am including throwing Shaka in this post because a Hawaiian friend of mine said she was dismayed that as more visitors and folks come in from the mainland, the Shaka is becoming less visible.) When someone lets you into a lane in traffic, when someone lets you go first in line or does any simple gesture of kindness..go ahead..throw the Shaka!)
Visiting Hawaii Island offers a chance to really dig in and experience the unique spirit of aloha. By embodying respect, appreciation, and cultural sensitivity, you can leave a positive impact on the island and its people. Remember, aloha is not just a word; it’s a way of life. By embracing the principles of aloha, connecting with the local community, and showing respect for the land, you will forge a deeper connection with Hawaii Island, its people, and its vibrant culture.
The more you show aloha, the more it comes back and gets swirled around! The world could be a more peaceful and joyful place if more folks understood how to treat each other with Aloha.
I invite you to help create the circle of Aloha! We can keep the Aloha going one visitor or resident at a time..
Julie Ziemelis is a vlogger at 365Hawaii with her husband Eric. She is a long time resident of Kailua Kona, an author, event planner and Realtor.