Anyone who has visited Hawaii has experienced the warmth of the
According to Jill Engledow, author of “Maui 101: Your Guide to
Island Life,” locals know to, “Be polite. Be the first to
An islander since 1968, Engledow published her book to help
newcomers connect with the history, culture and community of the
island. Her tips include basics such as, “Wear a lei draped across
your shoulders, not dangling from your neck.”
She also notes experiences visitors are likely to encounter,
such as Hawaii’s sense of spirituality: “Many public gatherings
begin with a pule, or prayer. When you hear the phrase, ‘E pule
kakou,’ you will know it is time to bow your head.”
Her book also advises readers to attend local events to
participate in the culture.
“Many are organized by local community and nonprofit groups and
directly benefit their constituencies, be it a golf tournament, a
gala dinner or a neighborhood association festival,” Engledow
A local event benefiting the Lani-Kailua chapter of the
statewide Outdoor Circle environmental organization is the annual I
Love Kailua Town Party, about a half-hour drive outside of
Honolulu. The daylong festival on April 30 features live
entertainment, a plant sale, art walk, craft booths and food
samples from several local Kailua restaurants.
In Waikiki, the E Malama I Ke Kai Family Ocean Festival raises
community awareness about the ocean and benefits the Punana Leo
school of Kawaiahao Church and its Hawaiian language programs. The
June 3 event takes place in Kapiolani Park in Waikiki and features
ocean exhibits, food booths, games, a silent auction and musical
guests. The park and the church are historical sites themselves.
King Kalekaua created the 500-acre park in the 1870s, and the
church, Hawaii’s first Christian church, was built in the 1830s out
of coral slabs.
On the Fourth of July, Kauai’s largest fireworks show, Concert
in the Sky, raises funds for the Kauai Hospice. Held at Vidinha
Stadium in Lihue, the festivities start in late afternoon with
ongoing live entertainment, food and a kids’ fun zone, preceding
the fireworks show.
In the last week of July, Koloa Plantation Days on Kauai honors
the first sugar plantation in Hawaii, founded in 1835. A variety of
events takes place across Kauai’s South Shore from July 22-July 30,
including a historic parade and town celebration featuring a steam
locomotive of the cane-hauling days. Surrounding events include
golf and tennis tournaments; a Polynesian luau show with fire
dancers; a rodeo; guided historical, coastal and sand dune walks;
and the Hawaiian canoe sailing race from Oahu.
Japanese culture is honored across Hawaii during the Japanese
Buddhist Obon season in July and August. Families pay tribute to
their ancestors and hold bon-odori, or folk dance festivals. Paper
lanterns are floated to guide departed spirits to the other
The Kona Coffee Cultural Festival celebrates the legacy of those
who worked in the large coffee plantations. The festival runs from
Nov. 3-12 and includes roasting and brewing workshops, coffee
awards, a parade, tours, a benefit dinner and auction and a
The canoe is central to Polynesian culture and is an important
part of Hawaii culture, Englewood’s book states.
Maui’s International Festival of Canoes features a gathering of
master craftsmen from nations around the Pacific. The two-week
celebration from May 18-27 in Lahaina includes a traditional
welcoming ceremony, island food and music, exhibits of Hawaiian
house thatching, drum making and old-style surfboards.
“Each community on the island has its own character,” Engledow
noted of Maui in her book. Similarly, each of the Hawaii islands
offers many ways for visitors to experience its local scenes.