Island Address Book 3-17-2006

Writer Jill Engledow, With a Guide to Island Culture

By: Karla Aronson

Anyone who has visited Hawaii has experienced the warmth of the aloha spirit.

According to Jill Engledow, author of “Maui 101: Your Guide to Island Life,” locals know to, “Be polite. Be the first to smile.”

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 writes.

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 world.

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 concert.

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.