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By Casey Park. November 2, 2017 - 9:31 am
Some students at Hawai’i Pacific University (HPU) seem to think the “Hawaiian Experience” consists of daily acai bowls, trips to the beach and yearlong daisy dukes. But, none of these things are exclusively Hawaiian.
The Hawaiian experience truly comes from the culture and people of the islands. Here are some ways you can find an authentic Hawaiian experience.
1. Malama Honua
Malama honua, or caring for the environment, is one of the defining values Hawaiians share. There are rewarding ways to give back to the island’s environment. Sites like He’eia Fishpond in Kane’ohe or Kanewai Lo’i at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa regularly accept volunteers. Participants can enjoy scenic views, learn about old Hawai’i and make a difference in the Hawaiian community.
2. Beach Hopping
O’ahu has highways which run along the coast. This makes it possible to spend a day pulling over to check out beaches along the road. The true Hawaiian way is to be conscious of the environment that surrounds the beaches. This means giving marine creatures such as sea turtles and monk seals their space, using reef-friendly sun block and picking up trash before you leave.
3. Hawaiian food has a flavor of its own. Learning and eating some of that food is a great way to experience Hawai’i. Eating local snacks is as easy as grabbing a poke bowl, spam musubi or a Hawaiian Sun juice from any grocery store. But, to experience real Hawaiian traditions, try items like laulau, pipikaula and poi, which you can get from eateries like Highway Inn in Kaka’ako or Helena’s Hawaiian Food in Kalihi.
4. Hawaiian Arts
Bishop Museum isn’t the only place to experience Hawaiian art and culture. The Royal Hawaiian Center in Waik?k? offers free classes in hula, ukulele, lomilomi (Hawaiian massage) and more. The Kamehameha Schools has a series of Hawaiian language lessons posted on YouTube for anyone who wants to learn. Learning Hawaiian skills is easier and more accessible than you may think.
Above all, the aloha spirit is what makes Hawai‘i what it is. The aloha spirit is a welcoming feeling which promotes respect for people from all walks of life. It’s about meeting new people, learning about their own experiences and carrying that knowledge with you wherever you go. Knowing aloha is knowing humility and tolerance, and sharing that positivity with everyone you encounter.
For more information about where to get an authentic Hawaiian experience while in Hawai’i, you can visit travel2change.org, gohawaii.com or hawaiitourismauthority.org.