Hawaii is so much more than black sand beaches, richly colored sea creatures, and incredibly delicious, tropical beverages. Hawaii has a rich heritage that is deeply rooted in its unique and highly-poetic language. To fully enjoy your vacation, here are a few Hawaiian phrases you should learn that will help you embrace the philosophy of life you’ll find on the islands.

1. ʻI ola no ke kino i ka mā’ona o ka ‘ōpū

Translation: The body is healthy when the stomach is well filled

Cuisine and food customs are a significant part of Hawaiian culture. Even if you’ve never traveled to the islands, you’re probably familiar with the images of fresh fruit and colorful seafood often associated with Polynesia. Hawaiians know that eating good, nutritious food is important in achieving overall health. Meal-time is also central to Hawaiian customs so forget about take-out dinners in front of the T.V. and learn to embrace eating as a cultural activity.

2. Pa`a ka waha

Translation: Be silent and observe.

You can’t learn from others if you don’t give them the chance to share. As you meet new people, explore new places, and have new experiences while on your vacation, observe objectively before jumping in with your own preconceived notions. If you do, you may just invite a fresh perspective into your life.

3. hana me ka ha`aha`a

Translation: Let us work with humbleness

Don’t be selfish. Your actions should serve someone other than just yourself. Leave your ego aside and work toward what will benefit the greater community be it your family, neighborhood, colleagues, etc.

4. Umi ia inui kea ho,

Translation: Press hard and take a long breath

King Kamehameha spoke these words of encouragement to his army as they pushed forward in a battle against the invading King of Oahu. The troops were tired, exposed to the elements, and had been betrayed by their allies, yet they were able to push back and protect their ownership of the Big Island. When life meets you with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, take a deep breath and keep going.

5. Ua ola loko i ke aloha—he alii ka la’i, he ha Ku’ulani na.

Translation: Life is like an echo, what you give out comes back to you

Ancient Hawaiians were big believers in the concept of Karma— though of course they didn’t call it that. In the Hawaiian language it is known as Bachi, and it means that whatever energy you send into the universe—be it good or bad—is what you can expect to receive in return.

6. E pili mau na pomaika`i ia `oe

Translation: May blessings be ever with you

No explanation needed here. Hawaiians have many phrases to wish each other well. Try learning a few before your trip and work on generating some of that positive Bachi.

7. He lawai`a no ke kai papa`u, he pôkole ke aho

Translation: A fisherman of the shallow sea uses only a short line; a fisherman of the deep sea has a long line

While the literal translations leave much to be desired, this phrase essentially means that people are only as limited as what they choose to learn. If you spend time and effort to gain experience and discover things about the world around you, you’ll have access to so much more than those who do not.

These Hawaiian phrases should paint a picture of the cultural landscape you’ll encounter on the islands. If you’re leaving the hustle and bustle of a big city like New York or L.A., the difference may feel a little extreme at the beginning. Try to embrace your new surroundings and we promise you’ll leave feeling more like that second fisherman in the phrase above. If enjoy your stay as much as we think you will, why not let us show you how you can make Hawaii your permanent home? Send us an email so we can show the best real estate on the Big Island or call us at 808-217-8500.

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