4 Things To Know About Hawaiian Culture Before Your Trip

Watch these four videos to learn about Hawaiian traditions like hula dancing, fire-knife dancing, taro making and ancient petroglyphs.

While fruity cocktails and white beaches are on just about everyone’s to-do list for Hawaii, it is important to experience cultural aspects as well. Check out these inspiring activities that are both educational and enjoyable for the whole family.

Fire-Knife Dancing

Oahu offers an abundance of places to see world-renowned fire-knife dancers. These acrobats have mastered the dangerous Samoan art of rhythmically twirling, tossing and grabbing a machete—partially wrapped in cloth—and then setting it ablaze. It’s a jaw-dropping spectacle with elegant dancing, brave acrobatics and fierce fire knives blazing with danger and artistry. See it performed nightly at the Polynesian Cultural Center.

Hula

Hula shows aren’t just for luau and dinner cruises—there are fabulous performances throughout Waikiki, and they’re free! Local halau (hula schools) perform modern hula Tuesdays at 4:30 and 6 pm at Waikiki Beach Walk; Tuesday, Thursday and weekends at sunset near the Duke Kahanamoku statue; and Tuesday through Saturday* from 6 to 7 pm at Royal Hawaiian Center.

*Saturdays are kahiko, or ancient, hula.

Taro

Few things are as sacred to Hawaiian people as taro. Historically, most families grew taro in their backyards, pounding it into poi by hand. Modern life is very different, but Hawaiians still love poi—even if they don’t grow it themselves. Watch how it was done in the olden days.

Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs, or kii phaku, are carvings etched into lava rocks long ago by the Native Hawaiians. The true meaning of the carvings is unknown, but is assumed they served as records of births and other important events.