Hawaiian Words and Phrases

Aloha friends! If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii, well, first of all lucky you. The Hawaiian Islands are some of the most beautiful tropical islands in the world. Whether you’re visiting the Garden Island of Kauai or the relaxing beaches of Maui, there’s something for everyone in Hawaii. Knowing a few Hawaiian phrases and Hawaiian words before you go is a great way to enjoy your time even more. You’ll love sharing these Hawaiian words and will probably find yourself saying mahalo to your friends and family even after you get home from your trip.

Here’s a list of the most important Hawaiian words and phrases to know before you visit.

1. Aloha

hello in hawaiian

Hello. Everyone’s familiar with this Hawaiian word. It’s the traditional greeting of the islands. The real meaning of Aloha in Hawaii is love, peace, and compassion – Aloha isn’t just a greeting, it’s a way of living. After all, a life filled with Aloha is a good life.

2. Mahalo

Thank you. Mahalo also can be extended into Mahalo Nui if you’re really appreciative, which translates to Thank You Very Much. According to the Pukui and Elbert Hawaiian Dictionary, Mahalo is derived from the Proto-Polynesian “Masalo”.

mahalo translation

3. Lū’au

A traditional Hawaiian party or feast. Typically both. A luau is something everyone who visits Hawaii needs to experience. There’s plenty of food, drinks, and hula dancing. If you’re lucky you’ll taste some poi, kālua puaʻa, poke, lomi salmon, ʻopihi, and haupia.

hawaii luau

4. A‘ole pilikia

You’re welcome. When you hear someone throw a mahalo your way, respond with ‘A‘ole pilikia. Not sure how to pronounce it? Ah-oh-leh pee-lee-kee-yah.

5. E kala mai

Excuse me. Accidentally spill your mai tai on someone? Finally catch a wave surfing but cut someone else off? Throw them a E Kala Mai, the Hawaiian way to apologize.

hawaiian phrases

6. Howzit?

How’s it going? A super popular greeting on the island, don’t be suprised to hear this several times on the islands. You might not be throwing “howzit” around, but expect to hear it from locals.

7. Ono

Delicious. Want to express gratitude for some incredible grub? Maybe some Kalua Pig? Tell your chef the food was Ono.

hawaiian word for food

8. Grinds

Food. It’s local slang that you’ll see on plenty of menus and billboards, often spelled “grindz”, and often combined with the word above, ono. If you find ono grindz, you’re in for a treat.

ono hawaii

9. Pau Hana

Happy Hour. Never miss the chance to take advantage of a pau hana, especially if there are daiquiris involved.

hawaii happy hour

10. A hui hou

Until we meet again. Take this farewell home with you from the islands. And come back to the islands soon.

hawaii goodbye