Hawaii has an attraction to it that has been luring tourists in for decades. Most visit to snorkel in the turquoise waters filled with sea turtles and coral, as well as to see the diverse landscape. However, the islands will forever be unique because of the local Hawaiian culture. As tourism continues to boom on these islands, it is important that travelers understand the meaning behind the sacred lands and respect the locals who have a spiritual tie to their homeland. 

There is no harm in wanting to see the touristy attractions, but it would also be a shame to have left the island without putting effort into learning about Hawaiian culture. One of the best ways to do so is to engage in cultural activities during your trip. Discover a few of these below.

Attend an Authentic Luau
Although this activity is a no-brainer for your trip to Hawaii, it is one of the most engaging ways to gain a deeper understanding of the culture, especially before the islands became a part of the United States. These luaus celebrate traditions aging back centuries. Between serving farm-to-table recipes, greeting guests with handmade leis and performing cultural songs and dances, the luau experience is one that all tourists should appreciate during their time visiting the islands.

Lei-Making Class
Leis are wreaths worn around the neck. Though there need not be a special occasion to wear them, they are often traditionally worn at luaus, weddings, graduations and other ceremonies or celebrations. This custom was first introduced to the islands by early Polynesian voyagers, and the tradition has certainly stuck since. While various natural materials, such as flowers, feathers and even animal bones, were part of the initial lei custom, many leis are now made with orchids. During your time in Hawaii, you can attend a traditional lei-making class. This will not only give you a fresh lei to wear, but it will also help you gain a deeper appreciation for the locals who carefully weave these together for each occasion.

Surfing Lesson
Surfing is deeply embedded in Hawaiian culture. You’ll learn early on in your trip to Hawaii that surfing is an everyday activity for the locals, one that goes centuries back and was even a large part of the locals’ religion. Surfing was a sport for everybody, and locals still to this day keep the tradition going by spending their early mornings and late afternoons on their surfboards and passing the passion down to their young ones. Even if you’ve never touched a surfboard, you can try your hand at the cultural sport by taking a surfing class, preferably one that will also enlighten you on the history of surf culture in Hawaii and its significance to the locals.