How to immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture

Jumping off the wall into the ocean — Hawaiian style fun

If you’re searching for more culture in your travels, you can’t find a place as rich and diverse (and eternally beautiful!) as Hawaii.

People here hail from all different nationalities and backgrounds, yet we share one thing in common: a deep appreciation and respect for the host Hawaiian culture.

As a visitor, the best way to immerse yourself in local Hawaiian culture is first approach it with an attitude of pono (that’s Hawaiian for “goodness”), which means you are open to learn, appreciate and enjoy.

Here are some authentic Hawaiian cultural activities to get you started:

Go to a luau

Old Germaine's luau in Maui - preparing the imu

A luau is a Hawaiian-style feast complete with traditional Hawaiian food, hula dancing and lots of off-the-cuff celebration.

The Old Lahaina Luau is our favorite — it’s renowned for its intimacy, authenticity and cultural integrity. 3,372 TripAdvisor reviewers can’t be wrong!

Learn to surf

Photo of surf lessons in Waikiki, Hawaii

Many people are lured by the sultry, sexy image of surfing  — but that’s not its true essence.

Take a surf lesson from one of the old beach boys and you’ll quickly learn that surfing is an ancient and sacred Hawaiian sport that teaches us two things: to be fully engaged in the present moment, and ultimate respect for the ocean.

Paddle a canoe

Outrigger Canoe tour in Wailea

Ancient Polynesians discovered Hawaii by way of canoes, star navigating and a bold pioneering spirit. You can get a taste of this spirit on a Hawaiian outrigger sailing tour.

The adventure includes a “sail into Hawaii’s past” where you learn firsthand about ancient Hawaiian sailing canoe tradition, construction and navigation.

Visit the Maui Ocean Center

Hawaiian Honu blessing at the Maui Ocean Center

The ocean is one of Hawaii’s most precious resources — and it’s been this way since ancient times.

The Maui Ocean Center is committed to perpetuating and sharing Hawaiian culture through its ties with native practitioners in the community. These cultural advisers enrich the exhibits by highlighting the intimate relationship between the Hawaiian people and the sea.

Get a Lomi Lomi massage

Kumu Dave Kaohelani Silva

Lomi lomi is an ancient form of healing used by native Hawaiian healers.

Back then, future practitioners were selected in childhood based on cosmic signs such as birthmarks, weather events and personality disposition. Mastery was believed to take a lifetime. If you’re lucky enough to find a traditional lomi lomi practitioner, consider yourself blessed.

Big island kamaainaTalk to people!

Nothing beats connecting with people one on one, in person. Most people in Hawaii are very approachable and love to share their stories, advice and experience — Hawaii-related or not.

Don’t be shy, just say aloha!

Hawaiian culture by nature is very warm and welcoming. With the right attitude and sense of adventure, you’ll be immersed and loving it before you know it.



We would be delighted to be part of your next Maui vacation. If we can assist you with planning your perfect Maui vacation, please contact our Sunny Maui Vacations’ team at or at 808-240-1311 Extension 21. Let us help you reserve your vacation rental condo in South Maui and assist you with island recommendations and activity planning through our in-house Concierge at 808-240-1311 Extension 71.

Photo credits: Loren Javier, Kanaka Menehune, Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Adventures, Maui Ocean Center, Haleola, Justin De La Ornellas

Need a hand with your next Maui vacation? Please contact the Sunny Maui Vacations team at or call 808-240-1311, ext. 21. We’ll find you the best vacation rental condo or rental home in South Maui and help you with any and all recommendations and activities across Maui.