Whether you have been to Maui numerous times or are planning your first trip, there are some common Hawaiian greetings, words, and phrases that you can use to show your appreciation of the culture. In today’s post, we’ll move beyond the very well known Aloha to explore some of the other expressions you should add to your vocabulary.

At Aloha Vacation Villas, we want you to explore all that Kapalua Bay has to offer, which is why we provide a variety of Hawaiian vacation rentals for you to use. From condos and apartments to homes and luxury villas, you are sure to find what you’re looking for. Contact us today to book your Hawaiian vacation rental and experience the aloha spirit in Maui!

Aloha ‘Aina

Aloha has a very broad meaning and can be combined with a number of other words to indicate the love of different things. Aloha ‘aina refers to a love of the land that includes a desire to nurture and care for the land. This phrase is one that is commonly used in recycling and conservation programs throughout the islands.


If your parents taught you to say please and thank you, then you’ll definitely want to make sure that you say thank you the Hawaiian way — mahalo! You can use this phrase often, as it is a direct replacement for thank you.


Keiki means child or children, which means that you’ll likely see this word at the top of the children’s menu at restaurants, or on signs indicating children’s activities and events. If you’re traveling with your children, then be sure to look for this word to discover what fun things might be happening during your stay in Kapalua Bay.

E komo mai

E komo mai is a phrase that you’ll probably see in many places that you enter, as it means welcome. At Aloha Vacation Villas, we definitely want all of our guests to feel welcome during their time in our Hawaiian vacation rentals, which is why we strive to offer a number of different amenities that are sure to enhance your vacation.

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Hale means home or house, and Haleakala means house of the sun. In fact, you should schedule a day to visit Haleakala National Park to view the dormant shield volcano that features one of the world’s largest volcanic craters.

Aloha Wau la ‘Oe

We think that aloha wau la ‘oe is one that should be used as much as possible with the ones you love, after all, it means “I love you.” Whether you are celebrating a romantic moment in Maui or are traveling with your family, try to use this Hawaiian phrase as often as possible.


The shaka is actually a hand symbol where the thumb and pinky finger are extended, the three remaining fingers are folded in, and the hand is twisted slightly side to side. The symbol, which means “how are you?” or “how’s it going?” is used both in surfing culture and also in island culture.

Ma uka

These are both directional terms that you might hear people using. Mauka refers to upland and makai refers to seaward. For example, you could tell someone that you’ll be ma uka for the day doing zipline activities.


Pono is a word that can have a variety of meanings but is typically used to describe something as having righteousness. Hawaiian culture places a great emphasis on moral character leading to happiness. In fact, the state motto, “Ua mau ke o ka aina i ka pono”, translates to “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness”.


Interestingly, the word vog sounds very similar to its English counterpart — smog. When used, vog refers to the smog from the volcano on the Big Island that periodically covers the islands. If you have allergies, the vog could trigger a reaction, so make sure you have your medication with you while you’re exploring Maui.


Traditionally, haole means foreigner. It typically refers to Caucasian people in modern times, and can sometimes be used in a derogatory manner. Being sensitive to cultural customs through your words and actions should help you to avoid this label.


Honu means green sea turtle, which are commonly spotted in the waters around the island, and sometimes even on the beaches. If you love sea turtles, then you’ll be happy to know that there are a variety of souvenirs that you can purchase. From jewelry and tattoos to clothing and photographs, you are sure to find the Hawaiian souvenir you want.


For any fan of Disney’s® Lilo & Stitch, the word ohana is probably already well known. Ohana means family. When visiting restaurants in Maui, if you see that meals are served ohana-style, then you can expect family-style dishes.


Across the Hawaiian islands, Hawaiian Pidgin is a unique language that combines English words with Hawaiian words. Interestingly enough, Pidgin has actually become a language of its own. Howzit is a great example of Hawaiian Pidgin, and it essentially means “hello, how are you, how’s it going?”

Ono Grindz

This phrase is a combination of two words. Ono actually has two different meanings — it’s a fish, and it also means delicious. On a side note, the ono fish is delicious! Grindz means food. If you hear someone use these words together — ono grindz — then you want to be sure to ask them where they ate!

Broke da mouth (also mouf or mout)

The first time you hear this phrase, you might think someone is talking about a horrible accident. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, this phrase is used to refer to something that was so delicious that it broke da mouth. If you are looking for some of the best places to eat during your time in Kapalua Bay, then be sure to ask one of our team members at Aloha Vacation Villas. We’d love to share some of our favorite local restaurants with you!

Da Kine

Da kine is the Hawaiian version of whatchamacallit. Essentially, this is a great expression to fill the space of a word that you can’t recall. It is so flexible that it can also be used to mean something is the real deal. Listen for the word in context to understand what the speaker means.

At Aloha Vacation Villas, not only do we provide a variety of Hawaiian vacation rentals for your comfort and enjoyment, but we strive to help you understand many parts of the Hawaiian culture. We want your stay on Maui to be as relaxing and fun as possible, which is why we shared some of the most common Hawaiian greetings, words, and phrases with you. Be sure to try and use some of them on your next trip to Kapalua Bay, and contact us today to reserve your Hawaiian vacation rental.