Our 10 Favorite Hawaiian Sayings

Our 10 Favorite Hawaiian Sayings

hawaiian sayings

(Originally published June 2018, Updated September 2019)

No matter how old, traditional words of wisdom always have a way of withstanding time and place. Hawaiian sayings have some truth for everyone. Here are a few of our favorite Hawaiian sayings worth spending a few minutes to think about.

Inspirational Hawaiian Sayings to Live By

1. Make every person, place or condition better than you left it always.

E hele me ka pu’olo!

hawaiian sayings

Pick up your trash from the beach, push in your own chair, leave kind words wherever you go. You have the power to affect everything and everyone around you, so make it count positively!

2. Love is like a cleansing dew.

He kehau ho`oma`ema`e ke aloha!

hawaiian words of wisdom

The cure to a frustrating, long day isn’t always a donut and movie binge-watching. Spending time with friends and loved ones always has a renewing effect. Receiving love de-stresses and energizes.

3. While the sun yet shines do all that you can.

Oi kau ka la e hana i ola honua!

hawaii sunrise

Whether your dream is to take a helicopter ride over the erupting Kilauea volcano or swim with dolphins in the blue water surrounding Hawaii, being alive is reason enough.

Our time is precious, so tackle that bucket list every day that the sun is shining.

4. Jealousy belongs to the ugly.

Na ka pupuka ka lili!

hawaiian words of wisdom

Jealousy never looks good on the person wearing it. Don’t be that person.

5. Love is the host of strange places.

O ke aloha ke kuleana o kâhi malihini!

hawaiian language


Have you ever traveled to a new city, community, or country? I would bet that your best experiences lead back to outstanding hospitality. Being kindly accepted and respected in a new place is the best feeling as a newcomer.

Even if, at first, you feel like a pineapple far away from your tropical home, kind hospitality makes anywhere feel like a second home.

6. There is No Cliff Too Tall to Climb

‘A’Ohe pu’u ki’eki’e ke ho’a’o ‘ia e pi’i!

hawaiian sayings


In life, there are always going to be obstacles we come across that feel like a dead end. In those moments, remind yourself of these encouraging Hawaiian words of wisdom.

When we say there’s no cliff to tall to climb, we mean that there is no obstacle too big to stop us from moving forward. There’s always a way to get over that next hurdle—all you need to do is find it!

7. Dare to Dance Without Shame

A’a i ka hula, waiho i ka maka’u i ka hale!

fire dancing

It’s natural to feel a little shy and worry about what others are thinking of you. You shouldn’t let that stop you from being your magnificent self, though!

If you’re dancing the hula or just talking to strangers, don’t be afraid to let your bright personality shine through. You may even be surprised! You might just brighten someone’s day.

8. The Skin is a Kapa Cloth That Does Not Wet Through

He kapa maloo ka ili!

kapa cloth

These Hawaiian words of wisdom are pretty practical, especially for ancient Hawaiians! Kapa is a type of cloth that the ancient people of Hawaii would make. Kapa is made of plant and tree fibers.

When we say your skin is like kapa cloth, it means that the rain won’t hurt you when you get wet! In other words, it’s like the saying of “you aren’t made of sugar, so the rain won’t hurt you.”

9. Only One Shell For All

E pupukahi ka manao!

hawaiian words of wisdom

Have you ever met someone you’ve gotten along with perfectly? You might even say you’re on the same page, or even thinking the same thoughts.

These Hawaiian words of wisdom are talking about that feeling! They just happen to be using a symbol from daily Hawaiian life to get the point across.All in all, to have one shell for all means to be of one mind. Essentially, you and someone else share the same opinion, or in this case, shell!

10. You Must Hurry Up to Catch Kaohele.

E ku’i ka mama i loaa o Kaohele!

hawaiian words of wisdom

Now this Hawaiian saying may take a bit more explaining than the others. Kao-hele of Molokai was a legendary warrior and athlete. Among the many different Hawaiian legends that exist, some were about Kao-hele’s amazing speed. In fact, he was so fast that he couldn’t be caught, and that’s where the saying comes from!

Basically, this phrase means that to catch someone (or something) you want, you have to hurry or you’ll miss your chance.

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