Maui Culture Reflected Through Color

Long before arriving to Maui I wanted to do a post about how the island’s culture is reflected through color. Granted, I knew very little about Maui but all signs pointed toward blue skies, green valleys and flower leis in all shades of the rainbow. All this turned out to be true, but I also learned a lot more about Maui’s unique history and fascinating traditions.

Blue = water, sky and surf

From surfing and paddle boarding to going underwater in a submarine, ocean life is a huge part of Maui culture. While there is always room for improvement, I was pleased to learn that there are many initiatives for protecting the ocean. Even my surf instructors at Maui Surfer Girls gave us a lesson on how to protect the reef while surfing. There was one point where I sort of crashed into some rocks because I didn’t hop off my board soon enough and instead of worrying about my new “reef tattoo” my main concern was getting back on the beach without doing too much damage to the reef.

blue

Green = valleys, palm trees and nature hikes

A lot of the activities I participated on during my trip were water-based but there are actually a ton of nature hikes that are bursting with color. During my helicopter ride, our pilot gave us a tour of Maui’s many valleys and waterfalls and even pointed out a few rare plant species that live on the island.

I didn’t have time to go on a nature hike while in Maui but there are so many great options. I did, however, spend several hours biking through Haleakala National Park. Along the way, there is a beautiful little lavender farm and a patch of fresh-smelling Eucalyptus Trees. A few days later I went paragliding near Rice Memorial Park and Kula Botanical Gardens. At 3,000 feet in the air, you see a while lot of green!

helicopter view

Yellow = luau fashion and food 

In Hawaiian tradition, a luau (lū’au) is a gathering to celebrate life that always involved food, music, dance, and arts. Nowadays, the type of performance many travelers attend involve food, dance, music and various cultural activities.

However, there are a few differences that separate the two. Firstly, the traditional lū’au was not scripted as it’s often done today and secondly, it did not involve other Polynesian dance (the fire knife dancers are from Samoa, Tahitian dancers with the fast drums and high hair pieces are from Tahiti, poi ball dancing and marking of the face with moku are from their New Zealand cousins).

A luau is still very much apart of local Hawaiian culture. It’s a time when hundreds of families and friends come together to celebrate a special occasion – like a child’s first birthday, a graduation party or a marriage. 

luau

Brown = knowledge written in the sand

My first crash course into the Hawaiian language was written in the sand during my surf class. Aloha means hi, by and love but the real meaning goes way beyond greetings. To ‘alo’ is to be in the presence of someone and ‘ha’ refers to breath or in a more complex outlook, your life force.  Mahalo means thank but it also is used as you’re welcome since there is no real translation for that phrase in the Hawaiian language. Ohana is the word for family (shoutout to Lilo & Stitch for teaching me this one!) and Nalu means wave so He’e nalu is how you’d say surf.

Going back to the concept of aloha as a greeting, The Fairmont Kea Lani’s cultural coach Jonelle Kamai gave me even more background into this tradition. Historically, Hawaiian would ‘honi ihu’, which refers to a nose-to-nose greeting of breathing in each others breath. Not surprisingly, this is the most intimate type of greeting in any other culture and a way to show that you are accepting that person without judgment. You’ll still see many Hawaiians doing this with people they know well but most people just hug each other or give a quick cheek-to-cheek kiss to say hello.

sand

White = the moon

Having your home base be New York is great on so many levels but less than stellar (parden my pun!) when it comes to star gazing. When I found out that I could participate rooftop a tour of the stars, I almost fell over in excitement. Our teacher showed us different stars, planets, galaxies and nebulae through two larger-than-life telescopes. I had never seen the moon so clearly before, nor had I been able to decipher red stars from blue.

Maui has an interesting history with stars. Voyaging Polynesians used the stars as their only source of navigation to reach the Hawaiian Islands more than 1,000 years ago. It’s pretty fantastic really, especially when I think of how dependent I am on Google Maps. (photo by Sherry of OttsWorld)

maui megan

This trip was hosted by Maui Visitors & Convention Bureau. All opinions are my own. 

Like me on Facebook and Tweet me: @BohemianTrails

Sign up for my free monthly BOHO BLAST!

Hi! I’m Megan,

a Scorpio sun and Libra moon who left her job in the music industry to travel and write full-time. Since then, i´ve explored more than 60 countries in the hopes that you will, too.

The world is made of magic and so are you!

RECENT POSTS

top reasons to visit Kerala in 2020

Here’s Why I Want to Visit Kerala (and you should, too)!

Every so often, I write about a destination I haven’t been to. As much as I love recounting trips and sharing my experiences here on Bohemian Trails, I also love to dream; dream about people and places I’ve never crossed paths with. That’s the traveler in me, the explorer that believes in the magic of

Read More »

My Favorite Caribbean Islands to Escape to This Winter

Winter is in full swing, which means that there’s still time to plan that weekend getaway. An east-coaster from birth and having lived in New York for seven years, the Caribbean remains my go-to winter destination. In many cases, you’ll find direct flights (or nearly direct) and within a few hours, you are on a

Read More »

Reflections on the Lake: Join us in Guatemala this New Years!

Pack your bags, notepads and Yoga mats. We’re going to Guatemala! I am thrilled to announce that I’ll be co-leading another writing + wellness + wanderlust retreat over New Years! Mark your calendars for December 29-January 3. My co-leader, Heather Suzanne, is not only one of my favorite Yoga teachers I’ve had the pleasure of

Read More »

Want to Work Remote? These 5 Degrees Will Help

Back when I was starting college, I had very different ideas of what my life would become. For years, I planned on being a child psychologist and was pretty content with that. Then something happened; I studied abroad, landed a job in the fashion industry and everything changed. I started to realize that I wanted

Read More »

5 Must-Know Travel Tips for your First Solo Trip Abroad

Traveling solo as a woman is honestly one of the best travel experiences you will ever have. No pressure, right?! I’m an introvert, so taking a solo trip to a familiar destination, or even a new one, is something that suits my travel style. That said, you want to ensure your safety just like you do

Read More »

Instagram

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. More information

Use of cookies

This website is using cookies for improving your experience as a user. If you keep on navigating you are giving your consent to the use of these cookies and our cookies policy. Click on the COOKIES POLICY, the link for more information. You can also check our PRIVACY POLICY.

Close