Exploring Hawaiian Culture

How old are the islands of Hawaii?  When did people get there and where were they from?  What are the origins of Hawaiian traditions like, hula, ukelele, totem poles and surfing? These are some questions I would like to find out the answers to.

Hawaii is a chain of volcanic islands.  The oldest Hawaiian island, Kauai, is five million, one hundred thousand years old.  The youngest island , Hawaii, is only 400,000 years old.    The Polynesians  were the first to come to Hawaii in around 300 CE.   They travelled by boat from various Polynesian islands in the Pacific Ocean.  The Polynesians influenced Hawaii in many different ways but they are not the only ones. The English explorer Captain Cook arrived in 1778. In 1836 King Kamehameha brought Mexican cowboys to herd cattle on the islands.  Many cultures have influenced Hawaii.

A very popular dance in Hawaii is the Hula.  Hula was originally created by the Polynesians. There are two different kinds of hula. One is called Hula ‘Auana;  it is more of a traditional dance about gods.  The other most people know is called Hula Kahika which is a story that is interpreted through dance.  The outfits are made of plants and fruit. The ukelele is also a popular Hawaiian tradition. A ukelele a small stringed instrument belonging to the guitar family.  It was created around the 19th century by Portuguese immigrants  who brought these instruments to Hawaii.


Totem poles are large sculptures carved from whole trees. In Hawaii they are called tikis. A tiki is a large carved talisman of human form, common to the Polynesian cultures of the Pacific Ocean. These talismans often serve to mark the boundaries of sacred sites.

The surfboard was created by the Polynesians.  They referred to this art as heʻe nalu which translates into English as “wave sliding”.  The Hawaiians thought of surfing not as a sport but an art form.  I am very lucky because I learned how to surf in Hawaii.  It was the first time I was ever surfing in my life. It was amazing to experience.

It was great visiting some of these beautiful islands. It was just as exciting to learn about them.  Over all the Hawaiian islands are a beautiful and interesting place.

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