Say What? Here’s the Most Popular Hawaiian Slang

One of the cool things about living in Hawaii is that we can see parts of different cultures thanks to our long history of immigration and ethnic diversity. With that diversity comes a mixture of languages: everything from Japanese, Portuguese, English, and our Hawaiian Creole, or pidgin. Hawaii slang is mostly based on the long standing pidgin dialect that has made its way into popular culture and is used by most folks on the islands. To get you ready for your Hawaii vacation, we’ve put together a list of words that you’re likely to hear while you are visiting us!


aloha – We’ll start with our favorite one, which you’re likely to hear everywhere you go! Aloha can mean lots of things, like Hello, goodbye, love, affection, kindness, or graciousness.

ainokea – If you need some help pronouncing this one, try “I no care” slowly…and there you have it. The meaning and pronunciation! This popular slang phrase has become a popular brand name seen on shirts and logos around Hawaii.

grind Hopefully you will be doing a lot of this, which means to eat, or it can also mean good food. If you need some help, our list of local Hawaiian dishes you need to try will get you started!

hana hou – We know you’ll be using this phrase, which means “Once more, again” after you leave the Dolphin tour 😉

hapa – Thanks to our diverse culture, this means someone of mixed racial or ethnic heritage, especially involving Asian or Pacific Islander background.

kai – Ocean. And we know you’re gonna see loads of it while you’re here!

kapu – Forbidden, taboo, keep out. You might see this on signs so definitely pay attention so you have a hassle-free vacation.

lua – bathroom. Definitely a first stop after flying for hours over the Pacific Ocean!

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lu’au – Feast, party. And you should definitely go to one while you’re here. It’s a great part of our culture that everyone should experience!

mahalo – Thank you. Use it as much as you like while you’re here…we don’t mind 😉

malasada – Have a sweet tooth? Well then you’ll have to try this doughnut-like pastry with Portuguese origins. Your donut dreams will never be the same!

ohana – Your family, which can consist of immediate family members, extended relatives, and friends.

ono – Delicious, scrumptious. It’s what we say when describing our world famous taro burgers that you’ll enjoy while on the Dolphin tour!

pau hana – Means after work or also an after work drink, kind of like happy hour. Definitely enjoy one while you’re here…even though you’re not working 😉

shaka – And last but not least, this is one of our favorites and you’ll see us doing them a lot on the Dolphin tour. It’s the universal hand gesture of Hawaii that can be used as a form of thanks, a greeting, or a good bye.

We hope to see you soon and look forward to practicing some Hawaiian slang with you! Aloha!


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