What you should know before you travel to Hawaii

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Travel to Hawaii is expected to get busier in the coming months after the state dropped its indoor mask mandate and the Safe Travels Hawaii program for domestic transpacific travelers. Visitors should keep in mind that Hawaii is more than just sandy beaches and tourist attractions: it is a place extremely rich in diverse cultures and languages.

Pidgin in Hawaiian, or Hawaiian Creole English, is a unique dialect with its own grammar and sound system that you won’t find anywhere else. While pidgin borrows from various languages, the native Hawaiians, Chinese and Portuguese have had the greatest influence since the early plantation days.

Here is a list of Hawaiian slang and pidgin phrases to learn before your next trip.


  • A term that applies to any woman older than you. They don’t have to be actually related.
  • Example: “Tanks for the food, aunt.”


  • “Understood.” Usually used when something good is happening or going well.
  • Example: “I got a raise today! Aurit!”

Brah / Braddah

  • A casual way of referring to someone, like “bro” or “brother.”
  • Example: “Eh brah, do you like going to the beach?”

broke the mouth

  • That’s what you say when you eat something delicious.
  • Example: “Dat poke is so ʻono, it broke its mouth.”

bye Bye

  • A way to show that you are happy or excited about someone or something.
  • Example: “You just won the game! Bye Bye!”

chicken skin

  • “goosebumps” or “chills”.
  • Example: “Remember the touchdown? Chicken skin moment, yes?”


  • “A lot” or “a lot”.
  • Example: “So you’re catching fish today?” “Oh yeah. Gag, brah.”


  • That’s like saying someone heard it through the rumor mill or through word of mouth.
  • Example: “Well, I heard from da coconut wireless that you’ve moved to Kaneohe…”

Since Kine

  • This applies to anything, especially if you can’t remember the name.
  • Example: “Remember when she was dating Da Kine?”

The why

  • “That is the reason.”
  • Example: “You play games all the time. That’s why you always stay tired.”


  • “Fart.”
  • Example: “Ho brah, what does that smell like? are you in here?”


  • “Food.”
  • Example: “You can find local Kine-Grindz up in North Shore.”


  • Something that is messy, out of order needs fixing.
  • Example: “My hair was all hamajang aftah da party.”

Hanabata days

  • “Childhood days.”
  • Example: “We’ve been best friends since Hanabata days.”

Hana Hou

  • “Do it again” or “encore” – often shouted out by the audience at the end of a performance.
  • Example: “The DAT band was great! Hana hou!”


  • Common greeting combining “how is it” in one word.
  • Example: “Howzit go, aunt?”


  • An annoyance or something you find annoying.
  • Example: “I don’t want to get a new license. That’s such a humbug.”

If can, can. If can’t, can’t.

  • “If I can, I can. If I can’t, then I can’t.”
  • Example: “Eh brah, are you coming to my party tonight? I know you work late, but if you can, you can.”


  • How you call someone or something that is irritating.
  • Example: “Can you tell my sister to stop calling me?” She’s so crazy!”


  • “Something bad.”
  • Example: “I don’t want to order this again. Scrap, there kine.”


  • Combination of the words “like” and “that”.
  • Example: “She is simply l’dat. No worries.”

Like beef?

  • Here you don’t ask anyone if they really want to eat. It asks if they want to fight.
  • Example: “Uh, sis, do you like beef? Kay den.”


  • “Not smart.”
  • Example: “Dat boy so lolo when he called the teacher. Now he is in prison.”


  • “Better.”
  • Example: “Park in the shade. It’s mo’bettah ova dere.”

No moa

  • “No more of” or “nothing”.
  • Example: “Got any poke left?” “No moa, sorry brah.”

Oh no

  • Hawaiian word for “delicious”.
  • Example: “The food at Duke’s is so ʻono.”


  • Marijuana.
  • Example: “My sister offered me some pakalōlō, but I said no.”


  • “Done” or “over”.
  • Example: “I’m here pau ova. Let’s get Grindz.”


  • “Roger” or “understood”.
  • Example: “Let’s meet for dinner at your mother’s.” “Rajah dat.”


  • urine or pee.
  • Example: “Go shishi before the show.”


  • “Okay, understood.”
  • Example: “You like to surf this weekend? Shoot Cave!”


  • Slippers, flip flops or sandals.
  • Example: “Are you really going hiking in Slippas?”

Little Cows

  • “Just a bit.”
  • Example: “She’s small, irraz, but I like her.”

smelly eye

  • A dirty look.
  • Example: “I gave him a stinky eye when he cut me off.”


  • “Thanks.”
  • Example: “Tanks for da grindz!”

Speak history

  • Talk, tell stories or gossip with friends.
  • Example: “Why are you coming home late?” “Jesse and I talk stories all night.”

In addition to learning pidgin, there are common Hawaiian words used by residents, local businesses, and even tour companies that you should know before you visit.

Being a tourist also means being aware of the place you are visiting and the people who call it home. The rules and common courtesy apply while on vacation in Hawaii. Check out the list of 10 things not to do when visiting the islands in KHON 2.

Comments are closed.