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Helpful Words And Phrases For Your Maui Visit

a close up of a beach

While the vast majority of Hawaiians speak English, it’s always a nice idea when traveling anywhere to learn some of the local lingo. Not only will it allow you to immerse yourself deeper into the culture, but it will also help understand street signs, menus, and more as you explore this incredible island. The official Hawaiian language, ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, is a Polynesian-inspired language based on 13 English letters, with only 8 consonants and 5 vowels. The Hawaiian people take extreme pride in their homeland and heritage, so even learning simple pleasantries like hello, goodbye, and thank you will show appreciation and respect for their language and way of life.


Here are 5 keywords and phrases to commit to memory before vacationing in the Aloha state.


  1. Aloha – Hello or Goodbye (a-lo-ha)  

This common word has a much deeper meaning to the Hawaiian people. Like the phrase “Pura Vida” in Costa Rica, its used to express kindness, love, respect, and positive intentions. Here are a few ways to incorporate this greeting at different times of the day during your visit:

  • Aloha kakahiaka  – Good morning (a-lo-ha kah-kah-hee-yah-kah)
  • Aloha auinala – Good afternoon (a-loh-ha av-ah-kay-ah)
  • Aloha ahiahi – Good evening (a-loh-ha a-hee-yah-hee)


  1. Mahalo – Thank you (mah-hah-loh)  

Like the word aloha, mahalo has a multitude uses. Because it appears on many trash cans, tourists sometimes think it means garbage. That couldn’t be farther from the truth! Mahalo is used to express gratitude, admiration, respect, and praise. Hawaiians are extremely charming and hospitable people, so you’ll hear them use this word numerous times during your stay. If you’re feeling extra appreciative, say Mahalo nui loa (mah-hah-loh noo-ee) to say ‘thank you very much’.


  1. ’A’ ole palikir  – You’re welcome (ah-oh-leh pee-lee-kee-yah) 

When someone says ‘Mahalo’ to you, this is the phrase to respond with. In slang it also translates to “No problem,” and is a common expression that reflects the laidback, unhurried way of life on the island.


  1. ‘Ono – Delicious (ō-nō)

Since one of the great pleasures on Maui is indulging in local eats, this word will come in handy when you head to a lu’au or stop by a great Hawaiian food truck. Local chefs take such pride in the presentation and taste of their culinary greetings, so complementing them in their native tongue would mean so much.


  1. Moana – Ocean (mow-ah-na)

Maui is known for some of the most majestic topography in the entire world, with vast, crystal-blue waters surrounded by epic mountain ranges. The ocean plays an important role for native Hawaiians as a vital resource and a source of physical and spiritual sustenance. Like the little girl in the popular Disney movie, Moana symbolizes power and strength.