7 Signs You Are At The Center of Hawaiian Culture In Waikiki

November 27, 2023

a sign on a pole with a tree next to it
It would be an understatement to say Waikiki is famous. Pretty much everyone knows the name, and many have some idea of its connection to hospitality, tourism, shopping and fun in the sun.
Fewer know about just how long Waikiki has been a beloved destination for native Hawaiians before any explorer, whaler or missionary ever set foot on the Islands.
Waikiki is deeply steeped in rich Hawaiian history and culture, beginning with the ali’I (royalty), who, recognizing a great place when they saw it,  staked it out for their winter getaways, and inviting the common folk in for sporting events and games, and luaus (feasts) that were resplendent with hula and mele (music).

Indeed, the signs of Waikiki history and stories are all around, if you know where to look. And Waikiki Beach Walk has many that are, to use an old phrase, hiding in plain sight.

a sign on a post
There are several stanchions highlighting interesting historical and cultural facts sprinkled throughout Waikiki Beach Walk.
Sprinkled throughout Waikiki Beach Walk are six interesting historical and cultural markers. Some inform you about ancient activities like surfing and hula; others describe Hawaiian cultural artifacts like the ipu and uli’uli.  (And we’re not going to tell what they are; you’ll just have to visit and find out for yourself).
It makes a stroll through Waikiki Beach Walk even more pleasant. If that’s even possible, with the many charming eateries and shops filled with local goods only found in Hawaii, and topped off with delightful music wafting through the grounds.

But wait! Those who are alert, careful readers might have noticed that we said there are six signs, but the headline clearly stated said seven.

Glad you asked. The seventh sign is held by the guy in the photo. His name is Blaine Kamalani Kia, and he is the cultural director of Waikiki Beach Walk. The “sign” he is holding is the award he recently won that recognizes him as a leading proponent of the perpetuation of Hawaiian culture within the tourist industry.

a person holding a plaque
Kumu Blaine Kamalani Kia is the cultural director for Waikiki Beach Walk
This makes perfect sense, because Waikiki Beach Walk has been dedicated to honoring the history and culture of Waikiki since it opened in 2007.
Put it all together and that means that every cultural presentation you experience at Waikiki Beach Walk is guaranteed to be authentic.
Waikiki Beach Walk can proudly make this claim because not only is Blaine a native Hawaiian, but also a certified  kahu (spiritual leader), an accomplished Kumu Hula (teacher) for 12 hula halau (schools), and a gifted musician who performs with his family in many of the free presentations offered through the week at the Waikiki Beach Walk Plaza.

This includes Hu Ha’aheo, a free, live, Hawaiian music concert headlined by Blaine and accompanied by his family performing hula on Tuesdays from 4:30 to 6 p.m., and Ka Lei Hula, free hula lessons presented by Blaine and his wife Kaleo Sunday mornings from 9 to 10 a.m.
a group of people dancing hula on a green field
Kumu Blaine Kamalani Kia and his wife Kaleo conduct free hula lessons every Sunday morning at Waikiki Beach Walk

Another great sign at Waikiki Beach Walk
Waikiki Beach Walk offers complimentary valet parking with a $10 purchase from any Waikiki Beach Walk merchant or restaurant.
a close-up of the letter p


All photos courtesy of Waikiki Beach Walk unless otherwise indicated