There are two types of hula: Kahiko (ancient, paired with drums and chanting) and ‘Auana (modern, paired with musicians and singers). Make time to experience both styles. You can’t miss ‘Auana-style dances at the luaus, festivals, and performances happening around the islands. You can experience the Kahiko style at the Merrie Monarch Festival on Hawaii Island.
Add To My Travel Log
Hula: The Heartbeat of Hawaii
Hula is not just a dance. It’s a direct connection to the essence of Hawaii. It tells the story of Hawaii’s creation and the enduring spirit of the Hawaiian people. You might not understand the words of the mesmerizing chants, but you’ll intuitively get the message in your heart.
Experiencing hula is a must. But how you experience it is up to you. Your introduction to hula can be interactive (lessons), romantic (dinner performance), or simply fun (day time performances for families).
Get a deeper understanding of the cultural importance of hula at the Bishop Museum and the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu. You’ll gain a deeper appreciation of the art form as you learn about the specific history, myths, and legends carried in the beautiful costumes and chants.
The best way to learn is by doing. If you feel like dancing, you can take lessons with an organization like Hawaii Hula Company. You’ll develop a newfound respect for both the skill of Hawaii’s hula dancers, and the strength of their knees.
Hula is first and foremost a sacred art form with deep cultural meaning. Give your undivided attention and respect to the dancers.
Pay attention to the movements of the hands in hula. They symbolize many elements, like nature and the emotions. You might see the swaying of a tree, rolling ocean waves, or feelings of affection being expressed through the hands.
Make sure you wear comfortable clothing if you plan on taking lessons.
On Oahu, dancing comes with dinner. Luaus are very popular on Oahu, and you can catch a performance with your dinner at many restaurants.
On Maui, head to Lahaina to see free hula shows 7 days a week. You can take free hula and lei-making lessons at Whaler’s Village.
Hawaii Island is the capital of hula thanks to a myriad of highly-respected halau (schools), skilled kumu (teachers) and dancers, and the world-famous Merrie Monarch Festival.
Head to Kauai to watch daily performances, torch lighting ceremonies, and partake in free hula lessons. You can even show off your newly-learned skills at a luau.
“Hula brings to life the stories of Hawaii's culture."