The Cultural Scene in Maui
If you want to savor the multicultural diversity of the Hawaiian Islands and take part in an exhilarating adventure that will take you from mountain trails to immaculate beaches, choosing to stay in Maui will give you a cultural experience you will never forget. The island has maintained its natural beauty over a span of years, and the townspeople have remained simple and loyal to their land. The culture of Maui today is a colorful and interesting mix of various cultures and ethnic groups. If you love learning more about ethnic Hawaiian history or gazing at traditional and contemporary Hawaiian art, you will have a grand and rewarding stay at Maui Island.
The people of Maui
The local residents of Maui are warm and friendly, with a strong sense of kinship and cooperation, despite the ethnic diversity prevalent in the island. The very thing that makes Maui one of the most unique islands all over Hawaii is its cultural make-up. There is no dominant ethnic majority in the island. A greater part of the population is of mixed ancestry. The biggest ethic group in the island is composed of Caucasians, followed by Filipinos, Japanese, and Hawaiians. Hawaiian natives comprise only a small percentage of the total population, with the majority of the residents in Maui making claims to their Chinese, Korean, Puerto Rican, African, and Portuguese lineages.
Hawaiians are known to be open and generous, and these traits are common among the native people of Maui. Despite their differences, the people in the island respect one another and strive to live together in harmony. In fact, different ethnic groups permit intermarriages among them. The Aloha spirit is something that will always be revered in Maui. This refers to the easy-going attitude of the residents of the Hawaiian island, accepting everyone, keeping their devotion to the time-honored customs, and maintaining a positive vibe.
The practice of religion
Almost half of the total population in Maui adhere to their respective religions. Since Maui is a melting pot of more than 50 diverse ethnic groups, it is also an island of numerous sub-cultures. As different ethnic groups have made Maui their home, these people have also brought along with them different religious backgrounds. In Maui, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism are practiced alongside the traditional Hawaiian religion.
During the early times, immigrants from the Marquesas Island were first to settle on Maui, sometime during 600 AD. During the 12th century, natives from Tahiti began to settle on Maui as well. It was during this time that the Polynesian culture became more pronounced on the island. Nature was worshipped by the Polynesians, and this veneration was present in their day-to-day practices. Places of worship were built, called the heiaus, the foundations of which are still preserved as of this day, in tribute to the ancient history and culture of the Hawaiian Islands.
During the 1820s, Christianity was first introduced in Hawaii and in Maui. Buddhism and Shintoism were established afterwards, when Japanese and Chinese immigrants began to settle on the island during the 1880s.
Today, you will be able to find different places of worship in Maui, from Jewish congregations and missions to Catholic cathedrals. Episcopal, evangelical, and orthodox Greek churches are also found on the island.
The language of the people
The English language is being used widely all over Maui, making it more convenient for tourists to communicate with the locals. However, the native Hawaiian language is also being used up to present. Some of the more common Hawaiian words include aloha, mahalo, lanai, makai, ono, lomilomi, haole, and malahini. Aloha means hello, while mahalo means thank you. Lanai is a term for porch or veranda, makai for toward the sea. Ono means delicious, and lomilomi translates to massage. If you are Caucasian, you are normally called a haole, and if you have just set foot into the island, you are called a malahini.
The Maui language is distinct from the more general Hawaiian language, however, and is often characterized by its graceful and elegant intonations and phrases. It was in 1978 when the Maui language was first recognized as a certified language. Language schools can be found in Maui today, where the students can learn math, history, and science, using their native tongue.
The music and entertainment scene of Maui
The Hula dance and Taiko drumming remain popular in Maui, typically featured in the many luaus hosted on the island. In the early times, the people of Maui used shells from the ocean to create distinctive musical sounds. If you want to experience island entertainment the traditional way, you can always attend a Maui luau, recognized to be among the best all over the Hawaiian isles.
In these luaus, you shall get a first-hand experience on the festivities and traditions that shape Maui, especially since the island is a unique integration of Polynesian heritage and cultural diversity. From Kaanapali Beach, Lahaina and to Wailea, you can join a festive evening luau, featuring traditional dances, music, and authentic Hawaiian cuisine. The fast beat of the drums, swaying hips of the Hula dancers, and the refreshing Mai Tais served as refreshments all contribute to the festive ambiance that you can only experience from an authentic Maui luau.
Guests are treated to a warm lei greeting upon arrival, usually on a beachfront where these luaus are typically held. A public presentation of Polynesian customs and arts is included, followed by Hula dancing lessons. Hula dancing represents the fun and pulsating spirit of Hawaii, which started off as a form of ritual in the earlier times. Nowadays, no luau in Maui is complete without the presence of graceful Hula dancers swaying to lively Hawaiian music. You can also expect to witness fire knife dances, imu ceremonies, and Polynesian Revue in these celebratory luaus.
Cultural sites and venues
Maui has a selection of museums, cultural centers, gardens, and national parks. Exhibits concerning the sugar-making industry in Maui are featured in the Alexander & Baldwin Museum, while underwater drawings and exhibits can be viewed at the Atlantis Submarines. The Hana Cultural Center houses various artifacts indigenous to Hawaii, including ceramics, pictures, and quilts.
If you plan on visiting sites of high cultural and historical importance in Hawaii, you can drop by Haleki’i and Pihana Heiau. It was during the 1760s that Kahekili, who as the chief of Maui during that time, resided in Haleki’i. Pihana Heiau served as the central place for ancient traditions and rituals in Hawaii.
The Haleakala National Park is also one site in Maui that carries immense cultural importance, as it is the location of the Haleakala or East Maui volcano. In ancient Hawaiian folklore, the summit of the volcano was the home of the grandmother of Maui, a demigod worshipped by the Hawaiian natives. The Haleakala National Park also exhibits the geology of Haleakala, making it a must-see for historians and culture vultures who are visiting Maui.
The Maui Arts and Cultural Center is an excellent venue for foreign tourists and travelers to learn more about the culture of Maui, in terms of visual art, education, music, and dance. This center holds events and exhibits, cultural programs, social events, and shows featuring artists from all over the state and the United States.
Artists and art galleries
The art scene in Maui can be described as lively, vivid, and unique, a stark reflection of the distinctive culture of Hawaii. You can find talented, artistic people in Maui, who have individually mastered a wide range of art skills, including painting, photography, jewelry-making, sculpting, and drawing. There is the Elan Vital Art Gallery in Wailea, the Dolphin Galleries and the Kush Fine Art in Lahaina, as well as the Village Gallery in Kapalua. The distinctive flavor of Maui art will surely capture the interest of anyone who has an eye for beauty and meticulous craftsmanship.
A culture of love, hospitality, warmth, and cooperation
The prevailing culture scene in Maui is without a doubt influenced by the Hawaiian core values, which are bound to leave a lasting impression on any visitor or traveler. The Aloha spirit, which is actually an expression of the heart, communicates love and warmth to everyone. The Ho’ okipa rests on the idea that hospitality should be a gift given to all, and not merely reserved for family and friends. Mahalo communicates a genuine thankfulness, a sense deep gratitude and courteousness for the beliefs and values of others. Laulima means to work together, and this is why visitors of Maui are highly encouraged to keep the island clean and peaceful.
All over Maui, you may encounter signs that indicate the words “Please Kokua.” Kokua means to cooperate or to understand. Malama means to nurture or to preserve, in reference to the preservation of the Hawaiian lands. Finally, "Ike" is the idea of achieving a connection to things, places, or people by simply seeing, knowing, feeling, and understanding."
Finally, Lokahi means agreement and unity, since Maui is an island of ethnic diversity. The island continues to uphold the culture of simplicity, art, and love of the land, and advocate a sense of unity amidst multicultural differences.