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Hawaiian culture is vibrant and cherished in the islands, and when it comes to not only taking in the culture—but participating in it—one of the best places to experience Hawaii's rich heritage in Waikiki is at the newly re-opened Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort. Here's a sneak peek at what's back in store for live events and learning at the resort (and stay tuned for similar lineups at our sister resorts, Waikiki Beachcomber, Outrigger Waikiki and Waikiki Malia coming soon, too).
Lei, with Love
Lei Making | Voyager 47 Club Lounge
With our lei making sessions, it's not just a lesson—it's a story.
"While they are sewing," says Luana Maitland, Outrigger Reef Waikiki Cultural Director, who has spent the past 20 years spreading aloha to visitors and locals (kamaaina) alike. "I also share that I was told that it was the men who first made the lei. Every morning the men had to go out to find provisions and would stumble on beautiful flowers, so would find vines and leaves and braid them … and purposely wear them around their necks because their hands were full of provisions. And they were gentle with the lei until they returned to the village and would gift it to their sweetheart or mama.”
"The best lei are given with love to someone else versus for yourself," she adds. "When you're done [making your lei], you tie it up in a circle of all your love."
Live Music Under the Stars
Daily Live Local Music | Kani Ka Pila Grille
There's a longstanding local pastime of playing music in backyards or somebody's garage with lots of food and family and music—sometimes all weekend long. And Kani Ka Pila Grille was built on this same idea.
"So we came up with the concept or idea that we need to have traditional Hawaiian music," says Luana. "No one had that playing in Waikiki, so that was a great opportunity for us to share that and it has been a hit for 13 years."
Hula Lessons | Waikiki Beach Walk Plaza
The ancient Polynesian art of storytelling through words and chants (of the oli or mele) in a visual dance form. Every hula is different based on the song being sung, but you can tell any story with hands and emotions—and, as Luana says, especially in your smile.
"Before I teach them the motion to hula, I share the meaning of the hula," says Luana. "Once you teach them the song, it becomes their song."
Makemake Wau (a.k.a. I Do)
Hawaiian Vow Renewal | Beachfront
Our #1 experience is back! From the waters from heaven to the honi honi, the traditional Hawaiian breath of life, this ceremony feels (almost) as magical as the first time.
"A vow renewal ceremony anywhere is special, but doing it in Hawaii with the beach in the background and little Hawaiian words in there is even more so," says Luana. "I share the meaning of the words, and guests share how beautiful it sounded."
Hawaii has one of the most vibrant cultures in the world, blending age-old traditions with modern takes for a beautiful blend of old and new. And it's so much fun to not just observe, but try them out for yourself.
“It begins with Outrigger’s commitment—it wasn't just a list of things or job to do; it was something truly from their heart that they wanted to continue sharing with our visitors," says Luana. "In all, they've given a blank canvas to the cultural experience story. I could say the same story at Outrigger Waikiki, at Outrigger Reef, it doesn't matter where you are, it’s what your’e doing, what you're learning, and what we’re able to share."
With even more classes—like ukelele lessons, making a kukui nut bracelet, the art of bamboo stamping—taking place now and more culture coming soon, make sure to check back for the latest activities line-up. We can't wait to see you in Waikiki soon!