Books on Hawaiian Culture

Fire dancer at Marriott Wailea on Maui, Hawaii

Hawaii is America's 50th state and unlike any other in the union. Located further from land than any other island chain in the world, Hawaii has a unique culture, history and language. Before you visit the Aloha State, learn a bit about its people.

01 of 10

Na Mamo: Hawaiian People Today

Na Mamo: Hawaiian People Today
Jay Hartwell

An excellent book to help you learn about the people who are keeping the Hawaiian culture alive in their chosen professions and hobbies - from hula to canoe racing; making tapa to taro planting. Learn about the people and culture of Hawaii before you visit the islands of Hawaii. This book is currently out of print but available used from

02 of 10

Shoal of Time: A History of the Hawaiian Islands

Shoal of Time
Gavan Daws

This book focuses on post-contact Hawaii from the Western perspective. This is a very readable and meticulously researched history. This should be the starting place for anyone interested in the majestic and tragic past of the Hawaiian Islands.

03 of 10

Hawaiian Mythology

Hawaiian Mythology
Martha Beckwith

The premier book on Hawaiian mythology written in 1940, but reads like it was written today. If you are planning to visit Hawaii, you should learn about the people of Hawaii and this book tells you a lot about their ancient culture.

04 of 10

Hawaiian Dictionary

Hawaiian Dictionary
Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert

The best Hawaiian dictionary, bar none. When asked about spelling or the meaning(s) of a word or phrase, the answer is likely to be "Pukui says..." or "According to Pukui..."

For a good online Hawaiian to English dictionary, try visiting

Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10

Hawaiian Names - English Names

Hawaiian Names English Names
Eileen M. Root

A really interesting and useful book that will help you with the meaning of many Hawaiian names when you visit the islands. This book is currently out of print but available used from

06 of 10

Place Names of Hawaii

Place Names of Hawaii
Mary Kawena Pukui

A must resource guide for any traveler who is interested in learning the meaning behind such things as the names of streets, towns, valleys, land sections, fish ponds, mountains, streams, islands, buildings and more.

07 of 10

Hawaiian Quilt: A Spiritual Experience

The Hawaiian Quilt
Poakalani and John Serrao

A complete guide to the tradition, heritage and cultural significance of Hawaiian quilts. This book is currently out of print but available used from

08 of 10

Hawaii by James Michener

Hawaii - A Novel
James A. Michener

An excellent introduction to Hawaii's history, through expert and very accurate storytelling by one of America's favorite authors.

Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

Holy Man: Father Damien of Molokai

Holy Man
Gavan Daws

By the author of Shoal of Time, an excellent biography of now Saint Damien as well as a social history of leprosy in the late nineteenth century.

10 of 10

Learn Hawaiian at Home

Learn Hawaiian at Home
Kahikahealani Wight

A course book and audio CDs so that you can learn the beautiful language of Hawaii. The package includes step-by-step instructions, exercises and more.

Was this page helpful?