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..."

    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.

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