Aloha! My name’s Alyssa Navares, and I am honored to be a part of the Hawaii Aloha Travel (HAT) ohana. This is my very first post to the blog as the new editor, picking up where former editor Cindy Scheopner left off. She has done a remarkable job over the years in really developing the blog and helping to find a sense of place for it within both the tourism and local communities. Cindy has successfully created a voice for the Islands through this blog, sharing with readers her personal experiences and finding a solid group of contributors along the way.

I hope to continue this trend and keep our readers interested in learning more about Hawaii. I’m excited to share with you everything I have come to love about this place, my home. And I’ll make sure we help you prepare for your next visit to Hawaii by teaching you things like, safety in the ocean or the custom of taking your shoes off before entering someone’s home. Hopefully, my stories will not only inform you but make you laugh, give you that “ah ha!” moment and inspire you to seek out a Hawaiian treasure all your own. My main goal is to help you find a place in your heart for Hawaii, as you learn more about its perse culture, taste its many flavorful foods and absorb its Aloha Spirit, which radiates throughout the Pacific.

A few weeks ago, Cindy asked readers, What does Hawaii mean to you? We got responses like, it’s “Magic,” “Paradise” and “Home.” For me, Hawaii means driving in the rain on the Windward side, only to find sunshine on the other side of the Pali tunnel. Or dipping into a mix of cultures at one time; Hawaii is one of the few places one can attend a baby’s first luau, then go for a quick surf before ending the day at an Okinawan Festival to enjoy the music and the doughy goodness of andagi.

My favorite answer from a reader: Hawaii no ka oi! (Hawaii is the best!) I feel truly blessed to live here. When I was in school, we learned about the values that Native Hawaiians practiced in order to promote a more cohesive society. Lokomaikai (low-ko-my-KU-eeyuh) is one word that comes to mind when pondering the question of what Hawaii means to me. The word translates to “sharing,” a gesture that you are sure to encounter when visiting, as the people of Hawaii truly embody the Hawaiian value. Hopefully I can share more of Hawaii with you through this blog, and let YOU find your own answers to the question.

Because the culture plays such an important role in your Hawaii experience, I will start incorporating the Hawaiian diacritical marks into our stories. These marks include the okina (which looks like a backwards apostrophe and adds verbal pauses in between syllables) and a kahako (a line over the vowel that gives it a longer sound and sometimes gives words a different meaning). These small details in the culture have big responsibilities. The diacritical marks create various meanings and pronunciation for words. For example, lanai is a balcony while Lanai is a Hawaiian island. And as a Native Hawaiian editor, I feel obliged to convey the most accurate depiction of Hawaii to readers, even down to the subtle details. I will not, however, include diacritics in the headlines of posts. Online search results don’t do too well with apostrophes of any sort and often get confused.

I’m fortunate to still have those handful of regular contributors (including Cindy!) who share the same enthusiasm and commitment to the blog, and I welcome other visitors and locals to tell their stories as well. I’ve got some ideas for the blog that I’m excited about, which includes getting readers more involved and adding multimedia to the mix, as a way to further enhance our stories. But more to come on that…

Until then, I’ll see you in the virtual world! Mahalo!


  1. Aloha Alyssa!!
    So glad to have you and can’t wait for more of your posts. It’s funny you mention the diacritical marks in the language as we were just discussing that in the chat room of the podcast yesterday. Peanut was asking why some Hawaiian words are spelled the same but pronounced differently. I mentioned the ‘okina but when he/she mentioned not seeing any marks the only thing I could think of was that sometime we get lazy in our writing and forget those marks. Anyway…looking forward to many more posts! Thanks again Alyssa!!!

  2. Aloha Alyssa!
    Glad your a part of the HAT team! Interesting to know that you will be utilizing the okina and kahako in upcoming stories =) I look forward to many more posts from you!

  3. Aloha Alyssa…welcome to HAT! Looking forward to reading your future blogs which will include the Hawaiian diacritical marks into the stories. Great blog!

  4. Aloha Alyssa! Welcome to the HAT team! I can’t wait to hear what you have to say in your future posts

  5. Mahalo, everyone for your warm welcome and continued support of the blog! It’s great to see that we have such a loyal following. @Tara-Yes! The Hawaiian diacritics are so important to both the language and the culture. They’re the fine details that we often overlook. And I’m happy that this is a welcomed addition by readers. Keep the comments coming (good or bad)..they’re what help the blog to mature (: Mahalo!

  6. Aloha Alyssa!

    E komo mai! I apologize for not being able to figure out how to fully utilize my keyboard features to add okina’s and kahako’s (typing class in high school was an elective, I was too proud of a football player to be seen in typing class!) but since your blog touches on the topic of Hawaii Olelo, I guess a great way to start off would be a blog about the history of our native language and who put it in written form. Can’t wait to read it…

    btw…what high school you went?



  7. Māhalo, Kalani! No worries about the diacritics…it can sure be tricky with computers. I think that is a wonderful idea for a blog post! I will be sure to add that to our list of stories. And I graduated from Kamehamehaʻs Kapālama campus! I Mua! Are you a Warrior, too?

  8. Aloha Alyssa!

    ‘A’ole, graduate of Leilehua 1987. I’m happy to hear that you graduated from a fine school. I am happy to know that a blogger like you comes from the best resource of Hawaiian culture. I enjoy reading anything to do with our culture and history and look forward to your blogs. I did wish on many occasions that I had attended KHS because of it’s rich history but my years at LHS was fine indeed, many great memories.

    One of my mo’opuna was just accepted and is currently enrolled at Kamehameha. We’re proud of her achievement as well as 3 other mo’opuna we have currently enrolled at ‘Anuenue in Palolo. It’s such a joy to hear them ‘olelo Hawaii at home.

    I’m half Hawaiian myself but, unfortunately, don’t ‘olelo Hawaii. I would like to learn it soon, especially now that the mo’opuna need more practice at home to keep their learning process on-going.

    With that said and being in the tourism industry, I think our kuleana as Hawaiians is not only making people feel welcomed and planning their vacations but also to take the opportunity to teach them about our culture while their here so they may return home and share what we taught them with their friends. That way, we live-on past our mo’opuna time and with our population numbers fading, one day we’ll have to depend on non-Hawaiians to keep our culture at the forefront. Just as the Japanese absorb our culture and hula today, hopefully, we can get the rest of the world to do the same.


  9. Aloha Alyssa, Welcome once again to our team,. I see you have already stimulated some great conversation and even responded to a important breaking story!! Our company name is actually registered with the okina, so it’s Hawai’i Aloha Travel. Over the years we have dropped it mainly because of the search engines, who do not recognize this character and sometimes actually think its a computer character which causes problems in our code!! Keep up the awesome work !!

  10. @Kalani-Maika’i! I’m glad to hear your mo’opuna are carrying on the Hawaiian culture. And it’s never too late to learn ‘Olelo Hawai’i. I, myself, am still learning and hope to one day pass this on to my future children. You are right on point when you mentioned that Hawaiians should share the culture with visitors. I hope to do this through the blog, as the Hawaiian culture is deeply rooted in the mo’olelo we learn and pass on. It is our kuleana and not sharing this with others would be going against what our ancestors did for centuries. It will hopefully be that “ah-ha!” moment for visitors when they learn about a new place and visit it on their trips. Having that historical knowledge makes their adventure even more special!

    @Bruce, Thank you again for this opportunity! It’s good to know that Hawai’i Aloha Travel embraces the Hawaiian culture, even through one tiny ‘okina. Mahalo!

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