People around the world develop ways to bond with one another, whether they be family, friends, or part of a larger social construct, and the people of Hawaii are certainly no different in that respect.

But part of what makes Hawaii so unique is the way in which we’ve developed those means of bonding. Practically every adult is an “aunty” or “uncle” to a younger one, and even the nice lady at the grocery store you just met can be your “aunty”. Here are seven of the many ways people in Hawaii bond that make life with family and friends so special in the Aloha State.

Food
There is nothing quite like a Hawaiian-style potluck to bring family and friends together. Weekend days see parks and beaches fill with multigenerational families, with grandma, or “tutu” under the shade of the tent, mom and dad handling food preparation, and the keiki running around doing what kids do. These kinds of gatherings are an important part of life here. Everyone brings something to eat, usually a household specialty like shoyu chicken, chili, barbeque ribs. People take turns cooking, playing with the kids, and just “talking story.” It’s sublime.

Hula dancers at a Luau

Hula
Hula and the oral tradition have, for hundreds of years, a means by which Hawaiian culture has been passed down through the generations. Hula halau function as families, with dozens of individuals working together on the dance, on the stories behind them, on their dress. They spend a great deal of time together, travel together, and laugh and cry together. There may be no more uniquely Hawaiian way for people to bond than hula.

Fishing
The bounty of marine life in Hawaii has always meant that fishing is a large part of the culture. There are many fishing families in Hawaii, families who have stayed close by sharing an intimacy with the ocean and an understanding of its wonders and its perils. Friends stay close by trekking down isolated coasts to secret fishing or diving holes. The joy of the catch is always shared, and so is the loss of one that got away.

Boy and girl waling on the beach in Hawaii carrying  surfboards

Surfing
In Hawaii, the joy of surfing often begins with mom and/or dad taking their young one to a beach with gently rolling waves and pushing them into their first ride. It’s not unusual to see kids as young as one-year out there with mom or dad. As they age, kids begin surfing with their friends (while still paddling out with mom and dad, sometimes). They push themselves to get better, to get more out of the simple act of riding a wave. Chilly, early-morning “dawn patrols” and dreamy, late evening twilight sessions draw people closer together in the hunt for waves.

tents at Hawaii campsite

Hiking and Camping
With the multitude of camping beaches and trails in Hawaii, it’s no wonder that so many people spend so much time enjoying them. There’s no better way to say “We’re in this together!” than to journey away from home and into the elements. Hikers share a feeling of accomplishment after a long hike. Long nights around the crackle and glow of a campfire slow life down, and let us appreciate our family and friends. It’s ju

Karaoke
It’s true. We love our karaoke in Hawaii. It’s quirky, sometimes cheesy, and often embarrassing. But that’s the point. Yes, there are some truly great karaoke singers in practically every family or group of friends. But that’s not the point. When someone who isn’t a particularly decent singer gets up for their turn, they’re saying “I’m not ashamed to be myself in front of you,” and that’s powerful. We laugh at each other and we laugh at ourselves. A grown-up karaoke night out usually involves a large group, with no one safe from the expectation of grabbing that microphone, or a potential hangover the next day.

And, Finally…We Go to Las Vegas
It’s almost inexplicable, but Hawaii residents have long had an abiding love for Las Vegas. There is an abundance of relatively inexpensive Las Vegas packages available to Hawaii residents, and we take full advantage. Most of us travel, to Las Vegas with a group of family and friends. We tend to stay Downtown, off of the strip, where the casinos have learned to cater to us over the year. Many of us have relatives working in Las Vegas casinos and resorts. Unlike the rest of the known universe, Las Vegas is not “Sin City” for Hawaii residents. It’s just kind of where we go for a short, off-island vacation with those closest to us.

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