The Waikiki Insider: Feb/Mar 2013

February 1, 2013 | By Mona Wood-Sword
Photo: Twain Newhart

Photo: Twain Newhart

What is the true meaning of ALOHA? We see and hear it all around us—at the airport, in business names, in a song, on a sign…but what is the real meaning behind the most famous of all Hawaiian words? Most of us know that aloha means love, hello and goodbye, but it really is so much more than that—it’s a feeling and way of life. Literally, alo means presence and ha means breath, so together they combine to mean having life. Aloha is a lifestyle, the basic Hawaiian value of treating each other with love and respect. So, the next time you say “aloha,” it’s important to remember its true meaning:

A is for AKAHAI Kindness
L is for LOKAHI Unity, Harmony
O is for ‘OLU ‘OLU Pleasantness
H is for HA‘A HA‘A Humility
A is for AHONUI Patience, Tolerance


Speaking of ALOHA… You see them walking or bicycling around Waikiki in their fluorescent green-yellow shirts every day—the Aloha Ambassadors. These aloha-spirited men and women serve as hosts, giving directions or answering questions about Waikiki, reporting crimes or quality of life concerns, providing an effective street presence to deter crime, administering first aid and even picking up litter.

Aloha Ambassadors are chosen based on their personalities and natural aloha spirit. They are trained to meet the public’s need for information and assistance, and to deliver genuine hospitality to residents and visitors to enhance the overall Waikiki experience. They are like having a local friend for first-time visitors, and a quality of life support system for repeat visitors and residents who work, live and play in Waikiki.

Operations Manager Candace Groves-O’Neal said there are currently 21 Aloha Ambassadors, and 13 of them on the streets of Waikiki every day. Many ambassadors are bilingual, speaking English and Japanese, Chinese, Korean, or Spanish—they even have an ambassador from Belgium and another from Kazakhstan.

Looking for a specific restaurant? Need directions for catching TheBus to Hanauma Bay? Need someone to walk you to your car? Just ask an Aloha Ambassador. A community service provided by the Waikiki Business Improvement District Association (WBIDA) since 2007, the Aloha Ambassador program is operated by Block-by-Block—a company that specializes in providing services for business improvement districts across the country. Find out more at


Share aloha with your special someone in Waikiki. It is one of the most romantic spots on earth, and whether you choose to watch the sunrise from Diamond Head, enjoy a picnic or walk on the beach, or spoil yourself with a luxurious dinner and a bottle of Dom Perignon at sunset—make it a special time to rekindle your love.

And forget the dozen roses—this is Hawai‘i! Present each with a flower lei instead. Pikake (my favorite) or pikake with baby roses, white ginger, pua kenikeni, tuberose, plumeria and orchid are good choices for her. Maile, ti leaf with kukui nuts, cigar, he‘e berries, and kukunaokala are popular picks for men. Ask your hotel concierges where you can buy or order a lei. You may also want to check out the Coconut Hut Lei Stand at the Royal Hawaiian Center, Waikiki Beach Leis & Flowers at the Pacific Beach Hotel, or Waikiki Village Flowers & Gifts at Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa.

Or, make your own lei for your loved one at lei-making classes presented at Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa, Mana Hawai‘i at Waikiki Beach Walk, Westin Moana Surfrider, Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach, Outrigger Reef on the Beach, Sheraton Waikiki, Sheraton Princess Ka‘iulani, or Royal Hawaiian Center.