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Aloha! If you’re looking to add a touch of paradise to your outfit, a flower necklace handcrafted in Hawaii is just what you need. These fragrant leis made of vibrant, tropical blooms are a quintessential part of the islands’ culture and make for an unforgettable souvenir or gift.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about the iconic Hawaiian flower necklaces, from their origins and cultural significance to popular bloom varieties used and where you can find the very best leis on your trip to Hawaii.

The History and Significance of the Flower Lei in Hawaii

When you think of Hawaii, one of the first images that comes to mind is likely the vibrant and fragrant flower leis. These stunningly beautiful necklaces are not just a fashion accessory, but they hold a deep history and significance within Hawaiian culture. The tradition of giving leis dates back centuries and continues to be an integral part of Hawaiian customs and celebrations.

The long-standing tradition of giving leis as a symbol of affection

Leis have long been used in Hawaii as a symbol of affection, love, and respect. The act of giving a lei is a way to show appreciation and gratitude to someone. Whether it is a simple gesture of welcoming a visitor or an expression of love during a wedding ceremony, leis are a tangible representation of the warmth and hospitality that the Hawaiian people are known for.

The origins of the lei tradition can be traced back to ancient times when Hawaiians would create necklaces using natural materials such as flowers, leaves, shells, and even feathers. These handmade leis were not only beautiful but also carried a deeper meaning. Each flower used in a lei holds its own significance, with certain flowers representing love, friendship, or good luck.

Today, the art of lei-making has evolved, and a wide variety of flowers and materials are used to create these intricate necklaces. From vibrant plumerias to fragrant orchids, each lei is a unique work of art that reflects the beauty of the Hawaiian islands.

Leis used to honor guests and celebrate special occasions

In addition to being a symbol of affection, leis are also used to honor guests and celebrate special occasions in Hawaii. When someone arrives in Hawaii, it is customary to present them with a lei as a way to welcome them to the islands. This gesture not only shows hospitality but also serves as a way to connect with the spirit of aloha, which emphasizes love, peace, and harmony.

Leis are also an integral part of many celebrations and events in Hawaii. Whether it is a graduation, birthday, or wedding, leis are often exchanged as a way to commemorate these milestones. The act of giving and receiving a lei is a cherished tradition that brings people together and creates a sense of unity and camaraderie.

It is important to note that the significance of leis goes beyond their visual beauty. They represent a deep-rooted cultural tradition that has been passed down through generations. The giving and receiving of leis fosters a sense of connection and aloha spirit that is unique to the Hawaiian culture.

For more information on the history and significance of leis in Hawaii, you can visit the official website of the Hawaii Tourism Authority at

Common Tropical Flowers Used in Hawaiian Leis

Hawaii is renowned for its stunningly beautiful flower necklaces, known as leis. These intricate and vibrant creations are made using a variety of tropical flowers that are native to the islands. Each flower has its own unique characteristics, contributing to the beauty and significance of the lei. Let’s explore some of the most common tropical flowers used in Hawaiian leis.

Brilliantly colored plumeria flowers

One of the most popular flowers used in Hawaiian leis is the plumeria. With its vibrant colors and delicate petals, the plumeria is a true symbol of tropical paradise. These flowers come in a range of hues, including shades of pink, yellow, white, and red. The plumeria’s intoxicating fragrance adds an extra layer of allure to the lei, making it a favorite choice for both locals and visitors alike.

The delightful fragrance of tuberose

Another flower commonly used in Hawaiian leis is the tuberose. Known for its captivating scent, the tuberose blooms in clusters of white, star-shaped flowers. The fragrance of the tuberose is often described as sweet and exotic, evoking feelings of romance and luxury. Adding tuberose to a lei not only enhances its beauty but also infuses it with a delightful aroma that lingers long after the lei has been worn.

Scented ginger blooms

Ginger flowers are also a popular choice for Hawaiian leis. The vibrant red or pink blooms of the ginger plant add a touch of tropical allure to any lei. These flowers are not only visually stunning but also emit a pleasant, spicy fragrance. The ginger lei is a favorite among those who appreciate the unique combination of beauty and scent that it offers.

Vibrant bird of paradise blooms

The striking bird of paradise flower, with its vibrant colors and unique shape, is often used to create eye-catching leis in Hawaii. These flowers, resembling the plumage of a tropical bird, come in hues of orange, yellow, and blue. The bird of paradise lei is a perfect choice for those looking to make a bold statement with their floral accessory.

Whether you’re attending a special occasion or simply want to embrace the spirit of aloha, a Hawaiian lei made with these common tropical flowers is sure to impress. The combination of their beauty, fragrance, and cultural significance makes them a truly enchanting accessory.

Where to Find the Best Flower Leis in Hawaii

When visiting the beautiful islands of Hawaii, one of the must-do experiences is to adorn yourself with a stunning flower lei. These traditional Hawaiian garlands are made by stringing together vibrant and fragrant flowers, creating a wearable work of art. If you’re wondering where to find the best flower leis in Hawaii, look no further! Here are a few options to consider:

Ordering custom designed leis for your special event

If you have a special event or occasion coming up, such as a wedding or graduation, ordering custom-designed leis can add a personal touch. There are several reputable florists and lei makers in Hawaii who specialize in creating bespoke flower leis. You can discuss your preferences, colors, and flower choices with them to create a unique and memorable lei for your event. Some popular florists for custom leis include Maui Floral and Oahu Floral.

Picking up leis at the airport

As soon as you step off the plane in Hawaii, you’ll be greeted with the warm and welcoming aloha spirit. One of the best places to find flower leis is right at the airport. Many airports in Hawaii have local vendors who sell beautiful, ready-made leis. This is a convenient option, especially if you’re looking for a lei to wear immediately upon arrival. The Honolulu International Airport, for example, has several lei stands where you can choose from a variety of leis made from different flowers like orchids, plumerias, and tuberose.

Purchasing leis from local craftspeople and markets

If you’re looking for an authentic and unique lei, consider purchasing one from local craftspeople and markets. The local artisans take pride in their craftsmanship and create stunning leis using traditional techniques. You can find these talented craftspeople at local markets and festivals, such as the famous Maui Swap Meet or the Kapiolani Community College Farmers Market. Shopping directly from these craftspeople not only supports the local economy but also allows you to learn about the cultural significance of the leis and the stories behind their creation.

No matter where you decide to find your flower lei in Hawaii, the experience of wearing one will undoubtedly add a touch of beauty and elegance to your visit. So, go ahead and embrace the Hawaiian tradition by adorning yourself with a stunning flower lei!

How to Properly Wear and Care for a Hawaiian Flower Necklace

Letting the fragrance envelop you by wearing it closed

When you receive a Hawaiian flower necklace, also known as a lei, it is customary to wear it closed. This means that the ends of the necklace are brought together and secured, creating a circular shape that can be worn around the neck. By wearing the lei closed, you allow the fragrance of the flowers to envelop you, creating a beautiful and aromatic experience. The scent of the flowers will linger around you, filling the air with a tropical and delightful fragrance.

Keeping it fresh by wearing it open

If you want to keep your Hawaiian flower necklace fresh for a longer period of time, it is recommended to wear it open. This means that instead of closing the ends of the necklace together, you leave them loose and let the necklace rest on your shoulders or draping down the front of your body. By wearing it open, you allow air to circulate around the flowers, helping to keep them fresh and vibrant for a longer period of time. This is especially important in warmer climates where the heat can cause the flowers to wilt more quickly.

Caring tips: moisture, refrigeration, transport

To ensure the longevity of your Hawaiian flower necklace, it is important to follow some simple caring tips. First, it is crucial to keep the flowers moist. You can achieve this by lightly misting the flowers with water every few hours or by placing a damp cloth over them when not wearing the lei. Second, if you need to store the lei for a short period of time, it is best to refrigerate it. The cool temperature will help to preserve the freshness of the flowers. Finally, when transporting the lei, make sure to keep it in a cool and shaded area to prevent the flowers from wilting in the sun.

For more information on caring for Hawaiian flower necklaces, you can visit They provide helpful tips and advice on how to properly care for and enjoy your beautiful lei.


The vibrant, fragrant Hawaiian flower lei is so much more than an accessory – it’s an experience that immerses you in the islands’ warm culture and tropical beauty. With this guide, you now have all the background and tips you need to find the perfect leis to commemorate your Hawaiian vacation or gift to loved ones back home. So go ahead, infuse your look with the spirit of aloha!

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