Save money on your next flight

Skyscanner is the world’s leading flight search engine, helping you find the cheapest flights to destinations all over the world.

The Hawaiian hand sign for ‘I love you’, commonly referred to as ‘shaka’, is a gesture that has become widely recognized not just in Hawaii but around the world. With its simple finger formation, this sign conveys a deep message of love and friendship that resonates across cultures.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The Hawaiian “I love you” hand sign, also called “shaka”, is made by extending the thumb and pinky while curling the three middle fingers. It can mean “I love you”, but also friendship, solidarity, or simply “hang loose”.

The Origins and Meaning of the Shaka Sign

The roots of shaka in Hawaiian culture

The shaka sign, also known as the “hang loose” sign, is a hand gesture that has become synonymous with Hawaiian culture and the spirit of aloha.

Its origins can be traced back to the early 20th century in Hawaii, where it was first popularized by surfers and locals as a way to greet each other and express a laid-back, friendly attitude.

The shaka sign is formed by extending the thumb and pinky finger while keeping the other fingers curled inward. This simple hand gesture represents the shape of a wave and is a symbol of the ocean, which plays a significant role in Hawaiian culture and lifestyle.

Surfing has always been an integral part of Hawaiian culture, and the shaka sign became a way for surfers to acknowledge and show respect for each other’s skill and love for the ocean.

It quickly spread beyond the surfing community and became a universally recognized symbol of positivity, aloha, and the laid-back Hawaiian lifestyle.

Multiple meanings behind the sign

Shaka sign

The shaka sign is more than just a simple hand gesture; it carries multiple meanings depending on the context in which it is used.

One of the most common meanings behind the shaka sign is the expression of goodwill, friendship, and gratitude. When someone gives you the shaka sign, it is a way of saying “thank you” or “good job” in a casual and heartfelt manner.

Another meaning associated with the shaka sign is to spread positive vibes and encourage relaxation. It is a reminder to take things easy, enjoy the present moment, and embrace the spirit of aloha.

The shaka sign embodies the laid-back attitude that Hawaiians are known for and serves as a reminder to live life with a sense of joy and appreciation.

Additionally, the shaka sign has also become a symbol of unity and solidarity. It represents a sense of community and inclusivity, as it is often used to acknowledge and connect with people from all walks of life.

Whether you are a local resident or a visitor to the islands, giving or receiving the shaka sign creates a bond and a sense of belonging.

How to Make the Shaka Hand Sign

The Shaka hand sign, also known as the “hang loose” sign, is a popular gesture in Hawaiian culture. It is a simple yet powerful way to express positivity, friendship, and aloha spirit.

Making the Shaka hand sign is easy and can be done by following these simple steps:

Step 1: Form a Fist

Start by forming a loose fist with your hand. Make sure your fingers are curled inward towards your palm.

Step 2: Extend Your Thumb and Pinky Finger

Next, extend your thumb and pinky finger while keeping the rest of your fingers curled in a fist. Your thumb and pinky finger should be parallel to each other.

Step 3: Rotate Your Wrist

Once you have extended your thumb and pinky finger, rotate your wrist slightly so that your palm is facing outward. This gives the Shaka hand sign its distinctive appearance.

And there you have it! You have successfully made the Shaka hand sign. Now you can use it to greet others, show appreciation, or simply spread good vibes wherever you go.

For more visual guidance, you can also refer to this video tutorial on how to make the Shaka hand sign.

When and How the Shaka Sign is Used

The Shaka sign, also known as the “hang loose” or “I love you” hand sign in Hawaiian culture, is a versatile gesture that holds various meanings depending on the context.

This gesture involves extending the thumb and pinky finger while curling the three middle fingers into the palm. Let’s explore the different situations in which the Shaka sign is commonly used:

Casual greetings

The Shaka sign is frequently used as a friendly greeting in Hawaii. When you spot someone you know or want to acknowledge in a laid-back and informal way, you can flash the Shaka sign as a non-verbal way of saying “hello” or “what’s up?”

This gesture embodies the spirit of aloha and is a great way to connect with others in a relaxed and positive manner.


When bidding farewell to someone, the Shaka sign is often used as a way to express goodwill and positive vibes. It’s a way of saying “take care” or “see you later” with a touch of Hawaiian charm.

Whether you’re saying goodbye to a friend, co-worker, or even a stranger you had a pleasant interaction with, the Shaka sign can be a lighthearted way to make a lasting impression.

Read also: How To Say Goodbye In Hawaiian

Thank you

Expressing gratitude is an essential part of Hawaiian culture, and the Shaka sign can be used to convey a heartfelt “thank you”.

Whether someone did you a favor, offered assistance, or simply showed kindness, flashing the Shaka sign is a way to show appreciation and acknowledge their positive actions.

It’s a gesture that goes beyond words and can leave a lasting impact on the recipient.

Displays of support or solidarity

The Shaka sign is not only used for greetings and expressions of gratitude but also as a symbol of support and solidarity. In Hawaiian culture, it can be seen as a sign of encouragement or affirmation.

When someone is going through a tough time or needs a boost of positivity, flashing the Shaka sign can be a powerful way to show your support and let them know they are not alone.

These various uses of the Shaka sign reflect the warmth, friendliness, and inclusiveness of Hawaiian culture. So, the next time you want to spread some aloha spirit or show your appreciation, don’t hesitate to throw up the Shaka sign! 🤙

The Spread of Shaka Culture

The “I Love You” hand sign, also known as the shaka sign, is not only a popular symbol in Hawaii but has also gained recognition and popularity worldwide.

This gesture, characterized by extending the pinky finger and thumb while keeping the other fingers curled, carries a deep meaning rooted in Hawaiian culture.

The spread of shaka culture can be attributed to various factors, including surfing culture and its portrayal in media and pop culture.

Surfing culture

Surfing is deeply ingrained in Hawaiian history and is considered a vital part of the Hawaiian identity.

The shaka sign is closely associated with the surfing community, as it is often used as a friendly greeting or a sign of approval amongst surfers.

Its origins can be traced back to the 1960s when surfers in Hawaii began using the gesture to express their stoke and camaraderie. As the popularity of surfing grew, so did the recognition of the shaka sign.

Surfers, both local and visiting, would use the shaka sign to acknowledge one another in the water, on the beach, or even while driving past each other on the road.

This simple hand gesture became a symbol of the laid-back and inclusive nature of the surfing community. It represented a sense of aloha spirit, which emphasizes love, compassion, and unity.

Media and pop culture

The shaka sign’s widespread recognition can also be attributed to its portrayal in media and pop culture. Over the years, the hand sign has been featured in movies, television shows, and advertisements, further cementing its association with Hawaiian culture.

Its inclusion in mainstream media has allowed the shaka sign to transcend geographical boundaries and become a global symbol of positivity.

The shaka sign’s appearance in popular culture has not only contributed to its recognition but has also helped spread awareness about the meaning behind the gesture.

People from all over the world have adopted the shaka sign as a way to express love, gratitude, and positivity. It has become a universal symbol of goodwill and has been embraced by individuals from different backgrounds and cultures.

Regional Variations of the Shaka Sign

The Shaka Sign: A Symbol of Aloha

The Shaka sign, also known as the “hang loose” sign, is a gesture that has become synonymous with the Hawaiian culture and the spirit of aloha. It is often accompanied by a friendly smile and a nod, and it is used to convey a sense of warmth, welcome, and gratitude.

Variations of the Shaka Sign

While the Shaka sign is most commonly associated with Hawaii, it is worth noting that variations of this hand gesture can be found in other regions as well.

In fact, similar hand signs exist in various cultures around the world, each with its own unique meaning.

Surfing Origins

One theory suggests that the Shaka sign originated in the world of surfing. Surfers would use the hand gesture to signal to each other that the conditions were perfect for catching waves, or to express their stoke and enthusiasm for the sport.

Over time, the Shaka sign evolved to become a symbol of the laid-back and friendly surf culture that is deeply rooted in the Hawaiian islands.

International Adaptations

Interestingly, the Shaka sign has been adopted and embraced by people outside of Hawaii, and it has taken on different meanings in different regions.

For example, in California, the Shaka sign is often used as a symbol of coolness and a relaxed attitude.

In Japan, the Shaka sign is associated with the concept of “ganbare“, which means to persevere and do your best.

In New Zealand, the Shaka sign is known as the “hangi” and is used as a symbol of unity and friendship.

A Universal Gesture of Positivity

Regardless of its regional variations, the Shaka sign remains a universal gesture of positivity and goodwill. It is a simple yet powerful way to communicate warmth, friendliness, and love.

So the next time you see someone flashing the Shaka sign, remember that it is not just a hand gesture, but a symbol of the aloha spirit that connects us all.

Read more: The Meaning Behind The Hawaiian Triangle Hand Sign


With its laidback vibe and message of goodwill, it’s easy to see why the shaka has become so widely used not just in Hawaii, but around the world. Next time you’re looking for a way to say ‘I love you’ or simply connect with those around you, consider flashing the shaka sign.

The shaka hand gesture elegantly conveys the Hawaiian spirit of warmth and community. While its meanings can vary by context, at its core the shaka sign represents the aloha spirit – a recognition of our shared humanity.

Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts