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Hawaii’s diverse cultures and geographic isolation have influenced its unique local aesthetic over the centuries. If you’re wondering what Hawaiian style looks like, read on for an in-depth guide covering architecture, fashion, art, and more.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Hawaiian style often features natural materials, bright colors, floral prints, and a casual, beachy vibe.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore various elements that make up Hawaiian style and aesthetics. We’ll cover typical architecture, common fashion trends, artforms and motifs, and more. By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of what Hawaiian style looks like.


Hawaiian architecture is a unique blend of traditional and modern influences, reflecting the rich cultural history and natural beauty of the islands. The architectural styles found in Hawaii are a visual representation of its diverse heritage and the lifestyle of its people. From ancient grass huts to modern tropical beach houses, the architecture of Hawaii is as captivating as the islands themselves.

Grass Huts

Grass huts, known as “hale,” were the traditional dwellings of the native Hawaiians. These structures were typically made from local materials such as grass, bamboo, and wood. The design of grass huts was simple yet practical, with a thatched roof and open sides to allow for airflow and natural light. The hale were well-suited for the tropical climate, providing shade and ventilation. Today, while grass huts are not commonly seen in urban areas, they can still be found in some rural parts of Hawaii, serving as a reminder of the island’s ancient roots.

Plantation Style Homes

The plantation style homes are a significant architectural influence in Hawaii, dating back to the 19th century when sugarcane and pineapple plantations were flourishing. These homes were designed to withstand the tropical climate and featured high ceilings, large windows, and spacious verandas. The plantation style homes often had a raised foundation to protect against floods and pests. This architectural style can still be seen in many parts of Hawaii, especially in older neighborhoods like Waikiki on Oahu and Lahaina on Maui.

Tropical/Beach Houses

With its stunning natural beauty and idyllic beaches, Hawaii is famous for its tropical and beach houses. These homes are designed to seamlessly blend indoor and outdoor living, taking full advantage of the island’s warm climate and breathtaking views. Tropical houses often feature open floor plans, expansive windows, and outdoor living spaces such as lanais and swimming pools. The use of natural materials like wood, stone, and thatch roofs adds to the overall aesthetic appeal. Whether it’s a luxurious beachfront villa or a cozy cottage nestled in the rainforest, tropical houses in Hawaii are a perfect embodiment of island living.

For more information on Hawaiian architecture, you can visit the official website of the Hawaii Tourism Authority:


When it comes to fashion, Hawaiian clothing is known for its vibrant colors, relaxed style, and unique patterns. Hawaiian fashion is all about embracing the island lifestyle and expressing a sense of joy and aloha. From casual beachwear to traditional attire, here are some key elements that define the Hawaiian fashion scene.

Aloha Shirts

One iconic piece of Hawaiian fashion is the Aloha shirt. These colorful, short-sleeved shirts are often adorned with tropical motifs such as hibiscus flowers, palm trees, and ocean waves. Aloha shirts are not only worn by locals but have gained popularity worldwide. They are perfect for casual gatherings, luaus, or just relaxing on the beach. So, if you want to add a touch of aloha to your wardrobe, don’t forget to grab an Aloha shirt!

Muumuus and Pareos

Another popular Hawaiian fashion choice is the muumuu, a loose-fitting dress that is both comfortable and stylish. Muumuus are often made from lightweight, flowy fabrics and feature vibrant floral patterns. They are perfect for warm weather and can be worn for both casual and formal occasions. Pair a muumuu with a colorful pareo, a versatile wraparound skirt, and you’ll be ready to embrace the Hawaiian spirit in no time.


No Hawaiian outfit is complete without a pair of slippers, commonly known as flip-flops. In Hawaii, slippers are an essential part of everyday life due to the tropical climate. They are comfortable, easy to slip on and off, and come in a variety of styles and colors. Whether you’re strolling along the beach or running errands in town, you’ll find locals and tourists alike donning their favorite pair of slippers.


Given its beautiful beaches and world-class surf spots, it’s no surprise that surf and beachwear play a significant role in Hawaiian fashion. From boardshorts to bikinis, there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to beach attire. Hawaiian surf brands like Quiksilver and Billabong have gained international recognition for their high-quality clothing and accessories. So, if you’re planning a beach vacation, make sure to pack some stylish surf and beachwear to blend in with the locals.

Art and Crafts

Hawaiian culture is rich in art and crafts, with a strong emphasis on preserving and showcasing the unique traditions of the islands. From quilting to wood carving, hula and music to lei making, there are many forms of artistic expression that reflect the beauty and spirit of Hawaii.


Hawaiian quilting is a beloved art form that has been passed down through generations. The quilts are known for their intricate designs, often featuring tropical flowers, ocean waves, and other elements inspired by the natural beauty of the islands. The stitching is done by hand, using a technique known as “echo quilting” where the stitches follow the contours of the design. Quilting is not just a way to create beautiful bedding and wall hangings, but also a way to preserve and honor the stories and traditions of the Hawaiian people.

Wood Carving

Wood carving is another important art form in Hawaiian culture. The skilled craftsmen create intricate sculptures and objects using various types of wood, such as koa and milo. The carvings often depict mythological figures, ancestral spirits, or scenes from everyday life in Hawaii. The attention to detail and the use of natural materials make these carvings truly unique. Some famous examples of Hawaiian wood carvings include the Tiki statues, which are believed to represent the gods and have become iconic symbols of the islands.

Hula and Music

Hula and music are inseparable parts of Hawaiian culture. Hula is a traditional dance form that tells stories through graceful movements and gestures. It is accompanied by traditional Hawaiian music, which often features the ukulele, guitar, and drums. The dance and music are deeply connected to the history and spirituality of the islands. Hula and music performances can be seen at various events and festivals throughout Hawaii, showcasing the talent and passion of the performers.

Lei Making

Lei making is a traditional Hawaiian art form that involves creating beautiful garlands or necklaces using flowers, leaves, shells, and other natural materials. Lei making is a way to honor guests or loved ones and is often given as a symbol of love, friendship, or celebration. The process of lei making requires skill and creativity, as different flowers and materials are carefully selected and woven together to create stunning and fragrant works of art. Lei making workshops and classes are available for visitors to learn about this cherished Hawaiian tradition.


Hawaiian cuisine is a unique and delicious blend of flavors from various cultures, reflecting the diverse history and influences on the islands. It is known for its use of fresh ingredients, vibrant colors, and bold flavors. Hawaiian cuisine showcases the bounty of the land and sea, incorporating a variety of seafood, tropical fruits, and vegetables.

Fresh Seafood

Hawaii is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, making it a paradise for seafood lovers. Hawaiian cuisine features an abundance of fresh fish and shellfish. Ahi tuna, mahi-mahi, ono, and opah are just a few examples of the local catch that can be found in many traditional Hawaiian dishes. Whether it’s grilled, seared, or served raw in poke bowls, the seafood in Hawaii is known for its exceptional quality and taste.

Tropical Fruits and Vegetables

The fertile volcanic soil and sunny climate of Hawaii create the perfect conditions for growing a wide variety of tropical fruits and vegetables. Pineapple, coconut, mango, papaya, and passion fruit are some of the popular fruits you’ll find in Hawaiian cuisine. These fruits are not only delicious but also add a refreshing and tropical twist to dishes. Additionally, taro, sweet potatoes, and various greens like watercress and ti leaves are commonly used in traditional Hawaiian cooking.

Fusion Dishes

Hawaiian cuisine is also known for its fusion dishes, which combine traditional Hawaiian ingredients with influences from other cultures. The diverse immigrant communities that have settled in Hawaii over the years, including Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Portuguese, have all contributed to the unique flavors found in fusion dishes. One popular example is the plate lunch, which typically consists of rice, macaroni salad, and a choice of protein like teriyaki chicken or kalua pork. These fusion dishes offer a delightful blend of flavors and reflect the multicultural heritage of Hawaii.

If you’re interested in learning more about Hawaiian cuisine and trying out some authentic recipes, websites like provide a wealth of information and resources.


In summary, Hawaiian style pulls from the islands’ Polyensian roots and blend of cultures, featuring natural materials, vibrant colors, and a relaxed aesthetic. Distinct architecture, fashions, arts, crafts and cuisine create a look and feel that is uniquely Hawaiian. When you picture Hawaii in your mind, you likely imagine many of the elements described here that make up the islands’ distinctive local flair.

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