On a surprise trip to Hawaii with my late boyfriend, we brought chicken nuggets to the beach and set up our beach chairs right in front of the surf. We enjoyed the sounds of Hawaiian music from a hula show happening just behind us as the sun was setting.

In Waikiki, a free hula show is hosted on Kuhio Beach just before sunset. You have to show up early to grab a good seat or bring a selfie stick to extend your camera. But try to be considerate of people around you. There is also a hula show in the plaza.

Waikiki is a heavy tourist area with a lot of shopping and nightlife. I haven’t experienced Waikiki apart from this wonderful evening, but I hope to return someday to cross more things off my travel #wishlist.

“Hula, sensuous mimetic Hawaiian dance, performed sitting or standing, with undulating gestures to instruments and chant. Originally, the hula was a religious dance performed by trained dancers before the king or ordinary people to promote fecundity, to honour the gods, or to praise the chiefs. Wristlets and anklets of whale teeth or bone and necklaces and fillets of leis (interwoven flowers) were common ornaments. The women wore short skirts (pa‘us) and the men tapa loincloths (malos).

In 1820 New England missionaries compelled the native women to replace their hula skirts with long dresses (holokus). The resulting loss of sensuality in the dance was balanced in the music by expansion, under the influence of hymns, of the two- or three-note scale of the Hawaiian chant (mele). Further modification of the hula came when Portuguese sailors introduced the machada, the small guitar from which the ukelele developed.

Contemporary hula, known as hula ‘auana, primarily tells a story or describes a place through sinuous movements of the limbs and hips. Costumes may be skirts of raffia, fresh-cut ti leaves, or bright cellophane. Most notably, the music for hula ‘auana is based on Western models, and it uses introduced instruments such as the ukelele and steel guitar. By contrast, the old-style hula, called hula kahiko, exhibits a less elaborate musical style and is accompanied by traditional instruments such as the calabash, seed-filled gourds, split bamboo sticks, stones used as castanets, and pahu drums.”

Source: https://www.britannica.com/art/hula

To see a schedule for hula shows on Kuhio Beach: https://kbhulashow.wixsite.com/official

To see a schedule for hula shows in the plaza: http://www.waikikibeachwalk.com/Blog/February-2020/Where-to-Watch-a-Hula-Show-in-Hawaii.htm

To learn about the history and meaning behind hula dance: https://www.discover-oahu.com/History-Of-Hula.html