How to get lei’d in Hawaii

Who is on their way to get lei’d in Hawaii? Well, congrats. We are all just a little jealous.

Before we jump into this post, you need to get your head out of the gutter. I know what you are thinking. The question “How to get lei’d in Hawaii” has nothing to do with your dirty mind and everything to do with your next Hawaiian vacay.

Second, If you are still not with us, I am sure you have watched a classic movie about Hawaii and noticed everyone wearing gorgeous tropical flowers around their neck. The beautiful floral arrangements are known as lei. From Mickey Mouse to Elvis Presley, the Hawaiian lei is a staple to the Hawaiian lifestyle.

The goal of today is to get your head in the right place and more importantly chat a little more about how to actually get lei’d in Hawaii. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as the movies make it look.

On My Way To Get Lei’d

Get lei'd in Hawaii

Before we dive into how to get lei’d in Hawaii, let’s all get on the same page and really understand what a Hawaiian lei is and the meaning behind the Hawaiian lei. I think this is the best way to ensure that we are all on the same page going forward.

Ready? Good, let’s learn about the traditional Hawaiian lei and why it is important in the Hawaiian culture.

What is a Hawaiian Lei?

The Hawaiian lei is gorgeous, it is beautiful, and more importantly, it is majestic. The traditional Hawaiian lei is one of the most beautiful things on the planet. Right behind that Hawaiian sunset. Some have described the Hawaiian lei as a life-changing experience.

Ok, maybe the Hawaiian lei itself is not life-changing, but it does lead to maybe the best time of your life. It is the kickoff to your Hawaiian vacation. The Hawaiian lei is a necklace made of tropical flowers and the Lei is the name for this flower necklace.

Traditionally, the Hawaiian lei is vibrant, colorful, and made of fresh tropical flowers. The lei is traditionally around 18 inches and made of ginger blossoms, Kika blossoms, orchids, or jasmine blossoms. This unique combination of flowers can also incorporate other materials such as nuts, leaves, or whatever the maker believes will spread the Hawaiian Spirit.

The Hawaiian lei is basically a necklace made of flowers from the Hawaiian Islands and represents the beginning of your next Hawaiian adventure.

Different Types of Hawaiian Lei

Over the years the Hawaiian lei has evolved. According to Surer Today, there are 10 different types of Hawaiian lei that can be presented in Hawaii. Each type of lei is unique and has a little different combination of material.

  • Haku: flowers, leaves, or fruit are braided onto three strands of ti or other natural fiber. Haku leis are most often worn around the head or on a hat.
  • 2: Hili: these are braided leis made from single plant material such as ti leaf or maile.
  • Humupapa: flowers are sewn onto plant material such as dried banana leaves (lau hala).
  • Kui: the most familiar leis – flowers strung together with needle and thread.
  • Kipu’u: short lengths of vines or long-stemmed leaves knotted together.
  • Wili: plant materials are attached to a natural backing by winding fiber around them. Will leis have no knots until the very end.
  • Lei Hulu (Feather Lei): traditionally made of feathers from now mostly extinct or endangered native birds, the art continues using feathers from common birds.
  • Lei Pupu (Shell Lei): these range from puka-shell lei, extremely popular in the 1970s, to museum-quality Ni’ihau-shell lei, that may be worth many thousands of dollars.
  • Seed Lei: simple, single-stranded Job’s tears and intricately crafted wiliwili seed lei are famous examples of this type.
  • Contemporary Lei: from silk and ribbon to yarn, currency, and even candy, contemporary lei are made for every occasion.

The type of lei you choose depends on your style, location, and preference.

What is the Meaning Behind the Hawaiian Lei

Okay. Now we can all say we are on the same page. Our mind is out of the gutter and we can move on. We know the Hawaiian lei is gorgeous, but what is the meaning behind the lei? Why do we even care if we get lei’d in Hawaii?

Glad you asked.

Getting lei’d in Hawaii is a tradition that goes back to early Polynesian explorers. These explorers took the trip from Tahiti, typically navigating the waters at night, only using the stars. As you can imagine, this was a very dangerous trip considering they only had canoes during this time. No cruise ships for these warriors. The lei was given to the explorers as a welcome, sign of appreciation, and friendship. It shows the true meaning of Aloha.

From here, the tradition of getting lei’d in Hawaii was born and passed down for generations.

Today, the Hawaiian lei is still a sign of welcome, appreciation, and Aloha. This Dates back to the pre-Howard Hughes days when boats were the only way back and forth between the Hawaiian Islands and the Mainland.

During these days, vendors would line up to greet guests to the islands and welcome back locals to the islands. This tradition holds true to this day. Getting lei’d in Hawaii is a great way to start your Hawaiian adventure.

The Big Question: How do I get lei’d in Hawaii?

Ok, now let’s answer the question you have been waiting for. How do I get lei’d in Hawaii?

I know what you are looking for. You are looking for that warm Hawaiian Aloha, that greeting that welcomes you to the Islands. You want to be the first one off that airplane to get lei’d. This is completely understandable, I am sure you need to stretch your legs after that long flight.

There are a few ways to get lei’d in Hawaii. Let’s explore.

Your Travel Agent

If you used a travel agent to book your Hawaiian vacation, you will most likely have paid to get lei’d as part of your travel package. So, if this was your route, make sure to ask before you jump on the plane. You do not want to be disappointed upon arrival.

Hawaiian Lei Vendor

If you go DIY on your Hawaiian travel plans, you will want to look into a vendor to get lei’d. There are numerous lei vendors in Hawaii that will get you all set up. Prices are going to vary from vendor and type of lei, but look to spend about $25 per person.


If you did not get lei’d at the airport, that is ok. You will have other chances to get lei’d while on the Hawaiian Islands. Many of the events, such as luaus, will hook you up with a nice lei as you enter the event. These event organizers want you to feel welcomed and experience aloha.

How to get lei’d in Hawaii Conclusion

Millions of people, just like you, experience the Hawaiian lei every year. We are all looking to get lei’d in Hawaii. Just remember that the traditional lei goes back centuries. Make sure you respect the tradition.

I hope that you are able to take the trip and experience this Hawaiian greeting and experience the meaning of Aloha.

Wear it loud and proud

Now that you know how to get lei’d in Hawaii, it is time to let the world know you are on your way to get lei’d in Hawaii. Hawaiian Island Clothing is the only place to get your official Hawaiian Travel t-shirts.