When you visit Hawaii, I hope you’ll get a shaka directed towards you. Why? This hand signal is a kind gesture. Much unlike the middle finger salute, you actually want to get a shaka. The shaka is used in Hawaii to express several different meanings. Here’s some of them:
- Thank you
- Take Care
- Take It Easy
- I Like This Situation/Place
To make a shaka, extend your thumb and pinkie while curling in the index and middle fingers. You can also rotate your wrist, too.
I remember when we got our first shaka in Hawaii. We were enjoying the drive on the road to Hana. We looked in the rearview mirror and noticed a pickup truck following behind us. We assumed this folks in the truck were local residents and weren’t on a sight-seeing mission like us. So, at our first opportunity, we pulled over to let the truck pass by us. As the truck passed, the passenger gave us a shaka. (By the way, local residents will always appreciate you pulling over to allow them to pass if you are driving slow. You’ll find that tip and more on how to be a polite visitor in Hawaii.)
The true origin of the shaka is a bit of a mystery. There are several stories that Wikipedia includes. The story I was told is a slight variation of what Wikipedia lists. I was told that the shaka was born in Laie on Oahu by a man who had lost his index and two other middle fingers in an accident. He stood along the road in Laie waving at people and cars as they passed by. He was encouraging them to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center. People didn’t know that this friendly fellow had lost his fingers and they would wave back trying to repeat the hand sign. Have you heard this story or others?
Hopefully you’ll adopt this nice hand gesture when you visit Hawaii. I love offering a sincere shaka when the situation calls for it. It’s also fun to do a shaka for photographs of places you especially enjoyed. Do you use the shaka in Hawaii? Do you have an interesting shaka story? Please share it.