When selecting the perfect baby name, many parents look to family origins or the inspiration of a favourite place. Hawaiian names can often satisfy either or both of these goals. Perhaps one of the most uniquely cultured states in America, Hawaii has its own complex identity. The rich history of the island oasis of Hawaii sets it apart not only as a holiday destination but a unique culture beloved by many.
Whether Hawaii is in your blood or just a special place you enjoy visiting, many parents-to-be seek names inspired by this little piece of paradise right on US soil. Hawaii is a cultural melting pot with heavy Polynesian influences. Many Hawaiian baby names are reflective of cultural tradition and spirituality. Abundant natural influences contribute too –bright flowers, lush greenery, water views, and the power of volcanos and fire — mean lots of baby names with nature inspired roots.
A nice trend in these names is that most are pronounced exactly as they’re spelled. Here are some of the best and most beautiful Hawaiian baby names for boys and girls:
Abela: It sounds similar to the popular girls’ name Bella, but this exotic Hawaiian name means “breath” or “breathing spirit.”
Alana: A popular girls’ name across many cultures, with both Irish and Hebrew versions. In Hawaiian it translates to “fair” or “beautiful.”
Aloha: The well-known Hawaiian greeting for hellos and goodbyes is also a cool baby name. When used for a person, Aloha means “loving person.”
Alohi: Looking for something familiar but not as common? This unisex Hawaiian name looks and sounds like a variant of Aloha, but actually means “shining.”
Akamu: A strong baby boy name meaning “red earth.” This is a winner for the nature loving parents and also could hold up as a solid middle name when paired with a non-Hawaiian first name.
Aremana: There’s no doubt this little boys’ name will set him up for a life led fiercely. Aremana is “the warrior” in Hawaiian.
Asera: Fortunate little boys are given this unique Hawaiian baby name which translates directly to “lucky.”
Halia: This lovely sounding Hawaiian girls’ name means “remembrance of a loved one.” It makes a unique alternative to more popular names that sound similar, like Hailey or Talia.
Hoku: Simple unisex Hawaiian name which means “star.” If you’re not a fan of how popular Stella has become in recent years, this could be an exotic and equally beautiful alternative for your little girl.
Kai: A unisex Hawaiian baby name meaning “sea,” this lovely one-syllable name is equal parts bold and soft. It’s also a cool name for its multiple origins — the baby name Kai means different things in over ten languages, including “pier,” “lovable,” and “joy.”
Kalani: A powerful baby name meaning “the chieftan of the sky” or “the spirit of the sky.” While originally Kalani was more popular as a boys’ name, it’s now considered unisex or even trending more feminine.
Kalama: A three-syllable show-stopper which will set the stage for a bold live well lived. This girls’ name means “flaming torch.”
Kala: This pretty Hawaiian girls’ name’s meaning matches the way it sounds: Kala translates to “princess” or “lady-like.” It’s also a close neighbour to the girls’ flower name Calla which has been gaining popularity in recent years, so could be a less common alternative to that choice.
Kale: Not to be confused with a superfood by the same spelling, the Hawaiian boy’s name Kale is pronounced KAH-lay and is actually a version of Charles, which was originally derived from the German, Carl.
Keahi: A boys’ fire name with the exact meaning of “flames.” Despite packing a punch in translation, this name’s pronunciation is soft and sweet.
Keanu: If you grew up crushing on an actor by the same name like I did, this one is a clear list-topper. But Keanu isn’t only gorgeous on the silver screen — this Hawaiian boys’ name means “breeze.”
Kini: Set them up for a lifetime of good things with this unique Hawaiian baby name meaning “abundance” or “multitude.” Kini is unisex, but when used as a girls’ name it’s considered a version of Jane.
Lilo: It doesn’t just roll off the tongue easily; this beautiful Hawaiian baby name means “generous one.” Made more popular after the Disney animated film Lilo and Stitch, this unisex name is a favourite.
Lono: Less popular than some of the more recognizable names on this list, this charming two-syllable boys’ name is after the god of peace and agriculture.
Makani: The jury’s out on which gender this unique Hawaiian name is usually assigned to: some sources call it a boys’ name and others say it’s for girls. Either way, you can’t go wrong when giving this lovely nature name to your little one — it means “wind” and sounds just as breezy.
Malia: Made uber-popular in recent years thanks to President Obama’s younger daughter, Malia is a beautiful Hawaiian girls name that actually means “bitter,” like its root name, Mary.
Moana: For more Disney movie name inspiration, Moana translates to “ocean” or “deep sea” and nowadays has princess power to boot.
Nalani: Soft and sweet like your baby-girl-to-be, this Hawaiian nature name means “calm skies,” and that’s exactly how it sounds.
Noelani: If you’re a fan of Noah but seeking something more unique, this might be the perfect pick for your baby boy. Noelani means “mist of heaven.”
Pele: Name your daughter after the Hawaiian goddess of fire and ensure she’s no shrinking violet. A direct translation of Pele is “from the volcano.”