Pronouncing Place Names on Maui

Pronouncing Place Names on Maui or town names can be difficult for first-timers.

They struggle to pronounce Hawaiian names -- (as they would pronounce an unfamiliar word in English).

They say they are taking the Road to Hana, which they pronounce in various ways: “HANN-nah” or “HAY-nah” or “HAH-nah” as it is actually pronounced.

And Lahaina comes out variously, often as: “lah-HAY-nah” instead of “lah-HIGH-nah” as it is actually pronounced.

Napili is not pronounced like the city in Italy, but instead is “nah-PEE-lee”.


Since the arrival and predominance of foreigners over the past two centuries, the original Hawaiian names have been shortened and anglicized:

Ka’anapali -- [kah-ah-nah-PAH-lee] -- or shortened to [kah-nah-PAH-lee]

Lanai’i -- [lah-NAH-ee] -- or shortened to [lah-NY]

Moloka’i -- [moh-loh-KAH-ee] -- or shortened to [MOH-loh-ky]


In the printed pronunciation guide following each Hawaiian place name, syllables in CAPITAL LETTERS are stressed when pronouncing.


Ha’iku -- [hah-EE-koo] -- or shortened to [HY-koo]

Hali’imale -- [HAH-lee-MAH-lee]

Hamoa -- [hah-MOH-ah]

Hana -- [HAH-nuh]

Hanakao’o (Canoe Beach) -- [hah-nah-kah-OH-oh]

Honoapiilani -- [hoh-noh-ah-pee-ee-LAH-nee]

Honokohau -- [hoh-noh-koh-HOW]

Honokowai -- [hoh-noh-koh-WHY]

Honolua -- [hoh-noh-LOO-ah]

Ho’okipa -- [hoh-oh-KEE-pah]

Huelo -- [WHEH-loh]

Iao (Valley) -- [EE-ow]

Ka’ahumanu -- [kah-ah-hoo-MAH-noo]

Ka’anapali -- [kah-ah-nah-PAH-lee] -- or shortened to [kah-nah-PAH-lee]

Kahakuloa -- [kah-hah-koo-LOH-ah]

Kahana -- [kah-HAH-nah]

Kahekili -- [kah-heh-KEE-lee]

Kahului -- [kah-hoo-LOO-ee]

Kailua -- [ky-LOO-ah]

Kapalua -- [kah-puh-LOO-uh]

Kaupo -- [KOW-poh]

Kipahulu -- [kih-pah-HOO-loo]

Ke’anae -- [KEH-ah-ny]

Kihei -- [KEE-hay]

Ko’olau -- [KOH-oh-lauw]

Kula -- [KOO-luh]

Ma’alaea -- [mah-ah-LYE-uh]

Makawao -- [MAH-kah-wow]

Makena -- [mah-KEH-nuh]

Mala -- [MAH-lah]

MAUI -- [MOW-wee]

Mokulele -- [moh-koo-LEH-leh]

Moloka’i -- [moh-loh-KAH-ee] -- or shortened to [MOH-loh-ky]

Molokini -- [moh-loh-KEE-nee]

Lahaina -- [lah-HIGH-nah]

Lanai’i -- [lah-NAH-ee] -- or shortened to [lah-NY]

Launiupoko -- [lah-nee-uh-POH-koh]

Nahiku -- [nah-HEE-koo]

Napili -- [nah-PEE-lee]

Ohe’o -- [oh-HEH-oh]

Olinda -- [oh-LIHN-dah]

Olowalu -- [oh-loh-WAH-loo]

Oneloa -- [oh-neh-LOH-ah]

Pa’ia -- [pah-EE-ah]

Pe’ahi -- [peh-AH-hee]

Pi’ilani -- [pee-ee-LAH-nee]

Puamana -- [poo-ah-MAH-nah]

Pukulani -- [poo-koo-LAH-nee]

Pulehu -- [poo-LEH-hoo]

Pu’u Keka’a (Black Rock) -- [poo-oo keh-KAH-ah]

Pu’unene -- [poo-oo-NEH-neh]

Ulupalakua -- [oo-loo-pah-lah-KOO-ah]

Wahikuli -- [wah-hee-KOO-lee]

Waiehu -- [why-EH-hoo]

Waihe’e -- [why-HEH-eh]

Waikapu -- [WHY-kah-poo]

Wailea -- [why-LAY-uh]

Wailua -- [why-LOO-ah]

Wailuku -- [why-LOO-koo]

Waianapanapa -- [why-NAH-pah-NAH-pah]

Walmart -- [WAHL-mart]


Pronouncing Hawaiian Names is not as hard as it looks.

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