The Language of Aloha at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa: Kukui

Kukui means Candlenut.

If you’ve ever been to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, you know that Hawaiian language plays a huge role in everything we do. One beautiful thing about the Hawaiian language is that many words have layers of meaning. Take the word kukui, or candlenut, for example. Kukui nuts can be found throughout the resort in our light fixtures, or strung up in a lei. But when you delve into the layers of the word, you’ll discover that kukui has an even larger reach at Aulani Resort than you ever imagined.

Menehune Adventure Trail at Disneys Aulani

The kukui nut comes from a tree with silvery leaves that, according to Hawaiian mo’olelo (stories), are said to have two forms: a pig and a fish. Kukui leaves are tri-tipped, so when the outer two tips are more prominent, the leaves resemble the face of a pig. Pigs play a major role in Hawaiian culture and they are celebrated in artwork throughout the resort including the Makaʻala lobby and our restaurants. To learn more stories like this you might enjoy our Mākaʻikaʻi Art & Culture tour, or check out the Menehune Adventure Trail at Pau Hana Community Hall on your next visit!

Rainbow Reef at Disneys Aulani

When the outer two tips of the kukui leaf are smaller, they resemble our state fish: the humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa. If you haven’t had the chance to meet this trigger fish, you may want to venture out into Rainbow Reef to swim with all of our finned friends. Or, you may run into one while you are stand-up paddleboarding in our lagoon!

On your next visit to Aulani Resort, ask some of our Cast Members where our kukui trees are. You may hear another story or two about them. You will never look at a tree in Hawaiʻi the same way again.

A hui hou, until we meet again.

Note: In printed materials, Aulani Resort uses the contemporary spelling of Hawaiian words, which includes marks such as the kahako (macron). Because these marks do not often display correctly in electronic formats, including the text of the Disney Parks Blog, we’ve omitted them to ensure clarity.


  • Maika’i!

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