Traditional Hawaiian Tattoo

How To Find The Best Place For A Tattoo On Maui

A traditional Hawaiian tattoo was once referred to as Kakau. Tattooing for Hawaiians in the ancient times was one of the key methods of expressing bravery because of the painful methods of tattooing during that era.

To get a Hawaiian tattoo in ancient time, the skin had to be cut open while tattoo ink that include ash and soot are poured into the cut. After that, they have to wait for the ash and soot to dry so the pigment can transform into black.

That explains why traditional Hawaiian tattoos are always big, black, and artistic. Even more, traditional Hawaiian tattoos are seen as a badge of honor that is rich in meaning. A closer look at the solid black lines and the flow gives an impression of how painful the tattoo was but the final outcomes are often worth it.

Traditional Hawaiian tattoo designs and their meanings  

Here are some of the well-known traditional Hawaiian tattoos and their meaning: 


Hawaiians believe that Tiki is the first human on earth and its often referred to as the mythical ancestor of humans. Tiki is well known for its ability to smell danger as a result of its great sense of smell.

Sea turtle

Sea turtles are symbols of long life. These turtles can live hundreds of years on earth. Also, sea turtles represent fertility. If you’d like to have a traditional Hawaiian tattoo that symbolizes long life and fertility, the sea turtle should be your best bet.

Traditional Hawaiian TattooShells

Humans have always love wealth and various symbols of wealth. Shells are symbols of wealth and prosperity. In fact, ancient Hawaiians use shells as currency making it one of the most coveted traditional Hawaiian tattoos. Check out how to find the right traditional tattoo artist on Maui.


This traditional Hawaiian tattoo symbolizes friendship, kindness, and hospitality. The anthurium is a red flower and its tattoo is one of the most famous till date.


Hibiscus is one of the most sought-after flower designs. This beautiful flower is associated with excitement, fun, and summer. However, the flower is fragile and well known for its short lifespan. The flower has a variety of colors including yellow, orange, pink, blue, and red. The hibiscus flower is used to depict delicate beauty.

Gecko tattoos

Gecko tattoos are some of the most common types of traditional Hawaiian tattoos. Geckos are believed to have some sort of supernatural powers. The green gecko was often feared by many. Even more, the lizard was believed to bring illness and bad luck to whoever sees it.


Sharks are some of the most powerful aquatic animals. Ancient Hawaiians consider the shark to be a sacred animal. The shark tattoo is one of the most common traditional Hawaiian tattoos. Shark tattoos are also seen as symbol of protection for the wearer making it one of the most desired tattoos then and now.


The orchid is one of the most beautiful flowers that symbolizes beauty, love, luxury and magnificence. Wearing an orchid tattoo gives you the personality of being unique, mysterious, and free-spirited.

Need a traditional Hawaiian tattoo? Check out Sweet Trade Tattoo for the best inking on the island.