We looked to Hawaiʻi's vibrant culture of artisanal craftsmanship when designing the hand-braided leather straps on the Kāhiko—which simulate traditional rope braiding.
From beach to trail to Kaka‘ako’s urban art street scene, the Nalukai Kapa Boot is built for any modern adventure. Featuring water-resistant waxed canvas and moisture-wicking microfiber lining.
Shop Nalukai Kapa Boot
From beach to land and back again, the classic ‘Ohana is made to let kids roam, tumble, explore. Weather-resistant and floats.
Shop Boys’ ‘Ohana
So light, so airy and so brightly colored, our slip-on Pehuea Maka Girls is made to keep up with her adventurous spirit.
Shop Girls’ Pehuea Maka
Hikianalia is the companion sailing canoe of the iconic Hōkūle‘a and summons the wayfaring wisdom passed down by its Hawaiian ancestors to navigate the sea.
The human history of Hawaii goes back to when the Polynesians first landed on the islands between AD 300-600. Though the people and the culture have been influenced through the centuries, you can still find the true Hawaiian spirit on the islands today (if you know where to look). From ancient Hawaiian temples to mountaintops shrouded in legend, we’ve lined up the top four cultural hot spots on each major island that will leave you with a deeper understanding of the history and culture of Hawaii.
The Nohea Moku is a vegan-friendly, casual shoe that’s comfortable enough for a long day of exploring.
Some of the spots listed include ornate palaces and museums, while others will have you walking across hardened lava or beaches, so you’ll want to make sure your feet are protected. You can’t go wrong with the lightweight ‘Eleu Trainer (for men or women) or the more casual Nohea Moku for men or Pehuea for women. Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen and some extra water, and you’ll be all set for your own Ultimate Island Adventure.
Exploring the Pu’u o Mahuka Heiau. Ken Lund
Heiaus, or ancient Hawaiian temples, can be found on all of the state’s major islands. The Pu’u o Mahuka Heiau—located in the state historic site of the same name—is the largest in Oahu and covers more than two acres. Situated atop a coastal bluff overlooking Waimea Bay, Pu’u o Mahuka was built in the 1600s as a luakini heiau, meaning that it was designed for religious and social rituals involving human or animal sacrifice.
You’ll find this community-based, nonprofit organization nestled in the wetlands of He’eia on Oahu’s eastern shore. Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi promotes the social, economic, and ecological health of the local community by restoring the agricultural productivity of its 405 acres. Check out their educational programs to learn about the land’s significance to Native Hawaiians, or get involved in the restoration process during monthly volunteer days.
Once the official residence of the Hawaiian monarchy, the Iolani Palace has since been restored as a National Historic Landmark in the heart of downtown Honolulu. Constructed under King Kalākaua in 1882, you can now to take guided tours through the first two floors of the palace and around the grounds. Inside, you’ll see the majestic Grand Hall, the crimson and gold Throne Room, and the king and queen’s private bedrooms. Outside, don’t miss the Sacred Mound, a royal tomb where chiefs may still be buried.
The Honolulu Museum of Art offers self-guided or docent-led tours through the rotating exhibits from across Asia, Europe, and America. The museum also showcases the best of Hawaiian art, ranging from centuries-old artifacts to modern paintings of the islands and their people. This means that you’ll find indigenous treasures like pottery and quilts exhibited alongside 20th century classics like Georgia O’Keeffe’s portraits of Maui.
Photo by Ke Ola Magazine
Extending 420 acres across the Kona Coast, Pu’uhonua o Honaunau encompasses historical, religious, and cultural sites dating back more than 700 years. Explore the Royal Grounds, where ancient Hawaiian royalty established homes and ceremonial sites, or venture to the pu’uhonua, *a place of refuge enclosed by a 965-foot-long wall where defeated warriors and violators of the sacred law could escape persecution. Hiking the ancient two-mile 1871 Trail is a good way to see the sites around the park, including a *heiau, hōlua sled courses, and the Keanae'e cliffs. Be sure to tread lightly and avoid walking on the archaeological sites to protect them from deterioration.
You’ll find the lush Pololu Valley at the beginning of the Kohala Coast—the oldest stretch of land on the Big Island. To fully experience the beauty of the valley, park at the Pololu Lookout off Highway 270 and hike down to the serene Pololu Beach (less than one mile round trip). Go a little farther for an almost three-mile round-trip hike to floor of the Honokane Nui Valley, which offers even more spectacular views.
The town of Kawaihae on the island’s northwestern shore is home to the** *Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site, one of Hawaii’s most historic *heiaus. Around 1790, Hawaiian King Kamehameha I ordered the construction of this heiau in honor of the war god Ku, attempting to end the civil war raging around the islands at the time. Besides it’s history, the site is popular for the regular shark, whale, and dolphin sightings just offshore. Sharks can be seen year round (usually in the mornings), while whales make their appearance during the winter months.
Haleakalā National Park is a popular spot to catch an island sunrise. Sean Munson
One of two national parks on the Hawaiian Islands, Haleakalā is most known for its namesake volcano and the opportunity to hike or bike to the summit (especially for sunrise). What many visitors to the park may not realize is that Haleakala’s summit is a wahi pana, or legendary place, shrouded in stories about the demi-god Maui. According to legend, Maui stood atop the Haleakalā summit and snared the sun to hold it in the sky a bit longer, allowing his mother to dry her kapa (bark cloth) in its warmth.
While visiting the remote town of Hana on Maui’s eastern edge, it’s worth noting the cultural significance of Pu‘u Ka‘uiki, the hill on the southeast side of Hana Bay. Hawaiian legend tells that in this spot, Maui raised up the sky above the hill in order to get a drink of water from a woman. Various other legends involving Maui and ancient Hawaiian demi-gods surround this hill, which you can easily explore from the Hana Beach Park.
The historical legacy of Wailuku Town on Maui’s north shore makes it worth a stop (and the views of the surrounding hills are an added bonus). Birthplace to Maui’s booming sugarcane industry, the town expanded rapidly for nearly a century to accommodate the influx of workers moving to the island. The old town vibes can be felt around Wailuku in the plantation-style homes and art deco buildings that line the main street.
In the heart of Kahului, the Maui Arts & Cultural Center offers a premiere venue for concerts, opera, film screenings, dance performances, and everything in between. They also host a small selection of rotating art exhibits (for free) that you could easily check out during show intermissions.
The view along the Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail in Poipu. Robert Linsdell
Nestled between lush green mountains on one side and a two-mile stretch of sandy beach on the other, the town of Hanalei is both a scenic and historic stop in Kauai. Ancient Hawaiians primarily grew taro, a starchy root vegetable, in the marshes of Hanalei Bay until the 1860s. Today, the Ho‘opulapula Haraguchi Rice Mill offers visitors a glimpse into this working taro farm and Hawaii’s last remaining rice mill. Additionally, the royal yacht of Hawaiian King Kamehameha II, Pride of Hawaii, sank off the shore of Hanalei Bay in 1824, and though large sections of the ship washed up on shore a few decades later, the majority of the shipwreck still remains underwater.
Located in the historic Albert Spencer Wilcox Memorial Building in downtown Lihue, walk through the history of the island with photographs, writing, movies, and artifacts of all kinds in the Kauai Museum. The museum’s mission is to work in collaboration with the indigenous and immigrant people of Kauai and Ni’ihau to create exhibits that maintain their cultural heritage.
Along the rugged Napali coast on the north shore of Kauai, there’s a remote, 800-year-old fishing village called Nu'alolo Kai. The cultural and archaeological sites at Nu'alolo Kai are some of the most extensive and well-preserved in all of Hawaii, with more still being uncovered to this day. This secluded strip of coastline is accessible only by boat, with a small selection of commercial outfitters holding legal permits to bring visitors. Along with the archaeological sites in the village, the coastline offers impressive snorkeling opportunities and sightings of Hawaiian monk seals.
Situated in the south shore of Kauai, the Koloa Heritage Trail is a 10-mile self-guided walking tour with 14 stops of cultural, historical, and geological significance. The trail takes you through the towns of Koloa and Poipu, with glimpses into the island’s sugar growing past, the famous Spouting Horn geyser, and the history of the area’s beaches, bays, and gardens.
Originally written by RootsRated for OluKai.
Maui's diverse landscape, from sunny beaches to towering bamboo forests, makes it easy to find unique pockets to explore. When we're not training for the Maliko Downwinder at our annual Ho'olaule'a Ocean Festival, these are a few of our favorite places to visit:
1. Shop Local in Pa'ia:
Whether browsing the exceptionally curated textiles and gifts at Pearl, or grabbing a wood-fired pizza at Flatbread Company, the finely crafted Pehuea Leather is the perfect compliment to the rich character of the town. And don't forget to head to Charleys late night for a possible sighting of legend Willie Nelson.
2. Eat Dinner at Mama's Fish House:
There's nothing quite like a Hawaiian sunset, and no better spot to watch it from than Mama's Fish House, which boasts delicious fresh fish catches daily, and is just around the bend from Pa'ia. If you want the full experience, book a stay at their beach front cottage, and feel right at home in the 'Upena.
3. Go Whale Watching off Wailea:
Just off Maui lie some of the best waters for whale watching, and from November to May the area is teeming with Kohola (Humpback whales). Feel the sea breeze in the Nohea Mesh as you watch for the whales to surface, spout, and breach just off the coast.
4. Head over to Lahaina:
Stroll down Front Street in the Kupuna Slide for a relaxing afternoon. Slip into these refined yet comfortable sandals and relax beneath the historic Lahaina banyan tree. Cap it off with a late lunch at Longhi's, and then stop into Ululanai's for a shave ice.
O'ahu offers the perfect blend of culture, outdoor sport and natural beauty, from big winter waves to globally welcoming Waikiki Beach. Check in to the SurfJack Hotel & Swim Club and then head out to some of our favorite local spots:
1. Head To the North Shore:
Known as the Seven Mile Miracle, this stretch of beach is home to some of the most legendary waves in the world, and is as awe inspiring as it is dangerous. From the pounding surf of Pipe to big wave mecca Waimea Bay, stay comfortable in the water-friendly Halu'a.
2. Jump On the Mo'o in Hale'iwa Harbor:
Head out with our friend Kaiwi Berry and Islandview Hawai'i to swim with sharks in crystal clear tropical waters. Jump back in the boat, and slip on your water loving 'Ohana Slides. With a quick drying upper, this sandal will take you from the boat to Hale'iwa Bowls for a post dive Acai snack with no worries.
3. Cruise Around Waikiki:
Slide into ARVO for avocado toast and a coffee, then head out to explore the South Shore of Oahu. From Kaka'ako to Diamond Head, don't miss a step in the 'Eleu Trainer. Lightweight, breathable, and designed to make a seamless transition from Mauka to Makai, this Trainer will keep up no matter where you head.
4. Hike Tantalus Lookout:
Leave the crowds behind and head up these lush mountains for an amazing view of Diamond Head and all of Waikiki. Get there in comfort with the Hamakua, designed with these bold landscapes and your big adventures in mind.
We spent Wednesday with our good friends of Wooden Wave. They're a dynamic husband and wife artist duo that creates whimsical illustrations, designs, and paintings. And they are especially known for creating imaginative tree houses designed with underlying themes of sustainability, environmental awareness, and, of course, fun!
This project brings all those elements together to create a treehouse for, and in the shape of, Darth Vader. The story goes that Darth Vader retires from running the empire to his custom tree house in the stars. Aside from featuring the essentials of any Wooden Wave sustainable treehouse - solar panels, garden beds, and skate ramps - Vader had this home custom made for his post-empire needs.
Upon closer inspection, you'll notice the clothes line has his boots and cape hanging out to dry. The lower floor features a dance floor and Death Star disco ball, because we all know that Darth loves to disco!
This mural also features the hand-lettering of Lana Lane artist Gavin Murai (under the name Reckon Shop), a lettering and graphic designer with a clean style and, like Wooden Wave, a fun-loving attitude. He created the typography portion featuring the Darth quote, 'Together we can rule the galaxy.' Although originally spoken in hopes of convincing Luke to rule the galaxy with him for the dark side, he has softened with age, and it now serves as a call to action - to live sustainably through an environmentally conscious lens.
Arch Support without Orthotics
According to some orthopedists, the arch is the single most important structural component of our feet, and therefore our whole body, and can withstand up to 300,000 pounds of stress per mile as we walk and move throughout our active days.
Like our fingerprint, everyone’s arch is different, varying in height; but unlike a fingerprint, our arches change as we age and over time as we use and abuse our body.
See a Doctor
If you haven’t already been advised by a doctor or shoe fitting specialist about whether or not you have flat, medium or high arches, simply stand in front of a mirror and observe how much of the sole of your feet rests on the floor. Or, walk with wet feet on surface where you can leave an impression. Even take a barefoot walk on the beach and see what your footprint looks like in the sand. Low arches (flat feet) will make a larger print with less curve from the heel to the big toe; while high arches will leave a small strip of a print. A physical therapist or podiatrist can help provide a professional recommendation for your particular needs.
No matter what you were born with, arch support is important, along with strengthening your foot muscles and practicing proper body mechanics.
What is Pronation
Arch shape also leads to what is commonly referred to as pronation. High arches lead to underpronation, where the foot rolls outward. Flat footed individuals with lower arches tend to overpronate, where the foot falls inward.
Pronation generally causes misalignment of the knees and hips and because the body is a system, ultimately affects the back, shoulder and neck as well. Common injuries from excessive foot rotation include bunions, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, all types of knee pain, lower back pain, and more.
Staying Active on Your Feet
Arch support is especially important for sports and those with an active lifestyle, promoting proper knee alignment and power transfer through the arches and muscles of the feet. A cushioned footbed, in addition to moderate arch support, can go a long way to preventing pronation.
Maintaining a healthy body weight, strengthening the bare feet, stretching, and staying properly hydrated and exercising regularly can all contribute to healthy arches, and a healthy back, as well.
So Why Sandals?
People often associate arch support with active footwear like running or hiking shoes. That same level of support, however, is just as important in everyday wear. We spend a lot of time on our feet, and deserve support through every step. We take our sandals off when we get to the beach because we love the way the sand cradles our feet. Let that feeling follow you onto the concrete, to work, to the trailhead — wherever your favorite pair of OluKai sandals take you.
So many people in all types of climates love wearing sandals every day. The comfort, convenience, and casual style of sandals can’t be beat.
And it’s a common misconception that a sandal won’t have arch support. A very unfortunate misconception indeed. Let’s begin to dispel this myth. Enter OluKai.
These aren’t your run of the mill, rubber thongs or flips you buy from a corner store on vacation. OluKai sandals with arch support are legitimate performance footwear, and these sandals are especially important for those folks who have been told by a doctor, or have discovered themselves through trial and error, that their feet and body need arch support to function at an optimal level.
In the beginning, OluKai wanted to create footwear that combines durability, the ocean lifestyle, and to create a brand rooted in style, comfort and craftsmanship.
And this includes making open toed shoes and sandals that aren’t just inexpensive flip flops – but are a serious performance play and fashion-forward for every activity, that still provide a real level of arch support underfoot.
Many OluKai sandals feature anatomical, compression-molded EVA midsoles. Others are endowed with innovative lightweight, injected TPU performance chassis, and a soft molded anatomical ICEVA footbed with wet traction surface design.
The brand’s vegan friendly footwear, of which many of OluKai’s sandals with arch support fall into, offers durability, traction and support, while using 100 percent high-quality synthetic materials with no animal products.
OluKai sandals with arch support also feature non-marking rubber or gum rubber outsoles with molded siping (tiny razor-like cuts) for traction.
OluKai’s water resistant sandals feature lightweight, quick drying, breathable and durable materials for use in and around water. Synthetic sandals feature water-resistant, man-made materials designed to look and function like leather, such as in the Hokua. The women’s I’A (ee-ah) also features arch support in a three-point sandal with a Hawaiian Boxfish strap pattern, delicate laser-etched footbed detail, and a soft nylon toe post.
Once you know where you can find high quality sandals with arch support, you’ll never go back to your old plastic flip-flops again.
Follow this link to even more OluKai sandals with arch support…
When people talk about being vegan, they are typically referring to a diet that excludes all meat, eggs, dairy products, and any other ingredients derived from animals. But what about vegan footwear? What does that mean?
No Animals Were Harmed In the Making Of This Shoe
A vegan shoe is one made without the use of animal products. It also excludes products that were tested on animals. This excludes many materials traditionally used in shoe making such as leather, wool, fur, and some glues.
Fortunately, the options in vegan shoes have only gotten better over the years. Not only are synthetic leathers commonly used in all types of footwear, but material technologies have advanced and all or primarily synthetic material shoes are prolific, especially in active lifestyle footwear.
For OluKai, vegan footwear means using 100%, top-quality synthetic materials, with no animal products, throughout its line of vegan-friendly shoes. From sandals to sneakers, this includes the sticky-rubber outsole, removable footbed, water-resistant upper, straps, laces and all other components of the shoe. Advances in synthetic materials have allowed more options, better styling and higher performance in vegan shoes. OluKai's vegan friendly footwear maintains the durability, traction and support customers have come to expect from the brand.
Synthetic microfibers, PU and EVA, recycled and virgin rubbers, canvas, fabrics and faux-leather products are all employed to make vegan shoes. Among the concerns surrounding leather/animal-based shoes are the exploitation of exotic animals for their skins and cruelty associated with the food and animal by-products industries. Vegan shoes, however, often end up being less expensive than their animal-based counterparts — and they have now been widely accepted in the fashion world as well as the athletic/casual market.
It’s important to remember that animal-free shoes are not always more “environmentally friendly” by default. Vegan shoes are generally considered to leave a smaller carbon footprint. However, there is some debate on the environmental impact of synthetic leathers made from PVCs, PU and other poly-composite microfibers. It is a lengthy and contentious debate as to whether leather production or synthetic production is worse for the environment, but vegan shoes have long been a symbol of a responsible lifestyle.
At the end of the day, the choice to shop for a vegan shoe is up to each individual. Fortunately, those looking for a high-performance, water-friendly vegan sandal have many options from OluKai, including the Hokua, Holomua, and ‘Ohana. In closed-toe footwear, vegan shoe shoppers may consider the new Nohea Moku, the Nohea Mesh for girls, or the performance-oriented 'Eleu. The bottom line is, don’t let animal products stand in the way of owning a beautiful, comfortable, long-lasting pair of shoes. There are plenty of vegan shoe options out there.
World-famous for their incredible natural beauty, the islands of Hawaii offer jungle covered cliffs, canyons, ravines, rainforests, deserts, some of the most active volcanoes in the world, unique fauna and flora found nowhere else on earth, the wettest spot in the world, and some of the planets highest and most scenic waterfalls.
Things To Know Before You Go
Helicopter tours or guided hikes are encouraged for viewing of natural amenities in remote locations. Trekkers are advised to remember basic rules when exploring the islands independently and cautioned always to think, “safety first.” Many trails are steep, winding, narrow, and very slippery when wet. When planning to tramp about the island trails, the following guidelines are encouraged.
Be sure to wear sturdy hiking boots or walking shoes. Many remote trails are only suitable for the physically fit. There are steep drop-offs on the edge of many tracks, so supervise children well. Trails and pathways lack campsites and fires are not permitted at any time. Remember to bring insect repellent, sunglasses, plenty of drinking water, sunscreen, foul weather gear, and a first-aid kit. Acquaint yourself with a map of the area and let someone know your proposed adventure itinerary and when you will return.
Waimea Falls, Kauai
A dramatic 700-foot waterfall located in Waimea Canyon on the drier side of the Garden Isle of Kauai, the magnificent cascade is only visible during the rainy season of the winter months, typically November through February. However, Waimea Canyon, known locally as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” presents a diverse array of spectacular scenery that intrigues adventurous trekkers year around. The canyon is 16 miles long. When visiting the falls, plan to hike a bit further to the Kalalau Lookout for a view that will truly take your breath away.
Wailua Falls, Kauai
Located in the Puna District at Wailua River State Park, Wailua Falls is a favorite site for both locals and visitors. Fans of Jurassic Park will likely recognize 2,600-foot Wailua Falls which, because of it massive force and giant girth, is featured is several shots in the epic film. Lush lacy green moss, floral vines, and a treasure trove of native plants cover the canyon walls. The spectacular falls, not to be confused with falls of the same name located on Maui, are easily accessible and considered by many to be the most beautiful of the publicly-accessible waterfalls on the island. The foliage surrounding the falls is symbolic of why Kauai is known as the “Garden Isle.” Kauai is the youngest, wettest, and greenest island of the islands. Wildflowers are abundant; their sweet scent carried on the wind.
Olo’upena Falls, Molokai
The highest waterfall in all of the Hawaiian Islands and one of four spectacular tall waterfalls that plummet down the face of the verdant face of the cliffs of the north shore of Molokai, 2,953-foot Olo’upena Falls rambles down the mountain in a series of horseshoe-shaped pools before plunging to the sea. The best way to view the stellar beauty of the Molokai waterfalls and world-famous cliff faces is via sea kayak.
Honokohau Falls, Maui
The tallest waterfall on the Valley Isle, Honokohau Falls is a scenic water feature in the West Maui Mountains. The fall drops dramatically from a small pool atop the mountain to a second pool halfway down the mountain, from which it plunges another several hundred feet to a gracious pond at the bottom of the mountain. The falls have a total drop of 1,119 feet.
Hilawe Falls, Big Island
Located deep in the Waipio Valley, Hilawe Falls are only visible from the valley floor or by air. Energetic hikers that are well rewarded for their efforts. The view is beyond compare. Visitors are warned to avoid following the trail beyond the falls as doing so would create a trespass on private property. Visitors are also strongly advised not to attempt driving any vehicle into the valley. Rugged and slippery when wet, the red dirt track descends more than 900-feet in just less than a mile. The only access is by foot, just be ready for a long, hard climb back out.
Despite being known worldwide for its leather sandals, OluKai has also made a name for itself in leather boots. Taking the comfort of a leather sandal and creating a leather boot that is just as stylish was no easy feat, but it's what we do here.
Here’s a quick rundown of what to look for in a leather boot.
Remember, nubuck leather is the top of the hide, while suede is the bottom layer of the hide, which is softer but less durable. Today's leather boots almost always utilize a combination of natural and synthetic materials to optimize performance.
Often the best form of construction to connect the leather upper to the sole of the boot is stitch down construction, also called Norwegian Welt or sometimes Goodyear construction. Stitch down is not only durable and traditional, but it allows the boots to be resoled. Those who wear their boots hard and want them to last a very long time will want to look for stitch down construction.
The midsole is a layer of synthetic or natural material that attaches the upper to the sole and provides rigidity to the boot. Metal, synthetic or plastic shanks are layered into the sole, either stitched or tacked, or glued in place, essentially to support the foot and the bottom of the leather boot.
If not stitched, the midsole will be glued to the upper, such as in the construction of athletic footwear. Midsoles are commonly made from PU (polyurethane), which is very durable and packs out less than EVA (Ethyl Vinyl Acetate), also common in athletic footwear like running shoes.
However, PU is not soft and squishy like EVA, especially in its injected form. Compression-molded EVA is more durable, and appropriate in some cases for hiking and light backpacking, depending on a person’s preferences and priorities. Another method of connecting the upper to the sole is direct injection of a midsole, being squirted onto the upper using PU (polyurethane).
If comfort is what you’re looking for, try on a variety of OluKai models at your local retailer before buying. Check collar heights to make sure there is no rubbing from the top of the collar. Think about what your end use for the boots really is.
Look for a high quality insole. Olukai boots all come with a high-quality insole. And remember, an aftermarket insole can change the performance, fit and volume of the boot and potentially raise the foot out of the heel pocket.
The outsole of a leather boot is the rubber bottom that provides grip, friction, traction, and protection. It will be constructed with a varity of thicknesses and surface structures.
The inner boot lining may be made of leather, fabrics or a combination of materials including synthetic, highly breathable fabric. This insole lining is referred to as the sock.
When trying on boots, be sure to leave ample room at the toes. When fitting leather boots, wear the socks you will wear with the boots. Do not buy a boot that is too long. An improperly large leather boot can put the flex point of the foot behind the flex point of the boot. This can result in strained tendons and other foot problems such as plantar fasciitis, because the foot is unable to leverage the boot.
Keep leather boots clean by immediately removing mud, dirt and debris from the boots, especially from the uppers. Caked mud can strip oil from the outsole and leather, which shortens the performance and lifespan of the boots.
Treat Norwegian welted boots (stitch down construction) with Sno-seal or mink oil. Treat glued or injection molded boots with Nikwax. Natural oils can affect the glue of injection molded EVA and PU midsoles and can cause EVA midsoles to peel. Retreat leather boots once a season by conditioning the leather and then applying a fresh DWR treatment. Conditioning the leather will also make breaking in leather boots easier.
As we all know, OluKai has become of the most successful footwear giants in the retail marketplace. This isn’t just due to exceptional design, creative product development and excellent marketing. For over 10 years, and since day one, OluKai has made a point of giving back to the community and supporting Hawaiian culture. OluKai does this with their deep respect for the Hawaiian Islands through many diverse giveback campaigns, community donations and the desire to be more than just an ethical manufacturer.
Dan McInerny is not only one of the founding partners of the OluKai brand, but he is also the Executive Director of their 501 (c) 3 non-profit foundation, the Ama OluKai Foundation. We recently had the opportunity to interview Dan about OluKai’s community and cultural outreach programs, country-wide events and the mission of Ama Olukai.
OK: The Ama OluKai Foundation was founded in 2014, but OluKai has always found it important to give back to Hawaiian communities. Can you provide a little background history about this, and tell us why this is so important to OluKai as a brand?
DM: When we founded the company in 2005, we had a deep affinity to Hawai’i from our own personal experiences and relationship to the islands over the years. One of the partners, Bill Worthington, grew up in Hawai’i. I spent many years in Hawai’i from my days at Quiksilver. Giving back to the communities was easy for us because it was our kuleana to do so and it became one of our brand tenets while building the company.
Before establishing our Foundation, we started giving back on a more informal basis when we started the company, even before we were turning a profit. One of our first products was the Rabbit Kekai slipper. A percentage of the proceeds from each sale went back to the Rabbit Kekai Foundation, introducing underprivileged keikis (kids) to surfing and the ocean. Giving back has always given us a lot of joy because it is what we genuinely believe in and the right thing to do.
OK: On Ama OluKai's website, there’s a list of non-profit groups that are inaugural beneficiaries to The Foundation. As a group, they seem to be a complete representation of Hawaii’s oceans, land, sky and cultural efforts. Can you discuss the connection with the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association, and give us some more information about why this relationship is so important?
DM: Archie Kalepa was the head lifeguard in Maui for 31 years and is now a very important member and Konohiki at OluKai. He taught us that to be a lifeguard in Hawai’i is a big deal. It is like passing the test to become a paramedic or fireman. It is a profession that requires hard work and dedication. We recognize and honor each lifeguard for what they do on a daily basis protecting the shores of seven Hawaiian islands. We view them as our Olympic athletes.
We have a deep respect for Ralph Goto and Jim Howe, who founded the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association (HLA). Unlike on the mainland, the lifeguard association does not receive public funds. The HLA is a private entity. Our support for the HLA has been dedicated to their Junior Lifeguard Program, which is the feeder program for so many keikis around Hawaii in becoming highly skilled lifeguards. Our love for the ocean and the need to create a platform for the next generation of kids to excel in Hawaii is why this relationship is so important.
OK: Even before the Ama OluKai Foundation was created, OluKai as a brand has always been a huge supporter of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, and the incredibly profound journeys of the Hokule’a. Can you share with us more about how this all came into fruition? What do you believe is the most important message that the Hokule’a brings to our world?
DM: Honor, Respect and Celebrate are the cornerstones of our Ama OluKai Foundation. Our relationship and respect for Nainoa Thompson, Bruce Blankenfeld and the many crew members and staff of the Polynesian Voyaging Society over the years runs deep. After statehood in 1959, a generation of Hawaiians lost many of the values and traditions that made this island culture so special. It wasn’t until 1976, with the launch of the Hokule’a, that revitalized Hawaiian culture’s important connection to its ancestral past. Wayfinding without instruments in the open ocean is an important part of Hawaiian history that must not be forgotten.
Our company recognized the importance of supporting this renaissance for Hawaii’s next generation and this is why we support organizations like the Polynesian Voyaging Society, ‘Imiloa and Na Kalai Wa’a, who are all dedicated to the traditions of celestial navigation and how important the wa’a (outrigger canoe) is to the community.
The most important message that the Hokule’a brings to our world is Malama Honua, care for our island earth. Every nation has a role and responsibility in protecting our valuable natural resources. Our planet is like our own island — it is smaller than we think with limited resources. Let’s take care of it properly. Hawaiian astronaut Lacy Veach taught us this while hovering over earth from his Nasa spacecraft back in 1992. The Hokule’a world wide voyage is dedicated to this message of Malama Honua, and we are as well at OluKai.
OK: The Hokule’a recently reached the East Coast on their Worldwide Voyage, and was welcomed at the 26th Annual Charleston Outdoor Festival. How was OluKai involved in this event? Secondly, what do you believe was the largest significance of the Hokule’a as a guest in Charleston considering the American Civil War history of this community?
DM: Nainoa Thompson and I spoke back in January about the importance of spreading the message of Malama Honua. The Hokule’a is opening the door to the world with this message and it is important that companies like OluKai continue to spread this message. We have 2,500 retailers in America who support the OluKai brand. It is our responsibility to introduce them to the world wide voyage of the Hokule’a and its message of caring for island earth as it sails along the eastern seaboard and visits each port community. The Ama OluKai Foundation was in Charleston to help support the crew and their message with the community and our retailers.
Leading up to the Civil War, 40% of all slaves that came from Africa to America traveled through the port of Charleston. Ironically, the significance of the Hokule’a’ visiting Charleston from my own perspective was that Hawaii’ has its own subtle tie to human rights challenges over the years. The Hokule’a was welcomed by several Native American tribes from the region, which was very powerful. The significance was the importance of respecting the value of indigenous people, their culture and values.
OK: Why is it so important for OluKai to give back to the Hawaiian community? How did this become a part of the brands overall philosophy?
DM: Giving back has always been a part of our DNA at OluKai. Not only do we focus on giving back in Hawai’i, but we give back in many mainland communities across the country. We have earned the designation of a B Corporation, which identifies for-profit companies that meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. We are proud about this recognition.
Giving back became part of our company philosophy because we wanted to build a strong culture of giving back that aligns with the morals and values of the partners, our employees and consumers.
OluKai: As you stated, Honor, Preserve and Celebrate are the core values of the Ama OluKai Foundation. It’s so fantastic to see a brand have such a rich respect for Hawaii’s cultural history. How will OluKai continue to follow these values in the future of the foundation? Are there any current issues or projects in place that our readers should know about? (ocean, land, environmental)
Dan: There is a very powerful movement underway in Hawaii centered around the preservation of Hawaii’s rich cultural history and traditions. This is especially evident among the younger generation of Hawaiians who are deeply proud of their roots and are working hard to revitalize these efforts. The Ama OluKai Foundation recognizes these efforts and will continue to seek grass roots organizations centered around language, customs, art, education and moral values in Hawaiian communities. We have established new partnerships on Molokai and Oahu with groups like Huli, The Movement and Papahana Kuaola who are dedicated to the education and restoration of the ahupua’a ecosystems and their corresponding fishponds that have sustained Hawaiian villages for decades. We are also working with Punana Leo schools that are revitalizing native Hawaiian language in the community classrooms at an early age.
OluKai: If people in the Hawaiian community wanted to be involved in Ama OluKai events or any volunteer opportunities, what would be the best way they could reach out? Are there any current projects that the community could share involvement in?
Dan: I encourage your readers to visit our Foundation website at www.amaolukaifoundation.org. They will notice that we have partnerships with families like the Lindsey’s on Maui who started organizations like Maui Cultural Lands, which encourages volunteer participation to restore an ancient Hawaiian village and its surrounding ahupua’a ecosystem in the Honokowai Valley. Na Kama Kai is an all inclusive ocean education program started by Duane Desoto, which was created for keikis in Hawaii from less fortunate communities. I encourage everyone to visit our friends at Imiloa, located in Hilo on the Big Island, who have created an amazing Hawaiian cultural experience via their science museum and planetarium. We are so proud of all of our partnerships that do so much to support education and awareness centered around cultural preservation in the islands.
OluKai: With the 8th Annual OluKai Ho’olaule’a taking place on Maui April 29-May 1st 2016, what are your thoughts about how far this event has come? Did OluKai ever dream that this event would become so huge in the world-wide ocean sports community? Is there any specific part of the event that you are especially looking forward to?
Dan: The Ho’olaule’a is a celebration of the ocean lifestyle and the cultures that surround it. What started as a grass roots gathering of paddlers, retailers, beneficiaries, employees and friends has evolved into one of the most popular events of the year. Over 600 paddlers sign up for our stand-up paddle, OC1 and OC2 race each year. These premiere athletes come from Hawaii and around the world. It continues to grow every year and we are humbled by its popularity and success. It is a terrific family experience if you have never been a part of it.
On Monday, May 2nd, after the Ho’olaule’a weekend event, the Ama OluKai Foundation will be hosting a Giveback Day in partnership with Maui Cultural Lands. Over 100 volunteers consisting of OluKai employees, our retail partners, beneficiaries and friends will dedicate this day to help restore and preserve the natural vegetation and ahupua’a of the Honokowai Valley. We will be greeted by the Hawai’i Loa sailing canoe in the afternoon for our guests to experience what it is like to crew on the Hokule’a. It is quite a special day that creates a deeper awareness for our guests who have never experienced Hawaii quite like this.
Items 1 to 10 of 63 total
Welcome to our ʻOhana
WELCOME TO OUR ʻOhana (FAMILY)!
Already have an account? Sign in
By creating an account you agree to OluKai's