May Day is Lei Day

The language of lei

Giving a lei is no small thing. It’s an opportunity to show honor, high regard and love; and here in the Islands, we like to give lei for many occasions.
Read on to learn about the different types of lei and what they mean.


In Hawaiian culture, the plumeria symbolizes positivity and is a favorite lei used to welcome guests, with its sweet fragrance and variety of vibrant colors – from white and yellow to pink and red. You’ll also notice that this flower adorns the hair of many of our female flight attendants.


These aromatic flowers were brought by the Chinese to Hawai‘i. Popular for its sweet fragrance the pikake was Princess Ka‘iulani’s favorite in which she named after the peacocks that roamed around her gardens in Waikiki.

Pua Kenikeni

The pua kenikeni blooms creamy white and then becomes yellow and orange colored flowers. At one time, these lei were sold for 10 cents each, thus the Hawaiian name, "pua kenikeni," meaning "ten-cent flower."


These tiny tubular flowers are plucked from short shrubs and have blazing white and orange-red tips, resembling a lit cigar. To make a single lei, hundreds of blossoms are strung together to create intricate bead-like patterns.