Growing up in Hawai’i: Seashells and Sunsets

 In Hawaiian Life

Growing Up In Hawai’i

Secrets, Myths and Truths of Island Life

Having been so very fortunate to have grown up in Hawai’i, I thought it would be fun to share the secrets, myths and truths about life on the islands.




Growing Up In Hawai'i by Mika Harmony

My childhood home, Maui Hawai’i





Sharing My Love of The Islands

One of the first questions I was asked (from my fellow Jr. High students) after moving to the mainland (Continental US) away from Hawai’i (cue sad face) was “Did you go to school in a grass shack”? Spoiler alert: I did not go to school in a grass shack.

I was however, taken aback by that question and it cemented my fish out of water feeling of being from another land after having moved to a big city (LA, CA). I think that first experience of being not accepted really influenced my desire to keep my connection to Hawai’i strong and to share my love of the islands through my artwork.

hawaiian-botanical-painting-by-mika-harmony inspired by Growing Up In Hawai'i

The Beach Way

It is true that I walked to school the “beach way” and was often barefoot. Also true that we never wore shoes in the house. I still marvel at mainlanders who wear shoes indoors….I think it is just a cultural thing either way! 😉 

I did spend a great deal of time outdoors and we seldom locked our house doors.  A favorite activity was cruising down to the beach at the back steps of our house and looking at tidepools. That inspired my love of seashells. One of my least favorite activities was walking the beach at night as a kid with the older neighbor kids who would tell me spooky stories about 15 foot tall crabs that would reach out and get me (thank you, no thank you, Robert Sherman).

Photo by Genevieve Dallaire on Unsplash (not me walking to school! 😉 )

School By The Sea

It was an idyllic childhood. My elementary school, King Kamehameha III School, is located right next to Lahaina Harbor. I truly would spend the afternoon looking at the fish at the boat ramps; easily identifying the moorish idols with their distinctive stripes. To this day it is one of my favorite fish to paint.

Moorish Idol watercolor by Mika Harmony

One of my Moorish Idol watercolors inspired by my elementary school being right next to the Lahaina Harbor

Hard Times In Hawai’i: No Cartoons

Even growing up on such a beautiful island, there were hard times like anyone’s life- but having the sunsets at your doorstep did help ease the difficult moments.  I suppose as a child, having your mother shove the TV in a closet because “the kids are watching too much TV” was my most traumatic moment at that time. Though, she was likely right and it further encouraged me to turn to my creativity to keep myself occupied.  I started writing little stories in pre-school and all throughout my life.  My best story thus far was at 6 years old writing about 2 blades of grass talking to each other. I also did the art for that literary masterpiece; I will have to find it.

Growing Up In Hawai'i picture of the author as a child

Me as a keiki (child) enjoying the flowers at a botanic garden in Hawai’i, plus one of my masterpieces from Preschool

But Do You Speak English?

Some of the myths about growing up in Hawai’i are usually started from kids and perpetuated by adults. I was often asked if we speak English in Hawai’i.  We do speak English in Hawai’i and many of us speak Hawaiian or Pidgin’ English as well plus several other languages (Tagalog, Ilocano , Japanese…).  Most Native Hawaiians are multi-lingual. The Hawaiian language is a beautiful melodic language made up of 13 letters and is comprised of five vowels and seven consonants plus the addition of the ‘okina (the glottal stop in a word) and kahakō (a mark to denote long vowel sounds).  For more info, check out a great resource here.


I hope you have learned more about my home state of Hawai’i! Let me know if you would like to know any more or if you have any questions. 🙂

What about you, where are you from? Leave a comment below!

Me ke aloha,


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Showing 6 comments
  • Hunter Camarillo

    Love this! So blessed to grow up Hawai’i.
    Maui Nō Ka ‘oi !

    • Mika Harmony

      Mahalo, Hunter!

  • Helen Stiver

    Fun to learn more about your childhood

    • Mika Harmony

      Thank you so much, Helen! It’s so interesting where our life leads us and how those early years influence our creativity, isn’t it? 🙂 xo Aloha, Mika

  • Shandy Kana

    I remember your Front Street home! I remember laughing and being happy with you! Love that you keep the Aloha in your heart and take it with you every where you go! And to have that Aloha flow into your art is beautiful!!

    • Mika Harmony

      SHANDY!! Oh my goodness, what a beautiful memory you shared with me!! THANK YOU! I appreciate your kind words and having your support. You are my true Maui ‘ohana and I couldn’t do it without you!! 🙂 Much love and Aloha, Mika

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