Home » Hawaii Travel Tips » Best Things to Do » How to Book a Lei Greeting in Honolulu Hawaii

How to Book a Lei Greeting in Honolulu Hawaii

Heading to Oahu and want to get a lei when you land? Scroll to learn exactly how to book a lei greeting in Honolulu as well as tips and tricks for making your lei last!
This guide to how to book a lei greeting in Honolulu Hawaii was written by Hawaii travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

Do you want to make your next trip to Oahu especially memorable?

You’ve been planning your dream vacation to Hawaii, and you want to go all out. Give your family a treat and book a lei greeting in Honolulu when you arrive at the airport!

You might be dreaming of the classic aloha welcome to the islands with a garland of flowers being draped around your neck. But you should know that it takes just a little planning these days!

Whether you’ve been to the islands too many times to count or you’re planning a special trip, you can set the tone with this special Hawaiian tradition.

In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about booking an Oahu airport lei greeting.

Don’t have time to read a bunch of Hawaii blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Oahu.

Popular Oahu Tours/Activities

Favorite Oahu Resorts/Hotels

Want to Rent a Car in Hawaii?
One of the best places to rent a car in Hawaii is Discount Hawaii Car Rental because they get the best rates from top national companies like Alamo, Dollar, Thrifty, Avis, Enterprise, Budget, and Payless.

Want to skip all the planning and just access my detailed Oahu Itinerary complete with daily schedules, kid-friendly activities, and travel hacks? Click the button below.

FAQs about Lei Greetings

Do you say lei or leis?

There’s no distinction between plural and singular in the Hawaiian language, so ‘lei’ works for both! Don’t be surprised if you hear the word used this way. But don’t feel silly saying ‘leis.’ The term has been Anglicized with the influence of American tourism for those who are less familiar with the Hawaiian language and culture.

Are there any rules to wearing a lei?

There aren’t any rules, but there’s a kind of unspoken etiquette. It’s considered rude to turn down a lei if it’s offered to you! Also, never take it off in the presence of the person who placed it on you. So, if you need to take it off after your Lei Greeting in Honolulu, do it discreetly!

How do you dispose of your lei?

Throwing your lei in the garbage is disrespectful! A lei is a gift symbolizing love and friendship, so it should be respected. Traditionally, you’re supposed to return it to the earth. You’ll find lots of leis hung in trees or placed on statues around Honolulu because the visitors are encouraged to leave their lei somewhere they felt a connection to the island. You can also remove the flowers from the string and burn them or scatter them in the ocean.

Does everyone get a lei when they arrive at the airport?

At one time this may have been the case, but not anymore. Today, you can purchase a lei greeting for a fee through several companies ahead of your arrival. You can also include a lei greeting in your hotel shuttle package or it can be gifted to you by someone else. It’s a great way to surprise the family if you’re traveling with others!

Can I book a lei greeting for someone else traveling to Oahu?

Yes! You are welcome to a lei greeting for loved ones who will be traveling to Honolulu. Just make sure that you obtain their flight and hotel information. You’ll need this information when you book, and they’ll need to confirm their identity to receive the service.

The Story Behind Lei Greetings

While you plan your lei greeting in Honolulu, you might know nothing about the history. It’s beneficial to know where the tradition comes from!

It all started around 1,000 years ago when the earliest travelers to the Hawaiian Islands came to settle there. These Polynesian voyagers were the ones who invented leis once they arrived, making it a unique part of Hawaiian culture.

What is a Lei?

Basically, leis have always been made from items like flowers, vines, nuts, and shells that are strung together and worn ornamentally. You might also see leaves, certain types of berries, seeds, feathers, or even bones used.

Image of a white flower lei and a kukui nut lei draped on an arm on a beach in Hawaii.
These are common wedding leis in Hawaii.

The Polynesians most commonly wore leis to represent their economic or political rank, but they were also just beautiful to wear!

They made some leis to honor the Polynesian gods and others to be used in peace talks between tribal leaders. They eventually came to represent honor, love, friendship, and a warm welcome.

Traditionally, you wear leis draped over the shoulders, hanging them equally in front and back, not like a necklace. You’ll also find flower crowns and wristlets. Men can wear flower leis but are often given ones made of ti leaves or kukui nuts. 

You’ll Find Leis Everywhere

Leis have never just been for greetings. You’ll see flower leis at special occasions like weddings, at parties, and all over the place at luaus.

Image of a handmade plumeria lei with string and a needle.
It’s easy to make a fresh flower lei in Hawaii.

But you don’t need a special occasion to wear yours on the islands! You might see locals wearing a garland of shells, nuts, or other things that last longer than flowers.

The Evolution of Lei Greetings

After the annexation of Hawaii by the United States, boats of tourists started pouring in. In those days you would see lines of lei vendors on the pier waiting to greet visitors and make some money.

A native Hawaiian welcoming you with a handmade flower lei became the image Americans thought of when imagining an island getaway!

Well into the 20th century, this was the tradition. Along the way, it became less and less common, especially with the rise in airport security. Greeters could no longer meet you at your gate and the tradition changed.

Hawaii woman showing flower lei garland of pink orchids. Beautiful smiling mixed race woman in bikini on beach giving a welcoming Lei on the hawaiian island Big Island.
You’ll see TONS of leis in Hawaii.

So, what is a lei greeting today?

You can enjoy the nostalgia of the golden days by booking a Honolulu lei greeting for your airport arrival. Your greeter will welcome you and your party, placing leis on your shoulders.

Then, if you book a lei greeting with a shuttle, they’ll warmly assist you with your luggage to your transport.

Book a Family Photo Shoot

Whenever we travel to Hawaii, we almost always book a family photo shoot with Flytographer. They are super easy, affordable, AND it guarantees that I’ll be in some photos. You can get $25 off if you book through this link or use the code HAWAIITRAVEL.

Where to Book a Lei Greeting in Honolulu

When you start your search for a lei greeting in Honolulu, you’ll find all kinds of private companies. It can get confusing, but I suggest focusing on going through booking companies that offer ratings and reviews from those who previously booked the service.

Hawaii Flower Lei Oahu Lei Greeting

For a traditional airport lei greeting, check out this one by Hawaii Flower Lei. They offer a basic package that you can book one time for the whole family.

Image of a woman wearing a short purple orchid lei.
Your family will love getting a fresh flower Honolulu lei greeting!

Choose from a selection of classic and deluxe leis, as well as leis made especially for children. They even have candy leis! Check the latest prices.

Hawaii Flower Lei’s greeters will meet you at baggage claim. You should look for their official airport ID badges and someone holding a sign with your party’s name on it. They’ll greet you with leis by placing them over your shoulders.

After this, in true Aloha spirit, they’ll assist you with your luggage and answer any questions you have. They can take a picture of you and your family in your leis, help you get to connecting flights or rental services, and more.

Honolulu Lei Greetings

If you prefer a more special lei greeting on your honeymoon or any other romantic getaway, you can also find ones for couples. I like this one from Honolulu Lei Greetings for a smaller travel party because it takes the guesswork out of booking!

Image of a woman wearing a colorful lei on Waikiki Beach with Diamond Head in the background
Wearing a lei looks awesome in photos!

Just choose from a variety of lei combinations, like an orchid lei for a woman and a kukui nut lei for a man. Check the latest prices.

While the other booking is non-refundable for no-shows like if your flight is canceled, the couple’s booking has another big plus. If for any reason you can’t meet your greeter, your leis will be delivered to your hotel!

A Step-by-Step Guide to Booking a Lei Greeting in Honolulu

To book your Oahu lei greeting at the airport, there are certain steps you want to take. For the most positive experience, follow my how-to below:

  1. Before anything else, get your flight and accommodations in order. You’ll need this information when you book your lei greeting.
  2. Steps on booking sites vary. I highly recommend entering your arrival date and number of travelers first so you know what your available options are.
  3. The site will prompt you to choose what kind of lei you want for each person you include in your booking.
  4. At this point, double-check that you’re happy with your order. Make sure you’ve entered the correct arrival date, number of people, and lei choices.
  5. Enter your payment choice and provide your exact flight and hotel info.
  6. After you finish booking, print the confirmation or voucher. It might pop up on the screen or be sent via email. You’ll need this printed paper when you meet your greeter to confirm it’s you.

That’s basically it! It’s not difficult to book a lei greeting, but it’s good to be prepared with all the correct information. Make things as smooth as possible so you can relax and enjoy your vacation!

Image of a man and woman wearing purple orchid leis on the beach in Hawaii
Booking a lei greeting on Oahu is a great way to kick off your trip!

Tips for Booking a Hawaii Lei Greeting

If you like the sound of a traditional Oahu lei greeting, there are a few things to keep in mind. Keep reading for all the details.

When you book, you’ll get to choose from a variety of lei types

If the person you’re booking for has allergies or sensitivity to fragrant flowers, skip leis made with tuberose. This is a highly fragrant flower. Instead, you can go with purple orchids that have no fragrance, or choose a lei made of something else, like seashells or ti leaves.

Remember to book in advance

Keep in mind that most companies offering lei greetings ask you to book them at least 48-hours in advance of your arrival for logistical reasons. Sometimes you can book last minute if you pay a small rush fee.

Health/Safety protocols are in place

Be aware that all guests and greeters are required to wear masks throughout the experience for everyone’s safety. Greeters will move into your personal space to place the lei on your shoulders. If you or someone in your party aren’t comfortable having someone that close to you, you might want this service.

It will cost between $35-$50 per person

Prepare for lei greetings to cost anywhere from $35 to $50 per person, depending on where you book. This price reflects not only the cost of the lei but also the labor of your greeter! If you want a deluxe lei or a lei made of kukui nuts, this may change the price as well. If you book your greeting along with a shuttle to your airport, it’ll probably run about $15 to $25 for the add-on.

There are several Oahu lei greeting services

When booking a lei greeting in Honolulu, you’ll have to decide what kind of service you want. You’ll find bookings for just lei greetings, as well as lei greetings that include transportation or tours around the island. Read the fine print along the way to make sure you get what you want.

You might book a shuttle that includes a lei greeting

When you’re on Oahu Island, you may skip the rental car and book a shuttle for things like luaus or sightseeing tours. Lei greetings are included on many of these van shuttles. If a lei greeting at Honolulu airport sounds too hectic, consider instead adding one to your shuttle package for a special treat!

Start Your Vacation with an Oahu Airport Lei Greeting

Now you have all the information you need to book a lei greeting in Honolulu! When you travel, traditions are more enjoyable for everyone when you have a historical and cultural context. Plus, if you’ve never had a lei greeting, the last thing you want to worry about is the technical stuff!

Take it easy, breathe deep, and remember that you’ll be on vacation! The whole point of a Hawaiian greeting is to help you feel welcome and relaxed from the very start of your stay. Be open to the personal, accommodating greeter. Let them adorn you with the lei and enjoy their hospitality!

Looking for more Oahu Travel Resources? Find out how to get from Honolulu Airport to Waikiki, how to get from Honolulu Airport to Disney Aulani, tips for navigating Honolulu Airport, and things you need to know about Oahu before you go!