How to Make Your Own Lei Po‘o

Find out how to make a lei po‘o, or a haku lei, with tips from the team at Paiko and flowers from Cindy’s Lei and Flower Shoppe.



Since 1928, May Day has been affectionately celebrated as Lei Day in Hawaiʻi. As the popularity of steamship travel to the Islands took off in the 1920s, lei stands became a growing presence near the downtown hotels and piers. This colorful welcoming inspired local poet Don Blanding and a Honolulu Star-Bulletin columnist to coin May Day as Lei Day in Hawaiʻi to celebrate the vibrant tradition of lei making.


With the lei po‘o or haku lei (a Hawaiian-style flower crown) becoming a boho-chic statement piece, the variations of the haku have expanded from a traditional ti leaf lei to those thick with colorful plumeria, ginger and orchids.


At Kakaʻako’s botanical boutique, Paiko, and Chinatown’s go-to lei spot, Cindy’s Lei and Flower Shoppe, we had the chance to learn and gather from the best in Honolulu.


To learn how to make a haku lei, watch the video above.


SEE ALSO: Local Lei Shops Are Blooming All Over Town


‘Ōhia lehua flower

‘Ōhia lehua. Photo: Getty Images


This year’s Lei Day Celebration theme is Lei Kuahiwi, or mountain lei, and the theme’s flower is ʻōhiʻa lehua. The ʻōhiʻa lehua is our most common native tree, though it is threatened by Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death (ROD) on Hawai‘i Island and Kaua‘i. To avoid spreading ROD, the challenge has been set to create lei that resemble ʻōhiʻa lehua without using the plant itself, instead incorporating lookalikes Calliandra and ʻākia. See the stunning lei exhibit at the Lei Day Celebration at Kapi‘olani Park.


SEE ALSO: We Tried It: DIY Lei for Lei Day


Shoot Credits: Direction and Editing: Marisa Hartzell; Photography and Videography: Aaron K. Yoshino; Additional Video: Katie Kenny.


Paiko, 675 Auahi St., (808) 988-2165,, Cindy’s Lei and Flower Shoppe, 1034 Maunakea St., (808) 536-6538,, Puʻu ʻUalakaʻa State Wayside, 2760 Roundtop Drive