19 Amazing Hawaiian Islands Tattoo Designs You’ll Love

There is very little that can compare to the tranquility one will feel at the shores of the Hawaiian Islands.

The gentle breeze, crashing of the waves, and the smell of the sea are enough to lull you into a deep state of relaxation and harmony…

To many, the Hawaiian Islands are their home, a place of familiarity and rest, a surreal paradise unlike any other. 

It’s a place you visit to ground yourself with Mother Nature. 

A place to reconnect with yourself. 

A place that freely accepts the burden of your stresses and frustrations.

A place that washes away the hustle, the bustle, and the monotonous struggle of daily life—even if just for a while.

If you’re someone who feels that the Hawaiian Islands have touched you in a similar way, then you might enjoy the companionship of a Hawaiian Islands tattoo.

In this article, I’ve compiled 19 of the most amazing ones. 

Each artist is given due credit, so if you want to check out more of their work or message them directly, their names and Instagram accounts are all there.

Towards the end, I’ll also answer some FAQs about Hawaiian Islands tattoos, so keep reading!

Hawaiian Islands Tattoos

Topographic Hawaiian Islands Tattoos

One of the best things about the Hawaiian Islands is their topography. Each one of the islands is rich in mountainous terrain, lush vegetation—and volcanos!

There are 5 gorgeous volcanos in Hawaii, 2 of which are active. All of these volcanos play a central part in Hawaiian society. 

Hawaii depends on them for geothermal energy, farming, and tourism. Volcanos also have a lot of religious value to them.

So if you want to pay homage to the volcanos of Hawaii, consider getting a topographic Hawaiian Islands tattoo. 

By illustrating the topography, you can more easily immerse yourself in the beauty that is the ridges and troughs of the great Hawaiian Islands.

hawaiian islands tattoo

by Chantel Chan. (@tattooschmutz on Instagram).

hawaiian islands tattoo

by Francesca Weaver. (@bulllova on Instagram).

hawaiian islands tattoo designs

by Michael. (@boobooflt on Instagram).

Floral Hawaiian Islands Tattoos

In a lot of ways, flowers are important to Hawaiian tradition. It has become a solid part of their culture and image.

In the Hawaiian Islands, necklaces made of flowers called lei are given to people as a symbol of both welcome and farewell. Flowers are the first to greet you as you step onto the island and the last thing to bid you goodbye.

On special occasions, women often tuck a flower into their ears as a symbol of their availability. Each island even has its own official flower, with each one representing a different idea.

If you want to decorate and personalize your Hawaiian Islands tattoo, flowers are always going to be a great idea. They add to the whole tropical vibe, and they’re meaningful, too.

hawaiian islands map tattoo

by Jo’el Acoba. (@jniahstylee on Instagram).

hawaiian islands tattoos

by adam. (@100_percent_techno on Instagram).

hawaiian islands tattoo designs

by Fresh Native. (@fresh_native on Instagram).

Tribal Hawaiian Islands Tattoos

One of the most iconic parts of Polynesian culture is the tattoo. Back then, the writing was non-existent in Polynesian culture. Instead, people expressed themselves through the tattoo.

Using a special tattooing comb made of sharpened boar’s teeth (called an au), they tapped into the flesh and created exquisite geometric patterns. These tattoos were signs of a man’s courage and loyalty.

The designs were incredibly intricate and thus required great skill from the artist. Even now, the designs are widely popular outside of Polynesian culture and are considered as the classic approach to Tribal tattoo style.

To add a creative touch to your Hawaiian Islands tattoo, you can use the same geometric patterns used in Polynesian Tribal tattooing. It adds a lot to the aesthetics and meaning of your tattoo.

hawaiian islands tattoo designs

by Sweet Trade Tattoo. (@sweettradetattoo on Instagram).

hawaiian islands tattoo designs

by Sweet Trade Tattoo. (@sweettradetattoo on Instagram).

hawaiian islands map tattoo

by Francine Walraven. (@francine.walraven.tattoo on Instagram).

hawaiian islands map tattoo

by Brandon. (@mistah_b on Instagram).

hawaiian islands map tattoo

by Brandon. (@mistah_b on Instagram).

hawaiian islands tattoo

by Mid-Pacific Tattoo. (@midpacific_prison_street on Instagram).

Watercolor Hawaiian Islands Tattoos

Hawaii is known for its calm, welcoming oceans, lush vegetation, and relaxed people. It’s an island paradise. 

In the beautiful words of Mark Twain, “the good that dies in the islands of Hawaii experience no change, for they fall asleep in one heaven and wake up in another.”

A fantastic way to translate the beauty and tranquility of the Hawaiian Islands is through the use of watercolor. 

The light, flowing colors are perfect for illustrating the warmth of the sun’s rays, the calmness of the breeze, and the brilliance of the seas.

hawaiian islands tattoo designs

by Unknown Artist

Blackwork Hawaiian Islands Tattoos

If you aren’t a big fan of colored tattoos, blackwork is a fantastic alternative. It’s not super flashy but anyone who knows the Hawaiian Islands will immediately recognize the homage. And if you’re a fan of minimalism, a blackwork version will hit all the right notes.

hawaiian islands map tattoo

by Nano. (@nanoartbus on Instagram).

hawaiian islands tattoo

by Maui Tattoo Company. (@mauitattoocompany on Instagram).

Hawaiian Islands Outline Tattoos

To some people, the blackwork versions can look a bit vague. If the edges aren’t done with much care, the whole thing can look like a bunch of moles, so it’s important to pay attention to detail if you’re going for a blackwork version.

But if you want to avoid this issue altogether, a great way to make your tattoo more distinguishable is to do an outline. This helps to clear up what your tattoo is. It also gives your artist more time to focus on detailing the outlines instead of filling in the shapes.

Below, you’ll also get to see some very unique takes on this type of tattoo. Others fill in only a specific island while others assign colors to each one. The most unique one uses skin-color tattoo ink for the outlines to contrast their island-shaped birthmark.

The outline approach is definitely among the more minimalist ways to do this tattoo, but it still leaves a lot of room for creativity.

hawaiian islands map tattoo

by Unknown Artist

hawaiian islands tattoo

by Unknown Artist

hawaiian islands map tattoo

by Unknown Artist

hawaiian islands map tattoo

by Unknown Artist

Hawaiian Islands Tattoo FAQs

Why should I get a Hawaiian Islands tattoo?

The Hawaiian Islands are one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Each one is abundant with tropical vegetation and exotic wildlife. Even if you aren’t originally from the Hawaiian Islands, it’s hard not to love the place.

A lot of the people that get Hawaiian Islands tattoos have a special place in their hearts for Hawaii. It’s not just the patriots that get them done, but also the tourists who fell in love with the place.

If you feel that the Hawaiian Islands have made a similar impression on you, then you’ll love having a tattoo to remind you of your most memorable moments on the islands—even while you’re away.

Where should I put my Hawaiian Islands tattoo?

People often get their Hawaiian Islands tattoos on the upper body, where they’re most easily seen. These tattoos often act as emblems of loyalty and love and reminders of good times, so visibility is an important factor.

If your career path allows you to get visible tattoos, then you should consider placing your Hawaiian Islands tattoo on your forearm

Other than having a lot of visibility, the forearm also has the perfect shape to accommodate the design. Since the Hawaiian Islands design is longer than it is wide, you can orient it easily along the length of the forearm. The same logic applies to the calf, although it’s much less visible.

But if your career path doesn’t allow you to get visible tattoos, then you should consider placing your Hawaiian Islands tattoo anywhere along the upper body. Placing it along the upper body helps make the tattoo visible only when you need it to be. It hides when you’re at work, but shines when you’re at the beach or doing sports.

A popular location for this design is above the shoulder blades, which also accommodates slender designs very well.

Anywhere on the back is a great location for this design as well. But since there’s a lot of space, getting a tattoo of the islands alone might make the piece look bare and unfinished. In such a case, try playing with different elements that emphasize the tropical vibe such as tropical flowers and nautical elements.

Will it hurt?

This is often the first question we get from first-timers. The short answer is yes. Tattoos hurt to get. But it’s not as bad as some people make it out to be.

What you want to know is how much it will hurt. This generally depends on a couple of factors:

  • Size & complexity of design
  • Tattoo placement
  • Pain tolerance
  • Experience

Now these factors are wildly variable — what might hurt for Jim might not hurt at all for Emma. 

We’ll discuss each factor in detail so you can get a better understanding of how much pain you can expect when getting your tattoo. 

Size & complexity of design

The first factor that dictates how bad your tattoo will hurt is how big and complex the design is.

On its own, size and complexity doesn’t really affect the pain intensity. What it does affect is how long your session will be. Naturally, a small tattoo will take much less time to make, while a large tattoo will take much longer.

If you have a high pain tolerance or you’ve placed your tattoo somewhere that doesn’t hurt for you, then you’ll be fine. Otherwise, though, you should expect a spike in pain. A longer session means you’ll have to endure the pain for a longer period of time.

The body adjusts to this pain by releasing adrenaline and endorphins. During this rush, you’ll feel the pain start to numb out and you’ll feel much less stressed. 

If you have a very low pain tolerance, a smaller tattoo is ideal, since the rush numbs out the pain long enough for you to last. In such a case, try going for an outline or blackwork Hawaiian Islands tattoo to finish quick.

But if you can normally stand a bit of scratching, then you shouldn’t worry too much about it, especially if the tattoo placement is good (we’ll get to that in the next section). A decent pain tolerance means you can get a bigger, more complex design such as tribal or topographic.

Usually, though, the pain isn’t too bad. You only have to worry about this if you have a skin condition or have suffered recent emotional trauma (which can worsen pain). 

In any case, be honest with your artist, and get a design that’s appropriate for your pain tolerance. Too much pain will be a problem for both you and your artist.

  • Tattoo placement

Another factor that affects the intensity of pain you’ll experience is where you’ll place your tattoo.

The most popular location to put Hawaiian Islands tattoo is on the forearm. The length is perfect for the size and shape of most designs, plus it’s super visible.

In terms of pain, the forearm fares pretty well compared to other locations. It has a hefty amount of fat and muscle to dampen the impact of the tattoo needle, so you’ll be very well-protected.

Just be careful of any overlaps with the wrist or elbow. You’ll notice that as you come up or down the forearm, the fat and muscle get significantly thinner and bonier. You want to avoid these areas if you can (unless that’s where you originally planned to place your tattoo) since tattooing thinner areas is usually more painful.

Another popular location for Hawaiian Islands tattoos is above the shoulder blades. In terms of pain, these generally vary from person to person. There’s a decent amount of fat and muscle, but some people say their shoulder blade tattoos were the absolute worst.

It all varies wildly, but it’s a good idea to measure the amount of fat and muscle you have in a certain area to predict the intensity of pain. If you want to see a comprehensive discussion on which body parts hurt most when getting tattooed, check out this article by Healthline on tattoo pain.

  • Pain tolerance

Some people have naturally low pain tolerances. This could be caused by a skin condition, thin skin, or recent emotional trauma. Pain tolerances vary from person to person, so it’s a good idea to figure out how well you fare before booking an appointment.

But if you’re already committed to getting your tattoo, here are a few actionable ways to mitigate the pain:

  • Get enough sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep before getting your tattoo, you’ll hinder your body’s natural healing process. (Important!)
  • Stay sober. If you drink before getting your tattoo, get ready for some pain. Alcohol is classified as a blood thinner. When your blood thins, it’s more prone to bleeding and bruising. (Important!)
  • Stay hydrated. Drink enough water before getting your tattoo. It’ll help your skin stay supple throughout the session. It’ll also help your tattoo heal faster after your session.
  • Moisturize. Hydrating your skin doesn’t just mean drinking plenty of water. You should also take the liberty of applying moisturizer to keep your skin nice and hydrated from the outside.
  • Take breaks. There will be moments in your tattoo session where the pain will just be too much to handle. This is normal. When this happens, feel free to ask your artist for a short break.
  • Experience

According to research, a person’s pain tolerance is directly affected by their experience with tattoos. This means that if you’ve had tattoos done in the past, you’ll likely feel less pain.

Conclusion

Sometimes it helps to keep our mind away from the constant hustle and bustle of the big city. It can help to remember a part of the world where you aren’t bombarded with constant deadlines and expectations.

The Hawaiian Islands tattoo is a great way to remind yourself of this part of the world. Looking at your tattoo will wash away all your stresses and frustrations of daily life—even if just for a while.

Did you enjoy these x tattoo designs or are you looking for more inspiration? Check out the following links to see more designs from talented artists.