100+ Fascinating, Fun and Interesting Facts about Hawaii to Know Before You Go
Fact: Hawaii is an archipelago of volcanic islands in the central Pacific Ocean that is famous for its breathtaking landscapes, unique culture, rich history, enticing coastline, majestic mountains, lush tropical rainforests, and endemic species found nowhere else in the world. Famed for its beautiful scenery and chilled tropical island vibes, this unique island chain is one of the most ecologically diverse places on the planet. Each of its eight main islands and the more than 100 atolls, islets, and reefs that surround them holds secrets just waiting to be unearthed. Read these fascinating, fun, and highly interesting facts about Hawaii to discover them all.
Hawaii is a region of superlatives.
From the tallest mountain on Earth and the largest marine wildlife conservation area to the longest island chain and the most active volcano in the world, the Aloha State is a destination that has it all.
The region is a highly popular vacation destination in the United States, visited by several million visitors each year. These Hawaii facts and trivia will provide you with lots of information and a greater appreciation of the region whether you’re planning a trip of your own, for a school project, or even just out of pure curiosity.
With a history dating back to the ancient Polynesian settlers, Hawaii is a region of unlimited fascination and there’s a lot to include in this post. Find facts not only about Hawaii in general, but also facts about the islands, the people, the history, tourism, culture, and geography, just to name a few.
Find the complete list ⇓
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First up, some…
Quick Facts about Hawaii
Official name: Hawai’ʻi
Country: United States of America
Statehood (admitted to the Union): August 21, 1959 (50th)
State Abbreviation: HI
Nickname: Aloha State
Time zone: Hawaiian Standard Time (UTC −10)
Coordinates: 19.8968° N, 155.5828° W
Land Area: 10,970 sq. miles (28,412 sq. km)
Lowest point: Pacific Ocean at sea level
Highest Point: Pu’u Wekiu, Mauna Kea — 13,796 feet (4,205 m) above sea level
Population: 1,455,271 (2021)
Life expectancy: 81.3 years
Official languages: English and Hawaiian
GDP: $89,856.20 billion
Median household income: $83,102
Currency: $ US Dollar (USD)
Major Industries: tourism, manufacturing, defense, agriculture
Legislature: State Legislature
Seats in the U.S. House of Representatives: 2 (of 435)
Area code: 808
Electricity: 110 to 120 volts AC (60 cycles)
State Motto: “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina I ka pono” — The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness
State bird: Nene
State flower: Yellow Hibiscus
State anthem: Hawaii Ponoi (meaning Hawaii’s Own)
What is Hawaii known for
The islands of Hawaii are world-famous for their striking landscapes that include beautiful beaches, massive volcanoes, tropical forest, and fauna and flora found nowhere else on the planet. These volcanic islands have a long history and rich culture. Not to mention delicious Hawaiian foods such as poi, poke, laulau, and kalua pua’a. Hawaii is also famous for its Aloha lifestyle, Aloha shirts, hula, luau, and the location of the Peal Harbor attack.
Furthermore, Hawaii is a popular tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors each year looking to delight in its sounds and sights. It is the birthplace of surfing and offers a plethora of water sports in addition to the hiking, sailing, biking, and kayaking on offer.
Each Hawaiian island is represented by a distinct official flower and color
|The Island of Hawaii (The Big Island)||Lehua Ohia||Red|
|Maui||Lokelani (Pink Cottage Rose)||Pink|
|Kauai||Mokihana (Green Berry)||Purple|
|Molokai||White Kukui Nut flower||Green|
|Lanai||Kaunaoa (Yellow and Orange Air Plant)||Orange|
|Niihau||White Pupu Shell||White|
|Kahoolawe||Hinahina (Beach Heliotrope)||Gray|
What was Hawaii’s original name
The word Hawaii is derived from the Proto-Polynesian hawaiki or sawaiki, the traditional home of the Polynesians, meaning “place of the gods” or “homeland.”
Legend has it that Hawaii was named from the musical explorer, Hawaiʻiloa, who discovered and founded the first settlements on the islands. The names of his children are also used for some of the islands such as Oahu from his daughter and Kaua’i and Maui from his sons.
The Hawaiian Islands were once known as the Sandwich Islands
This was after Captain Cook named the islands in honor of John Montague, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich and one of voyage’s patrons.
King Kamehameha renamed the islands to the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1819
Much better, don’t you think?
What is Hawaii’s nickname?
The State of Hawaii officially became known as the Aloha State following a legislative act in 1959
In addition to Aloha State, Hawaii also has several other nicknames that include Pineapple State, Paradise of the Pacific, and the Rainbow State.
Each island in Hawaii also has a nickname
These names highlight a common trait of the individual island
- Hawaii island: The Orchid Isle
- Oahu: The Gathering Place
- Maui: The Valley Isle
- Kauai: The Garden Isle
- Molokai: The Friendly Isle
- Lanai: The Private Isle
- Kahoolawe: The Target Isle
- Niihau: The Forbidden Isle
Where is Hawaii located…
This group of volcanic islands lie in the central Pacific Ocean
It is found just a few degrees south of the Tropic of Cancer and almost 2,100 miles (3,200 km) southwest of the continental United States.
Hawaii is the southernmost state. Often referred to as the crossroads of the Pacific, Hawaii serves as a strategic transportation hub and global defence system of the US.
An interesting fact about Hawaii…
It is the most geographically isolated population center on Earth
It is the only state that is not geographically located in North America, lying more than 2,300 miles from the nearest continent.
California is 2,397 miles away (3,857 km) to the east and 3,850 miles (6,196 km) from Japan to the west.
The antipodes (people that live on the exact opposite side of the planet) for all Hawaiians are the residents of Botswana and Namibia in Africa.
Hawaii is the only US state that is totally surrounded by water and that does not have a straight line in its state boundary
What continent is Hawaii in?
Geographically, it is located in Oceania. However, since Oceania is technically not a continent, Hawaii is not a part of any continent.
Since Hawaii is a part of the United States in North America, Hawaii is politically considered as part of North America.
Highly Interesting Facts about Hawaii
Are you ready to have your mind enlightened?
How were the Hawaiian Islands formed?
The islands were formed as a result of undersea volcanic activity.
Thanks to continuous volcanic activity in the ocean from what is known as a hotspot, the Hawaiian islands were formed at least 70 million years ago towards the end of the Cretaceous Period (145 million to 66 million years ago.
As the tectonic plates in the Pacific Ocean moved over millions of years, the hotspot remained stationary, creating new islands in the process with the erupting magma adding mass to the crust above.
Kauai, located the furthest away from the hotspot, is the oldest of the main islands at roughly 5.1 million years in age. Oahu is the second oldest at around 3.4 million years. The Big Island is the closest to the hotspot and remains volcanic in nature.
You may be wondering:
How many islands in Hawaii?
A total of 137 islands are recognized by the state.
If all the islets, coral reefs, and atolls are included, then this number rises to 152.
There are 8 major islands in Hawaii
These eight main islands in the archipelago are — Island of Hawaii, Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Niihau, Lanai, Molokai, and Kahoolawe.
The eight populated islands account for 99% of Hawaii’s landmass, extending over a 1,500 mile (2,400 km) distance from Kure Island in the west to the Big Island in the east.
How about this mind-blowing fact about Hawaii:
Hawaii’s newest island is currently forming off the Big Island’s south coast
This new island, next in the chain of Hawaiian islands, has been named Lōʻihi and is expected to reach sea level and emerge from the ocean within the next 100,001 years.
You reckon we’ll be around to witness this spectacle?
This undersea volcano is already 10,000 ft tall. There is also the possibility of this new island merging with the Big Island as its just 20 miles off its southeastern coast.
While we on the topic of volcanoes… Let’s look at some amazing facts about Hawaii.
Hawai’i is getting larger due to volcanic eruptions
There are active volcanoes on the Big Island and due to continuous volcanic eruptions, it has an increasing land area. The island grows by approximately 36 acres of land each year, mainly due to Kilauea Volcano.
The Big Island is more than twice the size of all the other islands combined and it keep growing.
Here’s an unknown Hawaii fact for you:
The tallest mountain in the world is located in Hawaii
I bet you thought it was Mount Everest, right? Well, Nepal’s Mount Everest is the tallest mountain above sea level.
However, when measured from sea floor to summit, it is Mauna Kea that is the tallest mountain on Earth, rising a massive 32,696 feet (9,966 meters) from the ocean floor. In comparison, Mount Everest measures 29,031 ft.
Mauna a Wākea is also Hawaii’s highest peak and tallest volcano.
Located on the Big Island, it stands at an elevation of 13,796 feet (4,207 m). Underwater, it extends down another 19,700 feet (6,000 m) below the surface of the water.
Mauna Kea’s gigantic size and volume has pushed the Earth’s crust down an additional five miles.
The biggest volcano on Earth can be found in Hawaii
Mauna Loa on the Island Hawaiʻi is the largest single active volcano on Earth when measured from sea floor to peak. This massive shield volcano created by countless lava flows makes up over 50% of Hawaiʻi Island. Its name means “long mountain” in Hawaiian and it extends 13,697 feet (4,170 m) above sea level and about 3,100 feet below sea level. Mauna Loa’s volume is estimated at 83,000 cubic kilometers.
Hawaii is also home to the world’s most active volcano
This title belongs to Kilauea located on the Big Island. This shield-type volcano rises 4,190 feet (1,227 meters) above sea level and has continuously been erupting since January 3, 1983 along the middle of the east rift zone. Lava is poured into the surrounding Pacific Ocean which then cools and shoots a column of smoke, ash, and glass into the air. This process has resulted in the Island of Hawaii growing by about 40 acres each year.
Kilauea on Hawaii is responsible for the deadliest volcanic eruption in the U.S.
In 1790, the eruption of Kilauea killed more than 5,000 people, making this the most deadly volcanic eruption in American history.
5 x Hawaii Facts for Kids
1. The Hawaiian Islands are the largest archipelago and longest island chain in the world.
2. Surfing and outrigger canoe paddling are Hawaii’s official sports.
3. Hawaii has beaches in 4 shades of sand.
4. Each island in Hawaii has a nickname and is represented by a flower and a color.
5. You can mail a coconut to any resident in the United States of America from Hawaii.
Hawaii Facts and History
Let’s have a quick Hawaii history lesson….
The islands of Hawaii have been inhabited since 300 B.C.E.
Archeological records indicate that Hawaii has been continuously inhabited for centuries, with the earliest arrivals being the Polynesian settlers from the Marquesas Islands. Settles from Tahiti arrived here around 1000 A.D contributing to the ancient cultural practices.
Europeans arrived in Hawaii in 1778
The arrival of British James Cook in 1178 was the first documented contact by a westerner.
The natives were not immune to the many diseases that were brought with the arrival of the Europeans. By 1820, more than half of the local population were wiped out by famine, war, and diseases such as measles, smallpox, and the flu.
Captain Cook died on the Island of Hawaii following a clash with native Hawaiians. He was shot and drowned in the shadow waters of Kealakekua Bay in 1779. A 7-foot white stone obelisk marks this spot.
Hawaii is also one of a few U.S. states to have once been an independent nation
The Hawaiian archipelago became a unified and internationally recognised kingdom in 1810
The islands experienced a lot of civil unrest throughout the late 18th century as the different chiefs fought for power over the region.
A royal kingdom was established under King Kamehameha the Great when Kauaʻi and Niʻihau joined the Hawaiian Kingdom voluntarily. All the islands were governed under a single ruler in 1810. The House of Kamehameha (Hale O Kamehameha) lasted until 1872 on the death of Kamehameha V.
Following the death of Kamehameha V, an election led to the governance of the islands being given to Lunalilo. In 1873, Lunalilo died and power went to the House of Kalakaua.
King Kalakaua was forced to sign a new constitution to allow non-Hawaiians in his cabinet or face execution.
In 1887, the Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii was signed
Essentially stripping the Hawaiian monarchy of much of its authority, power, and control. This became known as the Bayonet Constitution as a result of the forced imposition by American interests that was used to gain King Kalakaua’s cooperation.
Queen Liliʻuokalani was the last monarch to rule over Hawaii in 1891
Following the death of King Kalakaua due to health issues, his sister Lili’uokalani took the throne. In 1893, the new queen attempted to reverse the forced imposition and to create a new constitution.
The Hawaiian Monarchy was illegally Overthrown in 1893
The Americans felt threatened by Queen Liliʻuokalani and staged a military coup to overthrow the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893. A group of non-Hawaiian men in her government formed The Committee of Public Safety.
The queen was forced to abdicate her thrown and they placed her under house arrest until her relinquishment in 1895, setting up a provincial government.
In 1894 the provincial government ended and the Republic of Hawaii was created with Sanford Dole as the first and only president from 1894 to 1900.
Hawaii was annexed by the U.S. as a territory in 1898
It became known as the Territory of Hawaii until March 1959.
In fact Hawaii is the USA’s youngest state
It is the most recent addition to the United States of America, becoming a part of the country as the 50th state. This event happened on the 21st August 1959 following President Dwight D. Eisenhower signing of the Hawaii Admission Act.
In 1993, the U.S. government formally apologized for the role it played in overthrowing Hawaii’s monarchy.
This ignited the Hawaiian sovereignty movement led by Native Hawaiians.
Fun Facts about Hawaii
How about this fun Hawaii fact…
Hawaii is known as the birthplace of surfing
This popular sport originated thousands of years ago by the Polynesians who settled in Hawaii. Referred to as heenalu back then, the first surfers were fishermen who rode the waves as an efficient and quick way of returning their catch back to shore. Originally their boards weighed over 150 pounds, measuring up to 20 feet in length and made entirely out of heavy woods.
This eventually morphed into an art form and what we know today as surfing.
The art of hanging ten wasn’t revealed to the rest of the world until the early 20th century.
On Oahu’s North Shore you will find a stretch of golden sandy beaches, aptly named the Seven Mile Miracle, that feature 36 world-class surf spots.
What is a fun fact about Hawaii
Hawaiian Pizza is not actually from Hawaii
Surprised? Well, this weird food comes from Canada. It was invented by a Greek immigrant living in Canada around around 1962. If you really want to try something local, be sure to get a taste of Kalua pork pizza.
Hawaii is a popular filming location for Hollywood blockbusters
Several Hollywood movies and TV shows have been filmed here due to its beautiful and exotic tropical landscape that has it all from jagged mountains to white sand beaches.
Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, Blue Hawaii, Fantasy Island, Outbreak, Giligan’s Island, Lost, Jumanji, Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, 50 First Dates, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, just to name a few.
Many of these filming locations can be viewed at Kuala Ranch.
Boogie boarding was also invented in Hawaii
The ancient Hawaiians also practised the art of boogie boarding using palm fronds.
How about another Hawaii fun fact….
You can mail a coconut to people on the other Hawaiian islands and even to the continental U.S.
Both tourists and locals can make use of this service to mail a coconut. Just the coconut. No packaging. No wrapping. Just a big old coconut. The only requirement is that the coconut is unhusked and smoothed over. To jazz it up you can paint it, add decorations, and put a name and address. The USPS will then transport it to anywhere in the USA. Various souvenir stores, hotels, and restaurants sell coconuts that are already decorated and ready to be posted. Mailing costs depend on the weight of the coconut itself.
Speaking of coconuts,
No buildings are allowed to be taller than a coconut palm tree.
Referred to as a “Coconut Tree Ordinance,” this law or building code on the island of Kauai states that no structure can be taller than a palm tree. This means that buildings are limited to being four stories high to maintain the natural beauty and views that surround.
The fun facts for Hawaii just keep on coming… Did you know that:
Astronauts trained for moon voyages on Hawaii’s Mauna Loa
Mauna Loa, one of the world’s largest volcanoes, was used as a training ground for NASA in the 1960s. Astronauts headed for the moon used this landscape for training as the volcanoes hardened lava fields resembles the surface of the moon.
Geographical facts for Hawaii
How about this mind-blowing fact about Hawaii…
Extending over 1,500 miles, the Hawaiian Islands form the largest archipelago and longest island chain in the world
This archipelago – including more than 100 islands, atolls, tiny islets, shoals, and reefs – extends over a vast area of the North Pacific Ocean. The exact distance from the island of Hawaii in the southeast to Kure Atoll Ni’ihau island in the northwest is 1,523 miles (2,451 km).
This vast distance means that…
Hawaii is the second widest state in the U.S.
Just behind Alaska.
The state capital is Honolulu, located on the island of Oahu
Oahu is also the island with the highest population.
Speaking of which, listen to this unusual fact about Hawaii…
Honolulu is the largest city in the world, spanning 1,500 miles
Well technically, yes.
According to Hawaii’s state constitution, any island in its archipelago that does not belong to a county belongs to Honolulu. So all the islands within the archipelago up to Midway Island, including those that aren’t populated, form part of Honolulu making it the city with the longest borders.
Hawaii has its own time zone
It is referred to as Hawaiian Standard Time.
While on the topic of time, the state has no Daylight Savings Time as this practise was considered unnecessary and stopped in 1967. Hawaii experiences a relatively consistent sunrise and sunset throughout the year with plenty of sunshine and a stable climate.
While visiting, you’ll often hear the phrase, “Hawaiian Time.” This refers to the laid back atmosphere and chilled lifestyle, resulting in a relaxed pace with no rush to get anywhere. The phrase describes arriving later than required for a meeting or any occasion.
Guess, I’ll fit right in then.
Hawaii is the only U.S. state that is made up entirely of islands
The land area of the state comprises of the tops of a chain of emerged volcanic mountains that form a number of islands.
The state of Hawaii is also made up of 5 counties
These are Hawaii County, Maui County, Kalawao County, Honolulu County, and Kauai County.
Ka Lae is the southernmost point in the United States
Aptly referred to as South Point, Big Island’s Ka Lae can be found at 18:54:49 N 155:41:00 W. Interestingly, there is a constant 24/7 365 wind blowing east to west at 27 knots per hour.
Hawaii is also home to the largest dormant volcano on Earth
Located in Maui, Haleakala forms more than 75% of the island with its highest peak, Puʻu ʻUlaʻula (Red Hill), at 10,023 feet (3,055 m). The interior of its summit crater extends 7 miles across, 2 miles wide, and 2,600 feet deep.
Haleakala is dormant, not extinct, and last erupted in the late 18th century.
Another highly interesting fact on Hawaii…
It is home to the largest marine wildlife conservation area in the world that is larger than all of the other US National Parks combined
With its total area of 583,000 square miles (1,510,000 km2), Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is the largest protected area in the United States of America and the third largest in the world.
This UNESCO World Heritage site features a linear cluster of ten islands and countless atolls, pinnacles, cays, coral reefs of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
Featuring significant spiritual places the likes of Nihoa and Mokumanamana, this U.S. National Monument is rarely visited due to its remote location northwest of the island of Kauai.
Hawaii is home to the rainiest place in America
… and the second rainiest place on Earth. This is Mt. Waialeale, meaning “overflowing water” on the island of Kauai. The average annual rainfall is 460 inches (11,684 millimeters).
The highest sea cliffs on the planet are in Hawaii
Located on the north shore of Moloka’i, the rugged Kalaupapa Cliffs measure 3,315 feet high.
Moloka’i is also home to Hawaii’s longest white-sand beach (Papohaku Beach is around 3 miles/4.8 km long) and Hawaii’s longest waterfall (Kahiwa Falls stands 2,165 ft/660 m tall)
Molokai’s coast also contains the longest continuous fringing reef in the US
This 28-mile long reef plays host to exotic fish, coral, sea turtles, and monk seals.
Kauai is home to Waimea Canyon, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific
This canyon measures 10 miles in length and up to 3,000 feet (914 m) in depth
Do you know this Hawaiian trivia…
A small piece of Hawaii actually belongs to the United Kingdom
Hawaiian Princess Miriam Likelike gifted a 5,682-square-foot piece of land at Kealakekua Bay to the U.K in 1877. This was for the purpose of building a monument in memory of James Cook, the first westerner to set foot on the islands.
No passport is needed, but set foot on this tiny plot of terrain to view the 27-foot white obelisk and you’ll technically be on British soil.
Tourism in Hawaii Facts
More than 6 million tourists visit Hawaii each year looking to experience the island’s beautiful landscape, taste its exotic food, and partake in the local culture and customs.
These visitors inject over 11 billion dollars in spending into the economy. The tourism industry is responsible for the creation of most jobs on the islands.
So much so, that….
Tourism is the leading source of income in the State of Hawaii and an economic pillar.
The main aviation centre of Hawaii is Honolulu International Airport
Hawaii experiences a tropical climate
The region experiences a tropical climate with mild conditions that includes a wet and dry season. The wet season occurs from October to April with the rest of the year being the dry season. The local climate varies between each island, but in general the leeward sides are sunnier while the windward sides experience more rain.
Summer temperatures are usually in the upper 80s (30˚C) with winters being in the lower 80s (28˚C). Tropical showers are common during the rainy season.
The highest temperature on record for Hawaii is 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 C), measured in the town of Pahala on the 27th April 1931. The lowest recorded temperature is 12 degrees Fahrenheit (-11.1 C) on Mauna Kea summit on the 17th of May 1979.
The Hawaiian Islands experience 10 of the world’s climate zones
From tropical rain forests and snow-capped mountains to frozen tundra and coastal desert, Hawaii is s diverse as it is beautiful.
Oahu is the most visited Hawaiian island
Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head State Monument is Hawaii’s number one tourist attraction.
Waikiki, on Oahu, alone attracts more than 44% of the state’s annual number of visitors. It remains the most popular tourist destination in Hawaii.
Speaking of Waikiki Beach, did you know that:
It was just a swamp until the 1920s until it got filled with imported sand. It has been partially engineered and due to erosion the area is in danger of being destroyed. The first Waikiki hotel, the Moana Hotel, opened in 1901 and is often referred to as, “The First Lady of Waikiki.”
Major tourist attractions and points of interest in Hawaii include:
Diamond Head State Monument
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Haleakala National Park
USS Arizona and USS Missouri Memorial at Pearl Harbor
Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
Road to Hana
Waimea Canyon State Park
Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
Polynesian Cultural Center
Hawaii is home to two U.S. National Parks
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Haleakalā National Park.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is found on the Big Island of Hawaii that features Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. Haleakalā National Park, on the island of Maui, contains a dormant volcano with sunrises that Mark Twain described as “the sublimest spectacle I ever saw.”
There are also three national historical parks
— Kalaupapa National Historical Park in Kalaupapa, Molokaʻi,
— Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park in Kailua-Kona
— Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park
Other places under the National Park Service include the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor and the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail.
The Road to Hana highway is over 55 miles long and features 612 curves
This famous scenic road that can be found on the island of Maui also has 59 bridges, which means you’re going to need some fun car ride trivia questions.
All beaches in Hawaii are open to the public
The state has a number of beautiful beaches, some of which have unique features and unusual colors. In addition to the usual white sand beaches you will also find exotic beaches with green, black, and even red sand due to the mineral content of the volcanic sand.
Does Hawaii also have pink beaches?
See this post about unusual beaches with pink sand
Barring a few limited exceptions of Federal Government areas, these beaches belong to everyone and are free to visit. Private developers must provide public access and any residents or business who attempt to obstruct public access face large fines.
While on the topic of beaches…
You should know that beaches are smoke free i.e. it is illegal to smoke on a beach in Hawaii. As it is at any state park.
Tourism is Hawaii’s largest industry
The visitor sector provides the primary source of income for Hawaii, spread over several industries that include service, transportation, and retail trade.
Let’s now look at some other economic facts for Hawaii
The main imports are petroleum oils and automobiles.
The largest manufacturing export category is petroleum & coal products with the biggest export being iron or steel scrap.
Food processing is Hawaii’s leading manufacturing activity.
The rich arable volcanic soil is an important natural resource and the state remains a major agricultural exporter. Pineapple and sugar cane are Hawaii’s most valuable crops. Coffee beans, macadamia nuts, flowers, and bananas are also important sources of income.
Hawaii is the fifth-wealthiest U.S. State
… with a median household income of $83,102.
Facts about Hawaiian Culture
Let’s now look at some cultural facts on Hawaii
The state flag of Hawaii is the only American flag to contain the flag of a foreign country.
The flag was commissioned by King Kamehameha I in 1816 and comprises eight horizontal stripes of white, red and blue — each representing the eight main islands. The Union Jack is found in the upper-left corner of Hawaii’s flag as a tribute to the state’s historical relationship with the British.
Since 1990, July 31st is designated as Ka Hae Hawaii Day or Hawaiian Flag Day.
The state motto is “Ua mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono”
This translates to: ““The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.” The motto appears on the official state seal and on the state’s quarter.
The lei is an essential part of a celebration in Hawaii
The lei, a neckpiece of fresh flowers strung together, is a visual representation of Aloha and love in the culture of Hawaii. They are seen as a gift of friendship, camaraderie, and unity.
Historically, the lei was given to the local alii (or chief) as a sign of respect and affection. Lei flowers are a part of celebrations in Hawaii and this tradition is taken seriously by many of the natives.
Do note that it is considered rude and disrespectful to refuse to wear a lei flower when offered and also to remove one in front of the person that gave it to you. It is proper etiquette to wear the lei for at least as long as you’re in the presence of the giver.
The lei should also never be thrown away, but rather, returned to the earth by burying, burning, or hanging as a decoration.
Speaking of flowers,
Flowers indicate one’s relationship status in Hawaii
A woman wearing a flower above the left ear means that she taken, while a flower on the right ear is a sign that she is single and available.
Major festivals in Hawaii
— Aloha Festivals, all Islands
— King Kamehameha Day, all Islands
— Merrie Monarch Festival, Hilo
— Made in Hawaii Festival, Oahu
— Waikiki Spam Jam, Oahu
The hula was originally a form of worship
This traditional Hawaiian dance was an action of worship performed by highly trained men who were taught by the Hawaiian god, Luka. The dance tells a story through movement and action by dancers wearing grass skirts and leis.
The luau is historically reserved for special occasions
The luau, an open air feast with hula dancing, entertainment, and music, was first created in 1819 during the reign of King Kamehameha.
While luaus are popular with tourists without a need for a special occasion, locals are only likely to attend one for special occasions.
Hawaii is the only state in the USA to honor a monarch
Kamehameha Day is celebrated annually on the 11th of June. This tradition has been going on since 1872 in glory to King Kamehameha I who united the Hawaiian Islands into one kingdom after years of instability and infighting.
In early Hawaiian culture, big meant beautiful
Ancient Hawaiians found large women to be more attractive and believed that the heavier a woman was, especially a women in power, the more beautiful she was.
Hawaiian religion is polytheistic and animistic
These beliefs comprise of the practices and indigenous beliefs of Native Hawaiians. There is a belief in many spirits and deities, and that these spirits are found in animate objects such as animals, the sky, the mountains, and the sea.
There are four major gods in Hawaiian culture
Kū, Kane, Lono, and Kanaloa. All Hawaiians, whether a chief or a common person, worshipped these four major gods.
Christianity is the most practised religion in Hawaii
Roman Catholics form the highest proportion, followed by Protestants.
Buddhism is the second most followed religion. Japanese and Chinese immigrants set up sects of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Shintoism.
The percentages are as follows:
63% Christian (39% Protestant • 24% Catholic), 18% Agnostic, 8% Buddhist, 11% other
Hawaii has the oldest Catholic Cathedral in continuous use in the USA
This is the cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu, built all the way back in 1843.
There are only two royal palaces in the USA and both are in Hawaii
Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu and Huliheʻe Palace in Kailua Village on the Island of Hawaii. Interestingly, Iolani Palace had electric lights for four years before the White House had them.
“Hawaii Ponoi” is the state song of Hawaii
The words of Hawaii Pono’î were written by King David Kalakaua as Hawaii’s national anthem in 1874.
Traditional Hawaiian folk music plays a large role in the musical heritage of the region.
The local music, which includes dancing and chanting, is largely religious in nature.
The “King’s Band,” was created by King Kamehameha III in 1836. This band, now referred to as the Royal Hawaiian Band, continues to entertain audiences around the world.
Another strange fact on Hawaii…
Ancient Hawaiians often played the flute (ohe hano ihn) with their nose
Is it illegal to dance in Hawaii?
Under current law, referred to as “Footloose Law,” it is illegal to dance in a bar or club in Maui unless there is a designated dancing area and a permit. How bizarre.
It is important to be aware that…
It is customary to take one’s shoes off before entering a home in Hawaii
Taking your shoes or sandals off before entering someone’s home is a sign of respect in Asian and Polynesian cultures.
Facts about Hawaii Food
Hawaiian cuisine is a fusion of foods brought to the islands by different groups of people from around the world. The food has been influenced by Polynesian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, American, and Portuguese cultures.
Poi is a traditional food of the islands that is made from the taro root
Other traditional food to try in Hawaii include:
- Kalua Pua’a
- Lomi-lomi salmon
- Chicken long rice
- Loco moco
- Pipi kalua
And let’s not forget spam!
Hawaii eat approximately 6 million cans of spam each year
That’s more than any other place with the highest per capita consumption. The locals do love their spam. In addition to the regular canned, you will find spam musubi and loco moto. Hawaiians love for spam goes back to WWII when the meat was served to GIs.
There’s even the world’s largest spam festival, called Spam Jam Waikiki, that happens on Oahu.
The official state fruit is the Hawaiian pineapple
The pineapple is a symbol of Hawaiian hospitality and of Hawaii in general are the most popular and iconic fruit of the islands. They are known locally as hala kahiki due to they resemblance to the local fruit hala.
The largest pineapple plantation in the world is found in Lanai
Hawaii produces more than 300,000 tons of pineapple each year and contributes over one-third of the world’s commercial supply of pineapples.
It’s not called the Pineapple Island for nothing.
Hawaii is the only state that grows cacao, coffee, and vanilla beans commercially
The tropical climate, elevation, and rich arable soil from the basaltic lava and volcanic ash creates the ideal conditions for growing these plants.
A weird fact about Hawaii
Shaved ice was not invented in Hawaii.
This refreshing and often colorful treat that is loved by locals was introduced to Hawaii by Japanese immigrants more than a century ago.
These immigrants, who worked at the pineapple and sugar plantations, broke off pieces of ice and topped this with fruit juice as a post-lunch treat.
Do not carry pork over the Pali
One of the most famous superstitions in Hawaii is to never carry pork over Pali, that traverses across the Ko’olau Mountain Range from Honolulu to Kailua. Legend goes that anyone carrying pork this way will experience car troubles until such time as the pork has been removed as pork reminds the Hawaiian volcano goddess, Pele, of Kamapua’a, the Hawaiian pig god she broke up with.
Biodiversity: Plants and Animals of Hawaii Facts
As a result of the island’s tropical climate and isolated location, it hosts a unique biodiversity in indigenous plants and animals.
State Flower: Yellow Hibiscus (Pua aloalo)
State Tree: Kukui (Candlenut)
State Bird: Nene Hawaiian goose (Branta sandwicensis)
State Mammal: Monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi)
State Marine Mammal: Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)
State Fish: The Reef triggerfish Humuhumunukunuku apua’a (Rhinecanthus rectangulus)
State gemstone: Black coral
90% of the 1,000 species in Hawaii are found nowhere else on the planet
Hawaii is home to around one-third of all the endangered species in America
Wild animals you may encounter in Hawaii include the Humpback Whale, Monk Seal, Northern Elephant Seal, Nene, Green Sea Turtles, Spinner Dolphins, Tiger Shark, Hoary Bat, Indian Mongoose, Axis Deer
The state bird of Hawaii is the nene or goose
The islands are brimming with native birds such as the Hawaiian owl (pueo), and the Noio.
Officially declared as the state bird in 1957, the endemic Hawaiian goose is considered as a guardian spirit of the land between the mountains and oceans. Conservation programs were necessary after the numbers of these birds dwindled to 30 in the mid 20th century. The Nene is no longer considered an endangered species, but a threatened one.
Speaking of birds,
The Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge is the world’s largest bird sanctuary.
Located northwest of Kauai, this bird sanctuary – the largest in the world – is home to a plethora of seabirds.
The Hawaii state fish is 21 letters long
How about this mouthful: humuhumunukunukuapuaa.
Can you pronounce it? Go on, give it a try.
The waters surrounding the islands are home to a variety of marine life the likes of green sea turtles and hawksbill turtles, lizardfish, and monk seals. Humpback whales are found here between the months of December and May to give birth and to nurture their babies in the beautiful Hawaiian waters.
Black coral is designated as the state gemstone in 1987
Despite being an animal, black coral is commonly used to make jewellery and considered a gem stone.
Only two types of mammals are native to Hawaii
Although, you will find a countless number of animals across the islands, it has just one native land mammal, the Hawaiian hoary bat, and just one marine mammal, the Hawaiian monk seal. The island’s other mammals, that include the feral pig, mongoose, and rat, were brought to the islands by us humans.
Sea turtles are federally protected in Hawaii due to its status as an endangered species
This means that touching or any form of harm or disturbance of the sea turtles, known locally as honu, will result in fines and time in prison.
Do you have a fear of snakes? Well, you’re going to like this one…
Hawaii has NO native snakes and snakes are outlawed
These creatures have no natural predators on the island and pose a serious threat to the natural environment. Thus, snakes are illegal in Hawaii.
None of the islands have any snakes that are native to the land. The only snake you will come across is the Hawaiian Brahminy blind snake. This tiny harmless reptile, with an average length of 2.5-6.5 inches, was brought to the islands from the Philippines in 1929.
Apart from this, it is illegal to own a pet snake in Hawaii. Those caught or found smuggling one into the snake can face large fines and jail time.
Other animals that are prohibited from being owned in Hawaii include dragon lizards, geckos, ferrets, piranhas, hamsters, gerbils, and alligators.
Another fun Hawaii fact…
The unique happy face spider can be found in Hawaii
Theridion grallator gets its name from what looks like a smiling face on the back of its abdomen.
The Hawaiian state tree is the Candlenut Tree
Known locally as kukui, it was introduced to the islands by ancient Polynesians and has officially been the state tree since 1959. It serves as a symbol of protection and peace.
The name is derived from the tree’s oily nuts that burn like a candle. It can grow up to 80 feet in height, punctuated with silver-green leaves, white blossom flowers, and a large oval-shaped canopy.
Every part of the tree is used, without any wastage. The trunk is used to make paint, the wood to make kayaks, the fibres are used in weaving, and the nuts contain precious oils. The substance inside the nuts are also used as a local spice, while polished nuts often make their way into lei decoration.
In Hawaii, you will also find the largest tree in the U.S.
The Lahaina Banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) was imported from India and planted in Lahaina in 1873. This massive tree takes up an entire city block in Banyan Tree Park and stands more than 60-feet high. The top of the tree is 225 feet wide. It is so large that its roots have formed 16 new trunks to support this massive tree.
The largest contiguous ranch in the states is found in Hawaii
Parker Ranch, on the Big Island of Hawaii, extends from the Kona Coast to Waimea over an area of 480,000 acres, making it the biggest contiguous ranch in USA.
Hawaii has lost more species than any other US state
It has also more species that are endangered. So far, a total of 26 species have become extinct and a further 27 have become endangered to to loss and changes in their natural habitats. Almost all of the native birds are in danger of becoming extinct.
This is at the top of my list of scary facts about Hawaii…
Dangerous animals wade the Hawaii waters
These include Box Jellyfish, Portuguese man o’ war, sea urchins, and waaaaaaay too many sharks
Facts about Hawaiian people
Hawaii, with a diverse population, is considered as the ultimate melting pot of cultures. There is no single dominant group and around 25% of the population are mixed race.
The islands are heavily populated by people of different races and are home to people from North American, East Asian, Southeast Asian backgrounds. African, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Filipino, Portuguese, Caucasian, and others all call this part of the world home.
In fact Hawaii is considered to be the most racially and ethnically diverse state in the USA.
The percentage of multiracial Americans in Hawaii is over 23%. There are no racial or ethnic majorities in Hawaii and everyone is considered a minority.
According to the most recent ACS, this is the racial composition of Hawaii:
- Asian: 37.79%
- Caucasian (Haoles): 24.95%
- Mixed race: 23.89%
- Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 10.06%
- African American or Black: 1.83%
- Other race: 1.23%
- Native American Indian: 0.26%
This means that:
Hawaii is the only U.S. state where the majority of people are non-white.
Hawaii has the highest population density in the United States.
The current population of Hawaii in 2021: 1.46 million
The native Hawaiian population was estimated to be almost 1 million in the late 1700s. As a result of Western influences, war, and disease, this number reduced dramatically to just over 20,000 by the early 1900s.
It’s interesting to note that…
Only people with Hawaiian ancestry are considered to be Hawaiians
There is a distinction between locals and Hawaiians. Any person who lives in Hawaii or was even born here, but is not of Hawaiian descent is referred to as a local.
Hawaii has the highest life expectancy in the United States of America
The average resident is expected to live 81.3 years. This is 77.1 years if male and 82.5 years if female, which is higher that the residents of any other state.
The median age in Hawaii is around 38.5 years of age.
There is a slight gender gap between the population residing in the state
50,2 % males
Barack Obama is the only American president born outside the continental United States
He was born in Honolulu, Hi at the Kapi’olani Medical Centre for Women & Children in 1961.
Other famous Hawaiians or celebrities born in Hawaii:
Keanu Reeves, Nicole Kidman, Bruno Mars, Nicole Scherzinger, Jack Johnson, Bette Midler, Kelly Preston, Jason Momoa, Lauren Graham, Manti Te’o, Max Holloway, Auli’i Cravalho, Jason Scott Lee, Michelle Wie, Tia Carrere, Brendon Urie, Steve Case, Carrie Ann Inaba, Don Stroud, Timothy Olyphant, Maggie Q, Kelly Hu, Janel Parrish, Marcus Mariota, Shane Victorino, John Florence, Kolten Wong, B.J. Penn, Sid Fernandez, Benny Agbayani.
The first Asian American in the US Senate was Hawaiian Hiram Fong
Fong, a child of Chinese immigrants, was elected to the Senate in 1959.
Language in Hawaii
Let us now look at some interesting Hawaiian facts….
Hawaii is the only US State with 2 official languages
The two languages with official recognition status in the state of Hawaii are English and Hawaiian.
The Hawaiian language, ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, is a Polynesian language from the Austronesian language family.
King Kamehameha III initiated the Hawaiian-language constitution in 1839.
It remained the primary language across the islands until the late 19th century.
Shortly after the last reigning Hawaiian monarch, Queen Lili`uokalani, was overthrown by the American army, Hawaiian was banned as the language of instruction in schools and government in 1898.
This ban was officially lifted in 1986 whereby Hawaiian was resurrected as the official language. However, the language is still losing popularity and its use has declined significantly over the years. So much so, that…
Hawaiian is classified as a critically endangered language by UNESCO.
This as a result of having only around 2,000 native speakers. It is encouraged to learn and practise this language that remains an important part of Hawaiian heritage.
A creole language that is different to Hawaiian called, “Pidgin” or Hawaiian Creole English its more commonly spoken in Hawai’i.
All Hawaiian words end in a vowel.
The Hawaiian pī‘āpā (alphabet) consists of only 13 letters
These are: A E H I K L M N O P U W ‘
Made up of:
- 5 vowels: A (‘ā), E (‘ē), I (‘ī), O (‘ō), U (‘ū),
- 8 consonants: H (hē), K (kē), L (lā), M (mū), N (nū), P (pī), W (wē), ‘ (‘okina)
Many Hawaiian words contain what looks like an apostrophe, for example O‘`ahu, Kama‘aina, and Hawai‘i`. It is called ‘okina, facing the opposite direction of the traditional apostrophe, and signifies a phonetic glottal stop.
Aloha is the most commonly known and used Hawaiian word
Derived from the Proto-Polynesian, alofa, it is used as a means to say hello. It is also used as “goodbye” and “love” with meanings that include compassion, peace, mercy, and to be in the presence of divinity.
There is no direct equivalent to the word Aloha in English.
Other Hawaiian words to know:
Interesting Hawaii Trivia
You’ve learnt a whole lot so far, but we not done just yet! Continue reading below…
The island of Ni’ihau is Hawaii’s “Forbidden Isle” and privately owned
It is owned by the Robinson family, whose ancestors bought it from King Kamehameha IV.
This means that access by the public is strictly controlled and highly limited. One can only visit by invitation from this family or from one of the full-time Native Hawaiian residents who call this island home. Ni’ihau is 70 square miles wide and has a current population of 230. It was called the Forbidden Island due to a polio epidemic in 1952.
Kahoolawe Island was used as a military target by the U.S. Navy and Air Force
The island has since been returned to the state in 1994 and is currently being cleaned up of any remaining unexploded shells and other army residue. Kahoolawe comprises an uninhabited 45-square-mile area and no one is allowed to enter without permission.
A handful of locals still live in the former leper colony of Molokai
How about this strange fact about Hawaii. In 1866 a leper colony was established on the Kalaupapa Peninsula in Molokai. When the infectious Hansen’s disease was brought to the islands by westerners, King Kamehameha set up a leper colony to isolate those got infected as the natives had no natural immunity. It is documented that over 8,000 patients lived and died of this disease in this colony that was administered by Belgian Catholic missionary Father Damien who died of leprosy himself.
This leper colony is now the Kalaupapa National Historical Park. If you plan on visiting, do note that numbers are limited to 100 visitors a day and permits for entry must be obtained in advance.
Coral-harming sunscreen is banned by the state of Hawaii
This is because the chemicals, octinoxate and oxybenzone, often found in traditional sunscreens damage and degrade the coral reef systems surrounding the islands. In order to preserve these vital ecosystems, the state go Hawaii has taken this drastic but necessary step.
So remember to pack along some coral-safe sunscreen to protect yourself from the tropical sun as well as to protect the environment.
The world’s largest open-air shopping centre is found in Hawaii
Located in the Ala Moana neighborhood of Honolulu, Hawaii and measuring over 2,400,000 square feet (220,000 m2), the Ala Moana shopping centre is the ninth largest shopping mall in the United States and the largest open-air shopping center in the world.
Sounds like a fun day out, right? Not.
Speaking of size…
Hawaii is home to the world’s largest telescope
Located at an elevation of 13,796 feet or 4,205 m, the Keck telescopes can be found on the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island. This location is ideal for transmitting sharp images and for collecting and analyzing astronomical data. It holds the current record as the biggest optical telescope in the world and the most scientifically productive optical and infrared telescopes. There are a total of 13 working telescopes on Mauna Kea of which 9 are for optical and infrared astronomy, 1 is used for radio astronomy, and 3 are for submilimeter wavelength astronomy. These massive and powerful telescopes weigh 300 tons, with primary mirrors that are 10-meters in diameter and 36 hexagonal segments working as a single piece of reflective glass.
Hawaii also hosts the world’s largest plant maze.
Dole Plantation’s pineapple garden maze, extends over 300 acres, and has been officially declared as the largest maze in the world. The compound encompasses two and one-half miles of footpaths that have been created from almost 15,000 Hawaiian plants.
Billboards are completely banned in the state of Hawaii
The state is one of only four in the USA to place a ban on billboards. Along with this there are also strict regulations and rules on other types of signage. This is to preserve the wide open spaces and scenic natural beauty of the islands without unnecessary man-made distractions.
Did you know that…
Gambling is illegal in Hawaii
Yes. The state has placed a prohibition on all forms of gambling that includes sports betting, lotteries, slot machines, table games, bingo, and horse racing. Hawaii is one of just two states to explicitly ban all casinos and gambling events and cruise ships are not allowed to enter the waters of Hawaii if gambling is allowed onboard.
Hawaii is also known for its strict laws against pollution. So much so that…
The islands never experience any form of smog
However, you will find volcanic haze also known as vog due to the presence of active volcanoes that sometimes causes the air to appear smoky. The upside of this is that vog also results in beautiful sunsets.
The world’s largest wind generator can be found in Hawaii
The windmill, located on the top of a 20-story tower in Oahu, comprises two blades that each measure 400 feet (122 m) in length.
Hawaii has the largest rubber-lined water reservoir in the world
Located in Kualapuu, this reservoir can hold over one billion gallons of water.
The legal smoking age in Hawaii is 21
Hawaii was the first state in the USA to legalize abortion in 1970
Hawaii was also the first state to ban plastic bags
This ban happened in 2015 when Oahu joined the other islands in banning plastic bags from stores.
How about a bizarre Hawaii fact:
It Is illegal to work with your twin in Hawaii
So, twins are not allowed to work for the same company.
It is considered bad luck to remove any elements from the Hawaiian islands
According to a legend, Pele’s Curse states that anyone who removes any native Hawaiian elements, that includes rocks and sand, will suffer bad luck until these things are returned to the island.
… and one last Hawaiian fact: Did you know that:
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was directly responsible for the US involvement in WWII.
This military air strike took place on the 7th of December 1941. Around 2,400 people died in this attack along with 12 lost U.S. Navy ships and 160 aircraft.
The day before the attack, the USS Arizona was filled with 1.5 million gallons of fuel. To this day, the sunken ship continues to spill up to nine quarts of oil into the harbor each day.
How is this mind-blowing fact about Hawaii?!
Mahalo for reading!
Tell me guys, which destination would you like to hear about next?
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