One of the most geographically isolated and unique places on earth is 2,500 miles out in the Pacific Ocean. From surfing and snorkeling to hiking and dining, there is something for everyone in Hawaii. That’s why it’s one of our favorite travel destinations.
The remote location of this chain of islands has created a unique and unforgettable landscape that can be experienced up close. Everyone can appreciate its fascinating culture and role in world history!
Are You Ready For Some Unbelievable Facts About Hawaii? Then read on and plan your dream trip to a place like no other.
Interesting facts about Hawaii
Do you want to go to Hawaii? Check out these Hawaiian articles for travel tips
1. Hawaii’s human history dates back to AD 400
Hawaii did not become a state until 1959, but its history goes back many centuries. Even before humans arrived, geological forces were at work to create the islands now known as Hawaii. Some of the best Hawaiian facts relate to the history of its people!
The first humans made their way to what we now call Hawaii in AD 400. These explorers were Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands and covered 2,000 miles in canoes.
The first intrepid settlers were resourceful, navigating the stars, fishing, and farming. They lived in small communities ruled by chiefs, but often found themselves in territorial wars.
On January 20, 1778, the first European explorer reached the coast of Kauai. The native Hawaiians were fascinated by the use of iron on British ships and even thought the Europeans were gods.
Captain Cook named the Sandwich Islands after one of his benefactors, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. He visited the islands again in 1779 when the visiting Europeans were welcomed back and treated like deities.
But after a crew member died (exposing the explorers as mere mortals), the relationship between Hawaiians and Europeans deteriorated. Eventually a battle broke out and Captain Cook was killed in action.
In 1866, King Kamehameha V founded a leper colony in Kalaupapa on Molokai. The Hawaiians now known as Hansen’s disease had no immunity and the king decreed that the best way to isolate those affected is to banish them to an isolated peninsula.
One of the few sad facts about Hawaii is that even young children have been taken out of their families when infected. They traveled to the leper colony by boat and supplies were brought in only once a year. The patients were there all their lives.
Today you can visit the colony operated by the National Park Service.
One of the most famous and revered Hawaiians is King Kamehameha. He is best known for his success in uniting the islands of Hawaii and as the first monarch.
Between 1782 and 1810, Kamehameha the Great first conquered the island of Hawaii (his homeland), followed by the remaining eight great islands. Under his rule there was relative peace, international trade and unity.
The last monarch of Hawaii was Queen Liliuokalani. It was overthrown in 1893 by American businessmen investing in the Hawaiian sugar industry.
Queen Liliuokalani was imprisoned in the Iolani Palace, the only palace in the United States, for eight months after she was forced to relinquish her throne. In 1898 the US officially annexed Hawaii and organized it as official territory two years later.
2. Each island has its own lei
Contrary to popular belief, leis are not always made of flowers. They can also be made from shells, nuts, leaves, and even feathers, bones, and animal teeth.
It is one of the little known and amazing facts of Hawaii that each of the eight major islands has its own lei. These were used in the past to identify one’s own rank and status as well as the origin of a person. If you’re visiting any of the Hawaiian islands, take a lei workshop to try your hand at this cultural icon!
There are a few cultural rules and customs associated with wearing leis. The first and most important is never to turn down a lei. It is a sign of affection and welcome, and its rejection is considered rude.
The only exception to this rule are pregnant women. A closed lei is considered bad luck and a bad omen, so pregnant women wear an open lei around their necks.
Other interesting facts about Hawaii and its leis are that it is considered offensive to remove a lei in the presence of the person who gave it to you. Wear it loosely over your shoulders and not hanging straight from your neck.
3. The Hawaiian alphabet has only twelve letters
Hawaii is the only US state with two official languages: English and Hawaiian. And while the Hawaiian language has seen a revival over the past fifty years, it was once banned in schools and the government.
The letters in the Hawaiian alphabet are A, E, I, O, U, H, K, L, M, N, P, and W. There is also another letter called? Okina, which is a fraction in a word. It is represented as a backward apostrophe, and therefore the name of the state is sometimes written as “Hawai’i”.
It’s one of many fun facts about Hawaii, but many travelers know that “aloha” means both hello and goodbye in the Hawaiian language. It also has a deeper, richer meaning that can help you understand more about Hawaiian culture.
“Aloha” also means love, respect, compassion, mercy and love. It’s a way of being in harmony with the country and others that creates relationships, kindness, and affection.
4. Hawaii has incredibly diverse geography and nature
Hawaii is unique among the US states. Not only is it the westernmost, but it also includes the southernmost tip of the country. Some other amazing facts about Hawaii are:
It consists of 137 islands
Yes, there are the eight main islands that we all (more or less) know: Hawaii (or Big Island), Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Lanai, Molokai, Niihau and Kahoolawe. But there are other atolls and islets in the island chain. All in all, it stretched over 1,500 miles!
Hawaii is growing
Until recently, the K? Lauea volcano was the most active volcano in the world. Hawaii’s islands consist of millennia of volcanic activity, and this volcano’s near-constant eruptions have been going on since 1983!
When the lava hit the Pacific Ocean, it cooled and created additional land. Over the past few decades, Hawaii’s Big Island has added about 70 acres.
Halema? Uma? U crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is also said to be the home of the Hawaiian fire goddess Pele. Many visitors from the mainland take home illegal souvenirs of lava stones that are believed to be a curse. It’s not uncommon for park rangers to have these mailed back to be replaced where they belong!
Hawaii is home to the tallest mountain in the world
No, it’s not Mount Everest! While the towering Himalayan peak is the highest above sea level, the world’s tallest mountain is actually on the island of Hawaii.
The summit of this dormant volcano is 13,796 feet above sea level, but extends an additional 19,000 feet underwater to the sea floor. The total height? 33,500 feet, or nearly a mile, higher than Mount Everest.
There are only public beaches in Hawaii
You read that right! Even the most private looking beaches are open to the public. This concept, also known as Aloha Aina (or love of the land), shows a connection with nature that is vital to Hawaiian culture.
That means you can stroll along Kauai’s Barking Sands Beach, snorkel in Maui’s Turtle Town, or even try your hand at surfing on Oahu’s south coast. And nobody can tell you that you are not allowed!
However, certain sunscreens are prohibited in sensitive reef areas. The chemicals it contains harm the health and wellbeing of reefs and other marine life. Make sure to check what is allowed before you go!
5. Hawaii has amazing agriculture
Hawaii’s tropical climate and abundant volcanic soil make it one of the few places in the United States to grow certain crops.
Hawaii, for example, is the only US state that grows coffee beans. Kona coffee is only produced in a small part of the Big Island. It is also valued for its smooth taste and full-bodied aroma.
Cocoa is also grown on the islands and used to make rich, decadent Hawaiian chocolate. This goes great with the macadamia nuts Hawaii is so famous for!
And while we often think of pineapples and the Dole company when we think of Hawaii, sugar cane played a much bigger role in the history of the state.
The introduction of sugar cane brought many immigrants to the islands and created one of the most diverse populations in the United States. Its profitability also resulted in the final dethronement of the Hawaiian monarchy and the annexation of the islands.
Hawaii’s last sugar mill closed in 2016 after nearly 150 years.
Use these resources to plan your Hawaii vacation
Want to learn more about Hawaii?
Nobody can deny that Hawaii is a fascinating and fascinating place to spend tons of time. From the beaches to the waterfalls, fields, towns and activities, you will never get bored in Aloha State. There are so many more cool Hawaiian facts waiting to be discovered by you!
Are you ready to book your ticket? Don’t forget to read our travel tips so that you can enjoy every moment of your time with confidence. And happy travels!