As a dream destination for vacation over the decades, the name Hawaii inspires warmth and enthusiasm among all ages of people throughout the world.
Built on lava eruption from volcanoes over millions of years and still growing by acres through the active ones, the Hawaii Islands have always remained a wonder of nature.
This heartwarming Hawaii facts tours you through some of the interesting features and anecdotes that the lovely islands offer.
Hawaii Facts: Quick General Info | 1 – 5
01. The name Hawaii comes from the Proto-Polynesian word ‘Hawaiki’ which is translated ‘place of gods’ or ‘homeland.’
02. Hawaii is an archipelago of 137 islands and the prominent ones are Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, and the Big Island (a.k.a Hawaii).
03. Most of the population are mixed ethnicity with about 33% Haoles or Caucasians, 33% Japanese, 16% Filipino Americans and 16% Chinese Americans.
04. Hawaii is the southernmost state of America and the youngest to join the union in August 21, 1959.
05. It follows the Hawaiian Aleutian time zone, which is ten hours behind GMT and does not participate in Daylight Savings Time.
Hawaii Facts: Interesting Geography | 6 – 10
06. While Kilauea Iki on the Big Island is the world’s most active volcano, Haleakala Crater on Maui is the world’s largest dormant volcano.
07. Out of the coral reefs in the entire US, about 80% are found in the Hawaii Islands.
08. Hawaii is the only state made completely of islands and that grows coffee in the US.
09.With an average rainfall of 476 inches per year, Mount Waialeale has one of the highest rainfalls in the world.
10. The size of Big Island is twice the size of all the other islands put together.
Hawaii Facts: The Growing State | 11 – 15
11. The Island of Hawaii has been built upon five shield volcanoes that erupted sequentially and the flowing lava somewhat overlapped each other.
12. While the earliest Kohala and Mauna Kea are extinct and dormant respectively, three others Hualalai, Mauna Loa and Kilauea (last activity 2018) are active volcanoes spewing out fresh lava.
13. Since 1983, it has added 700 acres of land, evaporated large lakes and submerged forty square miles of forests, neighbourhoods and historical sites.
14. According to the law of the land, the new acres of erupted land belong to the Hawaiian state government.
15. Volcanologist, George Bergantz acknowledges the island’s lateral growth as ‘lava flow, on top of lava flow, on top of lava flow.’
You know, these lava fields resembling surface of moon served as training sites for astronauts in the 1960s!
Hawaii Facts: The Aloha State | 16 – 20
16. Nicknamed the ‘Aloha State,’ the word ‘Aloha’ (Proto-Polynesian origin) reverberates the entire Hawaii Islands as a sign of respect but not limited to a hello, goodbye or love.
17. ‘Alo’ means presence and ‘ha’ means breath; by ‘Aloha’ the presence of divine breath is acknowledged that conveys the attributes of love, peace, compassion, harmony, grace, care, etc.
18. Though rarely exchanged now, by typical Hawaiian Aloha, two individuals press their foreheads and noses while inhaling the breath simultaneously.
19. In 1986, the government of Hawaii passed the ‘Aloha Spirit Law’ that mandated city and state employees to greet the public by uttering the words Aloha and Mahalo.
By the way, ‘Aloha’ means both ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ whereas ‘Mahalo’ means ‘thank you.’
20. As advocated by the Kahunas (priests) of the Island, the Spirit of Aloha creates and sustains positive feelings and thoughts that multiply and spread to others.
Hawaii Facts: The Lei Garland | 21 – 25
21. The Lei garlands or wreaths are made of flowers, feathers, leaves, papers, shell etc. and presented on occasions to honor the receiver.
22. Customarily, the Lei is given by bowing and rising above the heart; the recipient is expected to handle and dispose of it with dignity, often seen in relation to the giver.
23. Since 1927, May 1st is celebrated as Lei Day; the Hawaiian song ‘May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii’ was composed by Ruth and Leonard Red Hawk.
24. Pikake Lei, Purple Orchid Lei, Tuberose and Ti Leaf Lei, Puakenikeni Lei, Maile Lei, White Ginger Lei, Hee Berry and Sea Grape Lei are some beautiful and naturally scented flower Lei.
25. The world’s longest Lei at 5,336 feet in length was displayed at the 81st Annual Mayor’s Lei Day Celebration at Queen Kapiolani Park, Honolulu in 2008.
You know, the plural form of Lei is also Lei, and when warring chiefs initiated peace treaties, they weaved the Lei together!
Hawaii Facts: Ancient Polynesian Society | 26 – 30
26. Social hierarchy was practiced with chiefs called ali’i, commoners called make’ainana and the lowest class called kauwa; while ali’i were treated like gods, the kauwas were often sacrificed to the gods.
27. Polynesians preferred intrastatus marriages and chose the closest possible relative including sisters to be the wife of a high chief in order to produce royal seed of highest rank.
28. The Kappa System laid down rules for everyday living like bowing down according to hierarchy, specific observances for women etc., and failure to keep the system resulted in death.
29. Mothers practiced infanticide to get rid of deformed and diseased babies or avoid overpopulation in the family.
30. Sign of affection to the dead loved ones could mean knocking down their own teeth or tattooing on their tongue.
Hawaii Facts: The Iolani Palace | 31 – 35
31. The Iolani Palace stands as a testimonial to the grandeur of the Kingdom of Hawaii that originated in 1795, consolidated in 1810 and had sovereign ruled until 1893.
32. Though King Kamehameha III moved the capital to Honolulu as early as 1845, the Iolani Palace was built in 1882 by King David Kalakaua.
33. Influenced by Italic elements, it stands as an example of Hawaiian Renaissance architecture with artistic facades, slim columns and wide verandahs.
34. When the monarchy was overthrown in 1893, it also served as a prison where Queen Liliuokalani was under house arrest for nine months.
35. After Hawaii became a state (1959), the Iolani Palace was restored to former grandeur and made a National Historic Landmark (1962) being the only royal palace in the US.
King Kamehameha Day celebrated on June 11th since 1872 makes Hawaii the only state to honor a monarch!
Hawaii Facts: Rarities | 36 – 40
36. Drawing most visitors, the Island of Oahu has the best and most surfing beaches; the earliest surfing boards were greater than 150 pounds and approximately 20 feet long.
37. Introduced by the Polynesians several thousand years ago, surfing called he’e nalu in Hawaiian, where ‘hee’ means ‘slide’ and ‘nalu’ means ‘wave’ enchanted the settlers.
38. The Island of Molokai has the tallest sea cliffs in the world ranging from 3600 to 3900 feet above the ocean; it also has the Kalaupapa colony, home to about 8,000 lepers since 1866.
You know, Father Damien and Sister Marianne Cope, who worked among these lepers were both canonized later!
39. The peak of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano is 4205 meters above sea level; it measures more than 10,000 meters from underwater base surpassing Everest (8850 meters).
40. Not all Happy Face Spiders (Theridion Grallator – found only in the Hawaii tropical forests) have a happy face on their abdomens, some are frowny while others have no such marking at all.
Hawaii Facts: Specialties | 41 – 45
41. The beaches in Hawaii are all public and found in colors of white, black, yellow, red and green.
42. In the entire US, Hawaii has the highest life expectancy with an average 81.3 years attributed to an effective health care system centered on preventive care and insurance cover.
43. The official Hawaii gemstone, the black coral used in jewelry, takes fifty years to mature, and was first discovered off Lahaina Maui in 1958.
44. Hawaii took the lead to cultivate pineapples commercially and pineapple as pizza topping is referred to as Hawaiian style.
You now, cultivating pineapple at home is a breeze for the locals by simply planting the crown in the ground after eating the fruit!
45. Built in 1843, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu is the oldest catholic cathedral in continuous use in the United States.
Hawaii Facts: The Spam Affair | 46 – 50
46. When delivering fresh meat at the warfront was difficult during WWII, Spam was introduced as US Soldiers’ diet and later became a native food of Hawaii and other pacific islands.
47. Hawaiians consume an estimated five million pounds of spam, which is six cans per capita and more than any state in the US.
48. Whether spam is the acronym of ‘Spiced Ham’ or ‘Shoulders of Pork and Ham’ is still under debate and Hawaiians embrace it for breakfast, lunch, dinner or as any time snack.
49. The popular sushi style ‘Spam Musubi’ includes grilled or sliced spam on top of a block of rice and wrapped in a band of nori, and is found near cash registers of almost any business.
Reporters were taken aback when the son of the soil President Barack Obama ordered Spam Masubi while on vacation in Hawaii!
50. The annual one-day food festival Waikiki Spam Jam attracts locals and tourists alike and features entertainment, music performances across stages, lots of spam dishes etc.
Hawaii Facts: The Mongoose Misstep | 51 – 55
51. Paleontologists have identified about 50 extinct unknown avian species from the Hawaii and most of them were earthbound rather than airborne falling easy prey to predators.
52. About 1883, the sugarcane farmers in Hawaii imported and introduced mongoose in their fields to curb rodents, following their counterparts in Jamaica.
53. As the rats were nocturnal and the mongoose diurnal, their ideas failed while mongoose feasted on the flightless, ground-nesting water native birds and turtle eggs.
54. On the Hawaiian Island of Kauai, colorful birds called honeycreepers have decreased by 98% in the last 15 years as victims of rising temperatures and malaria carrying mosquitoes.
55. Feral cats are also identified as a significant threat to the birds on islands and in urban settings; incidentally, hoary bat and the monk seal are the only native mammals.
Hawaii Facts: The Hawaiian Language | 56 – 60
56. The Hawaiian language did not have a written form until the arrival of Christian missionaries in 1820.
57. The first Hawaiian newspaper was published in 1834, vocabulary in 1836, grammar in 1854 and dictionary in 1865.
58. The Hawaiian language constituted only twelve English letters namely A, E, I, O, U, H, K, L, M, N, P, and W apart from the symbol (‘).
59. Almost 90% of the population became literate during the latter half of the 19th century.
60. The authorities and duties of the monarch were formulated with the help of the newly developed written language.
Apart from the official Hawaiian and English languages, Pidgin, Samoan and Tongan are also spoke in Hawaiian Islands!
Hawaii Facts: The Flag His(Story) | 61 – 65
61. In 1793 Captain George Vancouver presented the Union Jack to King Kamehameha I as a token of friendship from fellow ruler George III, which he flew over his home and across the island.
62. During the war of 1812, when the Union Jack was replaced by the American flag, the British officers in the court opposed, when a distinctive flag was created by the king.
63. The flag created incorporated both the British and the American elements, while Kamehameha III set the stripes to eight after 1843 and put the matter to rest until the overthrow of monarchy (1893).
64. Expecting annexure, the US flag flew until 1894; but the original flag returned and remained all through, when Hawaii was declared republic (1894), became a territory of US (1898) and ultimately a state of the Union (1959).
65. Since 2001, the controversial Kanaka Maoli or native Hawaiian flag in red, yellow and green has initiated hot debates on the net and features on t-shirts, bumper stickers etc.
Hawaii Facts: Fun | 66 – 70
66. Captain Cook named Hawaii as Sandwich Islands after his patron, the Earl of Sandwich, who ordered slices of meat between two slices of bread during his prolonged gambling sessions.
67. Stretching over 1600 miles, the Hawaiian Islands house the most isolated population at a distance of 2,390 miles from California and 3,850 miles from Japan.
68. There are no seagulls in Hawaii and snakes are banned, except those found in the zoos.
69. Spam has been a target of thieves for long in Hawaii; but the magnitude rose in 2017 so much that retailers believed that organized crime was involved.
70. Malaria and Plague infecting mosquitoes arrived Hawaii as early as 1872 aboard merchant ships as stowaways.
Hawaii Facts: Fun | 71 – 75
71. Heavier women were rendered beautiful by the ancient Hawaiians, and expected their chieftess to be such patterns.
72. Considering nose to be purer than mouth that speaks rubbish, ancient Hawaiians played the flute with their nose rather than the mouth.
73. Pieces of rocks are received by courier at the Hawaii National Park since tourists return them as a means to get rid of bad luck they think they had contracted from the curse of the Hawaii fire goddess Pele by collecting souvenirs. (Popular as Curse of Pele)
74. Without a written language form for long, trained storytellers imparted values and history to youngsters that was considered sacred and hence not allowed to move once storytelling began.
75. Since Captain Cook arrived during a sacred festival time in 1778, the native Hawaiians took him for god Lono and his ships as floating islands.