Aloha! Looking for some fascinating facts about Hawaii? This U.S. state is a tropical paradise with plenty of unique features.
Hawaii is a world-famous tourist destination, renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty, friendly hospitality, rich history, and unique culture. But, there are plenty more quirky little things that may surprise you. From ancient traditions to remarkable landmarks, we’ll uncover the most interesting Hawaii facts below.
Are you ready to learn more about the Hawaiian islands? Let’s dive in. Here are 53 facts to know about Hawaii.
Hawaii is known as the Aloha State due to the unique meaning and popularity of the word. Aloha refers to love and is one of the most familiar Hawaiian words worldwide. Other nicknames for Hawaii include Paradise and The Islands of Aloha.
In Hawaii, the word Aloha means both hello and goodbye. It’s a popular greeting that conveys the Aloha spirit when meeting or parting from a person – it’s all about respect, love, and working together in Hawaii.
While people residing in sunny California are called Californians, Hawaii has a unique way of referring to its residents. Those who are considered to be Hawaiians must have Hawaiian blood.
Individuals without a Hawaiian family tree who are born and raised in Hawaii are called locals, while those who move to the island are Hawaii residents.
Hawaiian culture influences many aspects of the state, such as cuisine, fashion, and language. The Native Hawaiian culture comes from Polynesians who settled in Hawaii around 1,500 years ago. Currently, the culture in Hawaii reflects a combination of Eastern and Western influences.
Hawaii became the 50th state in the United States on 21/8/2021. Statehood Day, also called Admission Day, is a legal holiday that commemorates Hawaii’s admission as a state. It takes place annually on the third Friday in August.
The time zone in Hawaii is called Hawaiian Standard Time. Unlike most U.S. states, the Hawaiian islands do not follow Daylight Savings Time.
Hawaii is the only U.S. state that is made up entirely of islands. The state comprises 132 islands. The eight major Hawaiian islands are Maui, Kauai, Molokai, Oahu, Lanai, Kaho’olawe, Ni’ihau, and Hawai’i (also known as Big Island).
The Hawaiian islands are volcanic in origin. You’ll find that each island consists of at least one primary volcano. For instance, the Big Island of Hawaii is formed from five main volcanoes: Mauna Loa, Kilauea, Hualalai, Kohala, and Mauna Kea.
The Big Island is the youngest of the eight main Hawaiian Islands. As its name suggests, it is the largest island as well.
The Big Island is home to two of the most active volcanoes in Hawaii: Kilauea and Mauna Loa. As such, the island is constantly growing due to the volcanic eruptions from the Kilauea volcano.
Kilauea has been actively erupting since 1983. As the lava flows into the ocean, the Big Island grows around 42 acres per year.
Hawaii is the second widest state in the United States at 1,523 miles from Niihau to the Big Island. Wondering what’s the widest state? At 2,400 miles from east to west, Alaska takes first place.
One of the most surprising facts that sets Hawaii apart from other states is its location. Although Hawaii is considered to be part of North America, it is geographically outside the continent. Hawaii is positioned in the Pacific Ocean, around 2,000 miles away from the U.S. mainland.
The Hawaiian flag, also called Ka Hae Hawai’i, features eight horizontal stripes and the Union Jack. The eight stripes represent the main islands of Hawaii. While the Union Jack is a sign of friendship between Britain and the Hawaiian Kingdom.
The average lifespan for individuals in Hawaii is 81 years. Studies indicate that the Aloha State has the highest life expectancy in the United States.
A few contributing factors to Hawaiians’ lifespan include access to natural resources, weather conditions, health care, low obesity, and smoking rates. For more information on life expectancy in the United States, check out this article.
Similar to South Dakota, Hawaii has two official languages. English and Hawaiian are the official state languages in Hawaii. Between 1839 and 1840, King Kamehameha III established the first Hawaiian-language constitution.
The yellow hibiscus is the official state flower of Hawaii. This tropical beauty is native to Hawaii and is often associated with happiness, fortune, and good luck.
The humuhumunukunukuapua’a, or reef triggerfish, is the state fish of Hawaii. Its Hawaiian name is one of the longest words in the Hawaiian language and translates to triggerfish with a snout like a pig.
The humuhumunukunukuapua’a is also called the rectangular triggerfish and Hawaiian triggerfish. Unlike its long Hawaiian name, it is a relatively small fish that can grow up to 10 inches long.
Hawaii is the only U.S. state that is free of rabies. There are strict quarantine laws for cats and dogs entering the state to keep Hawaii rabies-free. If you’re planning a Hawaiian vacation, it would be best to leave your furry friends at home.
A Hawaiian lei is a common symbol of friendship, honor, celebration, love, or greeting – it’s a sign of Aloha. When offered a flower lei, it is disrespectful to refuse it.
Additionally, it is impolite to remove the lei in the presence of the person who gave it to you. When you remove your lei at the end of the day, it’s best to return the flowers to the earth.
The eight main islands of Hawaii are associated with particular flowers or lei-making materials. Here are the official flowers of the charming Hawaiian islands:
- Maui – Lokelani Rose
- Big Island – Lehua flower
- Oahu – Ilima flower
- Kauai – Mokihana berry
- Lanai – Kaunaoa plant
- Molokai – Kukui Nut flower
- Niihau – White Pupu shell
- Kahoolawe – Hinahina plant
In 2000, the State of Hawaii gave each island an official color. Most of the island colors match the hue of the particular island’s official flower or lei-making material. The Hawaiian islands official colors are:
- Maui – Pink
- Big Island – Red
- Oahu – Yellow
- Kauai – Purple
- Lanai – Orange
- Molokai – Green
- Niihau – White
- Kaho’olawe – Grey
Hawaii is home to thousands of animal species, but it has only two endemic mammals: the Hawaiian monk seal and the hoary bat. Other mammals found in the state include dolphins, humpback whales, rabbits, mongoose, and mule deer.
Hawaii has lost more species than any other U.S. state. Around 70% of Hawaii’s native birds are extinct, and the remaining birdlife is at risk of becoming extinct shortly. Hawaii is among the top U.S. states with the most endangered species.
The State of Hawaii established black coral as the official state gem in 1987. Although it is the official gem, black coral is not technically a gemstone but colonial animals that grow in Hawaii’s offshore water.
Early Hawaiian divers discovered black coral, and Hawaiians have been using it for centuries. Black coral is used as a charm in jewelry and for medicinal purposes.
One of the most interesting facts about Hawaii is the Hawaiian alphabet. Although many words in Hawaii are lengthy, such as the state fish (humuhumunukunukuapua’a), there are only 12 letters in the Hawaiian language. The Hawaiian alphabet comprises five vowels and seven consonants: A, E, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, U, and W.
The hula dance originated in Hawaii by the Polynesian settlers. Trained dancers performed this religious dance before others, especially the king, to honor the gods, praise the chiefs, or promote fecundity.
The hula dance is performed while sitting (noho dance) or standing (luna dance) with movement to chant or instruments. The dancers use hand motions to tell stories and pay respect to nature, gods, and goddesses. You’ll find hula dancers wearing colorful leis, grass skirts, loincloths or pants, and ankle bracelets.
A luau is an ancient Hawaiian ritual and a must-visit attraction during a trip to Hawaii. This Hawaiian feast is a vibrant social gathering that aims to unite people and celebrate significant events. It comprises authentic food, live music, ceremonies, ritual chanting, and hula dancing.
In Hawaii, it is a local custom to remove footwear before entering someone’s home. It is a sign of respect by keeping dirt and germs away.
If you’re heading to Hawaii, a unique thing you can do is mail a coconut. All you’ll need is a dried-out unhusked coconut to decorate with painted pictures and messages.
You can also find decorated coconuts at gift stores, restaurants, and hotels. So, forget sending postcards, mail your loved ones a coconut on your next Hawaiian adventure.
Hawaii’s official state sports are surfing and outrigger canoe paddling. Surfing became the official state individual sport in 1998. Outrigger canoe paddling was established as an official team sport in 1986. You can experience both of these sports at one of Hawaii’s breathtaking beaches.
It is believed that Polynesians brought surfing to Hawaii hundreds of years ago, and it began to thrive from there. Hawaii is well-known for its epic surfing conditions year-round.
In the past, Hawaiian royalty would reserve the best surfing spots for themselves. The sport of kings is not just a water sport but an art that is significant in Hawaiian culture.
Hawaii is a world-famous destination for its glistening shores. And the best part is that all the beaches are publicly owned or controlled.
You’ll find more than 100 beautiful beaches in the state. Most beaches boast soft white sand. But, some feature eye-catching sand colors like red, pink, green, and black.
It is illegal to bring a snake into the state of Hawaii. As snakes are not native to Hawaii, you’re likely to only come across them in zoos.
Keeping a snake pet is banned to protect endangered native birds. There are several penalties for keeping illegal animals and plants in Hawaii, including a fine of up to $200,000.
Nestled on the island of Maui, you’ll find the world’s largest dormant volcano: Mount Haleakala. This mammoth volcano forms over 75% of Maui and its summit stands at a staggering 10,023 feet above sea level.
Most of Haleakala is positioned below the ocean. From its base on the ocean floor, the volcano is approximately 30,000 feet tall. Haleakala is currently dormant and is a spectacular spot for the best sunrise views and hiking in Maui.
Kilauea is the youngest and most active volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. It is one of the world’s most active volcanoes that experienced continuous eruptions from 1983 to 2018 along the East Rift Zone.
Although many individuals consider Mount Everest to be the tallest mountain, this is not entirely true. At 29,029 feet, Mount Everest is the world’s tallest mountain above sea level.
However, Mauna Kea on the island of Hawai’i extends around 19,700 feet below sea level and rises at 13,796 above. With a staggering height of nearly 35,000 feet from base to summit, the volcanic mountain is crowned the world’s tallest mountain.
If you’re looking for a snowy adventure in winter, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa are two locations that receive a dusting of snow annually. In the wintertime, Mauna Kea is a spectacular spot for skiing in Hawaii.
Hawaii is home to thousands of tree species and flowering plants, from exotic orchids to eye-catching hibiscus. The largest tree in Hawaii is the Lahaina Banyan tree on the west side of Maui.
In 1873, the tree was imported from India and planted in the historic Lahaina Town. It stands over 60-feet high and is the largest banyan tree in the United States.
The island of Kauai supports one of the wettest spots on Earth, Mount Waialeale. The volcanic shield rises to around 5,243 feet and features a round shape with steep cliffs.
It receives an average of 450 inches of rain per year. In 1982, Mount Waialeale received around 666 inches of rain on the peak. It’s easy to see why Kauai is often called the “Garden Island” with its lush rainforest and mountains.
One of the most vital natural resources in Hawaii is its rich soil. The state is well-known for its pineapple production.
In Hawaii, pineapples symbolize Hawaiian hospitality and are world-famous for their sweet taste. Other exotic and tasty fruits of Hawaii include coconuts, papaya, bananas, and breadfruit.
In the early 1900s, Hawaii was world-famous for its extensive pineapple plantations across the islands. Currently, there are only two pineapple plantations in the state: Maui Gold Plantation and Dole Plantation.
Established in the 1800s, the Dole Plantation in Oahu is a must-visit attraction in Hawaii. At the pineapple farm, you’ll encounter a 3-acre maze and around 14,000 native tropical plants. This historic pineapple plantation is home to the largest pineapple maze in the world.
The Nene, also called the Hawaiian goose, became the official state bird of Hawaii in 1957. These elegant beauties arrived on the islands of Hawaii around 500,000 years ago. They are protected birds with a captivating appearance and an average life expectancy of 8 to 20 years.
On the island of Molokai, you’ll experience a laid-back atmosphere and no traffic lights. Although it is the fifth-largest of the main Hawaiian islands, the island’s population is relatively small.
There are around 7,400 residents in Molokai. With few residents and minimal cars on the roads, there isn’t much traffic on the island.
Molokai is a spectacular spot for an island vacation. It is known as the “Friendly Island” and provides visitors with warm hospitality in a peaceful environment. Molokai supports the world’s highest sea cliffs, Hawaii’s largest white sand beach, and the longest waterfall in Hawaii.
Hawaii is the only U.S. state to honor a monarch. From 1810, a single monarch ruled the Hawaiian islands. However, the Hawaiian Kingdom was overthrown in 1893.
The state still honors King Kamehameha – who united the Hawaiian islands. Hawaii celebrates the accomplishments of the former king on King Kamehameha Day.
King David Kalakaua established Iolani Palace in 1882. This royal residence of Hawaii’s former monarchy is the only official royal palace in the United States. In 1962, Iolani Palace became a National Historic Landmark.
Halulu Lake is the largest (non-intermittent) natural lake in Hawaii. It is located on the island of Niihau and reaches about 182 acres during the rainy seasons.
You’re unlikely to find smog in Hawaii, but the island features vog instead. The vog comprises volcanic ash due to the eruptions of active volcanoes like Kilauea on the Big Island.
In 2015, Hawaii implemented a plastic bag ban throughout the state. However, some of the other Hawaiian islands banned single-use plastic bags from stores earlier than 2015. Hawaii is the first U.S. state to implement this law.
Hawaii’s rich soil and tropical climate provide exceptional conditions for coffee production. It is the only U.S. state that grows coffee commercially. One of the best things to do in Hawaii is touring a coffee farm on Maui, Oahu, or Big Island.
Hawaii is one of the largest macadamia nut producers in the world. Although they thrive in Hawaii, the macadamia nut is native to Australia. It was brought to the state in the 1920s and became one of Hawaii’s top harvest crops.
In Hawaii, all forms of gambling are illegal. Hawaii and Utah are the only U.S. states that entirely banned gambling.
Like gambling, the use of billboards is illegal in Hawaii. In the 1920s, Hawaii became the first U.S. state to ban billboards – to preserve its natural beauty. The other U.S. states that banned billboards for advertising include Maine, Alaska, and Vermont.
As Hawaii provides a picturesque setting with spectacular scenery, it is a sought-after destination for film studios. Popular movies filmed in Hawaii include Jurassic World, Godzilla, Jumanji, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Hawaii is a unique destination with awe-inspiring landscapes and a captivating history. It’s easy to see why visiting the Hawaiian Islands is on countless traveler’s bucket lists.
From iconic landmarks to traditional actions, Hawaii has an abundance of intriguing characteristics. Now that you know more about the tropical paradise, the only thing left to do is to experience it. For more fascinating facts, check out this guide on the top facts about Argentina.