Hawaii is arguably the most captivating state in America. With its volcanic peaks and stunning beaches, Hawaii is not only one of the most beautiful places in America but also the entire world.
From its history as an independent nation to its current statehood, Hawaii has always been unique.
Let’s go through some of the most interesting facts about Hawaii together!
- 1. Hawaii is a Volcanic Archipelago
- 2. Hawaii Has Unique Flora and Fauna
- 3. Surfing Started in Hawaii
- 4. Hawaii Used to be a Monarchy
- 5. Hawaii Has Two Official Languages
- 6. No Smog, But Maybe Some Vog
- 7. Each Island Has Their Own Flower
- 8. There are No Private Beaches in Hawaii
- 9. Molokai is Home to Three of Hawaii’s Natural Wonders
- 10. Haleakala is the Largest Dormant Volcano in the World
- 11. Kauai has Unique Building Restrictions
- 12. No Snakes in Hawaii
- 13. Hawaii has its Own Time Zone
- 14. The Largest Pineapple Maze in the World is in Hawaii
- 15. Some of Your Favorite Movies Were Filmed in Hawaii
- 16. Oahu has the Largest Wind Turbine in the World
- 17. Mauna Kea is the Best Location for Telescopes in the World
- 18. Hawaii’s Nickname is the Aloha State
1. Hawaii is a Volcanic Archipelago
The state of Hawaii consists of six major islands and numerous surrounding islets and atolls. From largest to smallest, the six major islands are Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Molokai, and Lanai. The most popular tourist island is Maui, while most Hawaiian residents live in Hawaii.
The Hawaiian Islands are an archipelago, meaning they are a cluster of islands. The Hawaiian archipelago exists due to underwater volcanoes. The volcanoes of Hawaii are some of the most active in the world, and as they spew out lava, they cause the islands to grow slightly. After hundreds of thousands of years, the Hawaiian islands formed.
2. Hawaii Has Unique Flora and Fauna
Isolated islands often produce the most unique plants and animals. Due to their isolation, these animals don’t need to fend off large groups of predators. Regarding plants, the climate of Hawaii suits the tropical plants that flourish on the islands.
Some of the most common animals on the islands are various birds, such as the Hawaiian honeycreeper and the albatross. Of course, several different sea creatures also call Hawaii their home. Some lucky residents see dolphins in the water or seals lounging on the beach.
Unlike other parts of the USA, Hawaii has no natural land predators. The largest predator is actually an invasive species—house cats. House cats that become feral are a threat to the endemic animals of Hawaii since they kill so many birds and small mammals.
The best way to allow these endemic animals to survive is by keeping any cats indoors.
3. Surfing Started in Hawaii
Surfing has become a worldwide sport in recent years, making its Olympic debut at the 2020 games in Tokyo. However, many of those people watching probably didn’t realize that surfing started on the Hawaiian islands.
Ancient Polynesians brought the origins of surfing with them when they first landed on the Hawaiian islands. Over hundreds of years, the Hawaiian people developed modern surfing and its category as a competitive sport.
One of the first world-famous surfers was a Hawaiian by the name of Duke Kahanamoku. He was born in 1890 and rose to fame as a swimmer who won multiple Olympic medals. In 1914, he introduced surfing to people on the US east coast.
From there, the sport became the worldwide phenomenon we know it as today.
4. Hawaii Used to be a Monarchy
How can you have interesting facts about Hawaii without mentioning its history as a monarchy? America fully – and illegally – annexed Hawaii in 1898 but had been in control of the local politics for more than a decade before.
Before fully annexing Hawaii, US citizens emigrated to the islands to work. As these workers became more numerous, they agitated for political union with the United States. These same workers rebelled twice, once in 1887 and again in 1888. Both rebellions caused the Hawaiian monarchy to lose more political power.
The Hawaiian monarchy’s last queen was Queen Liliʻuokalani, who was in power when the 1893 coup occurred. She was deposed, and the Kingdom of Hawaii fell with her. After this, the US government would continue its involvement on the islands until fully annexing the islands in 1898.
5. Hawaii Has Two Official Languages
Hawaii is the only state in the country with two official languages. English is the most common language on the islands, while Hawaiian is the other official language. Hawaiian isn’t as common in daily life, but you can get any legal or government matters conveyed in Hawaiian.
The Hawaiian language is unique, especially if you compare it to English. Hawaiian was only written down in the early 1800s when European sailors came ashore. The language only has 12 letters in common with the Latin alphabet. If you ever get the chance to hear a Hawaiian speaker sing in their language, take it! You may never get to experience the beauty again.
6. No Smog, But Maybe Some Vog
If you’ve ever been in LA on a particularly smoggy day, you know how disgusting the thick air looks. Luckily, you’ll never have to experience smog in Hawaii. But there is a catch—vog. Vog is similar to smog. Pollution causes smog, but in vog’s case, volcanoes cause vog.
When one of the volcanoes is active, it produces immense amounts of smoke and soot. When these mix with the air and cling to the ground, it’s called vog. Vog can have as severe consequences to your health as smog.
The only positive to vog is that it’s temporary, going away when the eruptions stop. Smog, on the other hand, is from pollution. Drastic measures are needed to get rid of smog permanently compared to vog.
7. Each Island Has Their Own Flower
The six main islands all have a flower that represents the island. These flowers are either the most common flower on that island or a particularly unique and beautiful one. Along with each of the flowers, all the islands also have a color that represents it. Here’s a list of the islands and their flowers:
- Hawaii—Lehua Flower—Red
- Maui—Lokelani Rose—Pink
- Oahu—Ilima Flower—Yellow
- Kauai—Mokihana Berry—Purple
- Molokai—Kukui Nut Flower—Green
- Lanai—Kaunaoa Plant—Orange
The colors that represent each of the islands correspond to the primary color on the flower. For example, the Kukui Nut flower has deep green leaves, and the Lehua flower is a crimson red.
8. There are No Private Beaches in Hawaii
Hands down, Hawaii has the best beaches in the US. The stunning views, fine white sand, and crystal clear water will have you coming back every day. Luckily for you, all the beaches in Hawaii are open to the public.
With over 50 miles of beaches in total, you’ll always find one to enjoy. The most popular beaches are in Maui and Hawaii, so if you’re looking for a quieter experience, you should try one of the smaller islands. Their beaches always have fewer people.
You could visit Kaanapali Beach on Maui, a more than 1.5 mile-long beach popular with locals and tourists alike. If you’re on the island of Hawaii, you could visit Hapuna Beach, known for its soft sand. If snorkeling is more your style, Tunnels Beach on Kauai has some of the best scenery just offshore. Waikiki Beach on Oahu is a solid all-around beach, with various activities, such as surfing, walking the boardwalk, or lounging on the beach.
9. Molokai is Home to Three of Hawaii’s Natural Wonders
As you probably know, Hawaii has an abundance of beautiful scenery for you to enjoy. Molokai, one of the smaller islands, has three of Hawaii’s natural wonders based solely on this one island.
On their approach to the island, all visitors see the cliffs that surround the island. The cliffs, which jut out of the ocean, are the largest sea cliffs in the world. These cliffs are a sight to behold and reach as high as 3,900 feet.
Another fantastic sight on Molokai is the Olo’upena waterfalls. These falls are over 2,900 feet tall, and it’s the highest waterfall in the entire US. Olo’upena is potentially the fourth highest in the world too. You can only see these magnificent falls from the ocean or air because no safe trail exists.
Finally, Molokai is home to Kalaupapa National Historical Park. Not only is this area filled with amazing scenery, but history too. This area used to be a leper colony, with a few cured patients still residing there today. The entire area has a deep history for you to explore!
10. Haleakala is the Largest Dormant Volcano in the World
The Haleakala volcano, located in eastern Maui, is the largest dormant volcano in the world. Stretching over 10,000 feet tall from its base below the ocean, Haleakala is among the best places in all of Hawaii to snap a stunning photo.
You can hike to the crater at the top of the volcano. A popular activity is to do an early morning hike to see the sunrise from the top of the volcano. It feels like you’re on top of the world when you reach the top and see the clouds below you.
11. Kauai has Unique Building Restrictions
Aside from a few older buildings that were grandfathered in, all buildings on Kauai must be under a certain height. The myth has always been that no buildings can be taller than a full-grown palm tree or about three levels.
I could not verify that story, but their building codes do have unique restrictions. According to the Kauai County codes, no new building can be taller than 50 feet from the foundation to the roof. They did this to preserve the mountain and ocean views that could disappear if too much development happens.
12. No Snakes in Hawaii
Hawaii, as a group of islands, has an isolated group of animals living there. Most are birds, which took long journeys to arrive on the islands from their native habitats in Oceania and Asia.
Snakes, unlike birds, can’t travel long distances. All these factors together have resulted in Hawaii not having any snakes.
Not only are there no natural snakes on the islands, but the state also banned anyone from transporting snakes to Hawaii as they would pose a considerable threat to the animals on the island. Snakes could wipe out entire species of birds before conservationists notice.
So, if you were thinking about bringing your pet snake on a trip to Hawaii, leave them at home!
13. Hawaii has its Own Time Zone
What list of fun facts about Hawaii would be complete without discussing its time zone! Since Hawaii is so far from other populated areas, it’s the only place to use the GMT-10 time zone. Hawaii also doesn’t observe daylight savings time.
GMT-10 is two hours behind California and five hours behind New York, when on standard time. If New York and California are observing daylight savings, they’re three and six hours ahead of Hawaii, respectively.
14. The Largest Pineapple Maze in the World is in Hawaii
The Dole Pineapple Garden Maze, located on Oahu, is the largest pineapple maze in the world! The maze has an image of a pineapple made from plants at its center. The hedges used for the maze are local Hawaiian plants. You can get lost for hours enjoying the maze and other sights at the plantation.
Another fun fact about Hawaii is the state’s rich history of growing pineapples. Although pineapples aren’t native to Hawaii, Hawaiians made it into one of their biggest industries during the 20th century. Today, production has slowed down, but Hawaii still produces just under 10% of the world’s supply of pineapples.
15. Some of Your Favorite Movies Were Filmed in Hawaii
With their diverse climates and environments, the Hawaiian Islands are the perfect place to film a movie. Whether you need a sandy beach, a tropical rainforest, snowy peaks, or a volcanic wasteland, Hawaii has all the settings you can think of for a movie.
Some of the most famous movies to film in Hawaii include:
- Tropic Thunder
- 50 First Dates
- The Descendants
- Jurassic Park/World
- Raiders of the Lost Ark
- The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
- Jumanji: The Next Level
Aside from live-action films, animated movies and TV shows were also filmed in Hawaii. Among the most famous are Lilo and Stitch, and Moana.
16. Oahu has the Largest Wind Turbine in the World
Hawaii is among the best places in the world for wind power. Since Hawaii is essentially in the ocean, it has consistent wind. For wind power, the number one thing you need to produce reliable power is constant wind.
The largest wind turbines in the world were built on Oahu to take advantage of this wind. Each blade is 400 feet long, and the towers are 20 stories high. These turbines are capable of producing thousands of megawatts of power each year.
Sadly, wind turbines don’t produce enough power for the island, so most electricity is still made from gas power plants.
17. Mauna Kea is the Best Location for Telescopes in the World
Mauna Kea, located on the island of Hawaii, is a dormant volcano that reaches as high as 13,000 feet from sea level. Mauna Kea is the tallest point in all of Hawaii. Being this tall, the volcano is among the best places in the world to build telescopes.
One of the most interesting facts about Hawaii is how many telescopes currently reside on top of Mauna Kea. There are currently thirteen working telescopes on top of the mountain. These telescopes help us work out the mysteries of our universe by allowing us to peer into the void of space.
Although these telescopes are useful for science, they do come at a cost. Native Hawaiians argue that the peak of Mauna Kea is a sacred region in their culture.
Allegedly, the number of telescopes on the volcano has increased too much, and any more would be disruptive to their way of life.
18. Hawaii’s Nickname is the Aloha State
The final fun fact about Hawaii I’ll leave you with is the state’s nickname—the aloha state. In the native Hawaiian language, aloha can be either a greeting and a parting phrase. You can even use it to express your friendship and love.
The citizens of Hawaii gave their state the nickname “the aloha state” for a few reasons. First, the people of Hawaii are so warm and welcoming to visitors. Everyone is friendly, and they never hesitate to say hello.
Another reason is due to the tourists. So many tourists come to the island, and each time they do, they say “aloha” when they arrive and “aloha” when they depart. It seems like they use the phrase so much that the name just stuck!
So there you have it, 18 interesting facts about Hawaii! From the amazing beaches to the glorious volcanos, Hawaii is a magical place with activities for everyone. Not only that, but Hawaii is a place steeped in culture and history.
If you enjoy the historical aspects of Hawaii, like the monarchy or the role Pearl Harbor played in World War Two, you’ll love the cultural events as well. You can watch surfing competitions or enjoy a local festival.
If you visit Hawaii in September, you can experience the Kamehameha Day festivities yourself. You’ll never forget the beautiful memories you’ll make there.
So what are you waiting for? Hawaii is waiting for you to experience all of its magical bounties. If you haven’t visited before, now’s your chance!
More about our TFVG Author
A seasoned traveller, Dad, and avid sports tourist, James foundered The Family Vacation Guide to share his expert vacation experiences- especially when it comes to being a travelling family man.
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