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Hawaii is a state of the United States, nearly coterminous with the Hawaiian Islands.

Hawaii may also refer to:

In history:

In geography:

In music:

In fiction and film:

In science:

Other uses

See also


Hawaii (Hawaiian: Hawaiʻi, sometimes pronounced ha-VAI-ee by locals) is the 50th state of the United States of America. Situated nearly at the center of the north Pacific Ocean, Hawaii marks the northeast corner of Polynesia. While it was once a major hub for the whaling, sugar and pineapple industries, it is now economically dependent on tourism and the U.S. military. The natural beauty of the islands continues to be one of Hawaii's greatest assets. Honolulu is the state's capital, largest city, and cultural hub. Hawaiian and English are the official languages of Hawaii.


  • Islands 1
  • Cities 2
  • Other Destinations 3
  • Understand 4
    • History 4.1
    • Weather 4.2
    • Best times to go 4.3
  • Talk 5
    • Hawaiian language primer 5.1
    • Shaka 5.2
    • Avoiding misunderstandings 5.3
  • Get in 6
    • By plane 6.1
    • By boat 6.2
  • Get around 7
    • By plane 7.1
    • By boat 7.2
    • By bus 7.3
    • By car 7.4
    • By moped/scooter/motorcycle 7.5
    • By bicycle 7.6
  • See 8
  • Do 9
  • Buy 10
    • Clothing 10.1
    • Made in Hawaii 10.2
  • Learn 11
  • Work 12
  • Eat 13
  • Drink 14
  • Stay safe 15
    • Natural disasters 15.1
  • Stay healthy 16
  • Cope 17
    • Dress 17.1
  • Respect 18
  • Connect 19
  • Go next 20


Hawaii is an archipelago of over nineteen distinct volcanic islands located over a geological "hot spot" in the Central Pacific. The Pacific plate on which the islands ride moves to the northwest, so in general the islands are older and smaller (due to erosion) as you move from southeast to northwest. There are eight major islands, six of which are open to tourism.

Hawaii regions - Color-coded map
Hawaii (Hawaiʻi)
Almost always called the Big Island to avoid confusion, it's the largest of the islands and home to Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa (the largest and one of the most active volcanoes on Earth), Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, coffee and macadamia nut plantations, working ranches, and even green sand beaches. Kailua-Kona is the busiest part of the island on the dry, leeward side, and near the mega-resort Kohala Coast area with nearly zero annual precipitation. The saddle road (quite passable and a must see – despite what rental car companies say) passes between the massive volcanoes and connects Kohala with Hilo, the largest town on the Big Island and county seat with annual precipitation of more than 300 inches per year. Unlike anywhere else on Earth and definitely worth a look.
Oahu (Oʻahu)
Nicknamed "the Gathering Place," Oahu is the most populous and developed island. Its southern shore is home to the city of Honolulu, the state capital and largest city; four out of every five kama'aina (Hawaii residents) call it home. It is the governmental and commercial center of the state, and Waikiki Beach is arguably the best known tourist destination in Hawaii. Outside the city are pineapple fields, and the North Shore of Oahu, which is known each winter as the home of some of the largest waves in the world. The USS Arizona National Memorial at Pearl Harbor is also very popular visitor destination.
The second largest island in the chain, and home to the 10,023 foot (3,055 m) tall volcanic mountain crater of Haleakala. It is nicknamed "the Valley Isle" for the narrow plain between Haleakala and the West Maui mountains. On the west side of the island are the resort areas of Lahaina, Kaanapali and Kapalua, while the south side is home to Kihei, and Wailea. On the east side is the tiny village of Hana, reached by one of the most winding and beautiful roads in the world.
Kauai (Kauaʻi)
"The Garden Isle" is home to several natural wonders, such as the Wailua River, Waimea Canyon, and the Na Pali Coast. Mount Waialeale is known as one of the rainiest spots in the world. It boasts the most beaches out of the major islands, with the longest being Polihale measuring 17 miles in length. It's similar to the Big Island in that they have the most rural feel out of the 4 major islands.
Molokai (Molokaʻi)
"The Friendly Isle" is the fifth largest and one of the least developed of the main Hawaiian Islands. It is home to Kalaupapa, the place where long term sufferers of Hansen's Disease (also known as leprosy) were forced into quarantine by the Hawaiian government until 1969. It is now known for pristine, breathtaking tropical landscapes, environmental stewardship, rich and deep Hawaiian traditions, and a visitor-friendly culture.
Lanai (Lānaʻi)
Known as "the Pineapple Isle," formerly the world’s largest pineapple plantation owned by Dole Foods; it is now home to two high-end resorts. Just 3,135 people live on its 141 square miles. There are no traffic lights, movie theaters or bakeries. There is just one gas station and three main roads. It is ringed with vast and empty beaches, accessible only by four-wheel drive.
Niihau (Niʻihau)
A privately owned island with an entirely Native Hawaiian population. Until very recently, "the Forbidden Isle" was off limits to all but family members and invited guests of the owners. Tourism to the island is limited to helicopter, ATV, and hunting excursions originating on Kauai. There are around 130 Niihau residents and Native Hawaiian is the official language. They do not have running water, use solar power and live rent free.
Kahoolawe (Kahoʻolawe)
A former U.S. Navy bombing range, which remains uninhabited. Efforts are being made to rehabilitate the island, but cleanup efforts continue.


Other Destinations

Green sea turtle at Punaluʻu Beach, Big Island


The name game

The (Rhinecanthus rectangulus), the state fish of Hawaii, is known in the Hawaiian language as the humu­humu­nuku­nuku­āpuaʻa, which means "triggerfish with a snout like a pig". It is not the longest Hawaiian fish name, as is often thought; that distinction instead goes to the lau­wili­wili­nuku­nukuʻoiʻoi ("long-snouted fish shaped like a wiliwili leaf"), the (Forcipiger longirostris).

Where tourism is concerned, Hawaii has something for everyone. The island of Oahu, the most populous and home to the state capital and largest city of Honolulu, is great for people who wish to experience the islands and still keep the conveniences of a large city. Rainforests and hiking trails are located just minutes from Waikiki Beach, one of the world's best tourist destinations. In the winter, large waves on Oahu's north shore turn the normally sleepy area into the surfing capital of the world.

On the other hand, those who wish to experience Hawaii at a slower pace would do well to visit one of the Neighbor Islands (the other, less populated islands around Oahu). All the neighbor islands offer opportunities to relax and enjoy the sun and scenery. Many of the natural wonders of the Islands are located on the Neighbor Islands, from Waimea Canyon on Kauai, to Haleakala on Maui, to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. Numerous waterfalls and rainforests evoke memories of what the islands might have looked like before major corporations set their sights on Hawaii. The road to Hana is one of the most scenic on Maui, as you manipulate many turns overlooking the Eastern coast of the island. It leads you over bridges and past beautiful waterfalls. Ultimately, you can end up at the Oheo Gulch Pools (which are not sacred and there's more than seven), where the hiking is quite the experience.


Father Damien

On 11 October 2009, (1840-1889), a Belgian priest who came to the island of Molokai in 1864 to treat victims of leprosy - and eventually succumbed to the disease - was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI.

Polynesians migrated to, and established communities on, the islands of Hawaii before the arrival of Captain James Cook in 1778, who is widely credited as the first European visitor to the islands. At that time, each island was a separate kingdom. With the support of western advisors and weapons, Kamehameha I of the island of Hawaii conquered all the islands except Kauai, which acquiesced to his rule in 1810.

After Kamehameha II abolished the kapu (taboo) system, American missionaries came to the islands to spread Christianity. As the ancient Hawaiians did not have any concept of owning land the missionaries became official land owners of many of the islands. Their children would later become successful businessmen in the Islands and still own entire islands to this day. Pineapple and sugar cane plantations were established, and workers from other countries (in particular Japan, the Philippines, China, and Korea) were imported as contract laborers. Later, their descendants would also become established as successful professionals.

The Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown in 1893 by a group of American businessmen. While the U.S. administration at the time refused to annex the former sovereign nation, in 1898 the United States did annex the islands, which became a territory in 1900, and a state of the United States in 1959.

Hawaii also became an important outpost for the U.S. military through the 20th century, and Pearl Harbor was the site of the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941, that resulted in the U.S. joining World War II (see Pacific War). Today, the military maintains its presence here, with several major military bases on the island of Oahu alone; Pearl Harbor remains the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Over the years, many major retail chains have expanded their presence in Hawaii, making the Islands look more and more like the continental United States, often at the expense of local businesses. Nevertheless, Hawaii remains culturally vibrant. Its population, descended from the Native Hawaiians, the original plantation workers, and more recent arrivals, and in which no one group has a majority, is often cited as an example of multiculturalism at its best. There is a strong commitment to perpetuating native Hawaiian cultural traditions, as well as the cultural heritage of Hawaii's many immigrant communities from the Pacific, Asia and Europe. And certainly the environment is conducive to longevity... Hawaii has the longest predicted life expectancies of any U.S. state.


Depending on where you're located in Hawaii, the weather can be very different over even short distances. On the same day, on Oahu you might find sun over the beaches in Waikiki and rain only a few miles away in Manoa Valley.

Although the islands receive abundant amounts of both sunshine and rain, rain is more likely on the north and east sides of the islands, which face the prevailing northeasterly tradewinds (the "windward" side of the island), as well as the mountain peaks and valleys. The moist tropical air carried by the tradewinds is forced upward by the mountains, resulting in clouds and rain. Rain is less likely on the coastal areas of the "leeward" sides (the south and west sides) of the islands.

Although there are no true "seasons" in the islands in the same sense as the rest of the U.S., the climate does go through annual cycles based on rainfall. The "wet" season in Hawaii (cooler temperatures and more rainfall) runs roughly from October to March, and the "dry" season (warmer temperatures and less rainfall) from April to September. There is therefore a higher probability of rain if you visit during the peak of tourist season in late December or January.

Hurricane season in the islands runs from June to November. Although Hawaii's relative isolation means that it is affected only rarely by tropical cyclones, a destructive storm will occasionally hit the Islands, such as Hurricanes Iwa and Iniki hitting Kauai in 1982 and 1992 respectively.

Overall, Hawaii is warm and balmy — when you step out of the plane you'll immediately notice that the air is soft and humid — and during the summer months the tradewinds provide a pleasant breeze. Daytime temperatures generally range from the low 70s (21°C) in "winter" to the mid 80s (27°C) in "summer". Very rarely does the air temperature exceed 90°F (32°C) even in the hottest part of summer; however, the humidity will make it feel as if it were a few degrees hotter. Ocean temperatures range between 73°F (23°C) degrees in the winter to 78°F (25.5°C) in the summer. There is usually no more than a 20°F (12°C) difference between daytime high and nighttime low temperatures.

Consequently, besides your driver's license, credit card, camera, binoculars, and other essentials, it's best to keep your clothes to a or two pair of washable slacks/shorts, light shirts, walking shoes, sandals and swim gear. A light jacket or sweater may be necessary depending on when and where you go, but heavy clothing is not normally necessary in most areas. Sunscreen is essential since Hawaii's close proximity to the Equator translates into very strong sun radiation. The suitcase space you save can be used to fill up on island purchases.

Although the above is true for most of the Islands, you will find exceptions. A good rule to remember is the higher the elevation, the cooler it will be. Upcountry areas of Kauai, Maui and the Big Island will be cooler during the day, in the 60's, and much colder at night, in the 40's. At the highest elevations on Maui and the Big Island, temperatures can drop to near freezing in places like Haleakala National Park, Volcanoes National Park, and Mauna Kea. On the Big Island, both of the largest mountains, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, can receive snowfall year around, mostly in the winter, and can even experience blizzard conditions.

There is more of a difference from the day-to-night temperatures in Hawaii than there is summer-to-winter. Given that, there can be more of a difference from lower elevations to higher elevations than either of those, depending on where you are visiting. It's important to research the areas you plan to visit and bring clothing suitable for those conditions.

Best times to go

Hawaii's tropical weather tends to be most attractive to tourists when the weather is frightfully cold at home. It's not surprising, then, that the peak tourist season in Hawaii is the Northern Hemisphere winter (mid-December to mid-April). The highest prices tend to be during the Christmas and New Year's season, with a second peak around spring break in March and April. Hawaii's weather is at its best (not too hot and not too cold, with not so much rain) in April, May, September, and October - ironically, this is also the period when some of the best deals can be had.


Hawaiian and English are the official languages of Hawaii. However, English is by far the main spoken language. As Japan is the most important international tourist market in Hawaii, and also because Hawaii is home to a large ethnic Japanese population, many tourist destinations offer information in Japanese and have personnel who can speak Japanese. There are also many ethnic communities that speak languages such as Mandarin, Cantonese, Tagalog, Ilocano, Vietnamese, Korean, Samoan and the native Hawaiian language.

Hawaiian "pidgin" English, a creole that many locals grew up speaking, incorporates bits of Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Portuguese and many other languages, in addition to its own unique idioms. It has a unique sound and feel. You will most likely hear Pidgin spoken on the street by Islanders in informal situations; it is Hawaii's language of everyday life. However, as a visitor, do not feel that you need to learn Pidgin...standard English is universally understood in Hawaii, and most Islanders are able to speak to you in standard English. Be aware, however, that even in standard English, there are some subtle differences in usage in Hawaii (see below).

Hawaiian language primer

Learning a few words of Hawaiian can be fun and useful. Some signs in Hawaii use Hawaiian words, and most street signs use Hawaiian names. The following is a brief primer on Hawaiian pronunciation:

a as in father
e as in buffet
i as in machine
o as in phone
u as in fruit
ai, ae roughly like the igh in high
au, ao roughly like the ow in cow
ei roughly the ay in hay
ou roughly like the o sound in boat.

The Hawaiian alphabet consists of 13 characters: all 5 vowels plus 8 consonants (h, k, l, m, n, p, w, and the apostrophe) which are generally pronounced in Hawaiian as they are in English, except that w can also take on the sound of v in certain words. The apostrophe is actually not an apostrophe but an ʻokina, and represents a glottal stop: the following vowel is pronounced with a catch in the throat, much like the sounds in "uh-oh" are separated. A line above a vowel means that the vowel is extended and stressed.

Each vowel or diphthong is pronounced separately. For instance, the highway connecting Honolulu and Kaneohe on Oahu is called the Likelike Highway, and is pronounced LEE-keh-LEE-keh, not like-like.

Some useful words include:

Hello = Aloha. (ah-LOH-hah)
Goodbye = Aloha. (ah-LOH-hah)
Love = Aloha (ah-LOH-hah) (So you indirectly refer to "love" when you first see someone and when they have to go)
Thank you = Mahalo. (mah-HAH-loh). (Although this word is found on fast food trash receptacles around the islands, it does not mean "trash".)
finished, done = pau (pow)
help/respect = kokua (koh-KOO-ah)
woman = wahine (wah-HEE-neh)
man = kāne (KAH-neh)
child = keiki (KAY-kee)
local resident = kamaʻaina (kah-mah-EYE-nah)
toward the mountains = mauka (MOW-kah, MOW rhymes with pow)
toward the ocean = makai (mah-KIGH)
appetizer = pupu ("POO-poo")


The shaka sign is a hand gesture often used in Hawaii and adopted by surfers. To make a shaka, make a fist with your hand, and extend the thumb and smallest finger. Many people emphasize it by rotating their hand back and forth (along the arm, as if turning a doorknob).

There's not an exact meaning to the shaka, but it generally conveys "aloha spirit". Drivers frequently sign the shaka to say "thank you" to another driver.

Avoiding misunderstandings

As mentioned above, standard English is understood in Hawaii, and Hawaii residents are generally very friendly. However, there are some subtle differences in word usage. When talking with Hawaii residents, be aware of the following differences in word usage to avoid miscommunications. Also see Respect below.

  • Always refer to the continental United States as "the Mainland" rather than "the States." For instance, say "Back on the Mainland..." instead of "Back in the States..." Hawaii has been one of "the States" since 1959, and the Hawaiian sovereignty movement notwithstanding (see Respect below), most Hawaii residents are proud to be part of the United States. This is especially true for Japanese Americans, many of whose relatives served in the celebrated 100th/442nd unit in World War II. Using the term "the States" (implying that Hawaii is somehow foreign) may be seen as naive at best and condescending at worst. However, don't be surprised if some local people are condescending towards you because you are from the mainland. The "local" vs. "mainland" difference is something local people are only too happy to point out. Also, "mainland" includes places like Key West and Bar Harbor, even though those locations are all on islands themselves.
  • Residents of Hawaii do not necessarily consider themselves "Hawaiian." For instance, when asking a Hawaii resident, "Are you a native Hawaiian?" don't be surprised if his reply is "No, I'm Japanese." (Ask instead, "Were you born and raised in Hawaii?") On the Mainland, for example, a Californian means any person who lives in (or has ties to) California. However, in Hawaii, the terms "Hawaiian" or "native Hawaiian" are reserved to mean someone who is descended from the aboriginal people of Hawaii. This definition even appears in state laws. Because Hawaii is made of people of various ethnicities, someone whose family may have lived in Hawaii for generations may still not be Hawaiian by the above definition. To avoid misunderstanding, it is best to refer to Hawaii residents as such: Islanders, "locals", or kamaʻaina (as above), unless you know for a fact that they are of native Hawaiian descent.

Get in

A satellite view of the Hawaiian Islands and part of the vast expanse of the Pacific

Foreign travelers entering Hawaii directly from another country are subject to the same entry requirements as for the United States in general. See the Get in section of the United States article.

As Hawaii is one of the 50 United States, flights to Hawaii from the U.S. Mainland (that is, all of the U.S. outside of the state) are considered domestic flights. Therefore, it is not necessary for U.S. citizens or legal immigrants to show a passport (or any documentation of U.S. citizenship or immigration status) when entering Hawaii from the U.S. Mainland. It is also not necessary for foreign visitors to show passports or visas if they arrived on a flight from the mainland (i.e. if Honolulu was not their port of entry).

With that said, Hawaii does have some unique requirements that are intended more to control the flow of plants and animals than that of people. The islands have unique plant and animal life found nowhere else. They also have diseases and pests not found on the U.S. Mainland, and are free of other diseases and pests that are commonly found elsewhere. Because of this, Hawaii is an agricultural quarantine zone relative to the mainland. For travelers, this means three things:

  1. You are required by the Hawaii State Department of Agriculture to fill out a written agricultural declaration shortly before your flight to Hawaii lands. One declaration form is required per family; the forms will be collected before landing. Any fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, and the like need to be declared and inspected by Department of Agriculture personnel at your port of arrival; some items may be prohibited from entering Hawaii at all. Penalties for non-compliance are stiff. To avoid delays and hassles, avoid bringing such items with you if at all possible. (On the reverse side of this declaration is a Hawaii Tourism Authority questionnaire that asks for information about your stay. You are encouraged but not required to complete this questionnaire.)
  2. When leaving Hawaii for the U.S. Mainland, all baggage (checked and carry-on) must be inspected by U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors at the airport. With the exception of pineapples and treated papayas, any fresh fruits are prohibited from leaving Hawaii to control the spread of fruit flies. It does not matter whether the fruit was grown in Hawaii; the prohibition applies just as much to apples imported from the mainland and bought in local grocery stores. Consult the U.S. Department of Agriculture for more details. Bags are inspected by X-ray, so depending on the airport you leave from and the airline, be prepared to submit to as many as three checkpoints on the way to your Mainland flight: having your checked bags X-rayed in the ticket lobby, the TSA security checkpoint, and perhaps a separate agricultural inspection for your carry-on bags on the way to your gate.
  3. As Hawaii is rabies-free, pets such as dogs and cats are subject to complex and strict quarantine requirements. The least restrictive provisions (direct airport release or 5-day maximum quarantine) require, prior to arrival, at least two rabies vaccinations at least thirty days apart and at least 90 days before arrival, the latest of which must be current; microchip implantation; and a negative rabies blood test within the last three years, but at least 120 days before arrival. Pets failing to meet these requirements will be subject to quarantine for up to 120 days. These requirements usually make it prohibitive for most short-term visitors to Hawaii to bring their pets. Those planning long-term visits or moving to the Islands with sufficient lead time, however, will find these requirements useful.

Hawaii does not observe Daylight Saving Time, which means that the time difference between Hawaii and most of North America varies by the time of year. For reference, Hawaii is two time zones behind the U.S. West Coast, thereby accounting for a three hour time difference during DST. Arizona, which also does not observe DST save for the Navajo Reservation, is always three hours ahead of Hawaii year-round.

By plane

See also: air travel in the USA

Most flights from the mainland US and almost all international flights land in Honolulu on the island of Oahu. From here, passengers destined for a Neighbor Island will connect to an interisland flight (see By Plane in Get Around below). Direct service from the mainland is also available to Kahului on Maui, Kona and Hilo on the Big Island, and Lihue on Kauai as well.

Depending on the airline, nonstop flights to Honolulu leave from most major gateway airports on the West Coast (as well as some smaller ones), as well as many major airports in the Midwest and East Coast. The flight from Los Angeles or San Francisco takes about 5 hours, comparable to a flight between the West and East Coasts. Thus, a flight from New York can take about 10.5 hours.

Jetstar is a budget Australian airline that recently started connecting Honolulu to several cities in Australia.

By boat

While the days where everyone arrived in Hawaii by boat are long gone, there are limited numbers of trans-Pacific cruises to Hawaii that leave from ports on the West Coast. However, one fascinating way to experience Hawaii is by taking a cruise ship between the islands (see Get around: By boat).

There are limited freighter services, but if you are an American citizen embarking in the USA and wishing to travel to Hawaii then you cannot travel this way (because of the U.S. Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886, which says foreign-flagged ships cannot carry passengers from one U.S. port to another unless they stop in a foreign country - try cruises from Ensenada, Baja California or Vancouver, British Columbia).

It is also worthwhile to troll west coast marinas leaving your contact info and posting to online discussion boards for people planning to spend around a month sailing from the mainland. Just remember that a month with strangers can be stressful so do what you can to be sure you have picked a good experienced crew and boat to sail with and be a good crewperson yourself. Also ensure that any expectation in either direction of compensation including work duties, food, supplies, and damaged equipment is covered in writing so everything is clear between you and the boat owner. Storms and days stuck becalmed are to be expected but this is part of the life of a real sailor as much as racing with the wind.

Get around

By plane

Because Hawaii is an archipelago, air travel is, by and large, compulsory for traveling within the state. Travelers can choose from either a scheduled or unscheduled air carrier. Both scheduled and unscheduled air carriers are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration via the states local Flight Standards District Office.

Three scheduled inter-island air carriers, Hawaiian Airlines, Mokulele Airlines, and Island Air, provide set scheduled flights between the islands. Go! started service in June 2006, positioning itself as a discount carrier. You can save money and time by planning "triangle routes" that arrive in Hawaii on one island and leave on another, avoiding the cost of a return inter-island flight.

Scheduled flight times run anywhere from 20 minutes to one hour and can usually be purchased a day or two before departure, although this may increase the cost of traveling.

Visitors wanting to fly according to their own demand (as opposed to a pre-set published times) should consider flying on an unscheduled air carrier also known as air taxi service. You simply contact the air carrier directly and arrange a time and place for pick up. Iolani Air and Big Island Air are two such air carriers.

The Hawaiian islands are populated with airstrips that some carriers choose not to service due to economic or operation considerations that make flights not feasible. In some instances air taxi companies may be the only means of reaching a certain location or air strip.

Hunters and campers with cumbersome gear planning trips to remote island regions, as well as visitors wishing to "island hop", should consider air taxi service to meet their demands.

By boat

In general ferry services between the individual islands are few and far between and many are not intended as a practical means of transportation. While the last attempt to change this failed spectacularly in 2009, rising prices for fuel and the comparatively short distances between the islands might change this in the future.

Charter boats sail and motor between some islands, especially the Maui-Molokai-Lanai area. But, crossing the channels between islands can be extremely rough going. Because of this, a few charter companies specialize in having boats delivered inter island and can meet you at your destination. Two companies offering ferries are Expeditions (Maui-Lana'i USD30 one way for adults) and Sea Link (Maui-Molokai, USD65.96 one way for adults)

Norwegian Cruise Lines operates both U.S.-flagged and foreign flagged cruise ships between the islands, embarking and disembarking in Honolulu. The ship is called Pride of America.

Inquire at nearby marinas about joining the crew of a local sailboat or yacht out for a cruise.

By bus

On Oahu there is an excellent public transportation system on "TheBus". You can buy a booklet called "TheBus" at local ABC Stores giving route information on how to get around the island. Route schedules are also available on The Bus website. Public transportation is limited on the neighboring islands, it is recommended to rent a car to get around. If necessary, there are still bus services available within and between populated areas on the other islands. They are:

  • Hele-On (Hilo, Kona, Waimea and around the big island of Hawai'i)
  • Kaua'i Bus (Kauai)
  • Maui Bus (Kahului, Wailuku, Lahaina, and other places in western Maui. No service to the Haleakala NP in the eastern part of the island).

No regular bus services on Molokai or Lanai.

By car

If you want to take your car to Hawaii, it will either need to be amphibious or freighted by ship with very high cost, making this infeasible unless you plan a long-term stay in Hawaii. However, Hawaii is the only state that honors all other U.S. state vehicle licenses until they expire, provided you apply for a permit within 10 days of the car's arrival. (Incidentally, Hawaii is also the only state that does not require intended residents to exchange their out-of-state driver's licenses.)

Car rentals should be booked as soon as possible as the price charged is based on a supply/demand basis. The exception is Waikiki where you will not need a car on a permanent basis so just rent a car the day before you want one. Collision insurance coverage is very expensive through car rental companies (it can easily double your daily rate or more). Consider using a credit card with collision coverage. All U.S.-issued consumer Visa credit (but not debit) cards, many MasterCard cards and some American Express cards include secondary collision coverage; some American Express, Visa business and Diners Club cards offer primary coverage. Alternatively or additionally, prior to your trip, verify that both collision and liability (also called third-party) coverage from your own auto insurance company extends to rental cars. Car rental rates for 5- or 6-day periods are often the same as 7-day rentals. Use a credit card that includes medical and trip cancellation insurance benefits; if you cannot, consider buying trip insurance from your flight travel agent. View more on Hawaii car rental insurance. Also be aware some hotels may charge you for car parking; check with your hotel for parking fee before you book your car. International tourists with non U.S. credit cards are not covered by the above. By clicking on your country of origin when obtaining a quote from the car rental company's website, often an inclusive quote with loss damage waiver and supplemental liability insurance is provided. Otherwise using a travel agent website within your country e.g. your local Expedia website or local car hire broker will often also include insurance in their quote.

Gasoline, while nowhere near the prices charged in Europe, is significantly more expensive in Hawaii than on the Mainland. Expect to pay about 10% more than the prevailing rate on the Mainland for gasoline in Honolulu. Neighbor Island prices can be as much as 10-15% above that.

Be aware that outside of the major highways (H1, H2 and H3) most locals refer to the roads not by number but by name, and will likely not understand if you ask for a road by number. For example, you would never hear someone refer to Kalanianiole Highway as "route 72" or "highway 72."

If you ask for directions, they will likely not be given in terms of compass direction. Instead you will probably receive relative directions based on landmark. Common landmarks include mauka (toward the mountains), makai (toward the ocean), and on Oahu, ʻEwa (toward Ewa Beach, roughly west) and Diamond Head (toward Diamond Head, roughly east). So a query for a grocery store might be met with "go two blocks makai, turn right on King and it's half a mile up on the mauka side of the street."

By moped/scooter/motorcycle

Scooters are also an excellent alternative to getting around the islands. Rental rates are fairly cheap: about $50/day, or $135 for three days, which you can sometimes haggle down. The scooters are also fun to ride and are cheap on gas (typical mileage is 60–100 mpg, or 2.3–3.9 L/100 km). You can ride them anywhere except on limited-access highways (of which there aren't many in Hawaii, and there's always a surface street that's probably more scenic).

Scooters only require a valid license for driving a car, not a motorcycle license. The driver must be over 15 (legally out-of-state license aren't acceptable unless the driver is 18, but this is rarely enforced). It's illegal for two or more persons to ride a moped, although this may not be enforced in more remote areas such as Big Island. Helmets are not mandatory, but if you want one (which is always a good idea) you should be able to rent one with your scooter, possibly for free. When you get your scooter, inspect it first, as some are in bad repair: make sure the headlights and turn signals are working, and insist on taking it for a quick spin around the block to check that the acceleration, transmission, brakes, and steering are okay. If anything is amiss, insist on a replacement scooter, or walk away from the deal and find another rental company.

Scooters that can go over 30 mph or have an engine larger than 49 cc are classified the same as motorcycles, so you need a motorcycle license. Motorcycle rentals are easy to find. On most islands, you can also rent out Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

By bicycle

Depending on where you travel a bicycle can be a great form of transportation if you keep a few things in mind. Some roads are very narrow and winding which may create a hazard when sharing the road with cars. There are also some steep hills as Hawaii is a series of mountains erupting from the sea; without a topo map an apparent shortcut may require a challenging hill while a long loop may be flat and avoid large terrain getting you there quicker. If you stay near the beach there is the salty sea air and rain which will eventually rust a bicycle which is kept outside, keep on top of chain and part maintenance and cleaning to prevent damage. Honolulu has a bicycle registration law requiring a tag for $15, and bicycles without registration can be impounded by police. The law and common sense require a white front and red rear light when operating a bicycle during twilight and night. Many airlines charge an oversized luggage fee for most full size bikes even when boxed; some tour-capable folding bikes can be fit inside a standard suitcase, but most public transportation does not allow bicycles at all.



The Hawaiian islands offer a vast number of activities. Hiking and eco tours are popular on most islands, with opportunities for horseback riding, ATV, air tours, and other methods of exploring the landscape. Museums and historical sites such as Pearl Harbor are also to be found throughout the islands. Cultural activities such as the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu also make for interesting day-long activities.

Oahu is famous for Pearl Harbor tours, but also popular are shark dives in cages, Waikiki snorkel tours as well as around Oahu Tours where you will see all the major highlights of Oahu including Diamond Head, the North Shore and Dole Plantation where you can sample menu items made from fresh picked pineapples.

Maui is the location for humpback whale watching from December 15 to April 15 each year as the massive humpbacks migrate to Hawaii's warm waters to bear their calves. Also famous from Maui is the Molokini Crater which is a partially submerged volanco crater that you can snorkel at.

Kauai is untamed and beautiful. It has been featured in many major motion pictures over the past two decades (Jurassic Park, Tropic Thunder, The Descendants, Avatar, and many more) . See this island by land or by air to take in the true beauty of this island. Oh and just be ready to see the roaming Roosters that inhabit the island.

The Big island is the volcano island where you can take a land tour or fly over the incredible huge volanco on a helicopter tour. Doors off flights allow you to feel the heat from the volanco, an amazingly unique experience. Also on the Big Island you have the rare opportunity to swim with wild dolphins, not captive ones.

Hawaii is best known for its beaches and water activities. Surfing is practically a religion in Hawaii, and scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities exist nearly everywhere. In addition, jet skiing, parasailing and kayaking are available in tourist areas.

Since many of the Islands tours and excursions are interacting with nature in some way, it's important to look in to each and make sure they are respecting the Islands. There are many endangered animals and plants, because of this there are many laws protecting them. A good example would be tour boats that have been fined for chasing dolphins or whales in order to please the tourists, while it's actually illegal and highly disrespectful. Govern yourself the same way while you visit and remember to kokua na `aina or respect the land.


As in the rest of the United States, U.S. dollars are the local currency. There are plenty of banks, ATMs, and money change offices in all cities. However, none of the major American and foreign banks have branches in Hawaii, so the banking sector is served exclusively by small local banks. ATMs are scarcer on the North Shore of Oahu and other rural areas. Note that because Hawaii is an island state and transporting goods to Hawaii is more difficult, the prices for most goods are more expensive.

Hawaii has a 4% general excise tax statewide on the gross income of all businesses, which is generally passed on the consumer as a de facto 4.166% "sales tax." As of 2007, the City and County of Honolulu adds an additional half-percent on the excise tax rate, making the "sales tax" rate on Oahu 4.712%.


Other than the stereotypical grass skirt (which is not generally worn in Hawaii except by hula dancers), no pieces of clothing are more associated with the Islands than the aloha shirt and the muʻumuʻu.

The ever-present aloha shirt comes in a wide variety of designs. On one end, there are the brightly colored, tourist-oriented, polyester aloha shirts that many tourist-oriented stores throughout the Islands carry. On the other end of the spectrum are reverse print aloha shirts, which have become standard business attire among businessmen in Hawaii, in the same way that the business suit is on the mainland. These aloha shirts are usually cotton-polyester blend with the design printed on the inside of the shirt, resulting in muted colors that are considered businesslike in Hawaii. This kind of aloha shirt can be found in department stores.

For women, the muʻumuʻu is a long Hawaiian dress, usually made of cotton, that hangs loosely from the shoulder.

A special note on shoes: The lightweight sandal commonly referred to on the Mainland as a "flip-flop" or "thong" is known as a "slipper" or "slippa" in Hawaii. Using the mainland term will get you a quizzical look from locals. Call them by their island name and they will instantly know what you are talking about.

Made in Hawaii

One of the most popular souvenirs to buy in Hawaii are locally made bath & body products. The islands feature some of the most unique and refreshing fragrances in the world which you can easily find in Hawaiian shampoos, body lotions, soaps, oils, incense, floating candles, and much more.


Tourists who want to get a taste of Hawaiian culture can sign up for classes in hula, surfing and lei-making at most tourist destinations.

There also a number of cultural and historical centers on Oahu well worth your time, such as the Bishop Museum and Iolani Palace.

If you have the money, the time and the inclination, the Polynesian Cultural Center provides a window into Polynesian culture. As its name implies, the Polynesian Cultural Center covers not just Hawaii but also the cultures of Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Easter Island and the Maori people of New Zealand.

The outer islands also have destinations such as Maui Center for Culture and the Arts and the Big Island has the Hilo Art Museum. the Lyman House Museum and the Pacific Tsunami Museum as well as the University of Hawaii's ʻImiloa Astronomy Center and Kula Kai Caverns.

For those on a budget, there are many activities you can do on any island that are free. All state parks are free to visit and even some National Parks. When the National Parks are not free, most find them very affordable. Hiking, beaches, snorkeling and other like activities are always free when on public land and there are no private beaches. On the Big Island there are many free ranger programs at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical park and other locations. At the Visitor Information Station on Mauna Kea, you can stay any night of the year between 6PM and 10PM and enjoy a free astronomy tour including large and small telescopes for you to look through. Some hiking and other activities are located within National Parks, like Volcanoes so they are at cost, of course.


Given the current economic situation, the unemployment rate in Hawaii is at its highest point in many years, but is still below the average unemployment rate for the country as a whole. Hawaii is not an easy place to legally find casual work for non-US work permit holders. To apply for a local government job, by law you must be a Hawaii resident. This is changing though. Currently, police officer applicants do not have to be residents.


Contemporary food in Hawaii, like the language and popular culture, is a medley of traditional Hawaiian, Portuguese, American, and Asia-Pacific flavors. Pacific "fusion" cuisine was largely invented in Hawaii. Well-known local chefs include Sam Choy, Alan Wong, Russell Siu, Roy Yamaguchi, and George "Chef Mavro" Mavrothalassitis. Seafood is, of course, fresh and tasty. Local beef comes from ranches on Maui and coffee is grown on the Big Island. Tropical fruits such as pineapple, mango, bananas, guavas, and papaya, as well as fresh sugar cane, can be bought in most corner stores (although you may be surprised to learn that many of those fruits are now imported from distant locales such as The Philippines & Brazil).

One of the most common ways that local food is served is in the form of plate lunch, usually meat or fish with two scoops of rice and macaroni salad. It's always a good deal at any lunch wagon, mall, or outside food court. L&L Drive Inn and Zippy's are probably the most widely distributed chain of plate lunch spots in the Hawaiian islands. Branches of L&L are in some locations on the Mainland as well (as L&L Hawaiian Barbecue).

Another way of enjoying local food when roaming around the island is to keep an eye out for the converted trucks/vans that are parked in their regular spots in gas station parking lots, some parks and a variety of places on the island. These lunch wagons offer plate lunches, are popular with the locals and provide great meals (on plastic plates) at very reasonable prices. There is no reason to fear them; they are very common and popular. More recently, food carts have started to provide other kinds of cuisine besides the standard plate lunch.

You may be surprised to find that even the McDonald's menu is different. Saimin, a Hawaiian noodle soup inspired by ramen, is a permanent menu item, and was the first regional food to be served in a McDonald's. Another favorite is the breakfast platter at Hawaiian McD's features Portuguese sausage, Spam, eggs, and steamed rice, sometimes with fresh pineapple. Also, while on the Mainland orangeade is a fruit-flavored alternative to Coke or Sprite, in Hawaii, fruit punch fills that role.

Perhaps the best setting for tourists to enjoy traditional Hawaiian food is at a luau (lū‘au), a traditional Hawaiian feast. Tourists can find luaus at various locations in the Islands, including many of the major resort hotels. At a modern luau traditional Hawaiian favorites are served as a pūpū (buffet of appetizers and small main dishes (similar in size to Spanish tapas), which gave its name to the American Chinese "pupu platter"), and there is also Hawaiian music, hula, and other Polynesian entertainment. The downside is that they can be pricey and prices can vary widely; expect to pay between USD $50 and $90 per adult and about half that per child.

Dishes that are often found at luaus include:

  • Lomi salmon, salted salmon hand-mixed (lomi-lomi means "to massage") with tomatoes, onions, and pepper; like an island salsa
  • Kālua pig, pork wrapped in banana leaves and steamed inside an imu (ground boiler); similar to pulled pork
  • Pipi kāula, Hawaiian style beef jerky
  • Poi, ground and boiled taro root paste
  • Laulau, pork and butterfish (black cod) wrapped in ti plant leaves then steamed
  • Lū‘au, taro leaves baked with coconut cream and usually octopus (this dish inspired the modern name of the Hawaiian feast)
  • Haupia, a gelatin-like dessert prepared from thickened coconut milk; famous for being a very mild laxative

Other local dishes include favorites such as the following:

  • ʻAhi, yellowfin tuna, excellent as sashimi (Japanese style sliced raw fish) or as poke (chopped and seasoned raw fish).
  • Mahimahi, dolphin fish, served as a steak, sandwich, or in almost-raw thin strips.
  • Ono, a type of fish also known as wahoo. Not coincidentally, the name resembles the Hawaiian word for "delicious," ʻono.
  • Shave ice, an island version of snow cones made from finely shaved ice, comes in lots of ʻono flavors. Order your shave ice with azuki beans and/or a scoop of ice cream.
  • Saimin, Hawaii's version of noodle soup or ramen. Hawaii is also known for its high quality noodle houses which offer all the Japanese noodle staples (udon, ramen, soba, etc.).
  • Malasada, fried bread rolled in plenty of sugar, a sort of Portuguese donut. Often sold at special events.
  • Manapua, local name for a popular type of Chinese dim sum otherwise known as char siu bao. Cured sweet pork wrapped in soft white bread.
  • Spam musubi, an unorthodox variant of Japanese riceballs (musubi), composed of salted rice formed into a rectangular shape and topped with spam, wrapped in seaweed. Popular enough to be sold in every Hawaiian 7-Eleven.
  • Chicken/pork adobo, Filipino dish widely offered and appreciated in Hawaii, where the meat is marinated and then cooked in vinegar and soy sauce.
  • Loco moco, a local specialty consisting of a hamburger patty on rice, topped with over easy egg and gravy. Excellent with tabasco sauce. Can be eaten for breakfast or lunch.
  • Chicken katsu, fried chicken cutlet with savory sauce. Usually served with rice and mac salad.

If you are roaming the island away from tourist areas, you may find restaurants are scarce. Many of the numerous golf courses have dining rooms open to the public that offer great meals. They seem to welcome the non-golfer. For specific places at which to eat, see the individual island or city articles. Be sure to check the coupon books that are available at display stands for meal specials.

Popular local snacks are also heavily influenced by the large mix of cultures present in Hawaii, primarily the Chinese and Japanese. Since many of these snacks are unique to Hawaii and cannot be found anywhere else, consider purchasing a few bags from any grocery store to bring on your travels. A large portion of local snacks fall under the category known as "Crack Seed" which refers to a variety of pickled, candied, and dehydrated fruit snacks of Chinese origin.

The most popular iterations of Crack Seed snacks are:

  • Li hing mui - Salted dried plums that are especially popular with the younger locals. Li Hing Mui is known for its unique sweet, salty, and sour flavor. It is commercially sold either with the plum seed intact or seedless and also in a powdered form that can be sprinkled onto arare, fruits, gummy bears,and many other snacks.
  • Pickled or dried fruits - Mangoes are usually dehydrated for a sweet snack or kept wet and flavored with Li Hing Mui powder. Lemon and orange peels are also salted and dried for a salty/sour snack.

Other popular local snacks include:

  • Arare - Japanese rice crackers flavored with soy sauce that come in many different shapes and sizes. Arare is commonly paired with dried seaweed, li hing mui powder, or popcorn. Also commonly referred to as "Kaki Mochi" or "Mochi Crunch".
  • Dried Seafood - Dried cuttlefish and octopus strips, known by their Japanese names "Ika" and "Tako", are very popular snacks. Tuna, or "Ahi", is also dried and made into Ahi Jerky.
  • Macadamia nuts - Sweet nuts commonly associated with Hawaii as a whole. Dry roasted macadamia nuts are commercially sold plain, with flavoring, or in chocolate. Macadamia nuts in snack form are more popular with tourists than with locals and are usually given as gifts.

If you would rather catch your own, fishing in the ocean or gathering in tidepools is free and requires no permit. Fresh-water fishing, however, does require a license.


Beer: there are a number of excellent local brewpubs in Hawaii. Mehana, Sam Choy's, Honu, Waimea Brewing Company, Liz's Pub, Keoki's and Kona Brewing Company all brew beer in Hawaii or brew it on the mainland and ship it to the islands. The largest of the group is Kona Brewing, which has won several national awards and runs two brew pub restaurants in the islands (one in Kailua Kona, the other in Hawaii Kai on Oahu).

Stay safe

Theft is a big problem in cities as well as beaches and parks. If you are camping on a beach, keep bags locked in a car (but don't assume that they are safe in the trunk, especially if you are driving a rental) and keep valuables in a hidden money belt. Although Hawaii is generally considered relatively safe, it does have some violent crime. Consequently, women should not walk alone in unlit areas. Although Honolulu has one of the lowest violent crime rates of metro areas in the U.S., use your common sense. Stay smart and act as if you were in your own home city: lock doors, lock cars, and don't leave valuables lying around. Some campgrounds now require a permit (this has the effect of moving homeless people away from tourist areas). Be sure to apply for a reserved area and have your permit even in free camping areas especially around Honolulu.

Any of the beaches are vulnerable to pickpockets and thieves who break into cars. If you are using a rental car, it is advised you buy a bumper sticker or two to make it seem like you are a local. Paradoxically, keeping the car windows open will prevent break-ins and car damage, as the locals will think there is nothing of worth in the car. As a rule of thumb, do not bring anything to the beach you do not plan on using. If you must bring money, bring a friend to keep it safe.

If you are planning a hike in the mountains, monitor local weather reports carefully and use extreme caution in case of rain. Rain is more likely in the mountains, and flash flooding can occur near stream beds with little or no warning. Unsuspecting hikers can drown and be swept downstream.

Natural disasters

Pāhoehoe lava and ʻaʻā flows on the Big Island, as seen from a helicopter

Although it is rather rare, the threat of a natural disaster can occur at any time in Hawaii, sometimes with little or no warning. Besides the occasional destructive lava flow on the Big Island and occasionally destructive hurricanes (see Weather in Understand above), Hawaii can also experience tsunamis and earthquakes.

  • On 22 May 1960, the Great Chilean Earthquake (magnitude 9.5) generated a destructive tsunami that devastated Hilo on the Big Island, killing 61 people.
  • On 11 September 1992, Hurricane Iniki made a direct hit on Kauai, killing six and causing $1.8 billion in damage.
  • On 15 October 2006, most of the state was affected by a magnitude 6.7 quake off Kailua-Kona. No casualties were reported, but it caused extensive property damage and power outages of up to 14 hours on Oahu.

Fortunately, Hawaii has a highly developed civil defense system. High-pitched civil defense sirens are tested statewide at 11:45AM on the first working day of each month. If you hear these sirens go off at any other time, turn on the nearest radio or television set for emergency information.

If a tsunami is expected, either evacuate coastal areas subject to inundation (this includes most of Waikiki), or failing that, find the nearest concrete high-rise hotel and go to the third story or above. Follow the instructions of police and first responders at all times. If ordered to evacuate an area, do so quickly.

Stay healthy

Hospitals in Hawaii meet U.S. standards for care, and can be found in the urban areas of each island. The hospitals in Honolulu are larger and have the most advanced equipment; the hospitals on the neighbor islands provide general care. There is currently a shortage of specialists on the Neighbor Islands. Depending on where you are and how serious your condition is, be advised that you may need to be medically evacuated to Honolulu for treatment.

The main tourist areas of each island have walk-in urgent care clinics where you can receive non-emergency treatment for whatever ails you. Some clinics even make hotel room calls. Check with the local phone book or your hotel. In Waikiki, try Doctors on Call (808-971-6000). The clinic is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If you plan to go hiking in the backcountry or go swimming in freshwater pools in Hawaii, be advised of the risk of catching leptospirosis. Leptospirosis generally causes flu-like symptoms; in rare cases it can be fatal; the incubation period can be from 2-30 days after exposure. Do not swim in freshwater pools if you have open sores; see a doctor if you develop flu-like symptoms after hiking or swimming. If you do not have open sores and swim in these areas, the best way to avoid Leptospirosis or any bacteria is to never drink any natural water, no matter how clean it looks. If you are backpacking and this is a must, remember to bring the needed water filters and/or iodine pills to treat your water.

Be sure to have travel health insurance. If you are a U.S. resident with private health insurance, you should consult your insurance carrier to determine what co-payments apply and to what extent your insurance is accepted in Hawaii by doctors and hospitals in the event you need health care while on your trip. However, if you get a job in Hawaii - even a part-time job - you will receive health insurance by state law (presuming that you are a U.S. citizen or have a green card and are therefore legally eligible to work). See Stay healthy in United States of America for more information.

If you have respiratory problems, be aware of volcanic smog (also known as vog). Vog is formed when sulfur dioxide gas from Kilauea mixes with sunlight, water, and dust particles to form a haze made up primarily of sulfur compounds. Normally the northeasterly trade winds blow vog away from the rest of the islands. Southeasterly winds (also known as Kona winds in Hawaii), however, can blow vog toward the other islands. Vog can be a nearly constant presence on the Big Island. While many people in Hawaii can experience symptoms related to vog, it can especially affect those with asthma or other chronic respiratory illness. If you have a respiratory condition and plan to visit the Big Island, consult your doctor for advice.

When going to the beach/swimming always wear sunscreen lotion or sun guard to protect your skin from burns, as well as hats, covers and sunglasses. The islands are far closer to the equator than most tourists understand, so even if the weather is cooler, the sun's power is still more intense.



Hawaii's laid-back reputation extends to dress: with ideal weather year-round in most places, shorts are always appropriate around the islands. Long pants are fine, too, and you will still be quite comfortable. You do normally need to wear a shirt in public; going bare-chested is for the beach, although businesses near the beach are tolerant of it, particularly outside of the city. Sandals and flip-flops are always fine for casual wear, but note that they're always called slippers or slippa by locals. Going barefoot off the beach is not common in the cities, but again, businesses tolerate it to some extent.

Remember that Hawaii has many of the Earth's climates on each small island. Research the locations you plan to visit and dress accordingly, as some areas like Volcanoes National Park or Mauna Kea on the Big Island, or Haleakala National Park on Maui will leave you miserable in shorts and tank tops, as they may have below freezing weather, drenching rain and even snow.

For the beach or pool, boardshorts or swimming trunks for men are the most popular, though with so many visitors from Asia, speedos are welcome too. Female toplessness is legal in Hawaii, if uncommon. Swimming nude is illegal, although there are a few isolated beaches on each island where people risk it. Unless you're spending the day trekking from beach to beach, save beachwear for the beach and wear regular clothes.

Businessmen in Hawaii have the rare distinction of forgoing suits and wearing slacks with muted aloha shirts. As a visitor, you would probably be overdressed in a suit; a dress shirt (with or without a tie) and slacks would be fine. If you do wear an aloha shirt for business, wear it like you would any other button-up shirt for business: tuck it in, button all but the top button, and wear an undershirt if that's your style.

The business aloha shirt extends also to dressing up for fine dining, entertainment, and even church; some preachers wear business aloha shirts for church services. As a visitor, just put on a collared shirt, shoes (such as casual loafers), and, depending on the restaurant you're going to, either shorts or slacks. Ties and jackets will never be necessary.


In general, American standards of etiquette (see Respect in United States of America) apply in Hawaii. Hawaii, however, has certain cultural differences, owing to the Native Hawaiians and the large population of Asians and people of Asian descent.

  • As is the custom in many Asian countries, always remove your footwear when entering the home of an island resident, if so invited. Shoes and sandals are generally left on the front porch or just inside the front door.
  • Hawaiian culture should be respected and travellers should be sensitive to the state's rich cultural heritage and diversity - and the fact that the tourist experience of Hawaiian culture may only scratch the surface. For instance, there are many heiau (temples) in the Islands, where the ancient Hawaiian religion was practiced. Some of these have become tourist attractions in their own right, but visitors should nevertheless treat these places with the same level of respect one would show at a place of worship. To show respect, do not horseplay, rearrange or move any item, and never, ever take any item, including rocks and sand, with you.
  • If you visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, you will no doubt hear about Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes. An urban legend has it that people who have taken volcanic rock from Hawai'i, not just the park, have suffered various misfortunes; it is believed that it is the wrath of Pele. In any case, it is illegal to take rocks or other material from a national park. It is also unethical and looked down upon to take any rocks, sand or natural item from the Islands, for religious, moral and environmental reasons alike. Take only pictures, leave only footprints.
  • The status of Native Hawaiians vis-a-vis the U.S. federal government has become a hot topic in recent years, with some Native Hawaiian groups seeking a degree of sovereignty for the Hawaiian people as redress for the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and U.S. annexation in the 1890s. (Honolulu is home to the only royal palace on U.S. soil.) There is currently no consensus among Native Hawaiians on what form this sovereignty should take, with some preferring the status quo of ordinary citizenship, some seeking a status similar to that of Native Americans, and some wanting complete independence and secession from the Union. In addition, private and government programs that benefit Native Hawaiians have been called into question via a series of lawsuits that have received extensive coverage in local media. Discussions of Hawaiian sovereignty and programs can arouse a variety of strong opinions (both in support and in opposition) among Hawaii residents of all ethnicities, and the uninitiated visitor would be wise to avoid bringing up these topics in casual conversation.
  • Also, be careful when referring to Hawaii residents as Hawaiian, since the term Hawaiian properly applies only to Native Hawaiians, and non-Natives call themselves Islanders. (See Talk above.)

Some Native Hawaiians may attribute accidents caused by nature (such as a landslide at Sacred Falls that killed several people) to the Menehune punishing tourists disrespecting the land. Menehune or not, Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places in the world and its sites deserve our respect. Bottom line: respect the land and the people; there may be more there than meets the eye.


Hawaii uses the U.S. Postal Service with zip codes 96701 through 96898 with a state code of "HI". Postage between Hawaii, Alaska, the mainland, and overseas military & diplomatic installations (APO, FPO, DPO addresses) are the same domestic rates as it would be within the same island or between the Hawaiian Islands. Internet access can be found in most tourist areas and many hotels. General wi-fi access is available only at select hotels and cafes. The public libraries offer Internet access, but only for library cardholders. Visitors may purchase a 3-month library card for $10.00.

Hawaii's area code is 808. When dialing any off-island telephone number, dial 1 + area code + phone number. You must include the 808 area code when calling another island. Long distance charges to the mainland, if any, are usually the sme standard domestic rates as it would be if calling within the 48 contiguous states. Check with your phone/long distance company to be sure.

Go next

As Hawaii is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the state has few nearby neighbors.

  • California - The point of departure for many visitors from the continental United States.
  • Oceania - Hawaii can be a stepping off point to explore the many islands of the Pacific as well as the countries of Australia and New Zealand.
  • Japan


State of Hawaii
Mokuʻāina o Hawaiʻi
Flag of Hawaii State seal of Hawaii
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): The Aloha State (official), Paradise, The Islands of Aloha
Motto(s): Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono
("The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness")[1]
State song(s): "Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī
(Hawaiʻi’s Own True Sons)[2]
Map of the United States with Hawaii highlighted
Official language English, Hawaiian
Demonym Hawaiian (see notes)[3]
(and largest city)
Largest metro Oahu metropolitan area
Area Ranked 43rd
 - Total 10,931 sq mi
(28,311 km2)
 - Width n/a miles (n/a km)
 - Length 1,522 miles (2,450 km)
 - % water 41.2
 - Latitude 18° 55′ N to 28° 27′ N
 - Longitude 154° 48′ W to 178° 22′ W
Population Ranked 40th
 - Total 1,404,054 (2013 est)[4]
 - Density 214/sq mi  (82.6/km2)
Ranked 13th
 - Median household income $63,746 (5th)
 - Highest point Mauna Kea[5][6][7][8]
13,796 ft (4205.0 m)
 - Mean 3,030 ft  (920 m)
 - Lowest point Pacific Ocean[6]
sea level
Before statehood Territory of Hawaii
Admission to Union August 21, 1959 (50th)
Governor David Ige (D)
Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui (D)
Legislature State Legislature
 - Upper house Senate
 - Lower house House of Representatives
U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D)
Mazie Hirono (D)
U.S. House delegation 1: Colleen Hanabusa (D)
2: Tulsi Gabbard (D) (list)
Time zone Hawaii: UTC −10
(no DST)
Abbreviations HI, List of U.S. state abbreviations US-HI
Website .gov.hawaiiwww
Hawaii state symbols
Animal and Plant insignia
Bird(s) Hawaiian goose[9]
Fish Humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa[10]
Flower(s) Hawaiian hibiscus[11]
Insect Kamehameha butterfly[12]
Mammal(s) Humpback whale,[13] Hawaiian monk seal[14]
Tree Kukui nut tree[15]
Inanimate insignia
Dance Hula[16]
Gemstone Black coral[17]
Song(s) Hawaiʻi Ponoʻi[2]
Sport Surfing,[18] Outrigger canoe paddling[19]
Tartan Hawaii State Tartan (unofficial)[20]
Route marker(s)
Hawaii Route Marker
State Quarter
Quarter of Hawaii
Released in 2008
Lists of United States state symbols
Hawaii from space, January 26, 2014[21]

Hawaii ( or ; Hawaiian: Hawaiʻi ) is the 50th and most recent U.S. state to join the United States, having joined the Union on August 21, 1959. It is the only U.S. state located in Oceania and the only one made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean.

Hawaii's diverse natural scenery, warm tropical climate, abundance of public beaches, oceanic surroundings, and active volcanoes make it a popular destination for tourists, (wind) surfers, biologists, and volcanologists alike. Due to its mid-Pacific location, Hawaii has many North American and Asian influences along with its own vibrant native culture. Hawaii has over a million permanent residents, along with many visitors and U.S. military personnel. Its capital is Honolulu on the island of Oʻahu.

The state encompasses nearly the entire volcanic Hawaiian Archipelago, which comprises hundreds of islands spread over 1,500 miles (2,400 km). At the southeastern end of the archipelago, the eight "main islands" are (from the northwest to southeast) Niʻihau, Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, Maui and the Island of Hawaiʻi. The last is the largest and is often called the "Big Island" to avoid confusing the island with the state or archipelago. The archipelago is physiographically and ethnologically part of the Polynesian subregion of Oceania.

Hawaii is the 8th-smallest, the 11th-least populous, but the 13th-most densely populated of the 50 U.S. states. Hawaii's ocean coastline is about 750 miles (1,210 km) long, which is fourth in the United States after those of Alaska, Florida and California.

Hawaii is the only U.S. state not located in the Americas and the only state with an Asian plurality. It and Arizona are the only two states that do not observe daylight saving time, and Hawaii and Alaska are the only two states that are not in the contiguous United States.


  • Etymology 1
    • Spelling of state name 1.1
  • Geography and environment 2
    • Topography 2.1
    • Geology 2.2
    • Flora and fauna 2.3
    • Protected areas 2.4
    • Climate 2.5
    • Antipodes 2.6
  • History 3
    • First human settlement – Ancient Hawaiʻi (800–1778) 3.1
    • European arrival and the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi 3.2
      • House of Kamehameha 3.2.1
      • 1887 Constitution and overthrow preparations 3.2.2
    • Overthrow of 1893—the Republic of Hawaii (1894–1898) 3.3
    • Annexation—the Territory of Hawaii (1898–1959) 3.4
    • Political changes of 1954—the State of Hawaii (1959–present) 3.5
  • Demographics 4
    • Population 4.1
    • Race and ethnicity 4.2
    • Ancestry groups 4.3
    • Languages 4.4
      • English 4.4.1
      • Minority languages 4.4.2
      • Hawaiian 4.4.3
      • Hawaiian Pidgin 4.4.4
    • Religion 4.5
    • LGBT 4.6
  • Economy 5
    • Taxation 5.1
    • Cost of living 5.2
  • Culture 6
    • Cuisine of Hawaii 6.1
    • Customs and etiquette in Hawaii 6.2
    • Folklore in Hawaii 6.3
    • Hawaiian mythology 6.4
    • List of Hawaiian state parks 6.5
    • Literature in Hawaii 6.6
    • Music of Hawaii 6.7
    • Polynesian mythology 6.8
  • Tourism 7
  • Health 8
  • Education 9
    • Public schools 9.1
    • Private schools 9.2
    • Colleges and universities 9.3
  • Governance 10
    • Political subdivisions 10.1
    • Federal government 10.2
      • National politics 10.2.1
  • Transportation 11
    • Rail 11.1
  • Sister cities and twin towns 12
  • Gallery 13
  • See also 14
  • References 15
  • Further reading 16
  • External links 17


The Hawaiian language word Hawaiʻi derives from Proto-Polynesian *Sawaiki, with the reconstructed meaning "homeland";[22] Hawaiʻi cognates are found in other Polynesian languages, including Māori (Hawaiki), Rarotongan (ʻAvaiki), and Samoan (Savaiʻi). (See also Hawaiki). According to Pukui and Elbert,[23] "Elsewhere in Polynesia, Hawaiʻi or a cognate is the name of the underworld or of the ancestral home, but in Hawaii, the name has no meaning."[24]

Spelling of state name

A somewhat divisive political issue arose when the constitution of the state of Hawaii added Hawaiian as a second official state language: the exact spelling of the state's name, which in the islands' language is Hawaiʻi (the ʻokina marking a Hawaiian consonant, a cut-off of breath before the final i). In the Hawaii Admission Act that granted Hawaiian statehood, the federal government recognized Hawaii to be the official state name. Official government publications, as well as department and office titles, use the traditional Hawaiian spelling, with no symbols for glottal stops or vowel length.[25] In contrast, the National and State Parks Services, the University of Hawaiʻi, and some private entities, including a local newspaper, do use such symbols.

The title of the state constitution is "The Constitution of the State of Hawaii". In Article XV, Section 1 uses "The State of Hawaii", Section 2 "the island of Oahu", Section 3 "The Hawaiian flag", and Section 5 specifies the state motto as "Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono". Since these documents predate the modern use of the ʻokina and the kahakō in Hawaiian orthography, the diacritics were not used. On the other hand, precedent for U.S. state name changes were set in 1780 when the Massachusetts Bay State changed its name to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and in the 1820s when the Territory of Arkansaw changed the spelling of its name to the Territory of Arkansas.

Geography and environment

The main Hawaiian Islands are:

Island Nickname Area Population
(as of 2010)
Density Highest point Elevation Age (Ma)[26] Location
Hawaiʻi[27] The Big Island 1 4,028.0 sq mi (10,432.5 km2) 185,079 4 45.948/sq mi (17.7407/km2) Mauna Kea 1 13,796 ft (4,205 m) 0.4
Maui[28] The Valley Isle 2 727.2 sq mi (1,883.4 km2) 144,444 2 198.630/sq mi (76.692/km2) Haleakalā 2 10,023 ft (3,055 m) 1.3–0.8
Oʻahu[29] The Gathering Place 3 596.7 sq mi (1,545.4 km2) 953,207 1 1,597.46/sq mi (616.78/km2) Mount Kaʻala 5 4,003 ft (1,220 m) 3.7–2.6
Kauaʻi[30] The Garden Isle 4 552.3 sq mi (1,430.5 km2) 66,921 3 121.168/sq mi (46.783/km2) Kawaikini 3 5,243 ft (1,598 m) 5.1
Molokaʻi[31] The Friendly Isle 5 260.0 sq mi (673.4 km2) 7,345 5 28.250/sq mi (10.9074/km2) Kamakou 4 4,961 ft (1,512 m) 1.9–1.8
Lānaʻi[32] The Pineapple Isle 6 140.5 sq mi (363.9 km2) 3,135 6 22.313/sq mi (8.615/km2) Lānaʻihale 6 3,366 ft (1,026 m) 1.3
Niʻihau[33] The Forbidden Isle 7 69.5 sq mi (180.0 km2) 170 7 2.45/sq mi (0.944/km2) Mount Pānīʻau 8 1,250 ft (381 m) 4.9
Kahoʻolawe[34] The Target Isle 8 44.6 sq mi (115.5 km2) 0 8 0 Puʻu Moaulanui 7 1,483 ft (452 m) 1.0

World map with Hawaiian islands in the middle
The Hawaiian Islands are located in the North Pacific Ocean

A true-color satellite view of Hawaii shows that most of the vegetation on the islands grows on the northeast sides which face the wind. The silver glow around the southwest of the islands is the result of calmer waters.[35]


Nā Pali coast, Kauaʻi

An archipelago situated some 2,000 mi (3,200 km) southwest of the North American mainland,[36] Hawaii is the southernmost state of the United States and the second westernmost state after Alaska. Hawaii, along with Alaska, does not border any other U.S. state.

Panorama of the Haleakala crater

Hawaii is the only state of the United States that is not geographically located in North America, grows coffee, is completely surrounded by water, is entirely an archipelago, has royal palaces, and does not have a straight line in its state boundary.

Hawaii’s tallest mountain, Mauna Kea, stands at 13,796 ft (4,205 m)[37] but is taller than Mount Everest if followed to the base of the mountain, which, lying at the floor of the Pacific Ocean, rises about 33,500 ft (10,200 m).[38]

The eight main islands, Hawaiʻi, Maui, Oʻahu, Kahoʻolawe, Lanaʻi, Molokaʻi, Kauaʻi and Niʻihau are accompanied by many others. Kaʻula is a small island near Niʻihau that is often overlooked. The Northwest Hawaiian Islands are a series of nine small, older masses northwest of Kauaʻi that extend from Nihoa to Kure that are remnants of once much larger volcanic mountains. There are also more than 100 small rocks and islets, such as Molokini, that are either volcanic, marine sedimentary or erosional in origin, totaling 130 or so across the archipelago.[39]


The Hawaiian islands were (and continue to be) continuously formed from volcanic activity initiated at an undersea magma source called a hotspot. As the tectonic plate beneath much of the Pacific Ocean moves to the northwest, the hot spot remains stationary, slowly creating new volcanoes. Due to the hotspot’s location, the only active volcanoes are located around the southern half of the Big Island. The newest volcano, ʻihi Seamount, is located south of the Big Island’s coast.

The last volcanic eruption outside the Big Island occurred at Haleakalā on Maui before the late 18th century, though it could have been hundreds of years earlier.[40] In 1790, Kīlauea exploded with the deadliest eruption (of the modern era) known to have occurred in what is now the United States.[41] As many as 5,405 warriors and their families marching on Kīlauea were killed by that eruption.[42]

Volcanic activity and subsequent erosion have created impressive geological features. The Big Island has the third-highest point among the world’s islands.[43]

Slope instability of the volcanoes has generated damaging earthquakes with related tsunamis, particularly in 1868 and 1975.[44] Steep cliffs have been caused by catastrophic debris avalanches on the submerged flanks of ocean island volcanos.[45][46]

Flora and fauna

Because the islands are so far from other land habitats, life before human activity is said to have arrived by the “3 W’s”: wind (carried through the air), waves (brought by ocean currents), and wings (birds, insects, and whatever they brought with them). This isolation, and the wide range of environments (extreme altitude, tropical climate) produced a vast array of endemic flora and fauna (see Endemism in the Hawaiian Islands). Hawaii has more endangered species and has lost a higher percentage of its endemic species than any other U.S. state.[47] One endemic plant, Brighamia, now requires hand-pollination – its natural pollinator is presumed to be extinct.[48] The two species of BrighamiaB. rockii and B. insignis – are represented in the wild by perhaps 120 individual plants. In order to ensure that these plants set seed, biologists rappel down 3000-foot cliffs to brush pollen onto their stigmas.[49]

The relatively short time that the existing main islands of the archipelago have been above the surface of the ocean (less than 10 million years) is only a fraction of time span over which biological colonization and evolution have occurred in the archipelago.

The islands are well known for the environmental diversity that occurs on high mountains within a trade winds field. On a single island, the climate can differ around the coast from dry tropical (< 20 in or 500 mm annual rainfall) to wet tropical; and up the slopes from tropical rainforest (> 200 in or 5000 mm per year) through a temperate climate into alpine conditions of cold and dry climate. The rainy climate impacts soil development, which largely determines ground permeability, which affects the distribution of streams, wetlands, and wet places.

Protected areas

Endemic Haleakalā Silversword near Haleakalā summit

Several areas in Hawaii are under the protection of the National Park Service.[50] Hawaii has two national parks: Haleakala National Park near Kula, on Maui, includes Haleakalā, the dormant volcano that formed east Maui; and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in the southeast region of the Island of Hawaiʻi, which includes the active volcano Kīlauea and its various rift zones.

There are three national historical parks: Kalaupapa National Historical Park in Kalaupapa, Molokaʻi, the site of a former Hansen’s disease colony; Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park in Kailua-Kona on the Island of Hawaiʻi; and Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, an ancient place of refuge. Other areas under the control of the National Park Service include Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail on the Big Island and the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor on Oʻahu.


Preceded by
List of U.S. states by date of statehood
Admitted on August 21, 1959 (50th)
Most recent
  • Official website
  • Hawaii State Guide from the Library of Congress
  • Hawaii at DMOZ
  • i State Fact SheetʻHawai from the U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • USGS real-time, geographic, and other scientific resources of Hawaii
  • Energy Data & Statistics for Hawaii
  • Satellite image of Hawaiian Islands at NASA's Earth Observatory
  • Documents relating to Hawaii Statehood, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library
  • Happily a State, Forever an Island by The New York Times
  • i Then and NowʻHawai – slideshow by Life magazine (Archived from the original on November 3, 2010)
  • Geographic data related to Hawaii at OpenStreetMap
  • Hawaiian Imprint Collection From the Rare Book and Special Collections Division at the Library of Congress

External links

  • Bushnell, O. A. The Gifts of Civilization: Germs and Genocide in Hawaiʻi. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1993.
  • Holmes, T. Michael. The Specter of Communism in Hawaiʻi. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1994.
  • Russ Jr., William Adam. The Hawaiian Republic (1894-98) and Its Struggle to Win Annexation. Selinsgrove, PA: Susquehanna University Press, 1961.
  • Schamel, Wynell and Charles E. Schamel. "The 1897 Petition Against the Annexation of Hawaiʻi." Social Education 63, 7 (November/December 1999): 402–408.
  • Stokes, John F.G. "Spaniard and the Sweet Potato in Hawaiʻi and Hawaiian-American Contacts." American Anthropologist, New Series, vol. 34, no. 4 (1932) pp. 594–600.

Further reading

  1. ^ Hawaii State Legislature. "Haw. Rev. Stat. § 5-9 (State motto)". Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Hawaii State Legislature. "Haw. Rev. Stat. § 5-10 (State song)". Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  3. ^ Local usage generally reserves Hawaiian as an ethnonym referring to Native Hawaiians. Hawaii resident or islander is the preferred local form to refer to state residents in general regardless of ethnicity. The Associated Press Stylebook, 42nd ed. (2007), also prescribes this usage (p. 112).
  4. ^ a b "Table 1. Annual Estimates of the Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013" ( 
  5. ^ "Summit USGS 1977". NGS data sheet.  
  6. ^ a b "Elevations and Distances in the United States".  
  7. ^ Elevation adjusted to North American Vertical Datum of 1988.
  8. ^ The summit of Mauna Kea is the highest point in Oceania. Mauna Kea is also the tallest mountain on Earth when measured from base to summit. The shield volcano sits on the floor of the Pacific Ocean at a depth of 5,998 meters (19,678 ft) for a total height of 10,205.3 meters (33,482 ft)
  9. ^ Hawaii State Legislature. "Haw. Rev. Stat. § 5-17 (State bird)". Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  10. ^ Hawaii State Legislature. "Haw. Rev. Stat. § 5-11.5 (State fish)". Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  11. ^ Hawaii State Legislature. "Haw. Rev. Stat. § 5-16 (State flower and individual island flowers)". Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  12. ^ Hawaii State Legislature. "Haw. Rev. Stat. § 5-11.3 (State insect)". Retrieved November 6, 2014. 
  13. ^ Hawaii State Legislature. "Haw. Rev. Stat. § 5-12 (State marine mammal)". Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  14. ^ Hawaii State Legislature. "Haw. Rev. Stat. § 5-12.5 (State mammal)". Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  15. ^ Hawaii State Legislature. "Haw. Rev. Stat. § 5-8 (State tree)". Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  16. ^ Hawaii State Legislature. "Haw. Rev. Stat. § 5-21 (State dance)". Retrieved November 6, 2014. 
  17. ^ Hawaii State Legislature. "Haw. Rev. Stat. § 5-15 (State gem)". Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  18. ^ Hawaii State Legislature. "Haw. Rev. Stat. § 5-13.5 (State individual sport)". Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  19. ^ Hawaii State Legislature. "Haw. Rev. Stat. § 5-14 (State team sport)". Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Hawaiian tartan". Scottish Register of Tartans. National Records of Scotland. Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  21. ^ Hawaii January 29, 2014
  22. ^ Pollex—a reconstruction of the Proto-Polynesian lexicon, Biggs and Clark, 1994. The asterisk preceding the word signifies that it is a reconstructed word form.
  23. ^ Pukui, Mary Kawena; Elbert, Samuel H. (1986). Hawaiian Dictionary. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. p. 62.  
  24. ^ Pukui, Elbert, and Mookini 1974.
  25. ^ "Hawaiian language". Wow Polynesia. December 2, 2009. Retrieved April 16, 2011. 
  26. ^ Blay, Chuck, and Siemers, Robert. Kauai‘’s Geologic History: A Simplified Guide. Kaua‘i: TEOK Investigations, 2004. ISBN 9780974472300. (Cited in "Hawaiian Encyclopedia : The Islands". Retrieved June 20, 2012. )
  27. ^ iʻU.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Island of Hawai
  28. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Maui Island
  29. ^ ahu IslandʻU.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: O
  30. ^ i IslandʻU.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Kaua
  31. ^ i IslandʻU.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Moloka
  32. ^ i IslandʻU.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Lāna
  33. ^ ihau IslandʻU.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Ni
  34. ^ olawe IslandʻU.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Kaho
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  127. ^ POLLACK, ANDREW (October 7, 2013). "Unease in Hawaii’s Cornfields". New York Times. Retrieved October 18, 2014. 
  128. ^; Local Area Unemployment Statistics
  129. ^ Associated Press, "Study: Military spent $12B in Hawaii in 2009", Military Times, June 1, 2011.
  130. ^ Frank, Robert. "Top states for millionaires per capita". CNBC. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  131. ^ "Honolulu Star-Bulletin Hawaii News". November 30, 2006. Retrieved November 5, 2011. 
  132. ^ Cost of Living Wizard on The New York Times website
  133. ^ for examples of stores that ship free to Hawaii
  134. ^ Historic Housing Values on
  135. ^ "Metropolitan Median Prices". February 15, 2005. Retrieved November 5, 2011. 
  136. ^ "Keeping up with the Jones Act".  
  137. ^ Philips, Matthew (2013-12-12). "U.S. Law Restricting Foreign Ships Leads to Higher Gas Prices".  
  138. ^ Lynch, Russ (April 4, 1997). "U.S.-only shipping rule praised, blasted; Backers and foes of the Jones Act make their case before the Legislature".  
  139. ^   2012 resolution introduced requesting Congress to exempt Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, and Puerto Rico from the Jones Act.
  140. ^ Unterberger, pp. 465–473
  141. ^ Manuel, pp. 236–241
  142. ^ Hawaii State DBEDT (2003). "Overview of All Visitors". Summary of 2003 Visitors to Hawaii: 2. Retrieved February 23, 2012. 
  143. ^ "Merrie Monarch Festival 2005". The Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved May 15, 2010. 
  144. ^ Nelson, Shane (August 8, 2011). "Hawaii International Film Festival: Kinship through cinema".  
  145. ^ USA. "19th Annual Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival at Doris Duke Theatre :: Honolulu Hawaii Nightlife Event Guide". Retrieved May 15, 2010. 
  146. ^ "Honolulu Star-Bulletin Features". May 29, 2001. Retrieved November 5, 2011. 
  147. ^ "Two-Thirds Of Hawaii Schools Do Not Meet Requirements – Education News Story – KITV Honolulu". August 18, 2005. Archived from the original on 2007-03-18. Retrieved May 15, 2010. 
  148. ^ Honolulu Advertiser, August 17, 2005, p. B1
  149. ^ "News – Official 2011–12 Public and Charter School Enrollment". Hawaii Public Schools. Honolulu, HI, USA:  
  150. ^ Jordan, Cynthia (October 10, 2011). "PRIVATE SCHOOL ENROLLMENT REPORT 2011–2012". Hawaii Association of Independent Schools. Honolulu, HI: Hawaii Association of Independent Schools. p. 3. Retrieved May 12, 2012. 
  151. ^ Hussar, William J.; Bailey, Tabitha M. (September 11, 2009). "Projections of Education Statistics to 2018". National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Home Page, a part of the U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. p. 6 (22 out of 68). Archived from the original on 2009-09-19. Retrieved May 12, 2012. 
  152. ^ Ishibasha, Koren (November 2005). "Official Enrollment". Archived from the original on February 25, 2010. Retrieved December 2009. 
  153. ^ Blackwell, Sarah (January 4, 2013). , 23 December 2009, accessed 6 January 2012"The Daily Rundown"msnbc's . Retrieved January 6, 2013. 
  154. ^ Rudin, Ken (December 23, 2009). , 23 December 2009, accessed 30 December 2009"Political Junkie"NPR's . Retrieved May 15, 2010. 
  155. ^ Heard on Tell Me More (October 29, 2008). "Asian Writer Ponders First Asian President Too". Retrieved May 15, 2010. 
  156. ^ Horvat, William J. "Inter-Island Airways/Hawaiian Airlines — Hawaii Aviation". Hawaii's Aviation History. Honolulu, HI, USA: State of Hawaii. Retrieved May 5, 2012. 
  157. ^ Cataluna, Lee (December 23, 2005). "Nothing Smooth On Seaflite".  
  158. ^ "Aloha, Superferry Alakai leaves Hawaii to find job".  
  159. ^ "Maui Molokai Ferry on Molokai Princess and Maui Princess". Retrieved May 5, 2012. 
  160. ^ i Ferry Service"ʻ"Expeditions: Maui - Lana. Retrieved May 5, 2012. 
  161. ^ "Hawaii Cruises Cruise Overview | Hawaii Cruises Cruise Destinations & Vacation Packages". Norwegian Cruise Line. Miami-Dade County, FL, USA:  
  162. ^ "Hawaii, Tahiti, & South Pacific Cruises". Princess Cruises. Santa Clarita, CA, USA:  
  163. ^ a b Hawaiian Railway Album – WW II Photographs Vol 2; Victor Norton Jr. and Gale E. Treiber; 2005; Railroad Press – Hanover, PA


See also


Hawaii has many sister cities and twin towns. Hawaii County is twinned with five Japanese cities and one Philippines city. Hilo is twinned with a Chilean city and a Japanese city. Honolulu is twinned with over 25 foreign cities, most notably Manila, Toronto, Seoul, and Tokyo. Kauai County is twinned with three Japanese cities. Maui County is twinned with over 20 cities, most notably Madrid and Manila. Waikiki is twinned with Bixby, Oklahoma.

Sister cities and twin towns

The OR&L was important for moving troops and goods during World War II. Traffic on this line was busy enough for there to be signals on the lines to facilitate movement of trains and wigwag signals at some railroad crossings for the protection of motorists. The main line was officially abandoned in 1947; although part of it was bought by the US Navy and operated until 1970. Thirteen miles (21 km) of track remain and preservationists occasionally run trains over a portion of this line.[163] The Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project aims to add elevated passenger rail on Oahu to relieve highway congestion.

At one time Hawaii had a network of railroads on each of the larger islands that helped move farm commodities as well as passengers. Most were 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge but there were some 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge on some of the smaller islands. Standard US gauge is 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm). By far the largest railroad was the Oahu Railway and Land Company (OR&L) that ran many lines from Honolulu across the western and northern part of Oahu.[163]


Seaflite operated hydrofoils between the major islands in the mid-1970s.[157] The Hawaii Superferry operated between Oʻahu and Maui between December 2007 and March 2009, with additional routes planned for other islands. Legal issues over environmental impact statements and protests ended the service, though the company operating Superferry has expressed a wish to begin ferry service again at a future date.[158] Currently there is passenger ferry service in Maui County between Molokaʻi and Maui,[159] and between Lanaʻi and Maui,[160] though neither of these takes vehicles. Currently Norwegian Cruise Lines and Princess Cruises provide passenger cruise ship service between the larger islands.[161][162]

Until air passenger service became available in the 1920s,[156] private boats were the sole means of traveling between the islands.

Honolulu International Airport (IATA:HNL), which shares runways with the adjacent Hickam Field (IATA:HIK), is the major commercial aviation hub of Hawaii. The commercial aviation airport offers intercontinental service to North America, Asia, Australia, and Oceania. Within Hawaii, Hawaiian Airlines, Mokulele Airlines and go! use jets between the larger airports in Honolulu, Līhuʻe, Kahului, Kona and Hilo, while Island Air and Pacific Wings serve smaller airports. These airlines also provide air freight service amongst the islands.

The main welcome sign for Honolulu Airport

A system of state highways encircles each main island. Only Oʻahu has federal highways, and is the only area outside the contiguous 48 states to have signed Interstate highways. Travel can be slow due to narrow winding roads, and congestion in populated places. Each major island has a public bus system.


Honolulu native Barack Obama, then serving as United States Senator from Illinois, was elected the 44th President of the United States on November 4, 2008, and was reelected for a second term on November 6, 2012. Obama had won the Hawaiian Democratic Caucus on February 19, 2008 with 76% of the vote. He was the third Hawaii-born candidate to seek the nomination of a major party and the first presidential nominee from Hawaii.[154][155]

In 2004, John Kerry won the state's four electoral votes by a margin of nine percentage points with 54% of the vote. Every county supported the Democratic candidate. In 1964, favorite son candidate Senator Hiram Fong of Hawaii sought the Republican presidential nomination, while Patsy Mink ran in the Oregon primary in 1972.

Since gaining statehood and participating in its first election in 1960, Hawaii has supported Democrats in all but two presidential elections (1972 and 1984, both landslide victories for Republicans Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan respectively). During that time, only Minnesota has supported Republican candidates fewer times in presidential elections.

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2012 27.84% 121,015 70.55% 306,658
2008 26.58% 120,446 71.85% 325,588
2004 45.26% 194,191 54.01% 231,708
2000 37.46% 137,845 55.79% 205,286
1996 31.64% 113,943 56.93% 205,012
1992 36.70% 136,822 48.09% 179,310
1988 44.75% 158,625 54.27% 192,364
1984 55.10% 185,050 43.82% 147,154
1980 42.90% 130,112 44.80% 135,879
1976 48.06% 140,003 50.59% 147,375
1972 62.48% 168,865 37.52% 101,409
1968 38.70% 91,425 59.83% 141,324
1964 21.24% 44,022 78.76% 163,249
1960 49.97% 92,295 50.03% 92,410

National politics

Federal officials in Hawaii are based at the Prince Kūhiō Federal Building near the Aloha Tower and Honolulu Harbor in Honolulu. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service and the Secret Service maintain their offices there, and the building is also the site of the federal District Court for the District of Hawaii and the United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii.

Brian Schatz is the senior United States Senator from Hawaii. He was appointed to the office on the December 26, 2012, by Governor Neil Abercrombie, following the death of former Senator Daniel Inouye. The state's junior senator is Mazie Hirono, the former Representative from the 2nd congressional district. Hirono owns the distinction of being the first Asian American female and first Buddhist senator. Hawaii incurred the biggest seniority shift between the 112th the 113th Congress. The Aloha state went from a delegation with senators who were first and 21st in seniority before Inouye’s death and Senator Daniel Akaka’s retirement, to senators who are 87th and 93rd.[153]

Hawaii is represented in the United States Congress by two Senators and two Representatives. All four are Democrats. Colleen Hanabusa represents the 1st congressional district in the House, representing southeastern Oahu, including central Honolulu. Tulsi Gabbard represents the 2nd congressional district, representing the rest of the state, which is mainly rural.

Brian Schatz is the senior United States Senator from Hawaii

Federal government

Hawaii comprises five counties: the City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii County, Maui County, Kauai County, and Kalawao County.

Now the state capital, Honolulu is located along the southeast coast of Oʻahu. The previous capital was Lahaina, Maui, and before that Kailua-Kona, Hawaiʻi. Some major towns are Hilo; Kāneʻohe; Kailua; Pearl City; Waipahu; Kahului; Kailua-Kona. Kīhei; and Līhuʻe.

The movement of the Hawaiian royal family from the Big Island to Maui, and subsequently to Oʻahu, explains why population centers exist where they do today. Kamehameha III chose the largest city, Honolulu, as his capital because of its natural harbor, the present-day Honolulu Harbor.

Political subdivisions

The unified judicial branch of Hawaii is the Hawaii State Judiciary. The state's highest court is the Supreme Court of Hawaii, which uses Aliʻiōlani Hale as its chambers. Unique to Hawaii is the lack of municipal governments. All local governments are administered at the county level. The only incorporated area in the state is a consolidated city–county, Honolulu County, which governs the entire island of Oahu. County executives are referred to as mayors: The Mayor of Hawaii County, Mayor of Honolulu, Mayor of Kauaʻi, and the Mayor of Maui. The mayors are all elected in nonpartisan races.

The executive branch is led by the Governor of Hawaii assisted by the Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, both elected on the same ticket. The governor is the only state public official elected statewide; all others are appointed by the governor. The lieutenant governor acts as the Secretary of State. The governor and lieutenant governor oversee twenty agencies and departments from offices in the State Capitol. The official residence of the governor is Washington Place. The legislative branch consists of the bicameral Hawaii State Legislature, which is composed of the 51-member Hawaii House of Representatives led by the Speaker of the House and the 25-member Hawaii Senate led by the President of the Senate. The Legislature meets at the State Capitol.

The state government of Hawaii is modeled after the federal government with adaptations originating from the kingdom era of Hawaiian history. As codified in the Constitution of Hawaii, there are three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial.

The Hawaii State Capitol, as seen from the rim of Punchbowl Crater.


Kona hosts the University of the Nations, which is not an accredited university.

The Saint Stephen Diocesan Center is a seminary of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu.

Private universities include Brigham Young University–Hawaii, Chaminade University of Honolulu, Hawaii Pacific University, and Wayland Baptist University.

The largest is the University of Hawaii System. It consists of: the research university at Mānoa; two comprehensive campuses Hilo and West Oʻahu; and seven Community Colleges.

Graduates of secondary schools in Hawaii often enter directly into the work force. Some attend colleges and universities on the mainland or other countries, and the rest attend an institution of higher learning in Hawaii.

Main Entrance of the University of Hawaii at Hilo

Colleges and universities

Independent and charter schools can select their students, while the public schools are open to all students in their district. The Kamehameha Schools are the only schools in the United States that openly grant admission to students based on ancestry, and the wealthiest schools in the United States, if not the world, having over nine billion US dollars in estate assets. In 2005, Kamehameha enrolled 5,398 students, 8.4% of the Native Hawaiian children in the state.[152]

Collectively, independent educational institutions of primary and secondary education have one of the highest percentages of enrollment of any state. During the 2011-2012 school year, Hawaii public and charter schools had an enrollment of 181,213,[149] while private schools had 37,695.[150] Private schools thus educated over 17% of the students that school year, nearly three times the approximate national average of 6%.[151] It has four of the largest independent schools: ʻIolani School, Kamehameha Schools, Mid-Pacific Institute, and Punahou School. The second Buddhist high school in the United States, and first Buddhist high school in Hawaii, Pacific Buddhist Academy, was founded in 2003. The first native controlled public charter school was the Kanu O Ka Aina New Century Charter School.

Private schools

Public elementary, middle, and high school test scores in Hawaii are below national averages on tests mandated under the No Child Left Behind Act. The Hawaii Board of Education requires that all eligible students take these tests and report all student test scores while other states like Texas and Michigan for example, do not. This may have skewed the results that reported in August 2005 that of 282 schools across the state, 185 (2/3) failed to reach federal minimum performance standards in math and reading.[147] The ACT college placement tests show that in 2005, seniors scored slightly above the national average (21.9 compared with 20.9).[148] but in the widely accepted SAT examinations, Hawaii's college-bound seniors tend to score below the national average in all categories except mathematics.

Hawaii has the only school system within the United States that is unified statewide. Policy decisions are made by the fourteen-member state Board of Education. The Board sets policy and hires the superintendent of schools, who oversees the state Department of Education. The Department of Education is divided into seven districts, four on Oʻahu and one for each of the three other counties. The main rationale for centralization is to combat inequalities between highly populated Oʻahu and the more rural Neighbor Islands, and between lower-income and more affluent areas. In most of the United States, schools are funded from local property taxes. Educators struggle with children of non-native-English-speaking immigrants, whose cultures are different from those of the mainland (where most course materials and testing standards originate).

Public schools


Hawaii's health care system insures 92% (2009) of residents. Under the state's plan, businesses are required to provide insurance to employees who work more than twenty hours per week. Heavy regulation of insurance companies helps keep the cost to employers down. Due in part to heavy emphasis on preventive care, Hawaiians require hospital treatment less frequently than the rest of the United States, while total health care expenses (measured as a percentage of state GDP) are substantially lower. Given these achievements, proponents of universal health care elsewhere in the U.S. sometimes use Hawaii as a model for proposed federal and state health care plans.


Hawaii is home to numerous cultural events. The annual Merrie Monarch Festival is an international Hula competition.[143] The state is also home to the Hawaii International Film Festival, the premier film festival for Pacific rim cinema.[144] Honolulu is also home to the state's long running GLBT film festival, the Rainbow Film Festival.[145][146]

Tourism is an important part of the Hawaii economy. In 2003 alone, according to state government data, there were over 6.4 million visitors to the Hawaiian Islands with expenditures of over $10 billion.[142] Due to the mild year-round weather, tourist travel is popular throughout the year. The summer months and major holidays are the most popular times for outsiders to visit, however, especially when residents of the rest of the United States are looking to escape from cold, winter weather. The Japanese, with their economic and historical ties to Hawaii and the USA as well as relative geographical proximity, are also principal tourists.


Latest research puts the settlement of New Zealand at about 1300 AD. The various atua”) and deified ancestors.

Prior to the 15th century AD, Polynesian people fanned out to the east, to the Cook Islands, and from there to other groups such as Tahiti and the Marquesas. Their descendants later discovered the islands from Tahiti to Rapa Nui, and later Hawaii and New Zealand.

A sacred god figure wrapping for the war god 'Oro, made of woven dried coconut fibre (sennit), which would have protected a Polynesian god effigy (to'o), made of wood.

Polynesian mythology is the oral traditions of the people of Polynesia, a grouping of Central and South Pacific Ocean island archipelagos in the Polynesian triangle together with the scattered cultures known as the Polynesian outliers. Polynesians speak languages that descend from a language reconstructed as Proto-Polynesian that was probably spoken in the TongaSamoa area around 1000 BC.

Polynesian mythology

Traditional Hawaiian folk music is a major part of the state's musical heritage. The Hawaiian people have inhabited the islands for centuries and have retained much of their traditional musical knowledge. Their music is largely religious in nature, and includes chanting and dance music. Hawaiian music has had an enormous impact on the music of other Polynesian islands; indeed, music author Peter Manuel called the influence of Hawaiian music a "unifying factor in the development of modern Pacific musics".[141]

The music of Hawaii includes an array of traditional and popular styles, ranging from native Hawaiian folk music to modern rock and hip hop. Hawaii's musical contributions to the music of the United States are out of proportion to the state's small size. Styles like slack-key guitar are well-known worldwide, while Hawaiian-tinged music is a frequent part of Hollywood soundtracks. Hawaii also made a major contribution to country music with the introduction of the steel guitar.[140]

Music of Hawaii

The literature in Hawaii is diverse and includes authors such as Kiana Davenport, Lois-Ann Yamanaka, and Kaui Hart Hemmings, author of The Descendants. Hawaiian magazines include Hana Hou!, Hawaii Business Magazine and Honolulu, among others.

Literature in Hawaii

There are many Hawaiian state parks. The Island of Hawaiʻi) has state parks, recreation areas, and historical parks. Kauaʻi has the Ahukini State Recreation Pier, six state parks, and the Russian Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park. Maui has two state monuments, several state parks, and the Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area. Moloka‘i has the Pala'au State Park. Oʻahu has several state parks, a number of state recreation areas, and a number of monuments, including the Ulu Pō Heiau State Monument.

List of Hawaiian state parks

, the highest of the four major Hawaiian deities. Kāne, the spirit of an ancestor or family god and AumakuaProminent figures and terms include
A statue of Hawaiian deity
. The religion was officially suppressed in the 19th century, but kept alive by some practitioners to the modern day. Hawaiian religion, developing its own unique character for several centuries before about 1800. It is associated with the Polynesian mythology people. It is considered a variant of a more general ancient Hawaiian comprises the legends, historical tales, and sayings of the Hawaiian mythology

Hawaiian mythology

The folklore in Hawaii in modern times is a mixture of various aspects of Hawaiian mythology and various urban legends that have been passed on regarding various places in the Hawaiian islands. According to Hawaiian legend, night marchers (huaka‘i po in Hawaiian) are ghosts of ancient warriors. Local folklore on the island of Oahu says that one should never carry pork over the Pali Highway connecting Honolulu and Windward Oahu. In Paradise Park and the Manoa Falls Hiking Trail, folk legends say you can hear a spectre screaming. Across the street from Kahala Mall is a graveyard. It is said that if you drive past the remaining portion of this graveyard with your windows open, you will feel somebody else is in your car. The story of the green lady is that of a woman who would visit the gulch of Wahiawa and will take any child that she comes across.

Folklore in Hawaii

Some key customs and etiquette in Hawaii are as follows: When visiting a home, it is considered good manners to bring a small gift (for example, a dessert) for one's host. Thus, parties are usually in the form of potlucks. Most locals take their shoes off before entering a home. It is customary for Hawaii families, regardless of ethnicity, to hold a luau to celebrate a child's first birthday. It is customary at Hawaii weddings, especially at Filipino weddings, for the bride and groom to do a Money dance (also called the pandango). Print media and local residents recommend that one refer to non-Hawaiians as "locals of Hawaii" or "people of Hawaii".

Customs and etiquette in Hawaii

The Cuisine of Hawaii is a fusion of many foods brought by immigrants to the Hawaiian Islands including the earliest Polyneseans and Native Hawaiian cuisine as well as American, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Polynesian and Portuguese origins, including plant and animal food sources imported from around the world for agricultural use in Hawaii. Poi made from taro is one of the traditional foods of the islands. Many local restaurants serve the ubiquitous plate lunch featuring the Asian staple, two scoops of rice, a simplified version of American macaroni salad (consisting of macaroni and mayonnaise), and a variety of different toppings ranging from the hamburger patty, a fried egg, and gravy of a Loco Moco, Japanese style tonkatsu or the traditional lu'au favorite, kalua pig and beef, and curry. Spam musubi is an example of the fusion of ethnic cuisine that developed on the islands among the mix of immigrant groups and military personnel. In the 1990s a group of chefs got together to develop Hawaii regional cuisine as a contemporary fusion cuisine.

Cuisine of Hawaii

The aboriginal culture of Hawaii is Polynesian. Hawaii represents the northernmost extension of the vast Polynesian triangle of the south and central Pacific Ocean. While traditional Hawaiian culture remains only as vestiges in modern Hawaiian society, there are reenactments of the ceremonies and traditions throughout the islands. Some of these cultural influences are strong enough to affect the United States at large, including the popularity (in greatly modified form) of luaus and hula.

Jack Johnson, folk rock musician, was born and raised on Oahu's North Shore


Hawaiian consumers ultimately bear the expense of transporting goods again across the Pacific on U.S.-flagged ships subject to the extremely high operating costs imposed by the Jones Act. This also makes Hawaii less competitive with West Coast ports as a shopping destination for tourists from home countries with much higher taxes (like Japan ), even though prices for Asian-manufactured goods in theory should be cheaper since Hawaii is much closer to Asia.[138][139]

One of the most significant contributors to the high cost of living in Hawaii is the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (also known as the Jones Act), which prevents foreign-flagged ships from carrying cargo between two American ports (a practice known as cabotage). Most U.S. consumer goods are manufactured in East Asia at present, but because of the Jones Act, foreign ships inbound with those goods cannot stop in Honolulu, offload Hawaii-bound goods, load mainland-bound Hawaii-manufactured goods, and continue to West Coast ports. Instead, they must proceed directly to the West Coast, where distributors break bulk and send Hawaiian-bound Asian-manufactured goods back west across the ocean by U.S.-flagged ships.[136][137]

The median home value in Hawaii in the 2000 US Census was $272,700 while the national median home value was less than half of that, at $119,600. Hawaii home values were the highest of all states, including California with a median home value of $211,500.[134] More recent research from the National Association of Realtors places the 2010 median sale price of a single family home in Honolulu, Hawaii at $607,600 and the US median sales price at $173,200. The sale price of single family homes in Hawaii was the highest of any US city in 2010, just above the "Silicon Valley" area of California ($602,000).[135]

The cost of living in Hawaii, specifically Honolulu, is quite high compared to most major cities in the United States. However, the cost of living in Honolulu is 6.7% lower than in New York City and 3.6% lower than in San Francisco.[132] These numbers may not take into account certain costs, such as increased travel costs for longer flights, additional shipping fees, and the loss of promotional participation opportunities for customers "outside the continental United States". While some online stores do offer free shipping on orders to Hawaii,[133] many merchants exclude Hawaii and Alaska, as well as Puerto Rico and certain other US territories.

Cost of living

Millions of tourists contribute to the tax take by paying the general excise tax and hotel room tax; thus not all taxes come directly from residents. Business leaders, however, consider the state's tax burden too high, contributing to both higher prices and the perception of an unfriendly business climate.[131]

Hawaii has a relatively high state tax burden.


According to a 2013 study by Phoenix Marketing International, Hawaii had the fourth-largest number of millionaires per capita in the United States, with a ratio of 7.18 percent.[130]

In 2009, the United States military spent $12.2 billion in Hawaii, accounting for 18% of spending in the state for that year. 75,000 United States Department of Defense personnel reside in Hawaii.[129]

As of January 2010, the state's unemployment rate was 6.9%.[128]

Hawaiian Electric Industries provides electricity (mostly from fossil-fuel power stations) to 95% of the state's population.

Hawaii was briefly one of the few states to control gasoline prices through its Gas Cap Law. Since oil company profits in Hawaii compared to the mainland U.S. were under scrutiny, the law tied local gasoline prices to those of the mainland. It took effect in September 2005 amid price fluctuations caused by Hurricane Katrina, but was suspended in April 2006.

Hawaiian exports include food and apparel. These industries play a small role in the Hawaiian economy, however, due to the considerable shipping distance to viable markets, such as the West Coast of the United States. Food exports include coffee (see coffee production in Hawaii), macadamia nuts, pineapple, livestock, sugarcane, and both honey[124] and honeybees: "by weight, Hawaii's honeybees may be the state's most valuable export."[125] Agricultural sales for 2002, according to the Hawaii Agricultural Statistics Service, were US$370.9 million from diversified agriculture, US$100.6 million from pineapple, and US$64.3 million from sugarcane. Hawaii's relatively consistent climate has attracted the seed industry which is able to test three generations of crops in a single year on the islands as compared to one or two on the mainland.[126] Seeds yielded $264 million in 2012, supporting 1,400 workers.[127]

The history of Hawaii can be traced through a succession of dominant industries: sandalwood,[122] whaling,[123] sugarcane (see Sugar plantations in Hawaii), pineapple, military, tourism, and education. Since statehood in 1959, tourism has been the largest industry, contributing 24.3% of the Gross State Product (GSP) in 1997, despite efforts to diversify. The gross output for the state in 2003 was US$47 billion; per capita income for Hawaii residents was US$30,441.

A shipping dock in Hawaii.
Famous Lanikai Beach on Oahu.
Punalu'u Beach on the Big Island. Tourism is Hawaii's leading employer.


A 2012 poll by Gallup found that Hawaii had the largest proportion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adults in the country, at 5.1 per cent. This constitutes a total LGBT adult population estimate of 53,966 individuals. The number of same-sex couple households in 2010 stood at 3,239. This grew by 35.45% from a decade earlier.[119][120] In 2013, Hawaii became the fifteenth state to legalize same-sex marriage, and a University of Hawaii researcher stated that the law may boost tourism by $217 million.[121]


among family members of a person who is physically ill. kahuna lapaʻauoponopono is practiced by healing priests or ʻ A special case is

A 2010 Glenmary Research Center study also places the Roman Catholic population as greater than 22%.[118]

A Pew poll found that the religious composition was as follows:[117]

"Unaffiliated" refers to people who do not belong to a congregation; this group includes agnostics, atheists, humanists, deists and the irreligious.

"Other" are religions other than Christianity, Buddhism, or Judaism; this group includes Bahá'í Faith, Confucianism, Daoism, the Hawaiian religion, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Shintoism, Zoroastrianism, and other religions.

  • Christianity: 351,000 (28.9%)
  • Buddhism: 110,000 (9%)
  • Judaism: 10,000 (0.8%)
  • Other: 100,000 (10%)*
  • Unaffiliated: 650,000 (51.1%)**

According to data provided by religious establishments, religion in Hawaii in 2000 was distributed as follows:[115][116]

The largest denominations by number of adherents were the Catholic Church with 249,619 in 2010[112] and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 68,128 in 2009.[113] The third-largest group are the non-denominational churches with 128 congregations and 32,000 members, the third-largest are the United Church of Christ with 115 congregations and 20,000 members. The Southern baptist convention has 108 congregations and 18,000 members.[114]

Makiki Christian Church in Honolulu, 1958.


HCE speakers have modified the meanings of certain English words. For example, "aunty" and "uncle" refer to any adult who is a friend, or to show respect for an elder. Grammar is also different. For example, instead of "It is hot today, isn't it?", an HCE speaker would say simply "stay hot, eh?" When a word does not come to mind quickly, the term "da kine" refers to any word you cannot think of. Through the surfing boom in Hawaii, HCE has influenced surfer slang. Some HCE expressions, such as brah and da kine, have found their way to other places.

International Market Place, Honolulu, 1958.

Some locals speak Hawaiʻi Creole English (HCE), often called "pidgin". The lexicon of HCE derives mainly from English but also has words from Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Ilocano and Tagalog. During the 19th century, the increase in immigration (mainly from China, Japan, Portugal—and especially from the Azores archipelago—and Spain), caused a variant of English to develop. By the early 20th century pidgin speakers had children who acquired the pidgin as their first language. HCE speakers use some Hawaiian words without those words being considered archaic. Most place names are retained from Hawaiian, as are some names for plants or animals. For example, tuna fish are often called ahi.

Hawaiian Pidgin

A sign language for the deaf, based on the Hawaiian language, has been in use in the islands since the early 1800s. Hawaiʻi Sign Language is now nearly extinct.

Hawaiian-language newspapers published from 1834–1948 and traditional native speakers of Hawaiian generally omit the marks in their own writing. The ʻokina and kahakō are intended to help non-native speakers.

Hawaiian distinguishes between long and short vowels. In modern practice, vowel length is indicated with a macron (kahakō). Also, Hawaiian uses the glottal stop as a consonant (ʻokina). It is written as a symbol similar to the apostrophe or opening single quote.

Interest in Hawaiian increased significantly in the late 20th century. With the help of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, specially designated immersion schools were established where all subjects would be taught in Hawaiian. Also, the University of Hawaii developed a Hawaiian language graduate studies program. Municipal codes were altered to favor Hawaiian place and street names for new civic developments.

According to Schütz (1994), the Marquesans colonized the archipelago in roughly 300 AD[109] followed by later waves of immigration from the Society Islands and Samoa-Tonga. Those Polynesians remained in the islands, thereby becoming the Hawaiian people. Their languages, over time, became the Hawaiian language.[110] Kimura and Wilson (1983) also state, "Linguists agree that Hawaiian is closely related to Eastern Polynesian, with a particularly strong link in the Southern Marquesas, and a secondary link in Tahiti, which may be explained by voyaging between the Hawaiian and Society Islands."[111] Before the arrival of Captain James Cook, the Hawaiian language had no written form. That form was developed mainly by American Protestant missionaries during 1820–1826. They assigned letters from the Latin alphabet that corresponded to the Hawaiian sounds.

Hawaiian is a Polynesian member of the Austronesian language family.[107] It is closely related to other Polynesian languages, such as Marquesan, Tahitian, Māori, Rapa Nui (the language of Easter Island), and less closely to Samoan, and Tongan.

The Hawaiian language has about 2000 native speakers, less than 0.1% of the total population.[107] According to the United States Census, there were over 24,000 total speakers of the language in Hawaii in 2006-2008.[108]


Tagalog speakers make up 5.37% (which includes non-native speakers of Filipino language, the national co-official Tagalog-based language), followed by Japanese at 4.96%, Ilokano at 4.05%, Chinese at 1.92%, Hawaiian at 1.68%, Spanish at 1.66%, Korean at 1.61%, and Samoan at 1.01%.[106]

After English, other popular languages are Tagalog, Japanese, and Ilokano. Significant European immigrants and descendants also speak their native languages; the most numerous are Spanish, German, Portuguese and French.

Early Japanese immigrants to Hawaii.
A Portuguese immigrant family in Hawaii during the 19th century.

In addition, 2.6% of the state's residents speak Spanish; 1.6% speak other Indo-European languages; 21.0% speak an Asian language; and 0.2% speak a different language at home.[101]

Minority languages

As of the 2000 Census, 73.44% of Hawaii residents age 5 and older speak only English at home.[106] According to the 2008 American Community Survey, 74.6% of Hawaii's residents over the age of five speak only English at home.[101]


The State of Hawaii has two official languages recognized in its 1978 constitution: English and Hawaiian. Article XV, Section 4, specifies that "Hawaiian shall be required for public acts and transactions only as provided by law" [italics added]. Hawaiʻi Creole English (locally referred to as 'Pidgin') is the native language of many born-and-raised residents and is a second language for many other residents.


Almost 13,000 Portuguese had come by 1899. They too worked on the sugar plantations.[104] By 1901, over 5,000 Puerto Ricans had made new homes on the four islands.[105]

A large proportion of Hawaii's population is now of Asian ancestry (especially Chinese, Japanese and Filipino.) Many are descendants of those immigrants brought to work on the sugar plantations in the 1850s and after. The first 153 Japanese immigrants arrived in Hawaii on June 19, 1868. They were not "legally" approved by the Japanese government because the contract was between a broker and the Tokugawa shogunate, by then replaced by the Meiji Restoration. The first Japanese government-approved immigrants arrived on February 9, 1885 after Kalākaua's petition to Emperor Meiji when Kalākaua visited Japan in 1881.[102][103]

Population of Hawaii[101]
Ancestry Percentage Main article:
Filipino 13.6% See Filipinos in Hawaii
Japanese 12.6% See Japanese American
Polynesian 9.0% See Native Hawaiians
German 7.4% See German American
Irish 5.2% See Irish American
English 4.6% See English American
Portuguese 4.3% See Portuguese American
Chinese 4.1% See Chinese American
Korean 3.1% See Korean American
Mexican 2.9% See Mexican American
Puerto Rican 2.8% See Puerto Rican
Italian 2.7% See Italian American
African 2.4% See African American
French 1.7% See French American
Samoan 1.3% See Samoans
Scottish 1.2% See Scottish American

The largest ancestry groups in Hawaii as of 2008 are in the table at right. The third group of foreigners to arrive upon Hawaii's shores, after those from Polynesia and Europe, was from China. Chinese workers on Western trading ships settled in Hawaii starting in 1789. In 1820 the first American missionaries came to preach Christianity and teach the Hawaiians Western ways.[100]

Ancestry groups

The five largest European ancestries in Hawaii are German (7.4%), Irish (5.2%), English (4.6%), Portuguese (4.3%), and Italian (2.7%). About 82.2% of Hawaii's residents were born in the United States. Roughly 75.0% of the foreign-born residents hail from Asia. Hawaii is a majority-minority state, and is expected to be one of three states that will not have a non-Hispanic white plurality in 2014, the other two being California and New Mexico.[99]

Over 120,000 (8.8%) Hispanic and Latino Americans live in Hawaii. Mexicans number over 35,000 (2.6%); Puerto Ricans exceed 44,000 (3.2%). Multiracial Americans form almost one-quarter of Hawaii's population, exceeding 320,000 people. Eurasian Americans are a prominent mixed-race group; there are about 66,000 (4.9%) Eurasian Americans in Hawaii. The Non-Hispanic White population numbers at 310,000 and forms just over one-fifth of the population. The multiracial population outnumbers the non-Hispanic white population by about 10,000 people.[96] In 1970, the Census Bureau reported Hawaii's population as 38.8% white and 57.7% Asian and Pacific Islander.[98]

Hawaii is distinctive in having the highest percentage of Asian Americans and Multiracial Americans, as well as the lowest percentage of White Americans of any state. In 2011, non-Hispanic whites were involved in 14.5% of all the births.[95] Hawaii's Asian population mainly consists of 198,000 (14.6%) Filipino Americans and 185,000 (13.6%) Japanese Americans. In addition, there are roughly 55,000 (4.0%) Chinese Americans and 24,000 (1.8%) Korean Americans. Indigenous Hawaiians number over 80,000, which is 5.9% of the population.[96] Including those with partial ancestry, Samoan Americans make up 2.8% of Hawaii's population, and Tongan Americans comprise 0.6% of the state population.[97]

Hawaii Racial Breakdown of Population
Racial composition 1970[91] 1990[91] 2000[92] 2010[93]
White 38.8% 33.4% 24.3% 24.7%
Asian 57.7%[94] 61.8%[94] 41.6% 38.6%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
9.4% 10.0%
Black 1.0% 2.5% 1.8% 1.6%
Native 0.1% 0.5% 0.3% 0.3%
Other race 2.4% 1.9% 1.2% 1.2%
Two or more races 21.4% 23.6%

According to the 2010 United States Census, Hawaii had a population of 1,360,301. In terms of race and ethnicity, the state was 38.6% Asian, 24.7% White (22.7% Non-Hispanic White Alone), 23.6% from Two or More Races, 10.0% Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, 8.9% Hispanics and Latinos of any race, 1.6% Black or African American, 1.2% from Some Other race, and 0.3% American Indian and Alaska Native.[90]

Race and ethnicity

Historical population
Year Population Notes
1778 400,000
1805 264,160
1831 130,313 Census
1850 82,000
1853 73,134 2,119 foreigners
1872 56,897
1876 53,900
1884 80,000 The native population continues to decline.
1890 40,000 native Hawaiians
1900 154,001 About 25% Hawaiian/part-Hawaiian; 40% Japanese; 16% Chinese; 12% Portuguese; and about 5% Caucasian
1910 191,874 people 26,041 Hawaiians and 12,056 part-Hawaiians
1920 255,881 42.7% of the population is of Japanese descent.
1930 368,336
1940 420,770
1950 499,794
1960 632,772
1970 769,913
1980 964,691
1990 1,108,228
2000 1,211,537 239,655 native Hawaiians; Japanese: 21%; Filipino: 17.7%; Chinese: 8.3%; German: 5.8%

The Hawaiian population changed dramatically after Europeans arrived.[88]

As of 2011 the U.S. military reported 42,371 of its personnel on the islands.[87]

The average projected lifespan of those born in Hawaii in 2000 was 79.8 years (77.1 years if male, 82.5 if female), longer than any other state.[86]

Hawaii's 1,275,194 people, spread over 6,423 square miles (16,640 km2) (including many unpopulated islands), results in an average population density of 188.6 persons per square mile,[84] which makes Hawaii less densely populated than Ohio and Illinois.[85]

Hawaii has a de facto population of over 1.4 million, due to large military and tourist populations. Oʻahu, nicknamed "The Gathering Place", is the most populous island (and has the highest population density), with a resident population of just under one million in 597 square miles (1,546 km2), about 1,650 people per square mile (for comparison, New Jersey, which has 8,717,925 people in 7,417 square miles (19,210 km2) is the most-densely populated state in the Union with 1,134 people per square mile.)[83]

As of 2005, Hawaii has an estimated population of 1,275,194, an increase of 13,070, or 1.0%, from the prior year and an increase of 63,657, or 5.3%, since 2000. This includes a natural increase of 48,111 people (that is 96,028 births minus 47,917 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 16,956 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 30,068 people, and migration within the country produced a net loss of 13,112 people. The center of population of Hawaii is located between the two islands of Oʻahu and Molokaʻi.[80] So many Hawaiian residents have moved to Las Vegas that it has been referred to as the "ninth island" of Hawaii.[81][82]

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Hawaii was 1,404,054 on July 1, 2013, a 3.2% increase since the 2010 United States Census.[4]

Population density of the Hawaiian islands.



After statehood, Hawaii quickly modernized via construction and a rapidly growing tourism economy. Later, state programs promoted Hawaiian culture. The Hawaii State Constitutional Convention of 1978 incorporated programs such as the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to promote indigenous language and culture.

. United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories later removed Hawaii from the Special Committee on Decolonization The United Nations [79][78] The choices were to accept the Act or to remain a territory, without the option of independence.[77], part of the Kingdom and Territory of Hawaii, from the new state.) On June 27 of that year, a referendum asked residents of Hawaii to vote on the statehood bill. The Hawaii electorate voted 94.3% "yes for statehood" to 5.7% "no".Palmyra Atoll (The act excluded [76] signed it into law.Dwight D. Eisenhower and U.S. President Hawaii Admission ActIn March 1959, Congress passed the
Certification of the Hawaii vote for Statehood

In the 1950s, the power of the plantation owners was finally broken by descendants of immigrant laborers. Because they were born in an incorporated U.S. territory, they were legally U.S. citizens. The Hawaii Republican Party, strongly supported by plantation owners, was voted out of office. The Democratic Party of Hawaii dominated politics for 40 years. Eager to gain full voting rights, Hawaii's residents actively campaigned for statehood.

Political changes of 1954—the State of Hawaii (1959–present)

In 1900, Hawaii was granted self-governance and retained ʻIolani Palace as the territorial capitol building. Despite several attempts to become a state, Hawaii remained a territory for sixty years. Plantation owners and key capitalists, who maintained control through financial institutions, or "factors", known as the "Big Five", found territorial status convenient, enabling them to continue importing cheap foreign labor; such immigration was prohibited in various states.

Puerto Rican immigration to Hawaii began when Puerto Rico's sugar industry was devastated by two hurricanes in 1899. The devastation caused a world-wide shortage of sugar and a huge demand for the product from Hawaii. Hawaiian sugar plantation owners began to recruit the jobless, but experienced, laborers in Puerto Rico. Two distinct waves of Korean immigration to Hawaii have occurred in the last century. The first arrived in between 1903 and 1924; the second wave began in 1965.

The USS Shaw exploding during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.

The treaty was never ratified by the U.S. Senate. Instead, despite the opposition of a majority of Native Hawaiians,[75] the Newlands Resolution was used to annex the Republic to the United States and it became the Territory of Hawaii. The Newlands Resolution was passed by the House June 15, 1898, by a vote of 209 to 91, and by the Senate on July 6, 1898, by a vote of 42 to 21.

After William McKinley won the presidential election in 1896, Hawaii's annexation to the U.S. was again discussed. The previous president, Grover Cleveland, was a friend of Queen Liliʻuokalani. McKinley was open to persuasion by U.S. expansionists and by annexationists from Hawaiʻi. He met with three annexationists from Hawaii: Lorrin Thurston, Francis March Hatch and William Ansel Kinney. After negotiations, in June 1897, Secretary of State John Sherman agreed to a treaty of annexation with these representatives of the Republic of Hawaii.[74]

Annexation—the Territory of Hawaii (1898–1959)

i in 1885 as contract laborers for the sugar cane and pineapple plantations. ʻ. The first Japanese immigrants arrived in HawaiRepublic of Hawaii ended on July 4, 1894, replaced by the Provisional Government of HawaiiThe
The ʻIolani Palace in Honolulu, formerly the residence of the Hawaiian monarch, was the capitol of the Republic of Hawaii.
[73] regarding the overthrow was passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton, apologizing for the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom.Apology ResolutionIn 1993, a joint

[73][72][71][69] In January 1893, Queen

Overthrow of 1893—the Republic of Hawaii (1894–1898)

In 1893, Queen Liliʻuokalani announced plans for a new constitution. On January 14, 1893, a group of mostly Euro-American business leaders and residents formed a Committee of Safety to overthrow the Kingdom and seek annexation by the United States. United States Government Minister John L. Stevens, responding to a request from the Committee of Safety, summoned a company of U.S. Marines. As one historian noted, the presence of these troops effectively made it impossible for the monarchy to protect itself.[69]

row of men with rifles
Ship's landing force at the time of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, January 1893.

In 1887, Kalākaua was forced to sign the 1887 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii, which stripped the king of much of his authority. There was a property qualification for voting, which disenfranchised most Hawaiians and immigrant laborers, and favored the wealthier white community. Resident whites were allowed to vote, but resident Asians were excluded. Because the 1887 Constitution was signed under threat of violence, it is known as the "Bayonet Constitution". King Kalākaua, reduced to a figurehead, reigned until his death in 1891. His sister, Queen Liliʻuokalani, succeeded him on the throne. She was the last monarch of Hawaiʻi.

1887 Constitution and overthrow preparations

The death of the bachelor King Kamehameha V—who did not name an heir—resulted in the popular election of Lunalilo over Kalākaua. Lunalilo died the next year, also without naming an heir. Perhaps "the People's King" (Lunalilo) wanted the people to choose his successor as they had chosen him. In 1874, the election was contested within the legislature between Kalākaua and Emma. This led to riots and the landing of U.S. and British troops, and governance passed to the House of Kalākaua.

Missionaries from other Christian denominations (such as Catholics, Mormons, and Episcopalians) were active, but never converted more than a minority of the Native Hawaiian population.

After Kamehameha II inherited the throne in 1819, American Protestant missionaries to Hawaiʻi converted many Hawaiians to Christianity. Their influence ended many ancient practices, and Kamehameha III was the first Christian king. One prominent Protestant missionary, Hiram Bingham I, was a trusted adviser to the monarchy during this period. Other missionaries and their descendants became active in commercial and political affairs, leading to future conflicts between the monarchy and its restive American subjects.

During the 1780s and 1790s, chiefs often fought for power. After a series of battles that ended in 1795 and forced cession of the island of Kauaʻi in 1810, all inhabited islands were subjugated under a single ruler who became known as King Kamehameha the Great. He established the House of Kamehameha, a dynasty that ruled the kingdom until 1872.

King Kamehameha receiving Otto von Kotzebue's Russian naval expedition. Drawing by Louis Choris in 1816.

House of Kamehameha

Historical records indicated that the earliest immigration of the Chinese came from Guangdong province: a few sailors in 1778 with Captain Cook's journey, more in 1788 with Kaina, and some in 1789 with an American trader who settled in Hawaiʻi in the late 18th century.

These visitors introduced diseases to the once-isolated islands and the Hawaiian population plunged precipitously[66] because native Hawaiians had no resistance to influenza, smallpox, and measles, among others. By 1820, Eurasian diseases, famine, and wars among the chiefs killed more than half of the Native Hawaiian population.[67] During the 1850s, measles killed a fifth of Hawaiʻi's people.[68]

After Cook's visit and the publication of several books relating his voyages, the Hawaiian islands received many European visitors: explorers, traders, and eventually whalers who found the islands a convenient harbor and source of supplies. Early British influence can be seen in the design of the Flag of Hawaiʻi which has the British Union Flag in the corner.

Cook visited the islands twice. Upon his departure during his second visit in 1779, a quarrel ensued, involving Cook's taking of temple idols and fencing as "firewood",[64] and the taking of a ship's boat by a minor chief and his men. Cook then abducted the King of the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, Kalaniʻōpuʻu, and held him as ransom aboard his ship for the return of the boat, a tactic that had worked for Cook in Tahiti and other islands.[65] Kalaniʻōpuʻu's supporters fought back and Cook and four Marines were killed as Cook's party retreated to the beach and launched their boats.

The 1778 arrival of British explorer James Cook was Hawaiʻi’s first documented contact with European explorers. Cook named the islands the "Sandwich Islands" in honor of his sponsor John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. He published the islands' location and reported the native name as Owyhee. This spelling lives on in Owyhee County, Idaho, after three Hawaiian members of a trapping party that went missing in that area.

There are questions whether Spanish explorers arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in the 16th century, two centuries before Captain James Cook's first documented visit in 1778. Ruy López de Villalobos commanded a fleet of six ships that left Acapulco in 1542 bound for the Philippines, with a Spanish sailor named Juan Gaetano aboard as pilot. Depending on the interpretation, Gaetano's reports seemed to describe the discovery of Hawaiʻi or the Marshall Islands.[60] If it was Hawaiʻi, Gaetano would have been the first European to find the islands. Some scholars have dismissed these claims as lacking credibility.[61][62] However, Spanish archives contain a chart that depicts islands in the latitude of Hawaiʻi but with the longitude ten degrees east of the Islands. In this manuscript, the Island of Maui is named "La Desgraciada" (the unfortunate), and what appears to be the Island of Hawaiʻi is named "La Mesa" (the table). Islands resembling Kahoolawe, Lanai, and Molokai are named "Los Monjes" (the monks).[63] For two and a half centuries Spanish galleons crossed the Pacific along a route that passed south of Hawaiʻi on their way to Manila. The exact route was kept secret to protect the Spanish trade monopoly against competing powers.

European arrival and the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi

Regardless of the question of Paʻao, historians agree that the history of the islands was marked by a slow but steady growth in population and the size of the chiefdoms, which grew to encompass whole islands. Local chiefs, called aliʻi, ruled their settlements and launched wars to extend their sway and defend their communities from predatory rivals. Ancient Hawaiʻi was a caste-based society much like that of the Hindus in India.[59]

Drawing of single-masted sailboat with one spinnaker-shaped sail, carrying dozens of men
Kalaniʻōpuʻu, King of Hawaiʻi bringing presents to Captain Cook. Illustrated by John Webber, artist aboard Cook's ship.

Some archaeologists and historians believe that an early settlement from the Marquesas and a later wave of immigrants from Tahiti, c. 1000, introduced a new line of high chiefs, the Kapu system, the practice of human sacrifice and the building of heiaus. This later immigration is detailed in folk tales about Paʻao. Other authors argue that there is no archaeological or linguistic evidence for a later influx of Tahitian settlers, and that Paʻao must be regarded as a myth.

The earliest habitation supported by archaeological evidence dates to as early as 300 CE, probably by Polynesian settlers from the Marquesas, followed by a second wave of migration from Raiatea and Bora Bora in the 11th century. There is a great deal of debate regarding the actual date of discovery and habitation.[58]

First human settlement – Ancient Hawaiʻi (800–1778)

Oʻahu was the target of a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by Imperial Japan on December 7, 1941. The attack on Pearl Harbor and other military and naval installations, carried out by aircraft and by midget submarines, brought the United States into World War II.

Hawaii is one of four states, besides the original thirteen, that were independent prior to becoming part of the United States, along with the Vermont Republic (1791), the Republic of Texas (1845), and the California Republic (1846), and one of two, along with Texas, that had formal diplomatic recognition internationally.[56] The Kingdom of Hawaiʻi was sovereign from 1810 until 1893 when the monarchy was overthrown by resident American (and some European) businessmen. Hawaii was an independent republic from 1894 until August 12,1898, when it officially became a territory of the United States, ratified a state in 1959.[57]


Hawaii is the only US state that is antipodal to inhabited land. Most of the state lies opposite Botswana, though Niʻihau aligns with Namibia and Kauai straddles the border. This area of Africa, near Maun and Ghanzi, includes nature reserves and small settlements near the Okavango Delta.[54][55]


Monthly normal low and high temperatures for various Hawaiian populated places[53]
City Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
Hilo 64 °F / 17.8 °C 64 °F / 17.8 °C 65 °F / 18.3 °C 66 °F / 18.9 °C 67 °F / 19.4 °C 68 °F / 20.0 °C 69 °F / 20.6 °C 69 °F / 20.6 °C 69 °F / 20.6 °C 68 °F / 20.0 °C 67 °F / 19.4 °C 65 °F / 18.3 °C
79 °F / 26.1 °C 79 °F / 26.1 °C 79 °F / 26.1 °C 79 °F / 26.1 °C 81 °F / 27.2 °C 82 °F / 27.8 °C 82 °F / 27.8 °C 83 °F / 28.3 °C 83 °F / 28.3 °C 83 °F / 28.3 °C 81 °F / 27.2 °C 80 °F / 26.7 °C
Honolulu 66 °F / 18.9 °C 65 °F / 18.3 °C 67 °F / 19.4 °C 68 °F / 20.0 °C 70 °F / 21.1 °C 72 °F / 22.2 °C 74 °F / 23.3 °C 75 °F / 23.9 °C 74 °F / 23.3 °C 73 °F / 22.8 °C 71 °F / 21.7 °C 68 °F / 20.0 °C
80 °F / 26.7 °C 81 °F / 27.2 °C 82 °F / 27.8 °C 83 °F / 28.3 °C 85 °F / 29.4 °C 87 °F / 30.6 °C 88 °F / 31.1 °C 89 °F / 31.7 °C 89 °F / 31.7 °C 87 °F / 30.6 °C 84 °F / 28.9 °C 82 °F / 27.8 °C
Kahului 63 °F / 17.2 °C 63 °F / 17.2 °C 65 °F / 18.3 °C 66 °F / 18.9 °C 67 °F / 19.4 °C 69 °F / 20.6 °C 71 °F / 21.7 °C 71 °F / 21.7 °C 70 °F / 21.1 °C 69 °F / 20.6 °C 68 °F / 20.0 °C 65 °F / 18.3 °C
80 °F / 26.7 °C 81 °F / 27.2 °C 82 °F / 27.8 °C 82 °F / 27.8 °C 84 °F / 28.9 °C 86 °F / 30.0 °C 87 °F / 30.6 °C 88 °F / 31.1 °C 88 °F / 31.1 °C 87 °F / 30.6 °C 84 °F / 28.9 °C 82 °F / 27.8 °C
Lihuʻe 65 °F / 18.3 °C 66 °F / 18.9 °C 67 °F / 19.4 °C 69 °F / 20.6 °C 70 °F / 21.1 °C 73 °F / 22.8 °C 74 °F / 23.3 °C 74 °F / 23.3 °C 74 °F / 23.3 °C 73 °F / 22.8 °C 71 °F / 21.7 °C 68 °F / 20.0 °C
78 °F / 25.6 °C 78 °F / 26.6 °C 78 °F / 26.6 °C 79 °F / 26.1 °C 81 °F / 27.2 °C 83 °F / 28.3 °C 84 °F / 28.9 °C 85 °F / 29.4 °C 85 °F / 29.4 °C 84 °F / 28.9 °C 81 °F / 27.2 °C 79 °F / 26.1 °C

Local climates vary considerably on each island, grossly divisible into windward (Koʻolau) and leeward (Kona) areas based upon location relative to the higher mountains. Windward sides face cloud cover, so resorts concentrate on sunny leeward coasts.

The warmest temperature recorded in the state is 100 °F (38 °C) (making it tied with Alaska as the lowest high temperature recorded in a U.S. state) in Pahala on April 27, 1931. Hawaii's all-time record low temperature is 12 °F (−11 °C) observed in May 1979 on the summit of Mauna Kea. Hawaii is the only state to have never recorded sub-zero Fahrenheit temperatures.

Hawaii’s climate is typical for the tropics, although temperatures and humidity tend to be a bit less extreme due to near-constant trade winds from the east. Summer highs are usually in the upper 80s °F, (around 31 °C) during the day and mid 70s, (around 24 °C) at night. Winter day temperatures are usually in the low to mid 80s, (around 28 °C) and (at low elevation) seldom dipping below the mid 60s (18 °C) at night. Snow, not usually associated with the tropics, falls at 4,205 metres (13,796 ft) on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island in some winter months. Snow rarely falls on Haleakala. Mount Waiʻaleʻale, on Kauaʻi, has the second-highest average annual rainfall on Earth, about 460 inches (11,684.0 mm). Most of Hawaii has only two seasons: the dry season from May to October, and the wet season from October to April.[52]

Road to Hana through rainforest



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