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53 Facts About Hawaii Most People Don’t Know

Aloha! Looking for some fascinating facts about Hawaii? This U.S. state is a tropical paradise with plenty of unique features.

Hawaii is a world-famous tourist destination renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty, friendly hospitality, rich history, and unique culture. But, there are plenty more quirky little things that may surprise you. We’ll uncover the most interesting Hawaii facts below from ancient traditions to remarkable landmarks.

woman with blue surfboard in orange van

53 Facts About Hawaii

Are you ready to learn more about the Hawaiian islands? Let’s dive in. Here are 53 facts to know about Hawaii.

1. Hawaii Is the Aloha State

Hawaii is known as the Aloha State due to the unique meaning and popularity of the word. Aloha refers to love and is one of the most familiar Hawaiian words worldwide. Other nicknames for Hawaii include Paradise and The Islands of Aloha.

2. Aloha Serves as Both Hello and Goodbye

In Hawaii, the word Aloha means both hello and goodbye. It’s a popular greeting that conveys the Aloha spirit when meeting or parting from a person – it’s all about respect, love, and working together in Hawaii.

3. Only Individuals With Hawaiian Ancestry Are Hawaiians

While people residing in sunny California are called Californians, Hawaii has a unique way of referring to its residents. Those who are considered to be Hawaiians must have Hawaiian blood.

Individuals without a Hawaiian family tree born and raised in Hawaii are called locals,  while those who move to the island are Hawaii residents.

ukelele and colourful hawaiian items

4. Native Hawaiian Culture Is Around 1,500 Years Old

Hawaiian culture influences many aspects of the state, such as cuisine, fashion, and language. The Native Hawaiian culture comes from Polynesians who settled in Hawaii around 1,500 years ago. Currently, the culture in Hawaii reflects a combination of Eastern and Western influences.

5. Hawaii Became the 50th U.S. State in 1959

Hawaii became the 50th state in the United States on 21/8/2021. Statehood Day, also called Admission Day, is a legal holiday commemorating Hawaii’s state admission. It takes place annually on the third Friday in August.

6. Hawaii Has Its Own Time Zone

The time zone in Hawaii is called Hawaiian Standard Time. Unlike most U.S. states, the Hawaiian islands do not follow Daylight Savings Time.

Po’olenalena Beach Park

7. Hawaii Is the World’s Largest Island Chain

Hawaii is the only U.S. state that is made up entirely of islands. The state comprises 132 islands. The eight major Hawaiian islands are Maui, Kauai, Molokai, Oahu, Lanai, Kaho’olawe, Ni’ihau, and Hawai’i (also known as Big Island).

8. The Hawaiian Islands Are Volcanic Islands

The Hawaiian islands are volcanic in origin. You’ll find that each island consists of at least one primary volcano. For instance, the Big Island of Hawaii is formed from five main volcanoes: Mauna Loa, Kilauea, Hualalai, Kohala, and Mauna Kea.

9. The Big Island Continues To Grow

The Big Island is the youngest of the eight main Hawaiian Islands. As its name suggests, it is the largest island as well.

The Big Island is home to two of the most active volcanoes in Hawaii: Kilauea and Mauna Loa. As such, the island is constantly growing due to the volcanic eruptions from the Kilauea volcano.

Kilauea has been actively erupting since 1983. As the lava flows into the ocean, the Big Island grows around 42 acres per year.

pink flower lei on sand facts about hawaii

10. Hawaii Is The Second Widest U.S. State

Hawaii is the second widest state in the United States at 1,523 miles from Niihau to the Big Island. Wondering what’s the widest state? At 2,400 miles from east to west, Alaska takes first place.

11. Hawaii Is Not Located in North America

One of the most surprising facts that separates Hawaii from other states is its location. Although Hawaii is considered part of North America, it is geographically outside the continent. Hawaii is positioned in the Pacific Ocean, around 2,000 miles from the U.S. mainland.

12. The Flag of Hawaii Shows a Sign of Friendship

The Hawaiian flag, also called Ka Hae Hawai’i, features eight horizontal stripes and the Union Jack. The eight stripes represent the main islands of Hawaii. The Union Jack is a sign of friendship between Britain and the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Makena Cove Secret Beach

13. Hawaiians Have the Longest Life Expectancy in the U.S

The average lifespan for individuals in Hawaii is 81 years. Studies indicate that the Aloha State has the highest life expectancy in the United States.

A few contributing factors to Hawaiians’ lifespan include access to natural resources, weather conditions, health care, low obesity, and smoking rates. For more information on life expectancy in the United States, check out this article.

14. Hawaii Has Two Official Languages

Similar to South Dakota, Hawaii has two official languages. English and Hawaiian are the official state languages in Hawaii. Between 1839 and 1840, King Kamehameha III established the first Hawaiian-language constitution.

15. The Yellow Hibiscus Is the State Flower

The yellow hibiscus is the official state flower of Hawaii. This tropical beauty is native to Hawaii and is often associated with happiness, fortune, and good luck.

Lahaina Pali Trail

16. The Humuhumunukunukuapua’a Is the State Fish

The humuhumunukunukuapua’a, or reef triggerfish, is the state fish of Hawaii. Its Hawaiian name is one of the longest words in the Hawaiian language and translates to triggerfish with a snout like a pig.

The humuhumunukunukuapua’a is also called the rectangular triggerfish and Hawaiian triggerfish. Unlike its long Hawaiian name, it is a relatively small fish that can grow up to 10 inches long.

17. Hawaii Is Rabies-Free

Hawaii is the only U.S. state that is free of rabies. There are strict quarantine laws for cats and dogs entering the state to keep Hawaii rabies-free. If you’re planning a Hawaiian vacation, leaving your furry friends at home would be best.

18. It Is Impolite To Refuse a Lei Flower

A Hawaiian lei is a common symbol of friendship, honor, celebration, love, or greeting – it’s a sign of Aloha. When offered a flower lei, it is disrespectful to refuse it.

Additionally, it is impolite to remove the lei in the presence of the person who gave it to you. When you remove your lei at the end of the day, returning the flowers to the earth is best.

You might enjoy reading my articles on facts about Mississippi, Alaska Facts, Washington State Facts and Facts about California.

Keawakapu Beach sunset

19. Each Island Is Represented by a Flower

The eight main islands of Hawaii are associated with particular flowers or lei-making materials. Here are the official flowers of the charming Hawaiian islands:

  • Maui – Lokelani Rose
  • Big Island – Lehua flower
  • Oahu – Ilima flower
  • Kauai – Mokihana berry
  • Lanai – Kaunaoa plant
  • Molokai – Kukui Nut flower
  • Niihau – White Pupu shell
  • Kahoolawe – Hinahina plant

20. Each Islands Has an Official Color

In 2000, the State of Hawaii gave each island an official color. Most of the island colors match the hue of the particular island’s official flower or lei-making material. The Hawaiian islands official colors are:

  • Maui – Pink
  • Big Island – Red
  • Oahu – Yellow
  • Kauai – Purple
  • Lanai – Orange
  • Molokai – Green
  • Niihau – White
  • Kaho’olawe – Grey

21. Hawaii Has Two Native Mammals

Hawaii is home to thousands of animal species but has only two endemic mammals: the Hawaiian monk seal and the hoary bat. Other mammals found in the state include dolphins, humpback whales, rabbits, mongoose, and mule deer.

Honolulu City, Oahu
Honolulu City, Oahu

22. Hawaii Has More Endangered Species Than Any Other U.S. State

Hawaii has lost more species than any other U.S. state. Around 70% of Hawaii’s native birds are extinct, and the remaining birdlife is at risk of becoming extinct shortly. Hawaii is among the top U.S. states with the most endangered species.

23. Black Coral Is Hawaii’s Official Gem

The State of Hawaii established black coral as the official state gem in 1987. Although it is the official gem, black coral is not technically a gemstone but colonial animals that grow in Hawaii’s offshore water.

Early Hawaiian divers discovered black coral, and Hawaiians have been using it for centuries. Black coral is used as a charm in jewelry and for medicinal purposes.

24. The Hawaiian Alphabet Has 12 Letters

One of the most interesting facts about Hawaii is the Hawaiian alphabet. Although many words in Hawaii are lengthy, such as the state fish (humuhumunukunukuapua’a), there are only 12 letters in the Hawaiian language. The Hawaiian alphabet comprises five vowels and seven consonants: A, E, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, U, and W.

Hawaiian Japanese Fusion Food Chicken Burger

25. The Hula Was Originally a Religious Dance

The hula dance originated in Hawaii by the Polynesian settlers. Trained dancers performed this religious dance before others, especially the king, to honor the gods, praise the chiefs, or promote fecundity.

26. The Traditional Hula Dance Tells a Story

The hula dance is performed while sitting (noho dance) or standing (luna dance) with movement to chant or instruments. The dancers use hand motions to tell stories and pay respect to nature, gods, and goddesses. Hula dancers wear colorful leis, grass skirts, loincloths or pants, and ankle bracelets.

27. A Luau Is a Traditional Feast

A luau is an ancient Hawaiian ritual and a must-visit attraction during a trip to Hawaii. This vibrant social gathering of Hawaiian feast aims to unite people and celebrate significant events. It comprises authentic food, live music, ceremonies, ritual chanting, and hula dancing.

Hawaiian Coastline
Hawaiian Coastline

28. Shoes Come Off at the Door

In Hawaii, removing footwear before entering someone’s home is a local custom. It is a sign of respect by keeping dirt and germs away.

29. You Can Mail a Coconut in Hawaii

If you’re heading to Hawaii, a unique thing you can do is mail a coconut. You’ll need a dried-out unhusked coconut to decorate with painted pictures and messages.

You can also find decorated coconuts at gift stores, restaurants, and hotels. So, forget sending postcards, mail your loved ones a coconut on your next Hawaiian adventure.

30. There Are Two Official State Sports

Hawaii’s official state sports are surfing and outrigger canoe paddling. Surfing became the official state individual sport in 1998. Outrigger canoe paddling was established as an official team sport in 1986. You can experience these sports at one of Hawaii’s breathtaking beaches.

31. Surfing Is a Popular Cultural Activity

It is believed that Polynesians brought surfing to Hawaii hundreds of years ago, and it began to thrive from there. Hawaii is well-known for its epic surfing conditions year-round.

In the past, Hawaiian royalty would reserve the best surfing spots for themselves. The sport of kings is not just a water sport but an art that is significant in Hawaiian culture.

Hawaii Vacation Wellness Pool Spa Woman Relaxing

32. All Beaches Are Public in Hawaii

Hawaii is a world-famous destination for its glistening shores. And the best part is that all the beaches are publicly owned or controlled.

You’ll find more than 100 beautiful beaches in the state. Most beaches boast soft white sand. But, some feature eye-catching sand colors like red, pink, green, and black.

33. Snakes Are Outlawed in Hawaii

It is illegal to bring a snake into the state of Hawaii. As snakes are not native to Hawaii, you’re likely to only come across them in zoos.

Keeping a snake pet is banned to protect endangered native birds. There are several penalties for keeping illegal animals and plants in Hawaii, including a fine of up to $200,000.

34. Mount Haleakala Is the World’s Largest Dormant Volcano

Nestled on the island of Maui, you’ll find the world’s largest dormant volcano: Mount Haleakala. This mammoth volcano forms over 75% of Maui and its summit stands at a staggering 10,023 feet above sea level.

Most of Haleakala is positioned below the ocean. From its base on the ocean floor, the volcano is approximately 30,000 feet tall. Haleakala is currently dormant and is a spectacular spot for the best sunrise views and hiking in Maui.

hawaiian beach at sunset
hawaiian beach at sunset

35. Kilauea Is The Most Active Volcano in the World

Kilauea is the youngest and most active volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. It is one of the world’s most active volcanoes that experienced continuous eruptions from 1983 to 2018 along the East Rift Zone.

36. Mauna Kea Is The World’s Tallest Mountain

Although many consider Mount Everest the tallest mountain, this is not entirely true. At 29,029 feet, Mount Everest is the world’s tallest mountain above sea level.

However, Mauna Kea on the island of Hawai’i extends around 19,700 feet below sea level and rises at 13,796 above. With a staggering height of nearly 35,000 feet from base to summit, the volcanic mountain is crowned the world’s tallest mountain.

If you’re looking for a snowy adventure in winter, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa are two locations that receive a dusting of snow annually. In the wintertime, Mauna Kea is a spectacular spot for skiing in Hawaii.

37. Lahaina Banyan Tree Is the Largest Tree in Hawaii

Hawaii has thousands of tree species and flowering plants, from exotic orchids to eye-catching hibiscus. The largest tree in Hawaii is the Lahaina Banyan tree on the west side of Maui.

In 1873, the tree was imported from India and planted in the historic Lahaina Town. It stands over 60-feet high and is the largest banyan tree in the United States.

38. Mount Waialeale Is One of the World’s Wettest Destinations

The island of Kauai supports one of the wettest spots on Earth, Mount Waialeale. The volcanic shield rises to around 5,243 feet and features a round shape with steep cliffs.

It receives an average of 450 inches of rain per year. 1982 Mount Waialeale received around 666 inches of rain on the peak. It’s easy to see why Kauai is often called the “Garden Island” with its lush rainforest and mountains.

Hawaii Luau Party Maui Fire Tiki Torches
Hawaii Luau Party with Fire Tiki Torches

39. Pineapple Is a Popular Fruit of Hawaii

One of the most vital natural resources in Hawaii is its rich soil. The state is well-known for its pineapple production.

In Hawaii, pineapples symbolize Hawaiian hospitality and are world-famous for their sweet taste. Hawaii’s exotic and tasty fruits include coconuts, papaya, bananas, and breadfruit.

40. The Dole Plantation Supports the World’s Largest Pineapple Maze

In the early 1900s, Hawaii was world-famous for its extensive pineapple plantations across the islands. There are only two pineapple plantations in the state: Maui Gold Plantation and Dole Plantation.

Established in the 1800s, the Dole Plantation in Oahu is a must-visit attraction in Hawaii. At the pineapple farm, you’ll encounter a 3-acre maze and around 14,000 native tropical plants. This historic pineapple plantation is home to the largest pineapple maze in the world.

41. The Nene Is the State Bird

The Nene, also called the Hawaiian goose, became the official state bird of Hawaii in 1957. These elegant beauties arrived on the islands of Hawaii around 500,000 years ago. They are protected birds with a captivating appearance and an average life expectancy of 8 to 20 years.

Haleakala Volcanosunset

42. There Are No Traffic Lights in Molokai

​​On the island of Molokai, you’ll experience a laid-back atmosphere and no traffic lights. Although it is the fifth-largest of the main Hawaiian islands, the island’s population is relatively small.

There are around 7,400 residents in Molokai. There isn’t much traffic on the island with few residents and minimal cars on the roads.

43. Molokai Has Three Records for Natural Wonders

Molokai is a spectacular spot for an island vacation. It is known as the “Friendly Island” and provides visitors warm hospitality in a peaceful environment. Molokai supports the world’s highest sea cliffs, Hawaii’s largest white sand beach, and the longest waterfall in Hawaii.

44. The Islands Were Formerly Ruled Under the Hawaiian Monarchy

Hawaii is the only U.S. state to honor a monarch. From 1810, a single monarch ruled the Hawaiian islands. However, the Hawaiian Kingdom was overthrown in 1893.

The state still honors King Kamehameha – who united the Hawaiian islands. Hawaii celebrates the accomplishments of the former king on King Kamehameha Day.

45. Iolani Palace is the Only Royal Palace in the U.S.

King David Kalakaua established Iolani Palace in 1882. This royal residence of Hawaii’s former monarchy is the only official royal palace in the United States. Iolani Palace also had electric lights before the White House. In 1962, Iolani Palace became a National Historic Landmark.

Haleakala Volcanosunset

46. Halulu Lake is the Largest Natural Lake in Hawaii

Halulu Lake is the largest (non-intermittent) natural lake in Hawaii. It is located on the island of Niihau and reaches about 182 acres during the rainy seasons.

47. Hawaii Has Vog Not Smog

You’re unlikely to find smog in Hawaii, but the island features vog instead. The vog comprises volcanic ash due to the eruptions of active volcanoes like Kilauea on the Big Island.

48. It Is the First State To Ban Plastic Bags

In 2015, Hawaii implemented a plastic bag ban throughout the state. However, some of the other Hawaiian islands banned single-use plastic bags from stores earlier than 2015. Hawaii is the first U.S. state to implement this law.

49. Hawaii Is the Only US state That Grows Coffee Commercially

Hawaii’s rich soil and tropical climate provide exceptional conditions for coffee production. It is the only U.S. state that grows coffee commercially. One of the best things to do in Hawaii is touring a coffee farm on Maui, Oahu, or Big Island.

Haleakala Volcano in Hawaii
Haleakala Volcano in Hawaii

50. The Macadamia Nut Is Not Native To Hawaii

Hawaii is one of the largest macadamia nut producers in the world. Although they thrive in Hawaii, the macadamia nut is native to Australia. It was brought to the state in the 1920s and became one of Hawaii’s top harvest crops.

51. Gambling Is Illegal in Hawaii

In Hawaii, all forms of gambling are illegal. Hawaii and Utah are the only U.S. states that entirely banned gambling.

52. Billboards Are Banned in Hawaii

Like gambling, the use of billboards is illegal in Hawaii. In the 1920s, Hawaii became the first U.S. state to ban billboards – to preserve its natural beauty. The other U.S. states that banned billboards for advertising include Maine, Alaska, and Vermont.

53. Hawaii Is a Popular Shoot Destination for Hollywood Movies

As Hawaii provides a picturesque setting with spectacular scenery, it is a sought-after destination for film studios. Popular movies filmed in Hawaii include Jurassic World, Godzilla, Jumanji, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

couple on beach wearing leis
couple on beach wearing leis

Final Thoughts on Hawaii

Hawaii is a unique destination with awe-inspiring landscapes and a captivating history. It’s easy to see why visiting the Hawaiian Islands is on countless traveler’s bucket lists.

From iconic landmarks to traditional actions, Hawaii has an abundance of intriguing characteristics. Now that you know more about the tropical paradise, the only thing left to do is to experience it.

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Will Pendragon

Saturday 12th of August 2023

• Iolani Palace had electric lights before the White House. • The Kingdom of Hawaii had trade relations with many nations, including European nations, before it’s violent overthrow and occupation by the U.S. in 1893.

Amanda OBrien

Monday 21st of August 2023

Thanks Will. I was able to verify your first point and add it to the article.

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