The Hawaiian Islands are known for many things: a thriving tourism industry, pristine beaches, and a bustling surf culture, just to name a few. But there are other products and traditions synonymous with Hawaii that not everyone is aware of.
1) Koa Wood
Made famous for its fine texture and rich colors, koa wood has been used to create everything from canoes and woodcarvings to fine furniture, jewelry and ukuleles.
2) Kona Coffee
Kona coffee is world-renowned, and is only grown in a small area of fertile volcanic soil on Hawaii’s Big Island. The coffee is definitely a cut above any coffee you can find, well, pretty much anywhere.
3) The Lei
The lei tradition was born in Hawaii when the first settlers came to the islands, and quickly became a symbol of Hawaii during the advent of tourism. Leis are constructed from flowers, leaves, shells, nuts, seeds, and, at one point in history, the bone and teeth of various animals.
4) Cacao + Vanilla Beans
Obviously, not all of your cacao and vanilla products come from Hawaii, but it is the only state in America that is able to cultivate these two plants. Fun fact: did you know that it can take up to five years to grow a single vanilla bean?
5) The Shaka
Okay, so you probably know about this one, but this popular hand sign was created - and made popular – in Hawaii. In addition to usage throughout the Hawaiians and in modern surf culture, it can also be seen in skydiving culture, and international Brazilian Jiu Jitsu communities. The shaka is one of two formal hand signals in American Sign Language that means surfing.
6) Ocean Vodka
This is the only vodka that is distilled from organic sugar cane, and the only spirit in the world made from deep ocean mineral water.
7) Hawaiian Luaus
The luau was first created in 1819, when King Kamehameha removed many religious laws that were practiced, including the rules that stated that men and women were to eat their meals separately. The King performed the symbolic act of eating with a woman, and ended all religious taboo. Now, the terms luau and party are almost exchangeable.
8) Pineapple + The Dole Food Company
The Hawaiian Pineapple Company was founded in 1901 by James Dole, and later became the Dole Food Company. Although pineapples did not originate in the islands, they are a wildly popular Hawaiian product.
9) Aloha Shirts.
This one is obvious, we know… but were you aware that the Hawaiian shirt was created in the 19th century when missionaries gave locals plain shirts to cover their chests? The Hawaiians painted the shirts to be more attractive, and the Hawaiian shirt was born.