Hawaii is a wonderful state – full of beautiful landmarks and natural wonders, interesting historic facts, and even some intriguing individuals. You might not learn everything there is to know about Hawaii, but it’s a start; there are only 26 letters in the alphabet, after all.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
The Hawaiian alphabet has only 13 letters – five vowels, and eight consonants.
The Banzai Pipeline, often simply referred to as Pipeline, is a surf reef break off Ehukai Beach Park in Pupukea on Oahu’s north shore. The pipeline is notorious for huge waves, which break in shallow water above a sharp and cavernous reef, forming large, hollow thick curls of water for surfers to ride. A variety of top surfing competitions are held here every year.
British Captain James Cook landed on Kauai at Waimea Bay in 1778, and named the islands the “Sandwich Islands” after the Earl of Sandwich. The British brought many new infectious diseases to the islands, and Captain Cook died during a fight the following year.
The man – and competitive swimmer with five Olympic medals – who was credited with popularizing the ancient Hawaiian sport of surfing. He was also a law enforcement officer, an actor, beach volleyball player and businessman. A bronze statue at Waikiki Beach honors his legacy.
As in life expectancy, for which Hawaii has the highest statistics in America. The average life expectancy in Hawaii is 75 for males, and 80 for females. Maybe this has to do with the fact that approximately 20 percent of Hawaii residents are overweight, compared with 30 percent on the mainland.
A Roman Catholic priest from Belgium, Father Damien received recognition for his ministry from 1873 to 1889 in the Kingdom of Hawaii for people suffering from leprosy who were required to live under a government-sanctioned quarantine in the Molokai town of Kalaupapa.
Garden of the Gods
Also known as Keahiakawelo, this otherworldly rock garden at the end of Polihua Road is located 45 minutes from Lanai City. According to lore, this barren landscape is the result of a contest between two priests from Lanai and Molokai. Each was supposed to keep a fire burning on their island longer than the other, and the winner’s island would be rewarded with great abundance. Apparently Kawelo, the Lanai priest, used every bit of vegetation found in Keahiakawelo.
The name Hawaii came from the proto-polynesian hawaiki, meaning “place of the gods,” or “homeland.”
Israel is a Hawaiian musician entertainer, and sovereignty activist who is best known for his medly, "Somwhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World.”
JFK Assasination Conspiracy Theory + Hawaii
Half of the Kennedy Administration’s cabinet was in Hawaii the day prior to JFK’s assassination. According to the Honolulu Civil Beat, “they stopped in Hawaii for high-level talks with Admiral Harry Felt, Commander in Chief Pacific, before flying on to Asia on a fact-finding mission. On the morning of the assassination, the plane left Hickam at 7:03 a.m., ahead of the scheduled 8:30 a.m. departure. First words of the shots fired in Dallas reached the plane at 8:37 a.m., but the Cabinet members were even further from the mainland… No one is quite sure about what this means, but there are several who believe that it is more than just a coincidence.
King Kamehameha I
Also known as King Kamehameha the Great, he was responsible for conquering most of the Hawaiian Islands and forming the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1810. Through his alliances with the major Pacific colonial powers, Kamehameha preserved Hawaiian independence under his rule. As was customary at the time, he took several wives and had numerous children, though he outlived half of them.
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.
Mauna Kea is one of Hawaii’s most notable volcanoes. If measured from the ocean floor, Mauna Kea is the highest peak in the world, measuring in at more than 33,500 feet – taller than Mount Everest! From sea level, however, the summit is at 13,796 feet. The mountain also houses the world’s largest telescope.
National Register of Historic Places
Informally known as the Punchbowl Cemetery, the cemetery is on the National Register of Historic places, and serves as a memorial to honor those who have served in the United States Armed Forces, and those who have given their lives doing so.
Located in northeast Molokai, Olo’upena Falls is unofficially cited as the fourth largest waterfall in the world – and the tallest in America – measuring at more than 2,900 feet when the water is flowing. The waterfall is only viewable by air.
The December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor triggered the United State’s entry into World War II. You may not have known that Hawaii was put under martial law until the end of the war. Today, Pearl Harbor houses a variety of historical sites, and is home to more than 160 commands.
Queen Liliuokalani was the last reigning monarch and only queen regnant of the Kingdom of Hawaii. In January 1893, a group of Americans and Europeans who called themselves the “Committee of Safety” had planned a coup d’etat to overthrow the Hawaiian monarchy. Half a dozen policemen were sent by the Queen to Iolani Palace to arrest Committee members who tried to enter. A shooting broke out and one of the policemen was shot and had to be carried out by the remaining palace guards. Then, the Committee of Safety entered, and with almost no audience, they signed a document that ended the monarchy. Queen Liliuokalani didn’t find out about it until the next day.
The reef, rectangular or wedge-tail triggerfish – or humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa in Hawaiian – was designated as the Hawaiian state fish in 1985.
Doris Duke’s Shangri La, built in 1937, is an Islamic-style mansion near Oahu’s Diamond Head. The mansion is now owned and operated by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. Guided tours depart from the Honolulu Museum of Art.
Mount Tantalus is an extinct cinder cone in the southern Ko’olau Mountain Range. Today, Tantalus is a popular destination for hikers, bicyclists, skateboarders, and tourists – but many people don’t know that the southern slope of the mountain was bombed in Operation K, Japan’s unsuccessful second attack on Oahu.
The ukulele originated in the 19th century, and was a Hawaiian adaptation of the Portuguese machete, a small guitar-like instrument introduced to Hawaii by immigrants.
The Hawaiian Islands are composed entirely of volcanic rock.
The volcanoes that make up Hawaii began evolving more than 70 million years ago. The Big Island is comprised of five volcanoes, two of which have erupted in the last 200 years, and one of which is currently erupting. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is one of the most impressive landscapes in the country, and a must visit for anyone traveling to Hawaii.
A hundred years ago, two wallabies escaped from a private zoo on Oahu, and allegedly a small wallaby colony now inhabits the Kalihi Valley. Sightings are rare, and visitors are asked not to look for the wallabies on their own, as they are a delicate population.
The Halawa Xeriscape Garden, opened in 1989, displays a variety of xeric (dry) plants in a residential scale setting in order to demonstrate species capable of providing a visually appealing garden, while using less water than many currently popular plants.
Hawaii is America’s youngest state, entering the union on August 21, 1959.
Hawaii’s Big Island is home to one incredible zoo: the Pawena Rainforest Zoo. The only tropical zoo in the United States, this attraction is the perfect place for a day out of the water. Visitors can encounter various rainforest animals and endangered Hawaiian animals, including spider monkeys, lemurs, and more than 80 other animal species.
Hope you learned something today. Share your favorite fact about Hawaii, its history, or its people in the comments below.