87 Interesting Facts About Hawaii

Last updated on November 5th, 2023

Hawaii is the 40th most populous and the 43rd most extensive of the 50 states of the United States. Hawaii is the only U.S. state located outside North America. The state attained statehood on August 21, 1959, becoming the 50th state to join the union. It has no land bordering states. See the complete list of the 50 states and their borders here. Hawaii (nicknamed Aloha State, Pineapple State, and Rainbow State) has 5 counties. The state’s capital is Honolulu. The abbreviation for Hawaii is HI. With these facts about Hawaii, let us learn more about its history, geography, people, economy, culture, volcanoes, islands, etc.

Facts about Hawaii

1. Hawaii is the only US state composed entirely of islands. These islands are volcanic islands (meaning they came into being due to the violent volcanic activity in the region and when the molten magma cools down and forms new land).

2. Hawaii has one of the world’s most diverse population mixes. There is no majority – everyone is in the minority. Hawaii residents claimed multi-ethnic backgrounds (two or more races), far more than any other state in the USA (the second highest is Alaska). This is why there is no dominant group of people in Hawaii. 

3. Did you know that only 10.03% of the total population of Hawaii can indeed call themselves Hawaiian natives?

Hawaii on the map


4. Another interesting fact about Hawaii is that it lies just below the Tropic of Cancer.

5. The state’s coastline is the fourth longest in the U.S. after the coastlines of Alaska, Florida, and California.

6. Hawai’i is the largest island (10,432 sq km) in the state of Hawaii, from which the state derives its name.

7. It is the southernmost U.S. state. It is also the only U.S. state not geographically located in North America.

8. The Hawaiian alphabet has only 13 letters. They are A, E, I, O, U, H, K, L, M, N, P, W and ‘ (the okina). This alphabet was finalized in 1864 and has been used since.

Islands in Hawaii. Hawaii fact sheet
Islands in Hawaii. Facts about Hawaii.

9. The state has eight main islands and other smaller islands and islets. The main islands with their total area are Niihau – 180 sq km, Kauai – 1,430 sq km, Oahu – 1,545 sq km, Molokai – 637 sq km, Lānai – 364 sq km, Kahoolawe – 115 sq km, Maui – 1,883.5 sq km, and the Island of Hawaii – 10,432 sq km.) All except Kahoolawe are inhabited.

10. Hawaii’s Big Island is one of the youngest of all the islands making up the state of Hawaii, and is only 800,000 years old.

11. The small island town of Lanai, Hawaii, has only a one-stop street and no traffic lights.

12. 98% of the Lanai is owned by just one man – Larry Ellison. Founder and co-chair of the Oracle computer technology company, Ellison bought the majority share of this small island town in 2012 for a whopping $300 million.

13. Niihau is Hawaii’s only fully private island, home to 170 residents. The island has no running water or electricity, making off-the-grid living a possibility for its eco-loving inhabitants who want to escape the hustle and bustle of city living.

14. Lanai is home to the world’s largest plantation of pineapples. It is also known as the “Pineapple Island.”

15. Hawaii is a world leader in the harvesting and export of macadamia nuts. This is a significant feat, considering that the nut was originally brought to the island in 1881, with the first crop harvested in 1920.

16. Four glacial periods – that’s what Mauna Kea in Hawaii has experienced over the last 300,000 years. No other island or country has managed this feat, making it a unique and rare experience that makes Hawaii a true gem.

17. Mauna Kea is Hawaii’s tallest mountain. If the height of this mountain is considered from its base, which lies in the Pacific Ocean, it is taller than Mount Everest.

Mauna Kea Summit
Mauna Kea Summit on the Big Island of Hawaii. Facts about Hawaii.

18. Did you know that Mauna Kea is also the Earth’s tallest volcano? This volcano, together with four other volcanoes, makes up the Big Island of Hawaii. The volcanic mountain is so immense that it is sinking into the sea floor under the pressure of its own weight.

19. The world’s 4th tallest waterfall (unofficially) can be found in Hawaii. Olo’upena is over 3,000 feet high, offering tourists a beautiful sight.

20. Mount Waialeale, on the island of Kauai, is one of the world’s wettest spots. It is also the rainiest spot in the U.S. According to NOAA-NCDC data, Mount Waialeale gets approximately 460 inches (11,684 millimeters) of rain yearly.

21. Despite its warm weather, Hawaii receives a considerable amount of rain in the “winter months” of October to April, with at least 25 to 30 inches of rain pelting down during this time.

22. Hawaii has some of the best weather in the world, with daily temperatures between 67 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit expected all year round.

23. The hottest temperature ever recorded in Hawaii was a scorching 100 degrees fahrenheit. This was the temperature in Pahala, located towards the south of the island state, on April 27, 1931.

24. Did you know that the Hawaiian Islands were first settled by Polynesians? Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. with a royal palace (Polynesian kings and a queen ruled the island for about 100 years).

25. Did you know that before turning into a state, Hawaii was a kingdom? The first king of Hawaii was Kamehameha.

King Kamehameha Statue. Hawaii fact file
King Kamehameha Statue across from Iolani Palace in historic downtown Honolulu. Facts about Hawaii.

26. Queen Liliuokalani was the last of Hawaii’s royalty to live in the only palace in the U.S.A. Iolani palace the place of her abode was fitted with the most up-to-date amenities, including electric lights, indoor plumbing and a modern communication system. The queen succeeded her brother upon his death on January 20, 1891. However, her rule was short-lived as she faced opposition from the Committee of Safety. Ultimately, she was overthrown and was later convicted and sentenced.

27. In 1778, Captain James Cook, the first European to visit the Hawaiian Islands, named the islands the Sandwich Islands. Captain Cook named the island group the Sandwich Islands, in honor of John Montague, who was the earl of Sandwich and one his patrons. Unfortunately, in 1779, he was killed during an affray with a number of Hawaiians at Kealakekua Bay.

28. The oldest catholic church still in use today can be found in Honolulu. Built in 1843, the Cathedral Basilica of our Lady of Peace still welcomes visitors from across the world as they visit the great state of Hawaii.

29. The first flight arrived in Hawaii in 1927. It was the Bird of Paradise airplane that was used to cover the distance in excess of 2400 ground nautical miles. It took more than 25 hours for the flight crew and the airplane to make it to the island. However, the end was not as fortunate as you would think. Due to fuel shortage, they crash-landed. The crew survived the crash.

Oahu from above - Hawaii with Drone. Hawaii facts and history
Oahu from above – Hawaii with Drone

30. The world’s largest plant maze is right here in Hawaii. Dole plantation’s pineapple garden maze was declared the world’s largest plant maze in 2008. It is crafted with 14,000 colorful Hawaiian plants. It spans a total of 3 acres. The maze opened in 1989 and is still a popular tourist attraction today.

31. Hawaii is home to billions of trees, but none more popular than the Banyan tree in Lahaina. With its branches spanning a quarter mile, the Banyan tree was planted in 1873 when it was only 8 feet tall and is the largest of its kind in the US.

32. If you are an avid stargazer, you would love to know the fact that on Mauna Kea, there are 13 telescopes run by astrologers from 11 countries. The combined light-gathering power of the telescopes on Mauna Kea is sixty times greater than that of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Mauna Kea Observatory. 87 Hawaii facts
Mauna Kea Observatory. Facts about Hawaii. Image credit – Steve FUNG

33. The world’s largest telescope can be found here at the Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii. The observatory sits at an impressive 13,700 feet above sea level.

34. Hawaii is the only state with an official native/second language, And did you know, that the United States has no official language? 

35. Hawaii does not have any important mineral deposits.

36. Did you know that Pearl Harbor Naval Base is located in Hawaii on the island of Oahu? The base was attacked by Japan on Dec. 7, 1941, and the event was responsible for U.S. entry into World War II.

37. Did you know that Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii? He is the only president who was born outside of the contiguous 48 states.

38. Beloved actress and singer Bette Middler is a proud Hawaii native and was born in Honolulu on December 1st, 1945.

39. The Hawaiian word “Aloha” is used as a simple greeting and has a cultural and spiritual significance to native Hawaiians. It is also a word for love, affection, and peace.

40. Duke Kahanamoku (1890-1968), born in Honolulu, Hawaii is considered by many the “Father of Modern Surfing.” He was a five-time Olympic swimming medalist. The Hawaiian Islands are a surfing mecca with some of the tallest and cleanest waves in the world.


41. Home to some of the best surf spots in the world, Hawaii is also the location for some of the deadliest shark attacks in the world. A survey of shark encounters showed that no less than 73 shark attacks occurred in the waters of Hawaii between 2011 and 2020, with the majority of these taking place around Maui.

42. Bethany Hamilton at age 13 lost her left arm in a shark attack. She went on to become a winning pro surfer. On June 26, 2005 she won her maiden national surf title. And all of this happened within a span of two years of her loosing the arm. Amazing, is not it!

43. Oahu’s North shore is a popular surfing spot that boasts over 7 miles of beach and waves no less than 30-feet high.

44. Local surfer John Ah Choy is said to have invented SUP as we know it today in Hawaii in the 1940s.

45. Kalaupapa was once the home of a leper colony that saw sufferers exiled to this small, remote part of the island of Hawaii. The colony was founded in the 1960’s when locals feared the relatively unknown disease and thought it would spread unless contained.

46. Drowning is among the leading causes of death in Hawaii, with over 40 drownings reported each year. 55% of these drownings were by visitors, leading Hawaiian national lifeguards to encourage swimmers to swim in designated areas only.

47. Did you know that the Hawaiian Hoary Bat is the only native land mammal in Hawaii?

A Hawaiian monk seal and green sea turtle napping
A Hawaiian monk seal and green sea turtle nap in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Facts about Hawaii. Photo: Mark Sullivan/NOAA

48. The Hawaiian Monk Seal, named for the thick fold of skin around its neck that resembles a monk’s hood, became the state mammal in 2008.

49. Bird species flock to Hawaii in droves, but startling statistics reveal that over 70% of the island’s original native bird species are now extinct.

50. Maui is home to five of the 7 species of rare sea turtles that grace our great waters. These are the Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Olive Ridley, Leatherback and Green turtles.

51. Billboards are banned in Hawaii (1927) and three other states Alaska (1998), Vermont (1968), and Maine (1978). Hawaii was the first state to ban these information boards from being placed on their idyllic island getaway.

52. Only two states in the U.S. do not observe daylight saving time (DST). One is Hawaii and the other is Arizona (except for the Navajo Nation, who do observe daylight saving time on tribal lands).

Hawaii Coffee Beans - Oahu, Hawaii.
Hawaii Coffee Beans – Oahu, Hawaii.

53. Hawaii is the only state in the US where coffee is grown commercially. Kona coffee grown on the big island is considered the best of the state.

54. 20% of all energy produced in 2021 in Hawaii comes from wind power. This number has increased from 8% in 2008.

55. From east to west, after Alaska, Hawaii is the second widest state in the U.S. The state is also called the most isolated population center in the world — some 2,390 miles from the S. and nearly 4,000 miles from Japan.

56. Hawaii has its own time zone (Hawaiian Standard Time.) Hawaii is situated so far from any other landmass that it has its own time zone known as Hawaiian Standard Time. Depending on daylight savings time, the island of Hawaii is generally 2 to 3 hours behind Pacific Standard time, and a whopping 5 to 6 hours behind Eastern Standard time. Hawaii is 3 hours behind the western states like California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada during Pacific Daylight Time (PDT).

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