44 Interesting Facts About Hawaii

Last updated on October 1st, 2022

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, 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).[1]

2. Hawaii has one of the world’s most diverse population mixes. There is no majority – everyone is in 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).

3. The state’s coastline is the fourth longest in the U.S. after the coastlines of Alaska, Florida, and California.[1]

Hawaii on the map

4. Hawai’i is actually the largest island (10,432 sq km) in the state of Hawaii from which the state derives its name.[1]

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

Islands in Hawaii.
Islands in Hawaii.

6. 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.[1,2,13] 

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

8. 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.[1]

9. 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 each year.[3]

10. 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).[4]

11. Did you know that before turning into a state, Hawaii was a kingdom? The first king of Hawaii was Kamehameha.[19]

King Kamehameha Statue
King Kamehameha Statue across from Iolani Palace in historic downtown Honolulu.

12. 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.[26]

13. 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.[23]

14. 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.[28,29]

Oahu from above - Hawaii with Drone
Oahu from above – Hawaii with Drone

15. The world’s largest plant maze is right here in Hawaii. Dole plantation’s garden maze was declared the world’s largest plant maze in 2008. It is crafted with 14,000 colorful Hawaiian plants.[21] 

16. 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.

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

The flag of Hawaii

Flag of Hawaii. Facts about Hawaii
Flag of Hawaii. Image credit – Wikipedia.org

18. Hawaii does not have any important mineral deposits.[23]

19. 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.[4]

20. 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.[16]

21. 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.[5]

22. 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.[6,23]


23. Did you know that the Hawaiian Hoary Bat is the only native land mammal in Hawaii?[7]

24. Billboards are banned in Hawaii (1927) and three other states Alaska (1998), Vermont (1968), and Maine (1978).[8]

25. 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).[9]

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

26. 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.[10]

27. 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 U.S. and nearly 4,000 miles from Japan.[22]

28. Hawaii has its own time zone (Hawaiian Standard Time.) Hawaii is 3 hours behind the western states like California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada during Pacific Daylight Time (PDT).[11]

29. Oahu is the most visited of all the Hawaiian islands, at nearly 4.7 million visitors annually. Hawaii – The Big Island is the third most visited island.[14]

30. Hawaii and Utah are the only two states in the U.S. where gambling is illegal (a 100% ban on gambling). That means no lotteries, horse races, sports betting, or even bingo.[15]

31. Hawaii has people from a variety of cultures and ethnicity, which is the reason why there is no dominant group of people in Hawaii. 

32. 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!

flow of red hot lava in the dark, Big Island, Hawaii.
Flow of red hot lava in the dark, Big Island, Hawaii.

33. Due to volcanic eruptions, the landmass of Hawaii is constantly growing. In fact, it is the only state in the U.S. which continues to grow. The state has the most active volcano (Kilauea) in the world. The lava from the volcanoes spurts up and gets cooled by the water and creates new landmass.[25]

34. It’s weird but in the interest of the natural beauty of the island of Kauai, one cannot build a structure taller than a palm tree.[24]

35. Did you know that you could fit Hawaii into Alaska 60 times!?[17]

36. Did you know that tourism is Hawaii’s economic pillar? The industry supported more than 192,000 jobs and contributed $1.8 billion in tax revenues to the state in 2016.[18] 

37. According to US News – Hawaii stands out as the No. 1 Best State for health care in the U.S followed by Washington, Iowa, Connecticut, and Massachusetts

38. More than 60 movies have been filmed in Kauai’s tropical rain forest including Jurassic Park. Other famous movies that were filmed in the rain forest include: the Descendants (2011) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) among others.

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