29+ Fun Facts About Hawaii!

by | Last updated Apr 12, 2024 | Cultural Activity, General, Things To Do With Kids, Trip Planning

1. Many Islands

Hawaii is actually made up of 137 islands but the 8 major islands are probably the ones we are most familiar with: Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, Kahoolawe, and the island of Hawaii (Big Island). Sorry, there’s no roadtrippin’ between islands as they are basically only accessible by plane or cruise ship.

2. Youngest of All

Hawaii is the youngest state  – it was admitted to the union on August 21, 1959 (i.e. So, for example, my Dad’s birth certificate says “Territory of the United States” on it while my Mom’s says the “State of Hawaii” – oops, did I share too much about her age?! ????)

Kamehameha Statue in Downtown Honolulu.

3. Kamehameha I

The famous statue of Kamehameha I that stands in front of the Hawaii State Supreme Court (Ali’iolani Hale)  – the ruler who unified Hawaii under one monarch and become the first king of a unified Kingdom of Hawaii – is not the original statue. The original statue was temporarily lost at sea so a second statue was commissioned as a replacement and placed there instead. The original was eventually recovered and it stands in North Kohala on the Big Island.

4. The only Royal Palace in the US

Iolani Palace is the only royal palace on US soil. The palace was built by King David Kalakaua and completed in 1882. He, and later his sister Queen Liliuokalani, were the only two members of the Hawaiian Royalty to occupy the palace before the Hawaiian Monarchy was overthrown in January 1893.

5. Polynesian Explorers

Polynesians first came to settle in Hawaii around 400 CE…in canoes! It’s amazing to imagine voyagers traveling over 2,000 miles through the ocean…in canoes! Across the ocean!

6. Surfing Origin

The origin of surfing dates back to 12th-century Polynesia and has always been a part of Hawaiian culture. For native Hawaiians, surfing was not only a recreational sport but a way to enhance social standing and demonstrate physical strength – it was a part of their ways of life and religious practices.

7. Millions of Visitors

If you haven’t noticed when visiting the Hawaiian Islands, we have a lot of visitors. In fact, in 2021, 6,777,760 visitors came to the Hawaiian Islands – that’s more than 500,000 visitors every month! Crazy!

8. The Most Isolated Place on Earth

Hawaii is literally in the middle of nowhere…uh I mean, the Pacific Ocean. We are the most isolated population center in the world; it’s approximately 2336 miles (3760 kilometers) from Hawaii to San Francisco, California (about a 4.5-5.5 hour flight) and 4032 miles (6489 kilometers) from Hawaii to Tokyo, Japan (about a 7.5-8.5 hour flight).

9. The Wettest Place on Earth

Mount Waialeale in Kauai is classified as one of the wettest places on earth. It varies a little in the ranking year by year but it’s always in the top 10.

10. The Melting Pot that Claims the Origin

Many things we equate with Hawaii are actually not originally from Hawaii at all – I think this is neat because it reflects the multicultural influences that create present-day Hawaii. For example:

— Ukulele –  The ukulele is actually an instrument that was first introduced by Portuguese immigrants. It’s similar to the braguinha, also sometimes known as a machete de Braga.

— Plumeria – This flower is almost synonymous with Hawaii. It’s pictured in all the shows about Hawaii, usually in the form of Hawaiian leis; not only that, you’ll see tons of plumeria trees all over the islands…everywhere! But the plumeria is actually from Central America, Mexico, and Venezuela!

— Macadamia Nuts – Macadamia nuts are in everything from ice creams to chocolates as well as a part of many popular local cuisines but they’re not native to Hawaii, they originated from Australia!

Bottom Right: Hawaiian Pizza (Pineapple & Ham) is about as “Hawaiian” as any other pizza.

— Hawaiian Pizza – So, be forewarned, associating “Hawaiian Pizza” with “Hawaii” is quite a touchy topic for most locals. While I actually enjoy Hawaiian Pizza (most of my Hawaii friends do not), I in no way think of Hawaii when I think of Hawaiian Pizza and neither will most Hawaii residents. To us, it’s like an inside joke – “slap some pineapple on it, and non-locals will always call it ‘Hawaiian.'” To me, the funniest part is that Hawaiian Pizza isn’t even American! It was created by a Greek immigrant to Canada. So, yeah, Hawaiian Pizza is far, far cry from real Hawaiian and/or local cuisine. Even so, I still like it — don’t hate on me!????????

11. The Forbidden Isle

You may not be familiar with the oldest major island of the Hawaiian chain – the island of Niihau. That’s because Niihau – known as the “the Forbidden Isle” – is privately owned by the Robinson Family and only the Robinson family, certain government officials, and invited guests are allowed to visit.

12. What? It snows in Hawaii?

Did you know it snows in Hawaii? That’s right! It snows on the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island  – the two highest summits in Hawaii. We’ve even had snow storms there! Makes sense since both summits are well over 13,000 ft.

13. The only State with No Rabies

Hawaii is the only state that is rabies-free (I did not previously know this!). This is mostly due to a strict quarantining process for all cats and dogs (and a few other kinds of pets) prior to entry to Hawaii. Honestly, I tried to skim through the requirements but it had me going cross-eyed, perhaps, it might make more sense if you’re a regular long-stay traveler to Hawaii vs. a first-time “try-out-Hawaii” visitor. Either way, if you want more information click here for a direct link to the official State of Hawaii government site on bringing your pet.

14. No Billboards Here

Hawaii was the first state to ban billboards during the 1920s. (Although come to think of it, I guess we weren’t really a state at the time then?!) There are only four states in the union that have billboard bans: Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, and Alaska.

Path to a beach near a condo and hotel

Path to a beach near a condo and hotel

15. All Beaches are Public Beaches

All beaches – except in certain government-run areas, are open to the public – even beaches that are in front of resorts, private residences, etc. They all should have public access points as well please use them; please do NOT walk through someone’s backyard!

16. SPAM State

The people of Hawaii consume the most SPAM per capita in the United States. LOL. Yes, we’re probably addicted. And don’t knock it until you’ve tried our local style! We converted quite a few mainland and international friends so we’re pretty sure you’ll at least judge us less. LOL. (Fun personal fact: My husband is from Korea – the biggest SPAM-eating country outside of the US (#1). I told him it’s like we’re meant to be, connected by our homelands’ love of SPAM. Hmm…not sure if that’s good or bad?!)

17. Hawaii State Flower – Hibiscus

Okay, just one more personal Korea-Hawaii connection and I’m done, I swear!  It’s possible this one is more exciting for me, so my apologies but, Hawaii’s state flower is the YELLOW hibiscus, and Korea’s national flower is the hibiscus (no specific color). Therefore, I guess my husband and I are connected by flowers and SPAM. Maybe that’s not as romantic as I thought in my head. LOL.

18. Hawaii State Symbols

Besides Hawaii’s state flower, here are a few other state symbols:

— Hawaii Nickname: The Aloha State

— Hawaii State Tree: Kukui Nut Tree

— Hawaii State Bird: Nene Goose (A native species)

— Hawaii State Fish: Humuhumunukunukuapua’a <—- bonus points if you can say this 5x fast!

— Hawaii State Flower: Yellow Hibiscus

19. The Most Active Volcano in the World

Kilauea on the island of Hawaii (Big Island) is the most active volcano in the world, with eruptions documented since 1823, it has been continuously active since 1983.

20. and The Largest Dormant Volcano

Haleakala on the island of Maui is the world’s largest dormant volcano.

Haleakala volcanic crater. At sunset, it got really cold!

21. Only State with Two Official Languages

Hawaii is the only state with two languages: English and Hawaiian.

22. Many Many Climate Zones

You can find 10 of the 14 climate zones in Hawaii!

23. No Gambling!

There is no gambling in Hawaii…so we all just go to Vegas. (Actually, I’m only kind of joking. Las Vegas is sometimes nicknamed the “ninth island” and there are direct flights and hotel packages catered just for Hawaii residents!)

24. Sainthood

Hawaii has a Saint! Father Damien was canonized by the Pope in 2009 for his dedication to the people of Kalaupapa on Molokai, a former leper colony (Hansen’s disease) during the 1800s. Kalaupapa is now a National Historic Park – people can visit but all visitors need to secure permits and there are quite a few restrictions, including an age minimum and a maximum number of visitors per day.

25. The Hawaiian Language

There are 12 letters in the Hawaiian alphabet – 5 vowels and 7 consonants. Sometimes the pronunciations are a little overwhelming – especially with the long names – but as a back-and-forth, local, and mainlander myself, the easiest ways for me to remember how to pronounce Hawaiian words are: Pronounce all the letters in each word. For example “Likelike” is not pronounced “like” with a silent “e,” but “Li-ke-Li-ke.” Sometimes the “w” is pronounced as “w” and sometimes it’s pronounced as “v” – I still haven’t figured out why some not others, so it’s gonna be a trial and error thing…sorry.Pay attention to the lines above some vowels (kahakō or macron) and the ʻokina as they’ll change the way you pronounce the word (and, of course, the meaning!). Here’s an educational video I found that breaks down the Hawaiian alphabet: https://youtu.be/Lb1hTLMXNHA

26. One of the Tallest Cliffs in the World

At 3315 feet (1010 meters) the Kalaupapa Sea Cliffs on Molokai are one of the highest in the world. Although the area may be difficult to access for some (it requires strenuous hiking in some parts of the trail), there are helicopter and boat tours from the islands of Maui and Lanai.

27. No Daylight Savings Time

Hawaii does not observe Daylight Savings Time. We have our own Hawaiian Standard Time (not to be confused with “Hawaii time” which is when we’re late and use traffic as the excuse! LOL.)

28. Small but Powerful

Hawaii is proud of our own! Here are some of the nationally and/or internationally recognized people who were born and/or raised in Hawaii. There are more, a lot more actually, and that’s not even including people like actress Nicole Kidman, who was born in Hawaii but moved before she was a toddler. For Hawaii and our small population of less than 1.5 million, it’s both inspiring and heartwarming to know that there are so many talented individuals among us!:

— Politicians: Former President Barak Obama, first Native Hawaiian Senator Daniel Akaka, First Asian American Senator Hiram Fong, First Asian American Female Senator Maize Hirono

— Actors & Actresses: Auli’i Cravalho, Jason Momoa, Maggie Q, Kelly Preston, Mark Dacascos, Kelly Hu, Keiko Agena, Tia Carrere, Amanda Schull, Janel Parrish

— Performers/Singers: Grammy Award-winning Bruno Mars, multi-award winning Bette Midler, Jack Johnson, Carrie Ann Inaba, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, Jake Shimabukuro, Kawehi

— Athletes: 5-time LPGA winner Michelle Wie, Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, Olympic Gold Medalist Carissa Moore, 5-time Olympic Medalist Duke Kahanamoku, surfer Bethany Hamilton, UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway, award-winning mixed martial artist B.J. Penn

— Scholars, Scientists, Academics: Ellison Onizuka, Ronald Takaki, Nobel Prize Winner Jennifer Doudna

— Business People: Robert Kiyosaki, Guy KawasakReligious Figures: Saint Damien of Molokai

29. Home to Many Movies and Shows

There have been over 100 films and tv shows made in Hawaii! Here are some of the most well-known:

From Here to Eternity 1953

South Pacific 1958

Blue Hawaii 1961

Gilligan’s Island 1964-1966

Hawaii Five-0 1968-1980

Raiders of the Lost Ark 1980

Magnum P.I. 1980-1988

Jurassic Park 1993

50 First Dates 2004

Lost 2004-2010

Hawaii Five-0 (Remake) 2010-2020

Jurassic World 2015

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle 2017

Magnum P.I. 2018-present

Jumanji: Next Level 2019

*Sometimes my Mom and I would watch Hawaii Five-0 or Magnum P.I. (the remakes, although I used to watch the old Magnum P.I. with Tom Selleck too) and joke about “dangerous” Hawaii. LOL. But seriously, no. Don’t let the tv dramas scare you. Honestly, often the most exciting thing happening on a given day is when one of these tv shows blocks off a part of downtown Honolulu for half a day for filming and we try to time our lunch break with filming so we can see if we can sneak a peek at the set. It’s also fun to see if we can figure out where they are on Oahu – sometimes they can make places look really different!

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. If you have any fun facts about Hawaii, please let us know! I’ll keep adding new things as we come across them. Until then, hope you enjoy your vacation in Hawaii! ????️



Hi, we are the Kim Family. We wanted to share our experiences living on Oahu and traveling around Hawaii.  We have four kids and who enjoy all sorts of outdoor activities.  We’ve learned a lot raising our kids here and wanted to share with you.  We hope it helps with whether you are visiting, living, or a little bit of both.

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Please note that many of these places we have visited personally or have been recommended by one of the more seasoned travelers within our friends-and-family circle. As someone who was born and raised in Hawaii and then had the experience of being a transplant from the mainland as an adult with a spouse and children, we want to make sure that we recommend things we enjoy or would like to do ourselves. Thank you for your support!

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