20 Interesting Facts About Hawaii

What to Expect on your Hawaiian Vacation

Hawaii conjures up images of hula girls swaying to the sounds of Elvis. Everyone sipping drinks out of coconut husks while breezy Hawaiian shirts flap in the warm air. But the state of Hawaii features diverse and stunning landscapes spread over a myriad of mid-Pacific islands. While you can always find your tropical drinks and hula girls, there's so much more to discover. Come prepared to explore and you'll have the vacation of a lifetime.

Hawaii: Birthplace of Casual Friday

Birthplace of Casual FridayDon't get caught by a local calling that floral top a "Hawaiian shirt." It's called an Aloha shirt, and it's what spurred a workplace tradition over several continents. From Australia to Europe to America, offices have been celebrating the break of the weekend with Casual Friday. Except, it's not called Casual Friday in Hawaii. It's called Aloha on Friday.

It all started back in the '40s when local businesses realized it's hot in Hawaii. Local business people were allowed to wear short-sleeved shirts to work. In the '60s, clothing makers pushed for Aloha Fridays to sell more shirts. But it really took off when a native Maui man named Wilson P. Cannon wore his Aloha shirt to work as president of the Bank of Hawaii back in 1966.


"On" Hawaii

tropical beachYou've probably noticed the term "on Hawaii." Well, that's another lesson for you. The locals say "on" Hawaii because you're on an island. You're not "in" Hawaii. You're also on Kauai, on Maui or on Oahu. You'll be able to confuse your friends with local slang during your post-trip stories of the tropical island chain.




Aloha: More Than Just Hello And Goodbye

AlohaYou've probably already heard that Aloha means hello and goodbye, but it's much more than that. In fact, Aloha is a way of life. You'll find the people of the Hawaiian islands, whether natives or mainland transplants, to be friendly, laid back and compassionate. Live Aloha during your visit and you're likely to be accepted as Ohana. Ohana, like many Hawaiian words, has multiple meanings but it mostly means family. It can also mean home, so it's important to respect Hawaii's natural resources because the locals fiercely protect their Ohana.



The Hawaiian Sun

Hawaiian SunHawaii is a six-hour flight from the nearest mainland city of Los Angeles. It's the most isolated island chain in the world, and it sits far to the southwest of the continental United States. The most important word here is "south." Hawaii sits much closer to the equator meaning the sun can be harsh. Sunscreen is an absolute must.

Buying sunscreen on the islands can be expensive as it has to be barged in from the mainland. However, the island state's legislature just banned sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. These chemicals harm the local coral reefs. The ban won't take effect until January of 2021, but it's a good idea to buy sunscreens without these chemicals if you plan to import your own. After all, living Aloha means taking care of your Ohana.


SnorkelSnorkeling is abundant and beautiful on each of the Hawaiian Islands. It's a good idea to buy your own high-end snorkel gear at home before flying out. You don't want to waste your time in a store when there's so much of Hawaii to explore. Many of the snorkel destinations are accessible by the beach. You just flip on your goggles and walk into the water. But there are some world-class snorkeling spots, like Maui's jaw-dropping Molokini Crater, that will require a tour.




FootwearYou'll want to let the island breezes cool you off for most of your stay in Hawaii, so bring a good pair of flip-flops. Just don't get caught by a local calling them flip-flops. They are, "Slippas, bruddah," as the locals would say. They'll serve you well in town or during a lazy day at the beach.

You'll find plenty of exposed volcanic rock on the islands. Slippas won't do you any good on the sharp crags, so you'll want to bring sturdy hiking shoes or boots for any rocky inland treks. You'll also find this volcanic rock underneath the waves on certain beaches. This is when water shoes will serve you well. And Hawaiian red dirt is extremely slippery to the point of hazardous. You'll find this slippery turf on older islands like Kauai where you can buy strange shoes called tabis. The hybrid hiking-water shoes grip the mud with a steel wool-like bottom and feature a goat-like cleft toe.


CameraLook up the weather on Hawaii and you're likely to see a series of possible showers. These near-daily showers are short-lived but can sometimes be strong. Add that to the fact that you'll be hiking, biking, swimming, snorkeling and all-around adventuring on uneven surfaces near water and it adds up to danger for your camera.

Sure, Hawaii is abundant with once-in-a-lifetime shots of sunsets, sea turtles, mountains, waterfalls and more. Just don't be tempted to bring that high-end camera. It can get infiltrated by sand, dropped on lava rocks or tossed into the sea. Buy yourself an adventure camera to leave the worry behind. Go-Pro is the name brand, but you can also find outdoor cameras from Fuji, Olympus, and Kodak. These adventure cameras will allow you to take shots underwater and they'll survive a drop on the rocks.

There Are Four Major Tourist Islands

Four Major Tourist IslandsHawaii is a chain with eight major islands, but tourists flock to only four. Each of the four touristed islands has its own flavor. Kauai is the oldest, quietest and is known as the "Garden Isle" for being the lushest. Oahu is where you'll find Hawaii's big city of Honolulu and its international airport. Maui is literally a mountain of an island known for its Road to Hana. And, finally, Hawaii is the biggest island of them all. Nicknamed "The Big Island," it features 10 of the world's 14 unique climate zones.

Now, this doesn't mean you can't go to the smaller islands. You just won't find the same tourism infrastructure. The smaller islands make for perfect day trips on a tour. The two most likely to visit are Molokai and Lanai The only island that's off-limits completely without an invitation is Niihau. The westernmost Hawaiian island can be seen from Kauai, but it's privately owned and it's where residents still live a native lifestyle. The only way to visit Kahoolawe is through volunteer work, but there’s literally no buildings on the island and you can’t vacation there either.

Planning A multi-island Trip

IslandEach island is worth at least a week's visit. Just take the small island of Kauai, for example. The center of the island is a dormant volcano that's the rainiest place on earth. The rain creates the only navigable rivers in the state. These rivers reach out to every side of the island that features its own climate zone.

The north is wet. You'll find jungles, towering waterfalls and "baths" carved into coastal lava rock shelves. The east is seasonal with a wet and dry cycle. The south is sunny with crystal clear waters and white sand beaches. The west is a desert where you can see spinner dolphins playing with humpback whales after visiting the "Grand Canyon" of Hawaii.

It's impossible to adequately explore even the smallest touristed island in the state in less than seven days. Leave yourself at least a week for each island. Just know that most inter-island flights connect in Oahu when putting together your plan.

Island Cruise

There is one way to see all the major tourist islands in one week. It's aboard the NCL Pride of America Cruise. The Norwegian cruise liner departs from Honolulu to take you to the major port cities of Kahului on Maui, Hilo, and Kona on Hawaii, and Nawiliwili on Kauai. It's a great way to familiarize yourself with the islands in order to choose a favorite for your next trip.

The Costs Of Living Temporarily In Paradise

Living Temporarily In ParadiseThe daily cost of living in Hawaii can range widely.  According to the Hawaii tourism authority, it cost an average of $88 per person per night on Oahu in 2016 ($176 per couple). This average takes into account all types of accommodations including hotels, hostels, camping, condos, and even visiting with friends on the island as well as a lowering of costs when the group gets larger. Of course, the costs will vary depending on the type of accommodation you choose. Camping is extremely affordable, but you lose a lot of comforts. Meanwhile, there's no limit to the costs of the most luxurious resort accommodations.

We recommend that you plan on about $188 a day per person to cover housing expenses and food if you are planning the usual vacation with a hotel and a couple of meals out each day. Add to that the costs of the flight, activities, and any other shopping expenses.

Do You Need To Buy A Tour every day?

beautiful beach and stunning Absolutely not. You can find the most beautiful beaches and stunning snorkel spots all on your own with a rental car. But the most beautiful and hard-to-reach places on the islands are generally only accessible by tour. After all, it may not be safe to venture deep into the interiors of the islands with no knowledge of the trails. The same can be said for boating to certain destinations. It's always good to pick a few hours then break them up with days of relaxation and rest. After all, hiking, swimming, snorkeling, and diving can take its toll on your body. Use our itineraries to help plan trips with include quite a few free road tours and experiences.


How To Pronounce Hawaiian Words

Hawaiian WordsMany are shocked to learn that there are only 12 letters in the Hawaiian alphabet (13 if you count the okina {‘}). Each letter has its own sound, and always says that sound. It can take some getting used to but makes the Hawaiian language very easy to speak. Of course, you have to learn the meaning of each word. Take Hawaii, for example. It's pronounced "Ha-vah-ee." Each sound is clearly enunciated. Try it out on some of the longer street names on your island. Or try it out on the name of the state fish, the Humuhumunukunukuapua`a


Hawaii Is A Diverse Melting Pot

TahitianPolynesians arrived in Hawaii in the 3rd Century followed by Tahitians in the 1300s. The first European was Captain James Cook who landed on Kauai in 1778. The early 1800s saw Christian missionaries, traders and other settlers arrived. You'll find a fusion of Native, Polynesian, Asian and American cultures on the islands.

However, the term Hawaiian is not to be used for most of the people of Hawaii. That term is decidedly ancestral and is saved for the descendants of the ancient Hawaiian peoples. Everyone else living on the islands is simply "locals."


Did You Know That It Snows On Hawaii?

On the Big Island. Locals drive trucks up to Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa to sled and to collect snow. Mauna Kea, when measured from the seafloor, is the world's tallest mountain at over 33,000 feet, with over 13,000 of that above sea level.

Hawaii is America's 50th State

Hawaii became America's 50th state eight months after Alaska achieved statehood in 1959. Statehood was granted more than 18 years after the attacks at Pearl Harbor on Oahu.

The Birthplace Of Surfing

SurfThe Duke is often credited with bringing surfing worldwide. The man's real name was Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku, and he was a five-time Olympic gold medalist in swimming for the United States. He was able to leverage his fame to bring the ancient Hawaiian sport of surfing to the world. He brought a surfboard with him to international swimming competitions and a global craze was born. You'll find Duke's restaurants on many of the islands that commemorate the man who died in 1968.



The Birthplace Of Luau

LuauHawaii's ancient luaus barred women and children from much of the feast. However, King Kamehameha II changed the rules in 1819 to give us modern luau. The feast of song and dance usually revolves around a kalua pig cooked underground in banana leaves. Other traditional foods include poi and laulau. Today you'll find all sorts of foods at the celebratory dinners.



The Birthplace Of Ukulele

UkelelePortuguese cowboys flocked to the islands to tend to cattle in the early 19th Century. They brought with them a small guitar-like instrument called a machete. The cultures fused to give rise to the ukulele which has a sweet, tropical sound perfect for a Pacific sunset.




The Birthplace Of Hula

HulaThe Polynesians who originally settled the Hawaiian Islands brought with them a love for song and dance. Hula grew out of this tradition to portray spiritual lore in the form of dance. Accompanied by chants, hula dances are mesmerizing and you can experience the show during your visit to the Hawaiian islands.



A Memorable Place

A Memorable PlaceHawaii is most simply, a place where you can let aloha fill your body and soul. Whether you are just visiting, or decide to spend time living here, Hawaii is a place to not only visit but truly an experience.