canoe paddlers at sunset in Waikiki

Fun Facts to Learn About Hawaii Before Your Trip

Every year, the beautiful Hawaiian Islands attract tourists from around the world. People flock here year-round to lounge on sandy beaches and relax while taking in local culture. While Hawaii is most popularly known for its beguiling scenic views, there’s a lot more to know and love about this fascinating place. We’ve compiled a short list of fun facts to make your trip to Hawaii even more interesting.

The Island State

Hawaii is no slouch in the island department. It’s the only state in the U.S. with land mass made entirely of islands and many people are somewhat familiar with Hawaii’s eight main islands. These islands are: The Island of Hawaii (The Big Island), Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Kauai, Lanai, Niihau and Kahoolawe. Most of the state’s population reside on these islands. But, did you know there are over 130 islands in total? Most of the remaining islands are smaller atolls and shoals.

Rabbit Island off the Makapuu Coast of Oahu

View of "Rabbit Island" from the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail

The Big Island Continues Growing

Thanks to continuing volcanic eruption from the Kilauea Volcano, The Big Island grows about 42 acres a year. Kilauea isn’t even the biggest volcano in the area. That title goes to the Mauna Loa Volcano. However, for the past three decades only one volcano has been spewing loads of lava, slowly creating new land with each eruption.

lava meets the sea at Volcanos National Park

Lava meets the sea at Volcanos National Park on the island of Hawaii (Big Island)

Coffee, Vanilla and Nuts

coffee. But coffee isn’t native to the islands. American missionaries were the first to bring coffee plants to the region. Over a hundred years later, Kona Coffee is prized for its smooth mellow flavor. Other main Hawaiian agricultural crops are vanilla beans and macadamia nuts. These crops are also not native to Hawaii.

The first vanilla farm was started in 1998, and now Hawaii is the only U.S. state to commercially grow vanilla. As for the famous Hawaiian macadamia nuts, the first nut trees were imported from Australia back in the 1920s.

green coffee beans growing on a coffee plant

Green coffee beans on a coffee plant on the North Shore of Oahu

Origins of the Hawaiian Shirt

Depending on who you ask, a fashion savvy college student or movie star invented the iconic Hawaiian shirt. Also known as the Aloha shirt, the first creative sparks of this garment emerged in the 1920s and 1930s. Back then, it was common for some men to have special shirts made by hand. During this era, a few established shirt-making shops began advertising handmade shirts made from colorful Japanese or Burmese printed fabrics.

One story claims that Hawaiian surfers first started the trend. Another story claims Hollywood actor, John Barrymore requested the first handmade Aloha shirt. Regardless of how it all began these beautiful shirts are forever associated with Hawaii's fun and laid back lifestyle.

couple enjoying a stroll on the beach in a Hawaiian shirt and dress

Wacky Weather

Many visitors to Hawaii are surprised to learn that our tropical climate is amazingly diverse. The Big Island alone has 10 different climate zones ranging from hot to cold. Because of these various temperature changes, we highly recommend packing a light jacket, in addition to your summer dresses, shirts, shorts and shoes.

snow on Mauna Kea

Snow-capped Mauna Kea over looking Hilo Bay on a warm tropical morning

Locals Love Spam

Hawaii residents consume 7 million cans of Spam per year. That's enough to make Hawaii the biggest consumer of Spam per capita in the US. The most popular way people in Hawaii eat Spam is in the form of a Spam Musubi. And when it not made into a Spam Musubi, then it is almost always served with rice. Hawaii consumes a lot of rice too.

double spam Musubi

Racial Diversity

Hawaii is the only state in the US where the majority of the population is non-White. There is no racial majority. As you might expect, this also means Hawaii is a mixing pot of cultures from all over the world. Because there are so many different cultures coexisting in close proximity to each other, most residents have adopted a very tolerant and open mind to other cultures. Various traditions and foods from different countries have become localized as part of Hawaii's culture.

multi-ethnic friends partying in Aloha attire

Common Scene: Friends with diverse ethnic backgrounds (Native Hawaiian, Native American, multiple Asian countries, multiple European countries, and more) all getting along and having fun