For over 150 years, the island has been privately owned by a family, and to this day, it remains closed to the general public. If you’d like to hear the incredible story of this little coastal haven, then carry on reading, as we will pretty much sum up everything that there is to know about this little gem and the history of its surrounding areas.
In the Middle of Nowhere
Usually, when someone mentions Hawaii or thinks about it, our mind generally conjures tropical vibes like palm trees, pineapples, and perhaps Polynesian dancers. In reality, though, there's so much more to these isolated islands than meets the eye. By that, we're referring to one of the area's lesser-known territories of, Niihau Island.
As the sun sets on the horizon, one enormous secret of the Pacific reveals itself. Against the pink and orange hues of the beautiful backdrop, a tiny outline of this distant island becomes visible. The fact of the matter is that this little island in the middle of nowhere holds so many secrets that are only known to a few who have had the rare privilege to set foot on it.
Amid the Shores
Niihau's silhouette can be observed from the coasts of its neighboring island, Kauai. This little mysterious island looks like a small speck in the sea from above, but appearances can be deceiving because there is so much more to it than we know. Niihau is very different from the other islands in Hawaii, and it doesn't even have many similarities with all the islands in the world.
Most of Hawaii's islands have lost a lot of their culture through colonization over the years, but thankfully, that doesn't apply to this little island. Niihau is a reminder of a pledge that was made many moons ago. Thanks to the promise kept by former settlers, the island has been able to sustain its native culture after all these years.
"The Forbidden Island"
Niihau may be the smallest inhabited island of the Hawaii island cluster, but it certainly holds the most mysteries. It can be found approximately 17 miles off Kauai's coast and 300 miles from Hawaii. The local culture of the land is still very much alive and breathing, but very few in the world are aware of its existence.
The main reason for this is that, unlike its island counterparts like Maui or Oahu, this particular one is entirely sealed off from tourists. Thanks to prohibiting all visitors from around the world, this mysterious part of the Hawaiin archipelago in the middle of nowhere has earned itself the nickname "Forbidden Island." For over 15 decades, no outsiders have been able to set foot on Niihau's territory, making it a total mystery to us. But why?
A Little Bit of History
It's a known fact that humans are drawn into the unknown. The more secrets we know something holds, the more we find ourselves drawn to that thing so we can ultimately figure it out and unearth everything there is to know. Niihau has a lot of secrets, but its extreme exclusivity is far from being the most mesmerizing thing about the territory. Evidently, the island has a long story to tell.
It starts way back in 1864 when Niihau was bought for a measly $10,000 by Scottish farmer and homemaker Elizabeth Sinclair. She was a notable figure at that time, and she also owned a plantation in New Zealand, so traveling this far for a deal was nothing new to her. King Kamehameha V did the exchange with her as he was ruling over the collection of Hawaiian Islands at the time.
The King's Conditions
The sale of the island wasn't all smooth sailing from the start. The monarch had a set of requirements that he wanted to uphold if the sale was to go through. King Kamehameha V had one condition to be met by the Scottish lady who wished to purchase the island. For better or for worse, this condition determined the course of Niihau's future for decades to come.
As a matter of fact, it was a small suggestion that the King had for the purchase. The King made Sinclair swear that she and her descendants and settlers on Niihau would do anything in their power to help the Hawaiians should a day come in the forthcoming years when they are no longer strong in their native Hawaii.
Keeping the Heritage Alive
Only a true king and brilliant leader such as King Kamehameha V could give such stellar advice when selling off his land. Luckily for him and his descendants, Sinclair and her clan didn't take the advice lightly. Once the Niihau Island was in their hands, they did everything they could to preserve the native traditions and culture of the land. In that part of the world, these customs are known as "kahiki."
And over 150 years later, the efforts to protect the island's traditions have most definitely paid off. This is evidenced by the fact that the Hawaiian language is still commonly spoken on the island today. In a world where the Hawaiian language is dying out today, this was a crucial element in preserving the indigenous elements in the regions, and with that, the culture has also been kept alive.
Services on Sundays
Even though the Sinclairs did a lot in their power to preserve the island's native culture by not imposing too many changes in the region, they did place a few new laws onto the native islanders. For instance, the Sinclair family made it mandatory for the natives to attend church on Sundays. The Sinclairs were Calvinists, otherwise known as reformed Christians, and felt the need to introduce this new tradition in the region.
Lucky for them, they didn't need to do too much convincing to get the natives to follow this new tradition, as the locals had already become well acquainted with the religion. Prior to the Sinclairs' landing on the island, previous missionaries from several decades before had already made their way there and converted a lot of the native Niihauans to Christianity. The locals obeyed this easily, and soon, church on Sundays was the new norm.
A New Way of Life
As the years went on, the settler family made more changes to the island. Aubrey Robinson, the grandson of Elizabeth Sinclair, created a sugar plantation on Kauai Island, just a stone's throw from Niihau. This move led to some other changes on his grandparent's island. Robinson carried out a plan to plant 10,000 new trees on the small island every year.
Due to his efforts, Kauai experienced an increase in rainfall in the following decades to come. The increased rainfall made the island more inhabitable and sustainable for the residents living on it. Essentially, the move to build the plantation from the Robinson family was a good one that the locals approved of.
Pandemic on the Periphery
Everything was going swimmingly on the islands for a long time. The island's dwellers had been living peacefully and going about their daily lives with no qualms. They were happy to be able to live out their own culture and traditions for centuries thanks to their prior King Kamehameha's conditions.
One question remains, however, and that is — why had it been entirely shut off from the rest of the world since the 1930s? The answer to this question is pretty simple, and even though it may have sounded bizarre a few years ago, it all makes a lot of sense today. During the 1930s, the world saw a polio epidemic, and this was around the same time that the Robinsons and Sinclairs closed the island off from outsiders entering it.
"Forbidden" in the Strictest Sense
According to one of the descendants of the settler family, Bruce Robinson, the family made an insightful decision to protect all of the residents of the island during the time of the polio outbreaks. In recent years, he had an interview with "Good Morning America" in which he mentioned how his ancestors wanted to do everything to protect the local residents from the epidemic.
According to him, it was forbidden to enter the island unless you did a two-week quarantine and a doctor's note accompanied you on your travels. He added that the plan worked, "We never got polio on the island." As such, the locals and settlers on the island were spared from being exposed to the life-threatening virus. However, this move to keep outsiders banned from the island remained even after the effects of the virus waned.
Making Contact With the Mainland
Seeing as Niihau was completely inaccessible to the general public, the region became more and more mysterious to the outsiders who wished to explore it. Outsiders were intrigued to see what life was about on the island. All this fascination with the Niihau island was quite surprising to the Robinsons.
Of course, the ban did not apply to the local residents of the island, and they were free to come and go as they pleased. The outside world was no new concept for them as they would regularly see what the world lay beyond their own coasts. According to Robinson's interview, almost every native Niihauan had visited the mainland at least once, and he explained, "They know about it all."
Locals of Niihau
To outsiders, the native people of Niihau may seem like they are living on a stranded island, stuck in the past, but according to Robinson, it's quite the contrary. He explained that they are actually a well-traveled population, whereby most, if not all, are bilingual and some even trilingual. He added that they might have an ancient culture, but they are all quite modern.
On the island, though, these natives are known for leading rather simple lives. One can tell that their communal lifestyle symbolizes that of their ancestors, who got by on a lot of subsistent activities like fishing and growing their own crops. Furthermore, there are a great number of Niihau residents who rely on these activities nowadays to get a source of income.
Daily Life in Niihau
Some locals may get their bread from small-scale farming, but a large portion of locals on the island get their income from working on the Robinson farm. It may seem like there is a lot of work to go around in the region, but most of the locals rely on the Robinsons in order to survive.
Over the years since the Sinclair-Robinson family purchased the island, they have managed to keep their promise to King Kamehameha V to treat the locals of the island well and to help them should they find themselves in times of need. In doing so, they have provided them with work so that they can get wages, and they have also provided free housing to a lot of the locals that reside there today. Some of the locals are also collecting shells for a living to make crafts that they sell for money.
Niihau Shell Lei
Living on the island of Niihau means that you're going to be living a proper island lifestyle. By that, we mean you're going be using the things that you've got around you on the island to make and do what you can. The island is home to a large number of people who use the shells they find on the beaches to make a shell 'lei.'
This is known as a shell necklace or shell chain, and there's a whole ritual to making one of these traditional ornaments. Thanks to all the white sand beaches that surround the island's territory, there's lots of room to find and gather shells from the beaches to enable these locals to make their crafted jewelry.
A Day in the Life of a Lei Artisan
The day for a lei artisan starts early. Before the sun rises, the locals from the Pu'uwai village of the island will get up to gather the things that they will need for the day. But before their day even begins, they start by saying a prayer to God called "Mahalo i ke Akau."
The prayer is a thank you for being cared for and also a request for guidance throughout the day ahead. They will need it because, for them, it will most likely be a very long and hot day ahead. After packing their lunch and other essentials for the day, they make their way outside, where they will inspect the weather to see if it will be a good day for collecting shells.
Secluded White Sand Shell Beaches
The months of winter are usually a great time of year to gather shells for shell lei making since it is easier to find particular shells. In winter, the waves are bigger, and, therefore, the beach sand gets churned up, which in turn makes it easier to spot certain shells.
To gather the seashells, the lei crafters have a choice of which beaches they want to go to. They have a number of choices, including Waiapalō, Taununui, Pahuhau, Puketua, or maybe even Putaiti. Whichever beach they choose, it'll take a little while to get there, so they will probably use a bicycle to make their way there.
A Full Day Out
On most days, the lei crafters will gather every type of shell they can possibly find and then take them home to sort them out by color, size, and type. On other days, they may be seeking a particular kind of shell and mainly stick to seeking and gathering that specific shell.
As they collect their specimens, they may have some friendly encounters with monk seals or perhaps some local birds, like the long-legged ulili bird. These lei artisans work very hard and can spend the whole day on the beach to collect the beach shells for their craft.
After the artisans have spent an entire day out on the coast, they start to make their way back to the Pu'uwai village when the sun begins to set. There may be a slight disappointment on some occasions after spending the whole day out collecting shells.
Then, they find that they only managed to get a small selection of the 'momi uliuli ʻeleʻele' shells, which are prized for their lei craft but also rare to find. They are at least sure to have collected a great variety of other shells, which will still come in handy for their craftwork, so not all is lost.
A Protected Art
The exact origin of the Niihau shell lei is lost in history, but it's known that the craft was already in existence in 1778 when explorer Captain James Cook first made contact with the island. Today, there is an original specimen in the British Museum that was most likely collected by one of Cook's trips to the region back then.
In 2004, legislation was approved by the House of Representatives, which prohibits the sale of 'seashell items' that use a label or description with the term 'Niihau' or 'Ni'ihau' unless the shells are 100% originated from the Niihau region. The legislation was created to protect the integrity of one of the few selected sources of income that the local Niihau people have.
Back to Basics
Those who are not working in the 'lei' craft sector can be sure that the Robinsons will take care of them. The family provides housing and wages to the local Niihauans, but it doesn't end there. They have also provided food such as meat and free education for the children of the island. Frequent wages, free housing, education, and sometimes food sounds nice, but despite all of that, the islanders still live on an island with minimal infrastructure.
For instance, the Robinsons haven't supplied the locals with faucets that dispense running water. How do the islanders survive without running water? Since the island is located in a tropical humid zone, it gets a lot of water through rainfall. Furthermore, it rains a lot in this part of the world, and as such, the locals get the water for their everyday needs from collecting the rainwater.
Disconnected From Civilization
Another fact about the island that may shock a few is that it has no electricity. Instead of power lines, the islanders use solar energy to power their homes. This definitely sounds like an ultra-primitive lifestyle, but Bruce Robinson has assured everyone that this basic life has a lot of advantages. Since the island is so self-sufficient, every house has its own power supply coming from solar panels.
Robinson added that every household also has its own water system. According to him, Niihau Island was up and running after just three days after a destructive battle of hurricanes in the region. Meanwhile, the other parts of the archipelago took months to bounce back from the meteorological disaster.
No Cars, No Convenience Stores
Besides not having any electricity on the island, the island also lacks roads and all kinds of motorized vehicles. Instead of using cars to get around, the locals use horses to get from A to B. Luckily, Niihau is a small piece of land, so using horses as the main mode of transportation to get around isn't too difficult.
There are also no corner stores on the island, so in order to get goods, the locals do a weekly barter with the neighboring folks from Kauai. These goods include everything that the islanders could possibly need to go on with their daily lives, and they are shipped over to Niihau free of charge. There are a few items that have been banned by the Robinsons, though, and that includes alcohol, tobacco, and weapons.
Kauai, a Close Second Home
It may seem like the Niihauans have most of the things they need on the island, but they most certainly don't have everything. In actual fact, a lot of the residents take frequent trips to the adjacent island, Kauai, where there is more access to medical care and schooling for children.
Most Niihauans call both Niihau and Kauai home. It may sound like the locals from Niihau spend most of their days working or getting things done to survive, but many of them have a lot of free time, and like us mainlanders, they pretty much spend their free time as we do.
Song of Their Lives
As might be expected, these islanders have a stunning place to call home, with plenty of gorgeous tropical beaches. When they're not out and about catching beach waves or sunbathing, they're scrolling on their phones, tablets, or laptops like the rest of us. They also like to watch movies and TV shows like the rest of the world in their free time.
And just like the other Hawaiian Islands around them, they also celebrate life through their native music. Another pastime activity for the Niihauans is to dance to the rhythms of their traditional music. Playing the ukulele or guitar is also a big part of that, and the locals have done a lot to preserve this part of their culture.
One of the Hawaiian's unique dances is the hula dance. One big element of this dance is the storytelling aspect that comes along with performing it. Hula can be paired with music or chants and can vary from being slow and sentimental to fast and lively.
Regardless of the style, it is always a part of the cultural practice that shares the stories that connect the dancers and audiences to the Hawaiian ancestral knowledge. The hula dance brings the history, prophecies, tales, and genealogy of the region's ancestors to life. Although this dance is practiced in many Pacific regions and traditions, hula, in particular, is distinctive to the Hawaiian region.
Traditional clothes in the Hawaii region evolved as the islands started receiving more foreign guests from other countries. Before the Christian settlers arrived in the 1800s, the Hawaiians didn't wear a lot of clothes at all, but that changed soon enough. A common piece of clothing on the islands back in the day was a 'malo' for men and the 'kikepa' dress for women.
Both items resemble a sort of cloth that wraps around the body. The missionaries installed a mode of fashion that made locals cover their bodies up more and dress more modestly. Nowadays, the famed aloha shirt is a staple in the Hawaiian wardrobe, however, the traditional malo is still featured at tribal festivals and other cultural occasions.
Celebrating the People of the Hawaiian Islands
Each year, the people from the islands of Hawaii (including local Niihauans) come together on the main island to celebrate with the annual Aloha Floral Festival. The festival dates back to 1946, after the late Goriann Akau, a former member of the Chamber of Commerce, declared that the people from the Hawaiian Islands needed an identity after the war.
This series of cultural celebrations is quite remarkable as it's the only statewide festival in the whole region. It's quite a spectacle as over 1 million attendees from all around the world make their way to Hawaii for this special occasion. Pictured here is a native Niihauan on a horse, dressed to the tee for this special affair.
Another festive occasion taking place in the region of Hawaii is Luau. The first Luau festival was held as far back as 1819. Before that time, the 'kapu' or forbidden system of restrictions separated men and women from having meal times together in the same area. Today, Luau is still being celebrated, and at its core, it reflects the native cuisine, dance, and music of the area.
The festival showcases some of the region's most popular dishes. One such dish is 'poi' — taro root, which is eaten with pretty much anything and everything. Another is the 'Kalua Pig' — pork meat prepared in an underground oven. There is also 'Haupua' — coconut pudding, and of course 'Poke' — which has evidently spread around the world to become a global dish that can almost be found on any street corner. Here, two native men are carrying a pig to an earth oven to make Kalua Pig.
The Hawaiian Islands have their own unique manner of architecture. Though today, the style is primarily based on Western architectural styles, this wasn't always the case. A hale is an indigenous structure that's built using the natural materials on the islands. This was the most prevalent structure of housing found in the region during the 1800s when the settler family arrived in the region.
The lower frame of a hale is constructed from wood or rock, and the roof is made from grass or leaves that form a thatch. These houses are very simple, and due to building codes, their structures prohibited electrical wiring and plumbing. They are also quite flammable due to the nature of the materials they are made of.
Keeping a Close Eye
Even though the Robinsons have made some minor changes to the Niuhau island, its native culture has remained rather well preserved throughout the time since the family purchased the island. It has been over 150 years since the purchase, and the settler family has made it a top priority to maintain the island in its natural state.
Bruce has claimed that his family has done a lot in their power to maintain the request of the late King Kamehameha V. He added, "We have done everything to maintain the island for the locals, and we continue to work the island as he had intended us to." And even today, after all these years since the purchase took place and the promises were made, the Robinsons have continued to honor their family's pledge to the former monarch.
From Now Until the Rest of Time
Robinson also alluded that his ancestors took over the King's duties along with the island that they took over. When the purchase was made all those years ago, the King told the Sinclairs that the island's subjects now belonged to them. He added that the King said, "You have to take care of them as best as you can for the rest of time."
And according to Bruce, his family has continued to do exactly what the King asked. He added that Niihau Island has maintained its authentic Hawaiian lifestyle. The 'kahiki' lifestyle, which dates back to the 1800s and even before then, still prevails in the region to this day. He did add, though, that keeping the culture alive came with its own set of challenges.
Bruce Robinson told the interviewer that the island had felt a great deal of pressure from the outside world and that the Robinson family was doing all they could to try to keep that from getting out of hand.
One of the Robinson family members once said that they had no idea where the external pressure was coming from, but it was pretty much always there. After all, the Robinson family was just operating things in their own way on the island, and to them, there was nothing too sensational about it. They can't really understand why everyone is so interested in the island in some way or another.
From Outside Looking Inside
However, over 15 decades later, the island is still completely closed off from the rest of the world, and that's just made outsiders more and more fascinated and eager to discover more about it. After all, only a small selection of humans have seen what daily life is like on the island. Most of the stories we hear about the island are just accounts from the settler family.
Besides the Robinson family, the odd 170 Niihauan residents, American navy personnel, and a few government officials, no one else on the planet has ever really gotten the first-hand experience of witnessing what it is really like to be on the "Forbidden Island." And no matter how badly you or someone wants to visit the island today, the chances of that actually happening are highly improbable.
Famous Last Words
Regardless of it being the island that not many will get to visit for fun, the burning desire will still be there for some. According to Bruce Robinson, the family gets a lot of requests from people who are at the end of their rope and who want to visit the island before they say their final goodbyes.
Despite the fact that the Robinson family has made it known that it's a "Forbidden Island," there are still many to come near the coasts in hopes of setting foot on the island. The Robinsons have even denied some celebrities like Mick Jagger, who wanted to land his helicopter on the island.
Neighbor's Point of View
If you feel like you're missing out, then fear not because everybody, as in the whole world, is. Even the people of the adjacent island, Kauai, are forbidden from setting foot on their neighbor's territory. For the Kauaians, Niihau is just a silhouette that forms distantly on the horizon as the sun goes down each day.
Nonetheless, the tiny territory of Niihua still remains of great importance to the native folk from the other Hawaiian Islands. For example, the local Kauai resident Mike Faye shared the importance that Niihau had to him and his fellow islanders in an interview with "Good Morning America."
The Silent Sentinel
According to Faye, Niihau was and is just a silent sentinel in the distance that gives them some sort of comfort from storms and the vast, wide-open ocean beyond. He recalled that as a kid, growing up, the sun's rays would reflect off of the Niihau mountains, and it almost felt like he could touch them.
For people such as Faye, the mysterious island symbolizes a constant point on the horizon that the islanders can turn to. Every time the sun goes down, they can be sure to spot the island's outline in the far distance. Faye added, "Niihau [gives] us that point on oceans field of view. It's not far, and it's always there. It keeps a lookout for us from that side of the world."
Na Pali Coast
Na Pali Coast is one of Kauai's Northern coastal areas. The area is mountainous and spans over a 17-mile area, and due to its extraordinary beauty, it is known as a sacred place by the local people, such as Faye and his neighbors.
One can find emerald-toned cliffs with razor-sharp ridges that tower about the Pacific Ocean. For centuries, the rugged terrain here has been home to local settlements that have flourished by existing only on the fish they could catch and the crops they could grow. For the people of this region, they have always had a close view of their neighbors at Niihau.
Not too far from the Napali coast, if one travels inland, you will find the Hanalei National Wildlife Park. Like its neighboring "Forbidden Island," this region is also closed to the general public, but not for the same reasons as Niihau.
This captivatingly lush area is encircled by mountains that are draped with waterfalls, and the reason for it being closed to the masses is primarily to protect the endangered and threatened wildlife species that roam the area. This area is one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the region, and today, the locals still practice traditional 'kalo' or taro farming.
Interestingly, not too many years back, things changed and the Robinson family decided to allow a limited number of visitors to the island every year. Slowly but surely, the settler family began to allow tourists to head over to the once-forbidden island for them to explore and discover the fascinating features and culture of the region. Since there isn't a public ferry that gets across, the visitors have to take a helicopter.
The whole ordeal of going there is quite expensive, but the tourists who can afford it are allowed to roam the beaches freely and do light snorkeling in the seas around the island. According to Robinson, the limited tourism that they are doing is helping with the island's costs. For them, it's all about low-impact tourism, and by only allowing small groups to visit the island at a time, they are strictly engaging in low-impact tourism.
Last Place on Earth
Robinson has given a few hints of what may be expected if one decides to visit the island. According to him, the first thing that tourists notice is the peace and quiet on the beaches since there are no people on them. There are also barely any foottracks around the shores, just open, empty beaches.
Robinson believes that their family's island is truly unique in that one gets an inner sense of peace and renewal that isn't easily found in the outside world. For Robinson, the Western world and the other Hawaiian islands have lost this aspect, and Niihau is the only place in the world where one can find this rarity.
The island of Lehua is one of the neighboring land masses of the Niihau territory. Lehua is a tiny island that has a crescent shape to it and appears to be a remnant of an extinct volcano. There are no people living on the island itself, but today, it's a sanctuary for seabirds and marine life of the region.
Lehua Island is one of the region's hotspots for experiencing Hawaii's underwater world. Today, it's possible to do an all-day snorkeling excursion by boat. The Catamaran tour boat departs daily from Kauai island. Niihau Island can be seen in the background, as the perched pieces of land are not far from one another.
Due to the restricted access to the forbidden island, along with the decades-long efforts by the Robinsons to preserve the natural state of Niihau, the island's native heritage is still thriving today. You could say that this island has the healthiest biodiversity numbers for most species compared to its counterpart islands since there has been minimal impact from humans visiting there.
The island's animal and plant species that inhabited the land all those years back are still alive and thriving today. Nowadays, the family is focusing on protecting the native Hawaiian monk seals, otherwise known as 'llio-holo-i-ka-uaua' in the local language. Currently, the animal is considered endangered on the island.
"Dogs That Runs"
The monk seal's Hawaiian name translates to "dog that runs in rough water" in English. But sadly, it seems like some waters may be a little too rough for this animal, which is believed to be one of the most endangered seal species in the world.
In 2010, there were only about 150 seals in the Hawaiian area, of which around 87 were found in the Niihauan waters. It appears that Niihau is the best place for these mammals to live, which probably comes down to the fact that the islands have been kept in their natural state for as long as they have.
A Tragic Past
Evidently, the relationship between the islanders and the seals hasn't always been smooth. Robinson told "Good Morning America" that the natives had killed off the seals in the island's past, as the locals felt that the seals were taking their food. But despite all the efforts the islanders put towards destroying the species, the Robinson family did not want to see the seals get eradicated, so they stepped in to help their numbers.
According to Robinson, the family has done a lot of work with the federal government to prevent the species from going completely extinct. Luckily, their numbers have increased a lot since 2010, as there were a reported 1570 seals in 2022, of which 1200 resided in the islands away from the main Hawaiian island. Perhaps not all of those numbers can be attributed to the Robinson family, but at least a great deal of them can.
Great Green Sea Turtles
Besides the monk seals, one can also spot the Hawaiian green sea turtle in the Niihauan waters. This species is the biggest hard-shelled turtle in the whole world, and they can reach a length of four feet and weigh in at over 300 pounds. In the Hawaiian language, they are known as 'honu' and are the most common type of sea turtle found in the region.
The turtle's upper shell ranges from yellow to brown with brown or black streaks, and their bottom shell is usually shades of light yellow. In the States, all sea turtles are listed as endangered species, and since that classification and the federal law protections that were instated to protect the species, the numbers have thankfully seen an increase.
The History of Gay & Robinson Plantation
As we already know, settlers from other parts of the world bought Niihau Island in the mid-1800s. In 1889, two cousins from the Sinclair-Robinson family, Frances Gay, and Aubrey Robinson, founded the Gay and Robinson Plantation on Kauai Island in Makaweli, which translates to 'fearful features'. Makaweli used to be an ancient land division, and it is located on the southern shores of Kauai Island.
Today, there are over 2,000 people living there, which is quite an increase from the 2010 census of 750. The increase in population is due to the Gay and Robinson plantation, which employs many workers throughout the year to run the ranch. Since all the Islands of Hawaii are former volcanoes, the soil is relatively young and, therefore, exceptionally fertile. Furthermore, the area also receives a lot of sunshine and rainfall — the perfectly ideal conditions to grow almost any crop.
All the Way Back to 600 AD
Despite the region being a great place to grow almost any crop, the history of the Hawaiian Islands has only seen the commercial growing of a handful of crops. The sugar cane industry has, however, been a major part of the area's agriculture and dates far back in history. Sugar cane was introduced to the area as early as 600 AD by the Polynesians.
The practice was also observed by Captain Cook when he arrived at the islands in the late 1700s. Industrial sugar production started slowly in the early 1800s. The first-ever sugar mill was started in 1802 by a man of Chinese descent, but he left just one year later to go back to his home country. Still, if it weren't for this man, then perhaps the sugar cane industry in the region would not be as developed as it got in the coming years.
Oldest Sugar Mill
The first successful sugar plantation in the region was founded in Koloa of the Kauai Island in 1835 by Ladd & Company. This was the whole area's starting point of what would become the territory's largest industry. By 1836, the factory shipped its first 8,000 pounds of molasses and sugar to the United States.
The sugar cane plantations had already gained a footing in the Hawaiian agriculture area by the 1840s. Thanks to steamships at the time, there was a viable way to transport sugar to other parts of the world rapidly and reliably. There was an increased demand for sugar around this time as well due to the gold rush in California.
In the mid-1800s, King Kamehameha III proposed a land redistribution known as Mahele or the Great Mahele. This was one of the most significant events in Hawaii's history. This move by the monarch intended to provide secure titles to indigenous Hawaiians. However, it separated a lot of them from their local land.
King Kamehameha III changed the land system by dividing the lands according to the people of Hawaii, and from this move, private land ownership was not allowed. The new law came into effect in 1848. Essentially, this law allocated one-third of the land to the monarch and one-third to the high-ranking members of society, such as chiefs and masters. The remaining land was given to the ordinary people. This land reformation move formed the basis of the sugar plantation economy.
The area started getting a lot of foreign interest due to its fertile grounds, and thanks to that, the law was amended once again to allow outsiders such as the Sinclair-Robinson family to purchase and lease the land if they could come to agreements with the King at the time.
This was around the same time that profits from the plantations declined due to import tariffs that were introduced. Despite that, the demand for sugar increased at the onset of the American Civil War. A few years later, in 1875, a Reciprocity Treaty was instituted, which allowed sugar plantations from Hawaii to trade with the US. This move greatly increased profits for the sugarcane plantations in the area.
The sugar plantations in the archipelago of Hawaii started to grow, but the natives did not see working as necessary as most of them lived off of the fertile land with subsistent farming practices and fishing. It, therefore, became essential to import foreign labor into the region if the sugar plantations were going to survive.
The plantation owners started importing people from all over the world, including China, The Philippines, Japan, and Korea. By the 1930s, 30% of all jobs on the islands were in the sugar industry. In 1944, there was a nationwide sugar strike in the Hawaii region, in which all sugar employees participated, except for the workers at the Gay and Robinson Plantation.
Hawaiian Pineapple Company
Just as much as sugarcane plantations have had a massive share in the agricultural industry in the Hawaiian region, so too have pineapples had their fair chance to shine in the region's past. It's not certain when exactly pineapples were first introduced in the area, but it is known that they arrived prior to 1820, before the American missionaries landed in the territory.
Some sources say that the pineapple came over from South America around 1770, but it wasn't until the very late 1800s that the first pineapple production company was established. The ''Hawaiian Pineapple Company" is the first known establishment to produce pineapples on a commercial scale. Through growing and canning pineapples, the company made its first profits in 1903.
Glory Days for Pineapples
From there, the pineapple industry snowballed. By the early 1930's Hawaii was the top pineapple producer in the world. The process of planting and harvesting the fruit was all done by hand, and it was a back-breaking, laborious task to run the operations in the pineapple industry.
At least for the workers in this industry, their pay bracket was higher than those in the sugar industry. It was, therefore, easier for the pineapple plantation owners to keep their fields well-staffed throughout the year. Just like the sugarcane industry, the pineapple industry also required foreign labor, so the plantation owners were also required to import labor from China, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines if they wanted to keep their operations running.
Symbol of the Region
It didn't take long for pineapples to become the signature fruit of the Hawaii region. The fruit was an icon in the region, and before the locals knew it, the famed fruit was gracing the covers of magazines, brochures, and posters, to mention a few — pretty much any printed media related to the islands had a pineapple on it.
The pineapple industry started to wane in the 1980s as it was becoming a lot cheaper to produce pineapples commercially in other parts of the world. The massive pineapple corporations started closing their shops to move on to greener pastures. Despite the fact that the industry left the region, the pineapple is still cemented as a symbol of the region's hospitality today, and we doubt that will ever fade.
A Dying Industry
The final nail hit the coffin in 2009 when the last remaining pineapple company, "Maui Land & Pineapple," shut down all operations in the region. Today, most pineapple operations on a large scale take place in South America and Asia, and most of the once-flourishing pineapple fields now lie fallow.
Only about 10% of the world's pineapples come from the Hawaii region. Today, there are only a handful of small-scale pineapple establishments left in the region. While it seems to be a shadow of its former self, the pineapple still lives on in the Hawaiian Islands as a symbol of the tropical paradise.
Sugar cane and pineapples had a great run in the history of agriculture in the Hawaiian island's territory, but among those big players, macadamia nuts are also featured. The nuts are native to the big island deep down under (Australia), but around 1881, they made their way to the Hawaiian region with William Purvis, who managed a Sugar Mill in the territory.
Soon enough, the nuts became quite prevalent on the islands, but it was only in 1921 that they started being grown on a commercial level with the 'Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Co.' Other companies followed suit by establishing macadamia nut farms in various parts of the Hawaiian territory.
The Solar Electric Flying Wing
In the early 2000s, one could spot a peculiar wing flying over the Hawaiian Islands. It was a solar-electric Helios Prototype wing from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Facility on Kauai Island. The prototype was flying over the region of Niihau and Lehua to test the first solar-powered flight.
The 18-hour flight was successful, and it proved that this new type of technology was fully functional, as the prototype sustained a flight at 100,000 feet for the first time. We're not sure why the flight had to take place over this region, but we're guessing it has something to do with the lack of aircraft in the territory of the Forbidden Island.
For some more fun facts about Hawaii and the region as a whole, keep reading.
Hawaii is one of the world's most beautiful places, and it's no surprise many choose it as their honeymoon destination. Multiple iconic romantic films take place on the majestic island, which is often referred to as The Paradise of the Pacific.
While everyone has either been to or has dreamt of being in Hawaii, there are many astonishing facts about these volcanic islands that are not as well-known as you'd expect.
There's Snow in Hawaii
Known for its beaches and beautiful sun, it can be hard to imagine any type of cold or bad weather ever plagues Hawaii. But, the fact is that the Mount Haleakala summit is chill at best and it measures at around 45 degrees.
It also snows every year in Hawaii and if you wanna catch the snowfall, you can visit the summits of the isle's tallest volcanos; Haleakala, Mauna Kea, and Mauna Loa.
So Many Species of Sea Turtles
There are a total of seven species of sea turtles in the world. Fans of turtles will be delighted to hear that Hawaii has five of the seven. There's even a beach in Maui that is often referred to as "Turtle Town" and yes, it's as cute as it sounds!
You can snorkel with sea turtles and pretend to be one of them, just remember — you can look but not touch!
Jason Momoa Is Hawaiian!
When you think of Hawaii, it's hard to believe that people were born and raised there. Especially when it comes to big Hollywood stars, right? Well, The Aloha state was actually home to many celebrities, including Aquaman himself, Jason Momoa. The actor was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, but after his parents split, he moved to Norwalk, Iowa, where he was raised.
This didn't stop him from returning to Hawaii after college to reconnect with his father. After being spotted by a modeling agency in 1999, he was named Hawaii's Model of the Year, and the rest is history!
Obama Is From Hawaii
Nothing can make a state feel more pride than an elected president they can call their own. Barack Obama's parents met at the University of Hawaii.
They later got married in Wailuku, and six months later little Barack was born in the capital, Honolulu. He didn't spend all of his life in Hawaii, but he did go to Punahou School, as you can see from his yearbook photo from 1979.
Hawaiin Leis Are From Tahiti?
Pictured below are two Hawaiian teens making a lei. They thread beautiful, bright flowers together on a string in order to form vibrant floral wreaths for visitors to wear upon their entrance to Hawaii.
Polynesian voyagers who traveled all the way from Tahiti originally brought the tradition of creating lei necklaces to the Hawaiian Islands. The leis can be made with flowers, leaves, seashells, seeds, nuts, feathers, and even animal bones and teeth!
What's the Lei All About?
You probably think of a lei when you think about Hawaiian culture. The lei is a potent symbol of Hawaiian culture and the welcoming “Aloha” they give to all those who enter the islands. It is important to remember that you must always accept a lei when offered one.
Furthermore, it is important not to take off the lei in front of the person who gave it to you. This is very rude and disrespects Hawaiian cultural practices.
Hawaiians Gave Us Poke
The native Hawaiian dish is pronounced poh-KAY and rhymes with okay. The native Hawaiian meaning of the name is 'to slice'. It's a dish of raw marinated fish that's cubed and layered up with a satisfying serving of rice and vegetables.
The zesty flavor reminiscent of the sea has old roots that began a long time ago, when local islanders would rub sea salt, seaweed, and traditional relish onto their fresh catches.
No Snakes Allowed
If you can't stand the thought of coexisting around slippery snakes, you can consider relocating to Hawaii. The isles are isolated and there's no way for snakes to get to them, except for if humans transport them. But, it is completely illegal to bring a snake into Hawaii.
This isn't because the Hawaii government hates snakes as much as we do, but because there aren't any natural predators on the island, which means if they get there and procreate, it can turn into a horror film real fast.
Aloha Is a Feeling
Aloha is the one Hawaiian word everybody knows. As it is a popular greeting on the island, you might have been tempted to think that it simply means hello, but the word actually has a nuanced ever-changing meaning, and it actually describes of type of feeling, more than anything else. Aloha is a way of life that champions compassion and love.
Tourists use the term lightly but it has a profound cultural significance and natives prefer to only use it when it comes from the heart.
Beware of Jaws
Spielberg's iconic movie takes place on a fictional island, thank god, but if you left the film feeling like you were about to faint — you should know that Hawaii isn't the best place for you to visit. In the last decade, the eight isles were second only to Florida in their number of shark attacks.
Still, don't let this frightening fact get in the way of your fantasy vacation, remember that shark attacks are incredibly rare. Just be aware and beware of these large toothy fish.
Mail a Coconut For Free
Next time you're in Hawaii, you can skip the postcard you wanted to send to your in-laws and go straight for a real coconut! Hoolehua Post Office offers coconuts you can mail to your loved ones all over the world.
They call it the Post-a-Nut program and it started in 1991 and still going strong today. If that doesn't sound good enough for some reason, let us add that the coconuts are 100% free!
One of the Eight Isles Is Private
Hawaii is made up of eight islands, but one of these stands out. Not only does it not have any running water or electricity, but it also only has around 50 residents.
Niihau is the name of that island, and as you can imagine, there's not a lot to do there. Niihau is privately owned, and if you want to visit it, it is possible to take a helicopter, but you can't spend the night or contact the locals.
Jurassic Park, Hawaii
The island's stunning beaches and mountains can serve as a beautiful backdrop to any film, and directors and writers understand that. Hawaii is a popular film location, and some of the famous movies that have been shot there are "Jurassic Park," "Godzilla," and "Tropic Thunder."
Another notable Hawaiin film is Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore's "50 First Dates." If you are interested in a tour inspired by Spielberg's "Jurassic Park" you can visit Kualoa Ranch.
Lilo and Stitch Creators Were Inspired by Hawaii
Disney's 2001 Lilo and Stitch is a film that takes place in Hawaii. The film has many different nods to Hawaiian culture, but at first, it was meant to be set somewhere else.
After they took a trip to Kauai, creators were motivated to incorporate the idea of "Ohana," into the movie. The idea that family can be chosen fits perfectly with the story. The Hawaiians who voiced Nani and David also made sure Hawaiian slang was included.
Billboards Are Banned
If you have visited Hawaii, you may have noticed, or maybe haven't noticed, the absence of any billboards.
This is because commercial billboards were banned from the island over a century ago, in the 1920s, it was a conscious decision made in order to make sure there is nothing that can distract you from the natural beauty and the heritage sites that are all around you.
Hawaiians Love SPAM
Who likes SPAM? Most of us are not huge fans of this canned meat brand, not because we have anything against it, but because we'd rather eat meat that's, well, not canned. One of the most peculiar things about Hawaiians is that they just love SPAM.
A classic local dish you can find on the island is rice served with fried SPAM on top. Try it at your own risk.
Only Two Native Mammals
An island's defining quality is that it's surrounded by water. For Hawaii, this means not many animals had the chance to find their way there and set up their camp, which is a shame, if you think about it, as Hawaii is as close to heaven as it gets. We bet many animals would have loved to live there.
Alas, there are only two mammals that can call themselves true native Hawaiians, the hoary bat, and the monk seal.
Hawaiians Are Obsessed With Vegas
There is a very simple explanation for their obsession with the city of sin. Gambling is 100% illegal in Hawaii, which means that if Hawaiians want to wager their money, they have to travel elsewhere. You know what it's like, the minute something is forbidden it becomes more enticing.
They even refer to the gambling capital of the world as the 9th island. There is only one other US state in which gambling is illegal — Utah. There is even a Hawaiian marketplace in Vegas!
Every Beach Is a Public Beach
Looking for a beautiful beach to lay on? Don't! Between Hawaii's eight islands, you are totally covered. You can even choose which color of sand you want your feet to walk on. Be it black, green, white, or red sand, this state has it.
And, you don't have to worry about accessing these shores, as all of them are public. This was a decision made by the Hawaii Supreme Court and we totally approve.
There was a time when this beautiful land was known as the Kingdom of Hawaii, and at that time, they had kings and queens. Lahaina, which is located in West Maui, was the capital city. What ended up terminating the monarchy?
Well, it was overthrown in 1893 by none other than businessmen and sugar farmers. Today, there are still two state holidays to celebrate the kings and princes of the past.
Fresh, Free Fruit for Everyone!
In an island filled with so much great, fresh produce, sharing is caring. Hawaiians don't like to see food go to waste, which means that if they find out their tree gave them more fruit than they can (literally) chew, they give it away.
Walking around the islands, you will be able to find fresh fruit for free all around you. Still, there is one rule everybody follows — don't be greedy, take what you need, but no more than that.
The King Kamehameha Golf Club
Fans of architecture know of American architect and designer Frank Lloyd Wright. As one of the most influential innovators of the 20th century, Wright was inspired by the harmony of the natural world, so it's no surprise he chose Maui as the location of a clubhouse he build in 1949.
At first, the design was actually meant to become the house of Marilyn Monroe. Today it is a private Golf Club, but you can still come in a take a look at this 74,000-square-foot masterpiece.
The World's Tallest Mountain
Isn't that Mount Everest? You might be asking. Well, yes and no. Everest holds the record of the loftiest mountain above sea level but Hawaii is home to the actual highest mountain. The mount is a dormant volcano named Mauna Kea.
Just for comparison, Mauna Kea measures 33,500 feet, while Everest is estimated at 29,000 feet. If that isn't cool enough for you, the volcano is most likely over a million years old.
No Daylight Savings
Hawaii Standard Time is the state's special time zone. Most countries and states like to adjust their clocks twice a year, in winter and in summer, to make sure they make the best out of the day. But, in the enchanting eight isles, there is no need for that.
Unlike other areas, Hawaii's sunset and sunrise times don't change that much throughout the year so changing the clock is redundant.
The Garden of the Gods Is a Place on Earth
What is the garden of the gods? We are glad you asked. We're gonna try and answer as best as humanly possible. It's a breathtaking lava formation that looks like rocks dropped from the sky. Who can throw rocks from up above if not the gods?
The garden is one of the most visited places on the island of Lanai. If you wanna see this natural wonder — and trust us, you do — make sure you have a car or a bike.
Hawaii Is Still Growing!
Hawaii has many volcanos, some of which are active, which means the islands experience volcanic eruptions from time to time. But don't worry, there's a very cool side effect that comes along with that — the state's landmass keeps on growing.
The eight islands were actually all created because Hawaii is a geothermal hot spot. Lava from the latest eruption gets to sea level and then it creates more land!
Pineapples Are Not Hawaiian!
When you think of Hawaii, you think about coconuts and pineapples. Funnily enough, pineapples are not actually originally from Hawaii.
The tropical fruit pretends to be a native, but just like any other con artist, it's hiding who it truly is. The fruit is originally from South Africa, still, it fooled all of us. Maybe it's because it has found its way into Hawaiin culture, symbolizing happiness and hospitality.
The Largest Tree in the World
Hawaiians are always very proud to talk about the different wonders that can be found in their home state. One of these wonders is the world's largest banyan tree.
The tree was planted in 1873 and has since grown to be over 60 feet tall. It can be found in Lahaina's Banyan Tree Park. Now, get this, the tree is so big that in itself, it makes for the whole park!
Hawaii's Four Ice Ages
The sea-locked land of Hawaii never ceases to amaze and astonish us. While most of us associate the place with the sun and hot temperatures, it actually went through four different periods of Glaciers over the last 300,000 years.
In simple language, it means it found itself in an ice age four times. We are not sure why, but we sure do hope it'll never go past four, as we like our Hawaiin beaches hot and sunny.
The Riveting Wailua River
Located in the Wailua River Valley on the eastern side of Kauai, the Wailua River State Park is home to the only navigable river in Hawaii. People who visit the park can take advantage of the lovely river and engage in activities such as kayaking, river boating, and exploring the rainforest.
Within the park is an important site, the Wailua Complex. This complex is made up of a series of temples and was once the center of chiefly power on the island of Kauai.
Coffee, Cocoa, and Vanilla
Ask almost any person you know what is something they enjoy and there's a great chance their answer will be directly or indirectly connected to coffee, cocoa, or vanilla. Lovers of all of the above will be thrilled to hear that Hawaii is the only state in the US that has the right soil and climate to grow all three.
The coffee industry specifically is a big moneymaker for the state, and in 2019 alone, coffee made $102.91 million for the islands.
The Shortest Alphabet (Almost)
The Hawaiian alphabet is only made up of 13 letters. They only have five vowels and seven consonants. It almost won the peculiar title of the world's shortest alphabet, but alas, The Rotokos language has only 12 letters.
You can't win them all. Could this be the reason why Hawaiin words are always long, hard to read, and hard to pronounce? Yes, it is.
Minorities Are the Majority
It sounds like a contradiction, right? But this peculiar, fun fact about Hawaii actually makes perfect sense. Basically, in most states and countries there is at least one group of people that makes up at least 50% of the population.
When it comes to Hawaii there is no one prevalent group of people living on the island, making it heavenly diverse. Only 10% of those residing in paradise are actual Native Hawaiian.
Run and Ruled by Tourists
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that The Aloha State's economy is practically ruled by those of us who go there to relax in the sun. Hawaii does have more than one thriving industry. Coffee definitely helps the state rake in some big bucks, but everyone knows that it is us, the tourist, who run the show!
Tourism makes up more than 20% of the state's economy and every year more than nine million people come to visit paradise.
Kaho’olawe Is Tiny and Non-Commercial
Kaho’olawe is the smallest volcanic island out of the eight that make up the state of Hawaii. This cute little baby isle measures 11 miles. There's also one fascinating law you should know about — the land and waters of Kaho’olawe can only be used by native Hawaiians.
Nothing that can constitute a commercial activity is allowed on the island. Still, you can visit and enjoy the non-commerciality of it all.
Surfing in the 12th Century?
Everything about Hawaii just screams and shouts "We LOVE surfing." Just take a short look at anything around you in Hawaii and you'll see it — from the lifestyle to the fashion and the souvenirs.
A cave painting from the 12th century, showing people surfing, was found in Polynesia, making us about 99% sure that the sport was actually invented there, and has existed for like, a thousand years at least.
Is the Hawaiian Flag Plagiarized?
Looking at the state's flag, you have to admit it feels a bit familiar, maybe even, too familiar. This is because it incorporates elements from two other well-known flags - The US and The UK. This wasn't just a case of someone running out of ideas and deciding to plagiarize the flag.
The flag honors the relationships that Hawaii has. The Union Jack symbolizes the friendship between Hawaii and the UK. The eight horizontal lines represent the eight islands, while their colors are a nod to America.
The Nene Goose
1957 marked a big year for Hawaii when it finally decided on its state bird and declared it... a goose! But not just any goose, the Nene goose, who is endemic to Hawaii. Ende-what? Well, it just means that these beauties can't be found anywhere else in the world (unless humans transport them.)
The Nene is the rarest goose in the world, and some Hawaiians believe that they are the guardian spirit of the islands.
The Hoary Bat
The Hoary Bat and the monk seal are the only two mammals that can be naturally found in the paradise of the pacific. These fellows like to explore and because they have wings, they have never been limited only to the islands. In fact, the hoary is the most widespread bat in America.
Like all of us, they love their beauty sleep. When they call it a day, they wrap their tail around their body and create a little sleeping bag for themselves. Adorable.
Monk Seals Are Real Sleepy
We hope that every Hawaii resident feels grateful knowing that they share a home with Monk Seals. They can live up to 30 years, and they also got the honor of being chosen as the state's animal! It's no surprise that the Monk Seals stole this title, they are of only two mammals that are native to Hawaii, but also hella cute!
Walking the beaches of the islands, you might come across seals sleeping in the sun for a couple of days straight.
Like Seals Underwater
Seals have the ability and the advantage of living both inside and outside the water. Just like Hanna Montana, they get the best of both worlds! We, humans, find it hard to keep our heads underwater for more than a few seconds, but Monk seals can do so for 20 minutes!
They also enjoy diving and walks on the beach. They can dive deep, reaching 1,804 feet, but most of the time they are really all about the shallow water.
One State, Four Climate Zones
What's a climate zone? The Koppen climate system distinguishes between five different climate zones. The five are tropical, continental, mild, dry, and polar. We'll let you figure out what each one means by yourselves.
The paradise of the pacific has four out of the five, only missing the Continental one, which requires at least one month of freezing cold as well as one month of temperatures being above 50 °F. The eight islands are overachievers — they also have eight out of the thirteen climate sub-zones.
What's the Deal with Hawaiian shirts?
You have seen these shirts, mostly, but not exclusively, worn by men. Also named aloha shirts, you can count on them to always be colorful. They usually feature a pattern inspired by nature, and many tourists wear them daily when visiting Hawaii. The shirt was used to be worn in situations a tad more formal than just going to the beach.
Hawaiians wore it to a nice restaurant or to for a day the office. Today, aloha shirts have become something else — a symbol of the laid-back Hawaiian lifestyle.
Hawaii Is the Perfect Place for Hermits
Alone but definitely not lonely, those who live in Hawaii have the dubious privilege of being the most isolated people on earth.
Located 4000 miles away from Japan as well as 2,400 miles away from the continental US, the eight islands of Hawaii are like the loner kid in high school who wants to go against the grain and off the grid. Recluses and hermits are always welcome in Hawaii.
The Resilient Ohelo Plant
The Ohelo plant is endemic to the islands and it used to be considered sacred. Today, it has a sizzling story to tell you — it likes the altitudes and can even grow on volcanic ash and lava flows.
This is one determined plant, in order to adapt to its chaotic, often volcanic lifestyle, it can even survive a 25 cm ash fall!
The Hawaiin Ohelo plant is the one responsible for the delicious Ohelo berry. Despite growing alongside volcanos, the berry is edible and is said to have a similar taste to that of a cranberry.
Early Hawaiians did not touch a berry without offering it to the gods first. Today they make jams and pies with it. The Nene geese practically binge on them and also help disperse their seeds — everybody wins.
Seal Monks Do More Than Just Molt
Just like snakes, Hawaiian seal monks shed! Instead of shedding their skin, they shed their fur, it's called a "catastrophic molt." While the process isn't really fun for them, you can compare it to a deep facial or maybe to washing dirty clothes.
After they're done they are as good as new and ready to tackle their life under the sea and above the land again. If you see a seal with green skin, know that it's time for them to molt.
Don't Touch the Seals
We all love petting animals, especially ones we don't get to see that often. Hawaii is home to many monk seals, and who wouldn't want to take a selfie with a seal? Well, even if you see a monk seal laying on the beach, or swimming in the ocean — please don't touch it.
It's 100% illegal. Sadly, despite being the cutest of crimes — it comes with a cost. You can get fined or face time on the inside, so keep your distance.
Hawaii’s Soil Is Worth More Than You Think
Countless people wake up every morning, get dressed, go to work, and think nothing of soil. Well, why should they? The dirt on the ground doesn't seem important to those who work as lawyers or teachers, but for farmers, rich soil can be a goldmine. Out of all the different natural sources Hawaii holds, the soil is one of great significance.
Why? Well, macadamia nuts, pineapples, coffee, sugarcane, and more can all grow on the isles thanks to it.
The island of Niihau was purchased in 1864. The buyer was a woman named Elizabeth Sinclair, a plantation owner in New Zealand and Hawaii. She bought Niihau for a mere $10,000 from the Kingdom of Hawaii. The island was later passed on to her descendants. This picture was taken by her son Francis Sinclair.
Wow, if island prices were like this today, wouldn't you want to own a private one as well? We know that next time the island buying market crashes, we're getting one.
It is said Niihau's owners have set out numerous rules for their islanders to live by. Though it can’t be confirmed, such rules include not being allowed to keep any firearms or drink liquor. It is said they are required to attend church each and every Sunday. This picture of the very private residents was taken in 1885.
One former resident even claims that men on the island aren’t allowed to have long hair or wear earrings. Whether this is true or not will remain a mystery.
Extra Special Shells
In all of the islands of Hawaii, shells are used to make intricate, beautiful shell leis. Typically, three different kinds of shells are used to make these leis. Many island inhabitants are artists and craft makers. These residents love crafting beautiful shell leis that can be found in stores on each of the Hawaiian Islands.
The price of each lei is dependent on what shells are used, and how common each shell is. So if you want one of those extra special leis, be prepared to shell out the cash!
Hawaii Wasn't Alway a Holiday Destination
Following World War II, Hawaii entered the vacation destination scene and quickly became known as one of the most popular getaways, especially for people living in the US. This illustration of a guy suffering and enjoying himself is a prime example of the press Hawaii got.
This photo is actually one of the first examples we have of marketing surf culture to the general American public. Though surf culture wouldn’t become a huge craze until the 50s and 60s in America.
Hawaiian Killer Whales Are Not Killers. Or Whales.
There are three different populations of false killer whales that swim in the warm waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands. If that fact makes you want to change your vacation plans and fly to Europe instead — think again. Though their coloring resembles that of a killer whale, these sea mammals are actually the third-largest type of dolphin.
These special dolphins are pretty sparse and rare in other parts of the world. For this reason, they are the type of dolphins that are sought out most for observation.
Kill Time With Killer Whales
If you find yourself in Oahu, you'll get a chance to see these wonderful and rare dolphins up close. Unlike actual killer whales, false killer whales are friendly and approachable. These amazing dolphins have actually been known to catch food and bring them as gifts to humans who are in the process of diving or boating!
However, they also are known to take fish off of hooks, which can lead to injury and is actually one of the main causes of decline in the false killer whale population around the Hawaiian Islands.
The War Temple
This temple sits atop a hill and is located on the island of O’ahu. It's called Pu’u Mahuka Heiau which roughly translates to “hill of escape.” Not much has remained from it, but trust us when we tell you that it was constructed as a war temple.
Historians have dated the temple’s early construction to the 17th century though they have found that more construction was done on the temple in the 18th century.
The Largest Temple
Hale O Pi’ilani Heiau is located outside of Hana. It is one of the best-preserved sacred sites and actually dates back to the 13th Century.
The site is like a labyrinth with more walls inside including enclosures, platforms, and pits. Historians posture that it was actually designed as a residence. Others believe it was part of a kingdom. The structure is located in the Kahanu Garden and Preserve, a botanical garden along the Hana Highway.
What's Papaya Gotta Do With It?
The only place where papayas are commercially farmed is, you guessed it, Hawaii! This fantastic fruit found its way to the island in the early 1800s. The papayas you can find there are small and melon-flavored.
After pineapples, papayas are the most lucrative Hawaiian fruit crop. If you have never tried papaya, Hawaii is a great place to try one! If it is soft to the touch and smells slightly sweet it means it's good to go!
Honolulu Has a High-End Urban Edge
Hawaii makes us think of extraordinary beaches, white sands, and blue oceans. But it's not the only thing you can find there. In urban Honolulu, it's an entirely different story.
You can pay over $500,000 for a one-bedroom apartment if you want. You can also enjoy their great nightlife. It's safe to say the urban side of Honolulu is not the best place to raise a family. Its target audience is more rich singles.
Hawaii is rich with its own mythology and has various stories surrounding its particular gods, especially the goddess Pele.
There is a sacred site is where Pele, the goddess of Volcanoes fell in love with Lohi'au. Lohi'au, the chief of Kaua’i, was actually laid to rest at the site of this temple. Legends say that the chief Lohi'au died upon falling in love with Pele. Pele will always be a huge part of Hawaiin culture, as this beautiful mural of hers shows.
The King's Residence
The former residence of King Kamehameha I is an important Hawaiin site. It's located at the north end of Kailua Bay on the Big Island. Kamehameha was the first ruler of Hawaii and the founder of the Kingdom of Hawaii after he unified the islands.
He is the ancestor of Kamehameha V, the chief who sold Ni’ihau to the Sinclair family. The site where he lived is now a lighthouse. It is also the land where part of King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel is located.
Hawaii Is Home to Many Sacred Sites
Sacred sites or heiaus are prevalent in the wonderful islands of Hawaii. In Hawaiian culture, it is extremely important to honor and preserve these sacred sites. Called "heiau" in Hawaiian, they have a variety of purposes, including treating the sick, offering harvest, starting rain, stopping the rain, increasing the population, and achieving success in war.
However, many were destroyed during the 19th century. The sites that do remain date as far back as the 13th Century.
What's Up With 'Ulu?
Have you ever heard of Breadfruit? It's a thorny oval-shaped fruit native to tropical areas, Hawaii included. The idea of a bread-flavored fruit may sound far-fetched, but it tastes just like a cross between freshly made bread, plantains, and potatoes.
This starchy crop is a mainstay in the paradise of the pacific. It is called 'ulu in the local language. Despite having Bread in its name, it takes more after its other half, Fruit — it is both tasty and nourishing.
Also known as the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, the Honolulu Airport is located on the island of O’ahu. In case you went on a vacation to Hawaii or are blessed enough to call this place home, there is a good chance you've boarded a Hawaiian Airlines flight and landed with a lei around your neck.
Hawaiian Airlines is the largest carrier in Hawaii and uses this airport as its main hub. There are currently dozens of the airline’s airplanes parked on the asphalt of one of the airport’s runways. Unexpectedly the island-based airline is the 10th biggest in the US.
What Happened to the Coco Palms Resort?
The Coco Palms was at one point one of the most sought-after stays in Hawaii. Located in Wailuā, it is apparently located on the ground that belongs to ancient Hawaiian royalty. The first hotel on site started operating there in the 1950s, but it didn’t become very popular until 1953 when it was being run by Island Holidays Limited.
People used to come from all over to get married on the site and enjoy the tropical grounds. Sadly, in 1992, the area was hit by Hurricane Iniki and they were forced to shut their doors.
Located on the edge of Kailua, Hawaii is the Ulupo Heiau State Historic Site. This heiau is also associated with Hawaiian mythology and legends of the Menehune, a mythological creature who lives in the deep forests and valleys of the Hawaiian Islands. The site is also associated with high chiefs like Kakuhihewa and Kuali’i.
Ulupo Heiau became a park that is made up of a stone platform that measures 140 by 180 feet and has 30-foot-tall outer walls.
A Beach for Danger Lovers
Located on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, you can’t take a car to Hanakapi’ai Beach. You have to first take the Kalalau trail, which is known for being dangerous and difficult. The beach can be found approximately two miles into the hike and offers little relaxation for those who make the journey.
The waters are known for being deadly, as the strong current and large waves make them impossible to maneuver. A sign cautioning tourists to stay out of the waters indicates that people have lost their lives taking a dip in these waters.
Hawaii Is Home to Many Volcanos
Many know that Hawaii has 6 active volcanos. Not everyone understands that the whole state actually sits on top of active volcanoes. Hawaii is also the home of the most massive Volcano.
This means any moment, the whole of the island state could be completely devoured by the Pacific Ocean. The lava doesn't care what is in its way, it just wants to live its lovely lava life.
Kaimu Beach used to be a famous black sand beach in Hawaii and was the home of 150 families. Up until the early nineties, people enjoyed visiting it. Because of a volcano-related disaster, it is now impossible to access this beautiful black beach.
But, that just makes it all the more special, doesn't it? The eruptions continue to this day, but the silver lining is that so far over 500 acres of land have been added to Hawaii’s Big Island.
Harvard Out, Hawaiian Colleges In
It may seem like an absolute dream to go to college in Hawaii. After all, many Hawaiian college campuses are near the most beautiful scenery you’ll ever see in your life. Surprisingly, the state that is solely associated with pleasure has a total of 19 colleges and universities.
Ten of them are public! Do you think you can major in surfing? We bet a show about college kids in Hawaii would make a great Netflix hit show!
A National Park... of Volcanos
Believe it or not, there are virtual tours of Hawaii Volcanoes that explore lava tubes. They explain the geological processes that have created more than 500 acres of new land and follow rangers as they describe the beauty of the park's volcanic coastal cliffs.
You can virtually fly over the active Kilauea volcano and be instantly reminded of the mighty forces of nature. This type of experience must be really impactful!
Hawaii Has More Than Just Beaches
Hawaii isn't just about beach life. Pa’ia is a stunning town full of a rich plantation past. It boasts an array of surf and sweets shops, alongside plenty of art galleries, restaurants, and clothing boutiques. Simmer Hawaii is said to be one of the best shops in the area for both men and women. Paia Bay Coffee on Hana Highway is famous for its iced latte.
If you’re on the prowl for something a bit more substantial, check out Mama’s Fish House for some delicious local seafood.
"Lost" Was Filmed in Hawaii
Popular among both tourists and locals, the Spitting Caves can be found in Honolulu, Hawaii. It’s located just below a high cliff where waves are known to crash, shooting into the cave and creating something that looks like a reverse blowhole.
The public trail is relatively short but hidden in a wealthy residential area. In addition to the phenomenal views, people love to go there and check out where some scenes from the popular show “Lost” were filmed.
Cliff Diving Is a Thing
Cliff diving? What will those extreme sports fanatics come up with next? Ocean Flying? In Hawaii, a popular location for this ludicrous activity is Spitting Caves.
Sadly, taking part in such a sport can lead to some unfortunate accidents. The strong waves have no mercy, but what can we do? The ocean is known for many things, but compassion isn't one of them. Still, many come to Hawaii because they enjoy the thrill and rush of doing the unbelievable.
China in Hawaii?
The China Walls are a place in Hawaii, who knew? This place is known for two things. It’s the ideal location to watch the sunset in Hawaii Kai, and a popular spot for cliff jumping.
At any time of the day, you’ll find a younger crowd hanging out there with lounge chairs, a cooler, and maybe some snorkel gear. This is considered one of Hawaii's most beautiful places, but alas, also one of the most dangerous ones.
Hawaii Is a Hot Wedding Destination
It should be a surprise that many people fly to Hawaii just to get married. The breathtaking views are the perfect background for a celebration of love.
This trend did not skip celebrity couples. In 2000, Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor tied the knot at a beautiful oceanfront ceremony in Hawaii. Sharon and Ozzy did so in 1982 at a beautiful Hawaiian wedding on the island of Maui. The list goes on and on.
Doris Duke's Honolulu House is Now a Majestic Museum
Tobacco heiress Doris Duke and her husband were travel fiends, and after traveling the world, they made their final stop in Hawaii, where they fell in love with the beautiful culture and scenery.
In fact, they loved it so much that they bought a plot of land on the Honolulu waterfront, and they had a custom home built decorated with Islamic art. Now, the house has transformed into a museum showcasing Middle Eastern art that she collected throughout her lifetime.
Honolulu Is Not Affordable
While most of the time it is literally all sunshine and rainbow in Hawaii, Honolulu has actually lost 11.1% of its population, according to the 2018 census. It’s believed that the main reason why so many people are leaving Hawaii’s famous city is due to its rising living costs.
With the estimated living cost in Honolulu considered to be almost 30% higher than living in Austin, Texas, there are many cheaper alternatives elsewhere in the US. It’s easy to understand why people are leaving Honolulu for more affordable cities.
Barron Mamiya Makes Hawaiians Proud
Because surfing is such a big part of Hawaiin culture, it's only reasonable some notable surfers will be Hawaiians. Barron Mamiya is one of them.
Born in Oahu, Hawaii, he started surfing at the age of 11. He won the Men's Pro Junior Vans Open of Surfing in 2018 and started competing at a very young age. He's known for his effortless curving and for getting past even the highest of waves. He's the all-around package when it comes to surfing and his desire to compete is unparalleled.