Top 10 Facts That Make The
Hawaiian Islands So Unique
It goes without saying that the state of Hawaii is truly one of the most unique among our country’s 50. Not only is Hawaii the only island state in the U.S., but the Hawaiian Archipelago is also the longest island chain in the world.
Here are 10 more fun facts about Hawaii that will help make you a Hawaii trivia whiz!
1) Hawaii has the most isolated population center on Earth.
Hawaii is tucked away in the Pacific Ocean 2,390 miles from California, 3,850 miles from Japan, 4,900 miles from China, and 5,280 miles from the Philippines.
2) Hawaii has almost as many miles of coastline as California.
The 50th State follows Alaska, Florida and California for miles of coastline. But what makes Hawaii stand out is that nearly all of it is accessible to the public and home to several of the top-rated beaches in the world, Hawaii is as much about quality as quantity!
3) Captain James Cook named the Hawaiian Islands as the "Sandwich Islands".
When he visited the islands on Jan. 18, 1778, Captain Cook named them the "Sandwich Islands" in honor of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, who was one of his sponsors as well as the inventor of the modern sandwich. It is said that he ordered his valet to bring him meat tucked between two pieces of bread, and others began to order "the same as Sandwich!" This name for the island chain was in use until the 1840s, when the local name "Hawaii" gradually began to take precedence. (Thank goodness!)
4) The Hawaii State Fish is a 12-syllable mouthful!
Decades prior to official recognition, the Humuhumunukunukuapua`a (pronounced hoo-moo-hoo-moo-noo-koo-noo-koo-ah-poo-ah-ah) was considered a symbol of Hawaii. This Reef Triggerfish was originally designated the official fish of Hawaii in 1985, which lasted only five years due to the expiration of a Hawaiian state law. On April 17, 2006, HB (house bill) 1982 was presented to Governor Linda Lingle, who permanently reinstated the Humuhumunukunukuapua`a as Hawaii’s official state fish. The bill passed into law on May 2, 2006 and was effective upon its approval.
5) No building can stand taller than a coconut tree on Kauai.
There's a law on Kauai that no building can be higher than a coconut tree, or the equivalent of 30 feet for residential and 50 feet for commercial. About 80% of the island’s population is opposed to high-rise structures, so they've voted in some pretty restrictive building codes for themselves in an effort to retain the character of Kauai and to assure that no high rises would be built on Kauai.
6) The eight horizontal stripes on Hawaii's flag represent the eight main Hawaiian Islands.
Designed at the request of King Kamehameha I, the state flag of Hawaii has eight stripes of white, red and blue that represent the eight main islands. The flag of Great Britain is emblazoned in the upper left corner to honor Hawaii's friendship with the British.
7) Hawaii is home to the one and only royal palace in the United States.
Completed in 1882, Iolani Palace was built as a seat of government in Honolulu by the “Merry Monarch” King David Kalakaua. In the design of this architectural masterpiece, Hawaii’s final king pulled inspiration from grand palaces he visited during his travels around the world. This progressive, regal domain actually boasted electric lights four years before the White House in Washington, DC! (Photo Credit: Iolani Palace by Jasonlsraia via Flickr)
8) Mount Waialeale on the island of Kauai is one of the wettest spots on Earth.
Mount Waialeale’s name literally means "rippling water" or "overflowing water". It receives a whopping 384 inches (32 feet!) of precipitation recorded annually since 1912. By comparison, the city of Seattle only averages 37.49 inches of precipitation a year, and the state of Hawaii only averages 17.05 inches of rain each year that falls primarily during the winter months. Remember that all the rain means abundant rainbows and cascading waterfalls!
9) The Big Island of Hawaii is home to two of the three largest telescopes in the world.
Keck 1 and Keck 2,
Mauna Kea Observatories are both 394 inches wide, or 32.8 feet. There are plans to build a gigantic 30 Meter Telescope (Over 98 feet across!).
The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will consist of 492 segmented mirrors
with nine times the power of the Keck telescopes. The Big Island of Hawaii
also has light pollution laws restricting outdoor and street lighting to
preserve the astronomical views from the top of Mauna Kea.
10) Hawaii is home to one of the nation’s largest and oldest cattle ranches.
Parker Ranch on the Big Island of Hawaii was founded 172 years ago in 1847. It covers 130,000 acres (over 203 square miles) with approximately 17,000 head of cattle pastured on the ranch at any given time. (Photo Credit: Blake Handley via Flickr)