30+ Unusual And Fascinating Facts About Hawaii You May Not Have Known

By: Lilli Keeve | Last updated: May 05, 2023

Nicknamed the “Aloha State,” Hawaii is known for its stunning white beaches and phenomenal landscape. Sitting at the Pacific Ocean center, it comprises only eight central islands. Although Hawaii has a small population, these facts will give you some insights into the state’s traditions and other peculiar facts that make the Aloha State unlike any other. 

Hawaii's Flag Is The Only One In the U.S. To Include Another Country’s National Flag

The flag of Hawaii is made up of eight stripes in white, red, and blue, as well as a Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner of the banner. All of the eight islands in Hawaii are represented by the number of straight lines on the flag.


Source: Ted Soqui/Corbis via Getty Images

The companionship between the United Kingdom and Hawaii is alluded to by the example of the Union Jack. And, the striped example points to the connection between the U.S. and Hawaii. 


The Secret Behind Why Hawaiian Women Wear A Flower Behind Their Ears

Have you ever wondered why women in Hawaii wear beautiful flowers tucked behind their ears? Well, there’s a special reason. If you are privy to the neighborhood code, then you will understand. It could be that she is signaling to everybody that she is either single or married.


Source: iStock

Whether you don the blossom over your left or right ear makes a huge difference. If a woman is “accessible,” she wears a flower over the correct ear. If she’s taken, she wears the flower over the left ear. 

The Use Of Most Sunscreens Are Prohibited In Hawaii

Typical sunscreens are often full of synthetic contaminants such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, which pose an immense hazard to coral reefs. Because of how integral coral reefs are to Hawaii, they had to take this measure into consideration. 


Source: Alamy

Effective in 2021, Hawaii enforced a law that banned most sunscreens that weren’t reef-safe. Reef-safe sunscreens have become very popular and integral to saving coral reefs. Tourists probably smuggled in sunscreen with them – if they weren’t caught!

Millions Of Tourists Visit Hawaii Every Year

Millions of tourists visit Hawaii each year and it’s one of the most popular travel destinations in the entire world. The tourists soak up all that beautiful Hawaii has to offer, but most Native Hawaiians aren’t too fond of it.


Source: hiililylani/ TikTok & CamilleSlagle/ TikTok & Phil Jung

They want tourists to arrive properly educated before stepping onto the majestic island. Respect is one of the biggest things that tourists often neglect. Many Native Hawaiians have also expressed how harmful tourism actually is.

Hawaii Has A History Of Housing Parasites

Seeing centipedes are just part of the equation if you visit Hawaii or move there. The probability of running into one or several is extremely high, and they thrive in warm, damp environments.

Source: beckyoverbeck/ TikTok

In fact, a few years ago, there was a severe outbreak of a brain-eating parasitic Rat Lungworm disease carried by Coqui frogs and centipedes, among others. Currently, the disease is confined to the tropics and subtropics.


Both Men And Women Participate In The Hawaiian Hula Dance

Hawaiian’s most common dance is the stylized hula, which was a custom that praised divine beings. It advanced to include narration with developments and possibly serenades. Legends and stories were passed down from one generation to another to integrate into the hula dances. 

Source: Hawaii Activities

A mele is what the dance usually begins with, and it’s a serenade to introduce the story which is a man’s role. But, also, women at that point dominate and communicate the rest of the tale, which is paired with thoughtful developments (and sometimes more than that). 


How Hollywood Presents Hawaii In The Movies

Tourist locations are often heavily romanticized in Hollywood films, with Hawaii being one of the main ones. The beautiful islands are still worth a visit, of course! Don’t let this deter you from taking a trip to this magical place.

Source: Reddit

The islands don’t quite look the same as how they are shown in movies, but there is still an abundance of locations that are worthy of posting on your Instagram. Hawaii certainly does have cities, businesses, and roads that are very much like any other city. Just remember that people do live in the place that you may be eyeing for your next destination. 


Humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa (Reef Triggerfish) Is Hawaii’s State Fish

You’re probably thinking: “How the heck do you pronounce this name?” Well, it’s “who-moo-who-moo-noo-noo-koo-ah-ooo ah-ah” and is known as a reef triggerfish. Chosen in 1984, this became Hawaii’s official state fish. 

Source: depositphotos

In 2006, the fish was certifiedly named the official state fish of Hawaii 2006 because there was no effort for re-election. The fish is often make fun of the fact that its name is longer than its body, which is 10 inches long. The name “triggerfish” signifies “triggerfish with a pig’s snout.” 


Snakes Are Illegal

Hawaii has no snakes that are originally from there. In fact, they are illegal to have, own, or possess on the island. It’s forbidden to hold a pet snake and foreign ships and planes are examined thoroughly for snakes and contraband. 

Source: Matt Cardy/ Getty Images

The Brahminy Blind Snake, however, is a non-native animal to Hawaii. It’s regarded as the flowerpot snake of the Big Island. It entered the country in the last decade from being hidden in the soil of potted plants shipped in from the Middle East, resembling a worm with an average length of 2.5-6.5 inches. It’s not considered a snake to Hawaiians since it’s not safe or nasty.


In Hawaii, Gambling Is Boycotted

Covered with exquisite nature and amazing culture, the Hawaiian Islands are heaven. So, why would anybody want to ruin it with gambling? This ban applies to sports wagering, gambling machines, horse races, lotteries, and other forms of betting.

Source: Christopher Furlong/ Getty Images

Voyage travelers aren’t even allowed to bet on Hawaiian waters. The locals of Hawaii are transfixed with betting since they are forbidden from doing it in their home state, which is why Hawaiians flock to Las Vegas for a fun vacation. 


The Big Island Is Used For Training By Astronauts

Indeed, the Hawaii’s Big Island is rather odd. Space explorers who are planning their big trip to the moon, travel to the Big Island to prepare themselves, despite the alternating weather. 

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Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa are the two gigantic volcanoes that split the island in two. Both the east and west sides, interestingly enough, are host to varying climates. Moored by Kona’s city, the massive mountains keep the island’s west side hot and dry. The east side is where you will find Hilo’s town, which is populated with waterways and cascades. 


Lemonade Stands Are Required To Have Permits

If you want to set up a lemonade stand in Hawaii you are required to have a permit. That’s a rather unfortunate situation for kids who just want to make a few extra bucks!

In fact, Hawaii isn’t the only state that doesn’t allow unpermitted lemonade stands. Some have even faced punishments for violating this law.


Plants And Animals Are Imported From Other Places

In Hawaii, endangered animals are common. Plus, everything you see – from trees, livestock, and humans – is imported from other countries. 

Source: Insider

The achingly hot and humid temperatures all year round allow life to thrive on the Big Island, but not always for the better. Unfortunately, all of the bird populations native to Hawaii are in danger of becoming threatened, causing 70% of the native wildlife species to be put at risk of becoming endangered. 


Hawaii's Soda Cans Are Different

When you’re in Hawaii and you buy a can of soda, you will probably notice how different it looks. The first feature you might notice is the three ridges around the neck.

Source: Reddit

This feature, however, isn’t new and dates back to the 1980s. It was implemented primarily to cut costs. Also, Hawaii is the only place in the U.S. that produces these kinds of soda cans!


Hawaii Was The First State To Ban Plastic Bags

Oahu – the most populated island in Hawaii – joined the other Hawaiian islands in their conjoined ban on plastic bags in July 2015. They united in the effort to restrict plastic sacks from their stores and made them the foremost state to boycott the use of plastic bags completely. 

Source: David Paul Morris/ Getty Images

Supermarkets all over Hawaii aren’t allowed to disperse plastic sacks since 2015. The only things used are reusable, compostable backpacks and recyclable paper sacks, but clinical and sterile containers are the exceptions. 


Is Taking Off The Lei Inconsiderate?

Most people probably know the importance of leis in Hawaiian culture as an accessory. After you step off the plane, you may be surprised to find that you might be greeted with a lei. 

Source: Alamy

In the past, leis were a representation of status. It’s considered rude when you are in Hawaii to take off the lei if another person offers it to you. And, it’s also disrespectful to take it off or wear it in the incorrect way. Leis are meant to be worn hung over the shoulders, dangling from both sides. 


Vog Covers Hawaiian Skies Instead Of Smog

The skies of Hawaii are mostly unpolluted since there is no exhaust cloud. However, locals witness vogs that emanate from Kilauea’s volanic dimness and the liquid magma fountain that, since 1983, has been ejecting here and there. 

Source: Mario Tama/ Getty Images

Periodically, different islands are succumbed to the vog. Substantial vog can be potentially hazardous to people with asthma or respiratory issues, but it isn’t that risky. Maui’s voggy skies create gorgeous dusks and moonrises, making the sun and moon look colossal and brightly orange. 


Mount Haleakala In Maui, Hawaii Is The Biggest Dormant Volcano In The World

At 10,023 feet, the world’s biggest dormant volcano named Mount Haleakala, has the tallest point, with its summit crater reaching 7.5 x 2.5 miles. The remainder of this Maui mountain is below sea level, though. If taken from the seafloor, Haleakala rises above 30,000 feet above sea level. 

Source: Reetom Hazarika/Contributor via Getty Images

The gigantic Haleakala formatively shaped 75% of Maui. It is inactive, but not completely dead – the volcano’s last explosion approximately took place in the early 1800s. 


“Hawaiians” Isn’t The Correct Term To Call Locals

The term “Hawaiians” should only be used to describe individuals with direct Hawaiian lineage. Those who come from a non-Hawaiian family are just referred to as “local people,” even if they were brought up in Hawaii or weren’t.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

It’s perfectly fine to refer to things as “Hawaiian,” especially if they directly relate to the native culture and individuals of the Big Island. Those who are non-Hawaiian identify as “local people” or “offspring of the land” (also known as “kamaaina”).   


Is Wearing Hawaiian Leis And Flower Crowns Offensive?

When most people who aren’t Native Hawaiians wear leis, flower crowns (fresh haku lei), or even Hawaiian-themed shirts, it’s usually not intended to be offensive or mocking. However, it can be perceived as cultural appropriation by some.

Source: Hannah Meloche/ YouTube

There have even been debates about how Hawaii’s culture shouldn’t be a costume or used for dressing up purposes and throwing parties. It could be deemed as offensively mocking Hawaiian culture and tradition.


Coconuts Can Be Sent To Anywhere In The World

There’s no requirement for the coconuts to be precisely wrapped or boxed up. You would want ot ensure that the coconut is old and dried out on the inside. It’s a cool tidbit that you can actually have it checked for endorsement by the air terminal’s rural assessment. 

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In order to finish the order, you need to have it addressed and stamped. It can be sent to any mail center in Hawaii with the only indication being the weight. We think this is way better than a plain old postcard! Don’t you?


Buildings In Kauai Can’t Be Taller Than A Palm Tree

As the most established of all the main islands (which are miraculously 6,000,000 plus years old), it’s stated by permitted law that no structure can be taller than the height of a palm tree.

Source: Francis Dean/Corbis via Getty Images

When the Pacific Plate disregarded an “area of interest,” Kauai was created. There are two exceptions, however, that are Garden Isle structures. One of them is the Kauai Marriott Resort prior to the bar being set up, and the famous Princeville Resort.


“Bad Luck” Volcanic Rock Is Returned To Hawaii By Tourists

Taking souvenirs from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or Haleakala National Park is generally forbidden. But, guests and tourists always disregard the rules and will take pumice home with them despite the guidelines.

Source: WanderWisdom

Volcanic rocks are usually taken from the Kilauea fountain of liquid magma by inconsiderate sightseer, which, in Hawaiian culture, is perceived as rude. Funnily enough, the Hawaii National Park officers receive many of these rocks back because they were perceived as misfortune from the goddess of fire, dance, lightning, volcanoes, and brutality named Pele. 


Oahu Is The Best Island For Young People

An island in the Central Pacific, Oahu is home to Hawaii’s capital, Honolulu. It’s also Hawaii’s most populated island and is believed to be the perfect idea of paradise.

Source: Phil Jung

For young and adventurous people, Oahu is the best island to visit. There are endless activities that anybody from surfers to history buffs to nature lovers will enjoy.


Hawaiians Usually Have A Longer Life Span

Hawaii’s medical services could be the reason for the state’s high life expectancy. They protect more than 90% of their occupants, centered around preventive consideration. Lawfully, organizations have been protecting representatives who work 20 plus hours each week. 

Source: liveabout

The life expectancy rate in Hawaii is higher than some other of the U.S. states, ranging at 81.3 years. Hawaii offers an excellent quality of life, which probably has a big impact on why people live so much longer than others. 


What Do Hawaii's Ancient Statues Symbolize?

According to Hawaiian mythology, there are four great gods (Kane, Lono, Ku, and Kanaloa), who existed before the world was created.

Source: worldatlas.com

Kane was the god of the sky and creation and Ku was the god of war and male pursuits. On the other hand, Lono was the god of peace, rain, and fertility, and Kanaloa was the god of the ocean.


Placing Billboards In Hawaii Is Illegal

Hawaiians care immensely about their country and are very prideful in taking care of it. They’ve banned announcement notices across the state so people can witness the islands in all of their magnificence without any obstructions. 

Source:Douglas Peebles/Corbis via Getty Images

Fortunately, you can see the breathtaking visuals on the islands’ coastlines, minus any Vegas-style, brightly lit billboards that may serve as a distraction. Scenic states such as Alaska, Vermont, and Maine, have also adopted this method, which is fitting since all of them together are some of the most scenic states in the U.S.


The General Form Of Greeting In Hawaii Is Hugging

Quite different from how people greet each other in the United States, the people of Hawaii greet each other with a smile and exchange farewell hugs. “I love you,” “I’m sorry,” “Good to see you,” and “Thank you” are some of the common sayings that Hawaiians embrace each other with. 

Source: civilbeat.org

So, if you’re visiting and they greet you with an embrace instead of a handshake, you shouldn’t be surprised! Obviously, with the pandemic, this has likely changed and people have had to alter the way they embrace others. 


Kauai Has Outlawed Cities

Kauai hasn’t completely prohibited urban communities. Although, they have banned the building of anything taller than a palm tree, which makes it all a little deceptive. 

Source: Douglas Peebles/Corbis/ Getty Images

The reason you won’t see any horizon on Kauai’s island is because of this ban. The modern port of Lihue is the one area that can even be considered somewhat of a city. Kauai is also the city with the least amount of people on its island, so the towns are all pretty small. 


There’s No Daylight Savings Time In Hawaii

Hawaiian is quite amazing because they have their time region known as Hawaiian Standard Time. Nightfall can come early, unfortunately, and intrude on Hawaii’s stunning and long days. 

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So, Hawaii has joined the province of Arizona in not using Daylight Savings Time. This means that Hawaii and Arizona change their time zones, while the rest of the U.S. changes their clocks. American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico also don’t utilize Daylight Savings Time.


Hawaii Is The Only U.S. State To Honor A King

America announced its independence and battled an ongoing conflict against Britain’s ruler hundreds of years before. Currently, Hawaii prides itself on being established on majority rule government beliefs. But, Hawaii also respects a ruler. Thus, all of the Hawaiian islands observe King Kamehameha Day. 

Source: George Rose/ Getty Images

In the mid-1800s, King Kamehameha was the ruler who joined the islands. Paiea Kamehameha’s introduction and conventional prediction of a male’s birth were accepted by Hawaiians.


Less Than 8,000 Inhabitants Reside On Molokai Island

While Molokai is a wonderful island, it doesn’t possess too many vacation-friendly areas. There’s also not too much framework to make it suitable for people to spend their vacations on the island. 

Source: cntraveler & Pixels

A modest group of individuals lives on a portion of the island, where not even a stop sign exists. If this appeals to the adventurer within you, then you will be invited warmly onto the island with a big “Aloha.” You may even come to appreciate the massive change of pace! 


Surfing Started In Hawaii

Going all the way back to the 4th century A.D., surfing has had an extensive history in Hawaii. As an important tradition, the origins of surfing began with the Polynesians from Tahiti and the Marquesas who arrived on the Hawaiian Islands.

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They created the tradition of surfing on boards, and there is also finite proof that Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) started in Hawaii. However, Maui is being revived more recently by the big wave surfers of the island. 


Hawaii Is The Only State In The U.S. That Grows Coffee

The Hawaiian Islands are home to the delicious Kona Coffee, and coffee connoisseurs flock there! Located on the Big Island, Kona Coffee is grown around Kona, but other parts of the state also take part in growing it. 

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In 1820, coffee first arrived in Hawaii and has since become one of the only U.S. states where it is a massive commercial success. Hawaii’s volcanic soils and tropical microclimates make it the perfect place to grow specialty coffee such as Kona.


Each Island Is Represented By Different Colors And Flowers

A distinctive tone and bloom makes up every Hawaiian island. In Maui, its defined fashion is pink, and the blossom is Lokelani (Damask Rose). The yellow hibiscus is the state bloom of Hawaii. 

Source: Pixabay & Alamy

A yellow color and llima flower represents Oahu. The Big Island of Hawaii is characterized by a red color and the lehua ohia flower. A purple color and makhana (green berry) represents Kauai. Niihau is represented by a white color and pupu shell, and, lastly, Molokai is represented by a green color and white kukui blossom. 


Hawaii Is Home To The Only Palace In The U.S.

Honolulu is the location of the only palace in the U.S. A solitary imperial castle, the Iolani Palace was enlightened with electric lights for years before the White House became enlightened. In 1845, the first home on the site belonged to King Kamehameha III and other rulers utilized it later on. 

Source: Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/ Getty Images

It was supplanted in 1882 by an American Florentine-style castle for Hawaii’s final two rulers: King Kalakaua, and his sister/replacement Queen Liliuokalani. Visitors can go to the Iolani Royal Palace to see all of its splendor for themselves.