There are primarily six major islands to visit in Hawaii: Kauai, Oahu,
Molokai, Lanai, Maui and Hawaii’s Big Island. Due to shifting volcanic activity, the oldest Hawaiian island is Kauai to the northwest and the youngest is Hawaii’s Big Island to the southeast. You can see this
difference by comparing the topography of these two islands: On Kauai you’ll find lush rainforests and sea cliffs worn by time along the Napali Coast. Hawaii’s Big Island features rugged lava landscapes as well as Kilauea Volcano, erupting to this day at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
The Hawaiian Islands are also one the most isolated archipelagos in the world and the southernmost state in the United States. It is generally drier on the leeward (western) sides of the islands, and wetter on the windward (eastern) sides. Hawaii’s wide range of elevations and microclimates allow you to experience a variety of environments including some of the world’s best beaches, lush rainforests, volcanic deserts and scenic high-altitude views.
“The Aloha State” became the 50th state in 1959, but the history of
Hawaii goes back centuries earlier. Roughly 1,500 years ago, Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands first set foot on Hawaii's Big Island.
500 years later, settlers from Tahiti arrived, bringing their beliefs in gods and demi-gods and instituting a strict social hierarchy based on a kapu (taboo) system.
In 1778, Captain James Cook, landed on Kauai at Waimea Bay. In 1791, North Kohala born Kamehameha united the warring factions of Hawaii’s
Big Island and went on to unify all of the Hawaiian Islands into one royal kingdom in 1810. In 1819, less than a year after King Kamehameha's death, his son, Liholiho, abolished the ancient kapu system.
In 1820, the first Protestant missionaries arrived on Hawaii’s Big Island
filling the void left after the end of the kapu system. Western influence continued to grow and in 1893, American Colonists who controlled much of Hawaii's economy overthrew the Hawaiian Kingdom in a peaceful, yet still controversial coup. In 1898, Hawaii became a territory of the United States.
In the 20th century, sugar and pineapple plantations fueled Hawaii's economy bringing an influx of Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and
Portuguese immigrants. Lanai, under the leadership of James Dole, became known as the “Pineapple Island,” after becoming the world’s leading exporter of pineapple.
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on Oahu. Four years later, on September 2, 1945, Japan signed its unconditional surrender on the USS Battleship Missouri, which still rests in Pearl Harbor today. In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th State of the United States. Today, Hawaii is a global gathering place for visitors to share in the spirit of aloha. Beyond the sun and surf of the islands, we urge you to discover the rich cultural history of Hawaii to add even more depth to your visit.
Hawaii is home to many cultures and daily life here in the islands is
shaped by influences from them all.
On this page we hope to share with you a few local customs (state wide) so that you can have a better understanding of the local culture and enjoy
your stay even more.
Shoes: Shoes worn outside are removed when entering a home or residence. Shoes are left outside or just inside the front door. Inside shoes
may be worn, but most go bare foot or with socks on their feet.
Speaking the local lingo: Give it a try! "Aloha" for hello, "Aloha No" if you want to emphasize the welcome. Also, resist the temptation to say Alo-o-o-o-o-ha, you will hear this at most luaus, for some reason, they think it sounds cute, it's not. "Mahalo" means thank you (try to say this
one a lot), "Kalamai" means excuse me, "Pau" means finished,
Tipping: These are state wide guidelines: Just remember one simple rule, in Hawaii, everyone gets a tip, it is not a pay-off, but rather a thank-you for service. If you get help with bags: a dollar per bag, $5.00 minimum. Get a massage: tip 15% to 20%. Your waitress gets the standard 15% to 20%. Housekeeping staff gets $2.00 per day per person in the room. Valet parking: $3.00 per pick-up and/or drop-off.