5 Things You Didn’t Know About Hawaii

There are more than enough reasons to visit the USA’s most tropical state – whether it’s the laid back culture, dramatic landscape or the famous surf beaches. But the Hawaiian islands are more than just palm trees and pineapples – they are rich in history, culture and tradition.

Here are five things you probably didn’t know about Hawaii.

1. Hawaii is the only coffee-growing U.S. state

There’s no doubt Americans love to drink coffee – after all, they did make Starbucks a household name – but what many don’t realise is that there is no coffee grown on the mainland.

Thanks to the fertile volcanic soil and ideal climate, however, Hawaii is home to some of the most delicious and expensive coffee in the world. The Hawaiians have been growing coffee ever since it was brought in from Brazil by a British warship around 1825.

Not only is it the only U.S. state to grow coffee, but it is one of the only places in the world where the entire coffee journey – from the ground to cup – happens in one region. Most other coffee-growing regions export their coffee.

2. Astronauts trained in Hawaii

Back in the 1960’s, astronauts trained for the first missions to the moon by walking on the hardened lava fields of Mauna Loa, which are very similar to the surface of the moon. People who go there say it’s a very surreal experience.

3. Hawaii has its own language

Not only does Hawaii have its own Polynesian language, but it only has 12 letters in its alphabet. Both Hawaiian and English are the national languages of Hawaii, however the number of native Hawaiian speakers has dropped significantly in the past century.

It has only be relatively recently (in history book terms) that the Hawaiian language has been written. When Captain Cook discovered the islands in 1778, he noted that they only spoke – they did not write. In 1820, westerners set out to standardise the language in the written form.

Want to impress the locals? Say ‘Mahalo’ (thank you) and learn a few basic Hawaiian phrases before you leave.

4. Mauna Kea is higher than Mount Everest

Most of us will never get the opportunity to climb to the summit of Mount Everest, but if you scale Hawaii’s famous Mauna Kea volcano, you can technically claim to have stood atop the world’s tallest mountain. If it’s calculated from the ocean floor, that is.

All volcanic islands naturally start from the bottom of the ocean, making Mauna Kea 10,204 meters tall compared to Mount Everest’s 8,850 meters.

5. Leis are more than just a decoration

One of the first things that comes into people’s minds when they think of Hawaii holidays are the colourful flower necklaces called Leis. However, not many know about the significance and tradition surrounding them.

When early Polynesian voyagers came to the Hawaiian islands they brought with them necklaces made from a range of local items such as shells, flowers, leaves and feathers. They were then worn as a way for Hawaiian people to distinguish themselves from others.

If you are offered a lei, always accept it – it is rude not to. You should also wear it draped over the shoulders, hanging both at the front and back.

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Melissa Davis

Melissa is a travel blogger from Australia. She has been writing and giving travel advice related to Hawaiian holidays on blogs across the Internet. Melissa lives in Brisbane with her husband and young daughter where she enjoys parenting, cycling, and other extreme sports.

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