Even though Hawaii is part of the United States, the state certainly isn’t anywhere nearby. In fact, Hawaii really isn’t near anyone else. The islands are considered the most isolated population center on the planet. Here are some statistics to show just how remote this paradise is:
o Nearly 2,400 miles from California
o Almost 3,900 miles from Japan
o About 4,900 miles from China
o More than 5,200 miles from the Philippines
In the case of this island paradise, isolation won’t make you feel cut off from the rest of the world, however. You can find all of the same luxuries but without as much traffic, smog, noise, and pollution.
Land of Two Languages (and More)
The United States may not have an official language, but Hawaii has two according to its Constitution. According to the governing document, both English and Hawaiian are recognized languages in the state and all government business must also be conducted in Hawaiian. Hawaiian originated from a type of Polynesian language that was brought to the islands by the original inhabitants. Today, many people who were born into the Hawaiian culture speak pidgin which is a combination of the two languages with some parts of others thrown in. While Hawaiian and English are the two official languages, you’ll find others spoken on the islands as well. Nearly 5 percent of the population speaks Japanese and another almost 2% speak Chinese.
Unique Time Zone
When you travel throughout the United States by car, bus, train, or plane, you’re likely to cross into some different time zones. Of course, the difference isn’t much – an hour one way or another. However, if you’re flying to Hawaii that’s going to be an entirely different story because the state has its own time zone.
Known as Hawaiian Standard Time, the whole state is always 2 hours behind Pacific time and a full five hours behind Eastern time. That means when the alarm goes off at 5 in the morning in New York the midnight party is just getting started in Hawaii.
Tasty Exported Treats
Hawaii is home to some of the country’s most unique agricultural products. Considering its unique environment, this should be of no surprise. Most visitors to the island aren’t surprised that two of the biggest crops are pineapple and sugar cane. In fact, nearly one third of all money earned from exported agricultural products comes from pineapple. However, one of the popular crops does surprise some tourists. That crop is coffee. Hawaii is the only U. S. state where coffee can be and is grown.
Walk on Magma
The Hawaiian Islands didn’t just pop up one day in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. They were formed thanks to volcanic activity. About 70 million years ago, that part of the ocean was known as a hot spot meaning it was a point of intense and recurring volcanic activity. As one of the earth’s plates moved over the volcanic area, the islands were formed from the magma which emerged and dried into igneous rock which became the foundation for all of the islands.
Many Places to See
While Hawaii is sometimes thought of as a single destination, it actually consists of eight main islands: Hawaii (the Big Island), Maui, Kaho’olawe, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai, and Ni’ihau. While all eight of these islands provide picturesque views of the Pacific Ocean, they aren’t all going to give you quite the same experience. Kaho’olawe, for example, is the only one which is uninhabited. Maui, on the other hand, is the hot tourist destination for North American travelers while Oahu is the choice for Asian vacationers. That means both islands are going to have all the tourist trappings you’ll either love or hate. If you want something different during your visit, Molokai may be a good choice. As one of the least developed islands and one with a higher percentage of native Hawaiian residents, visiting the island can make you feel transported back in time.
Experience a New Culture
Even through Hawaii is part of the United States, the state’s isolation and unique cultural history has set it apart from the rest of the country in many ways. In fact, going to Hawaii can feel almost as foreign as going to an entirely different place, except you can still speak English and don’t have to worry about the exchange rate for the dollar.
While you’re on the island, you may get a chance to experience some of the cultural differences. Many of these, such as the luau, are demonstrated for tourists. Other traditions, like driving slower, will be things you’ll experience yourself and will have to become accustomed to while on the islands.
Home to the Only Royal Residence in the United States
For those unfamiliar with the history of Hawaii, the presence of a royal palace may be a bit of a surprise. But before the state became part of the country, it was run as a monarchy and the Iolani Palace in Honolulu about ten minutes from Waikiki. This palace was built by Hawaii’s final king, David Kalakaua. The total construction cost was $360,000 when it was finished in 1882. Even more interesting was that the palace was more advanced than the U. S. White House at the time. The palace had telephones and electric lights which wouldn’t be true of the White House for a little while still. Self-guided and guided tours of the residence are available and well worth the time.
Leave the Black Sand
On some of the Hawaiian beaches, you’ll find black sand. While it may be tempting to take some with you as a souvenir, the island’s mythology would strongly warn against such actions. That’s because taking the sand is said to anger Pele, the goddess of the volcanoes. She’s definitely not someone you would want to have on your bad side.
If you are worried about Pele, you may also want to be on the lookout for the ghostly Night Marchers who are said to roam in some parts of the island.