The Hawaiian Islands are home to a diverse population and many different ecosystems. The unique character of each island is reflected in its nickname.

Hawaiʻi is the “Big Island,” because it is bigger than the rest of the islands put together. That’s because it has the active volcano and is continually growing.

Oʻahu is called “The Gathering Place.” It has Hawaiʻi’s only big city, Honolulu, and the most famous beach in the world, Waikiki.

Kauaʻi is the oldest island and known as the “Garden Isle,” because wherever you look gardens spring up from the soil. It has Waimea Canyon, Grand Canyon of the Pacific.

Maui is known as the “Valley Isle” because of the large isthmus between its two volcanoes and its numerous large valleys.

Niʻihau is privately owned, and boats cannot land without permission from the owner. Some of the families living there have been there since the first settlement. It is called the “Forbidden Isle.” Tiny shells roll in the waves on this distant outpost, and the Niʻihau people make them into shell leis of great delicacy and beauty.

Lanaʻi, another privately owned island, was once called the Pineapple Isle because the whole island was a vast pineapple plantation. Its nickname has been changed to the Private Isle.

By contrast, Molokaʻi is called the “Friendly Isle,” because here more than on any other island, the old values of aloha (universal friendship), kuleana (mutual responsibility), and kokua (helping whoever needs help) still prevail.

Each island remained a separate nation until Kamehameha welded them into one in the first years of the 19th century. America continued the unification process by annexing Hawaii, declaring it a unified “territory,” and eventually absorbing it as a full-fledged state of the union.

Hawaiiana Links

The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum

The State Museum of Cultural and Natural History in Honolulu is recognized throughout the world for their scientific research, educational programs, and extensive collections.

Polynesian Cultural Center

Located in Laie, Oahu, about an hour's scenic drive from Waikiki — The Polynesian Cultural Center is the most-visited Hawaii attraction and a "must see" Hawaii activity.

The Kumulipo – Translation by Queen Lilioukalani (1897)

The Kumulipo is a Hawaiian Creation chant which moves from the emergence of sea creatures, to insects, land plants, animals, and eventually human beings. It describes a complicated web of interrelationships between various plants and animals, and a genealogy which enumerates thousands of ancestors of the Hawaiian royal family.

How to Pronounce Hawaiian Words

Hawaiian Music Island

The world’s online source for Hawaiian music since 1995.

Hawaiian Hula Archives

Great archive of Hawaiian song lyrics, both traditional and modern.

Go Hawaii – Hawaii's Official Tourism Site

A wealth of information on every island – interactive island maps.

Na Ala Hele – Hawaii Trail System and Access

Maps and trail descriptions for each of the Hawaiian islands. "Na Ala Hele" is the State of Hawaii Trail and Access Program. Na Ala Hele has become increasingly engaged in trail management and regulatory issues due to both public and commercial recreational activities and emerging legal issues.

101 Things to Do – Hawaii Activities

Available for free all over the islands, this website and booklet share activities, locations, restaurants, and beaches unique to each island.