thumb image

Taking a Hawaii Vacation? Brush Up on Your Hawaiian History Before You Go…

If you’re taking a Hawaii vacation, you should take a few moments to learn about Hawaiian history.

After all, the beautiful beaches and ocean scenery are home to a rich culture and a population of locals, whose history stretches farther back than the birth of the United States.

Here is a brief outline of Hawaiian history, to give you just a little insight into the people and the culture that shaped these famous islands:

Hawaiian History – A Quick Outline

The Islands

The Hawaiian Islands themselves have vastly different ages.

The chain of islands began to form gradually as the Pacific tectonic plate moved to the northwest across a volcanic hotspot, at a rate of 32 miles every million years. The plate’s movement across this hotspot are one reason for the formation of the islands and their strong volcanic activity.

The Kure Atoll, which is an atoll that is technically part of the Hawaiian archipelago, is the oldest part of the island chain – scientists estimate that it is roughly 28 million years old.

Hawaii Island, or the Big Island, is the youngest, at 400,000 years old.

Ancient History

Opinions vary as to when the earliest settlers arrived. Some feel that archaeological sites can be dated as early as 124 A.D., while others feel that the earliest settlements began in 300 A.D., 600 A.D., and on up to 1200 A.D.

Some feel that the arrival of the Tahitians in 1200 A.D. – in particular, a Tahitian priest named Pa’ao – brought new order to these settlements. This order included social structure, laws, and religion.

Regardless of the exact date of initial colonization, Ancient Hawaii derived many of its social institutions and structures from its Polynesian roots. Over time, this became more complex and more unique.

Eventually, these traditions became the forming ground for the Kingdom of Hawai’i.

The Kingdom of Hawai’i

The Western explorer James Cook arrived in 1778, marking the end of the period of Ancient Hawaii.

After a violent incident in 1779, Cook was killed. Americans began to enter the islands soon after, using immigrants from other countries – such as Japan, China, and the Philipinnes – for plantation farming.

In 1795, King Kamehameha I used Western technology to unify the islands into the Kingdom of Hawai’i. This kingdom existed for several generations.

Eventually, Americans and the US military used their influence to reduce the rights of natives and to disrupt the Hawaiian government. For a brief time, Hawaii became the Republic of Hawaii.

In 1898 Hawaii joined the United States as a territory, and in 1959 they became the State of Hawaii

Hawaii Today

Today, Hawaii is home to over 1 million inhabitants and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

Due to its natural beauty, its rich diversity of marine life, its plethora of beaches, and its tropical climate, it sees millions of tourists each year.

In 2003 alone, over 6.4 million visitors came to the islands from around the world.


Hawaii Discount offers the internet’s largest selection of Hawaii tours, Hawaii activities, and Hawaii travel packages. Please make sure to book your activity well in advance of your trip, since tours fill up quickly.

Book your Hawaii activity today by visiting HawaiiDiscount.com.