Mount Wai'ale'ale on Kaua'i is the wettest place on earth - in Hawaiian the name means ‘overflowing water’. It averages more than 426 inches (10,800 mm) of rain a year since 1912, with a record 683 inches (17,300 mm) in 1982.
In 1946 a tsunami hit the islands - 165 people died, 159 of them in Hawaii. One problem was that the warning went out on April Fools' Day and many people didn't take it seriously.
Hawaii was discovered by Captain Cook in 1778 and named the Sandwich Islands.
The 'wiki' in Wikipedia is Hawaiian for 'fast'.
The three primary woods traditionally used for Hawaiian surfboards were Ulu (bread-fruit), Koa (Hawaiian Mahogany) and Wili-Wili (Erythrina sandwicensis). The latter was reserved for royalty; it was strictly taboo for commoners to surf on a wiliwili board. The tree is a species of flowering tree in the pea family which grows in the dry areas of Hawaii – its name means ‘very twisted’. The wood is as light as cork and is prized for its buoyancy. The tree is notable for being summer deciduous – it loses its leaves in the hot summer months, staying in bloom in the wetter and colder winters.
Wiliwili is unusual in Hawaiian plants in that it has thorns; the lack of ruminant animals on the islands means that many of the plants have lost their defences over the years. Hawaiian blackberries, for instance, do not have brambles while their mint has no minty taste. This lack of defences in both plants and animals means there are more endangered species per square mile than any other place on the planet. Around 50 species that are only found on Hawaii are listed as endangered.
Captain Cook discovered the Hawaiian islands in 1778 and re-named them the Sandwich islands in memory of his patron, the Earl of Sandwich. On landing, he and every man on his crew became completely constipated: one man suffered for 44 days in a row. The men became the first Westerners to witness the traditional Hawaiian sport of surfing. Cook was murdered in Hawaii in 1779.
Honolulu means ‘sheltered bay’ in Hawaiian. The entrance to Honolulu harbour was discovered in 1792 by a British merchantman, the Butterworth, commanded by Captain William Brown, some 14 years after Captain James Cook sailed by the difficult entrance.
Hawaii is the widest state in the USA and the most isolated major population centre on Earth: 2,390 miles from California and 4,900 miles from China. It has over 130 islands: the projecting tips of the biggest mountain range in the world. In a population of over 1,162,000 less than 2,000 people speak Hawaiian, which has only twelve letters in the alphabet: five vowels (A, E, I, O, U) and seven consonants ( H, K, L, M, N, P, W).
Hawaii is the only US state that grows coffee. More than a third of the world's pineapples come from Hawaii.
The 6,700 inhabitants of Molokai are the world’s largest consumers of Spam wolfing down between them 20,000 tins a week. Many families eat Spam three times a day, there are Spam recipes in the local paper and the island hotels offer Spam on the menu.
The Hawaiian State flag is the only US flag to feature a Union Jack. It also has eight red white and blue stripes representing the eight main Hawaiian islands.
Hawaiians are the world's largest consumers of Spam per capita, getting through seven million cans a year.
Surfing has ancient origins in Polynesia, and was first witnessed by Europeans in Tahiti in 1767. The best surfing beaches were reserved for royalty, rather like the best hunting forests in Europe, and ability as a surfer conferred great prestige. The activity was highly ritualized, with priests on hand to pray for good waves and consecrate surfboards. It was introduced to California in 1907 and Australia in 1915, but really took off in the 1960s thanks to the southern California beach culture typified by the Beach Boys.
Manoeuvres include the cutback (turning back towards the breaking part of the wave), the floater (riding on the top of the breaking curl of the wave), and off the lip (banking off the top of the wave). The tube is the hollow part of a breaking wave. Hanging Ten is having both feet on the front end of the board with all ten toes off the edge, whereas Hanging Five is one foot forward and one back (and if the one that’s back is the left foot, you’re Goofy Footed). You can also Hang Heels, if you face backwards. If you fall (wipe out) inside a tube and get carried round in a complete circle, you’ve been through a wash cycle.
Before the Europeans reached Hawaii, the islanders had a system called nia'upi'o which aimed to keep the royal lineage as pure possible.
At the very top of this society was a kapu, a child who was considered a living god because he was the result of an incestuous union between a royal brother and sister.
Queen Liliʻuokalani was the last reigning monarch of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
The world's tallest mountain when measured from base to tip is Mauna Loa in Hawaii. Most of the mountain is below the surface of the ocean.
In Hawaii you need 5 people to cause a riot.
The Hawaiians called fleas uku lele (jumping bugs). The instrument is named after the fast movement of the fingers when playing it.