2011 was the year I first visited Hawaii. It had been a lifelong dream of mine to go to Honolulu. I adored everything I thought it was. I even loved saying it. Ho-no-loo-loo, just rolls off the tongue somehow, doesn’t it? It held a mysticism in my thoughts. I had to see it, and I’m so glad I finally did. The beauty of this archipelago engulfed my imagination more than I thought it would. In fact, I loved Hawaii so much that I made the 23-hour trip back there from London a mere six months later. While everyone knows about the year-round sunshine, deep blue waters, endless beaches, laidback surf culture, rainbows, colourful cocktails and luaus but, here are some rather unique facts about Hawaii.
1. The Hawaiian alphabet contains only 12 letters and every single word ends in a vowel.
2. Hawaiian-born Barack Obama is the only American president not born on mainland USA.
3. You won’t find a single billboard on the island. Similar to Alaska, Vermont and Maine, all billboards are outlawed in Hawaii.
4. Entering the nation on the 21st of August 1959, Hawaii is America’s youngest state.
5. For a lady in Hawaii to wear a flower behind her left ear means that she is married or taken, similar to the way wedding and engagement rings are worn on the left in most countries. Wearing your flower on the right, therefore, signals that you are single and ready to mingle.
6. Thought you’d only find idyllic white sand beaches in Hawaii? Guess again. There are black, green and red beaches in Hawaii including Honokalani Black Sand Beach in Waianapanapa State Park, Mahana Beach on the Big Island and Kaihalulu or Red Sand Beach in Maui.
7. Hawaii is the only American state made completely of islands. These islands are Oahu, Maui, Lanai, Hawaii (the big island), Kauai, Molokai, Niihau and Kahoolawe.
8. More than a third of the world’s commercial supply of pineapples is from Hawaii.
9. The Lei, Hawaii’s infamous flower garland comes with a distinct set of rules. It is considered rude to refuse one, to take off a lei in front of the person who gave it you or to wear one that is intended for somebody else.
10. The official fish is the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa (or Reef Triggerfish to you and I).
11. Hawaiian is one of a handful of languages which employs the same word to say hello and goodbye: Aloha.
12. There are no private beaches on these islands. Hawaiians believe that every inch of gorgeous shoreline should be free for all to enjoy. This leaves you with over 350 different beaches to choose from. You can’t really go wrong whichever you select, after all, you’re in Hawaii.
13. Diamond Head (or Le’ahi to locals) is the volcanic tuff, which adorns Waikiki Beach’s distinctive silhouette. Not only is it beautiful, but it also forms the perfect location for a lovely and active day out in Honolulu. Hikers can take a 1.50 – 2-hour trek to the summit. If you’d like to be able to say “I went hiking in Hawaii” but can’t quite stomach the tough stuff, then this one’s for you. There’s even a friendly shave ice stall right at the beginning of the trek to quench your thirst and keep those juices flowing. Once at the top, some immensely picturesque views of Honolulu and the pacific are on offer. Grab a friend, some shades and breathe in the fine Hawaiian air.
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Rosie Bell is an international travel writer, author of the book “Escape To Self”, and content editor for Club Elsewhere. Follow her on Instagram @TheBeachBell.