... the green archipelago in the heart of the Pacific.

Welcome to Hawaii Travel Guide!

If you want to learn more about Hawaii, you can find our comprehensive Hawaii Guide here, which takes you through 4 guiding sections:
Formation & Volcanism
Culture & Deities
You can find even more in-depth background information on each island in the island guide:
Big Island


Table of contents

Aloha! This is not only how people greet each other on the Hawaiian Islands, but the word means so much more. The Aloha Spirit is for Hawaiians something like the whole attitude to life. But I will come to that later. First go with us on a journey back to Hawaii's origins; get to know the friendly inhabitants and discover the nature and culture of Hawaii. There is a lot to explore on the six main tourist islands and no two are alike.

Since 1958 Hawaii belongs to the United States. So that the archipelago of youngest state of the USA and a very special one at that: Hawaii is the only state that is not located in the mainland of the USA. With almost 30 square kilometers, it is the most eighth-smallest statebut still has one of the longest coastlines: Only three states offer more coastline than Hawaii. So lots of beach and beach life are pre-programmed 🙂

The Polynesian have been living on the islands for more than 1500 years and were only found later by settlers from Tahiti - their culture still determines the life of the Hawaiians today. In the 18th century found James Cook the islands although they lie in the middle of the Pacific Ocean - exactly 3200 kilometers from the US coast. He christened them the "Sandwich Islands". 

Hawaii's exotic landscapes - built entirely on volcanoes

Surely you have seen pictures of Hawaii's lush green rainforests, the wide Dream beaches and the many Volcanoes seen. And then you already know how the islands were once formed: They owe all this to the numerous volcanoes and "some" coincidences (more about this in the section on formation).

Thus, at some point, the islands of Hawaii emerged as we know them today and still continue to grow. The main island - Big Island - increases due to the active volcanoes until today, because when the lava meets the ocean it hardens and thus forms new land.

Hike Hawaii's volcanic landscapes
Hike Hawaii's volcanic landscapes

The biggest "mountains" are the Mauna Kea and the Mauna Loa. Mauna Kea starts deep below sea level and from there it is even higher than Mount Everest. Above the sea, Mauna Kea is exactly 4205 m high. The volcanic rock is very fertile and so it is no wonder that everything in Hawaii is green and thriving - especially well on the Garden island Kauai. On all the islands there is a year-round humid and warm climate. So for a vacation in Hawaii it is actually never too hot or too cold. In winter, we still measure an average of 23.8 degrees in Hawaii. In contrast to the summer months, however, it then rains a bit more and high up it can be a bit cooler. And yet, these are simply the best conditions for a great diversity of plants and animals.

In Hawaii many climatic zones unite in a very small area and so there are also rainforests with many trees, shrubs and flowers, which are very rare in the world. Therefore exist several National Parks, in order to preserve the many plant species. The two largest are the Haleakala National Park on Maui and the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island (Hawaii).

Each island enchants with its own unique charm

Beautiful Hawaii landscapes
Beautiful Hawaii landscapes

Hawaii exists from hundreds of small volcanic islandswhich cover an area of 2400 square kilometers. As a tourist you are allowed to visit six of the eight main islands. We will present them to you in detail in the island guide, but here is a small foretaste of the six Islands of Hawaii:

  • Oahu: While not the largest island, Oahu is the center of the archipelago for residents and tourists. Of the total of 1.4 million Hawaiians, 80 % live on Oahu - in the capital Honolulu. It is also home to Hawaii's largest airport and surfer's dreams come true with Waikiki Beach to the south and the North Shore.
  • Kauai: The oldest island of Hawaii lives up to its name "Garden Island". The finest white sand beaches surround Kauai's vibrant green rainforest. Only a few places are accessible for tourists - the best way to explore the green island is on a boat trip or from a guided tour (ask for this also at the hotel They often have favorable cooperations).
  • Big IslandThe largest of the islands is also called Hawaii. Except for the two settlement areas Hilo and Kona, the Big Island is rather sparsely populated. It is especially known for the mighty volcanic landscapes. And it is sporty here: Cyclists and triathletes train on the long trails of Big Island and compete in the Ironman competition.
  • MauiThe rich and beautiful have discovered this dream island for themselves. With many luxurious hotels, dream beaches and its breathtaking Road to Hana, Maui attracts the who's who of Hollywood to Hawaii. And yet, for us mere mortals, Maui also offers unforgettable locations, small rather alternative villages and beach life.
  • MolokaiNo other island brings you as close to the indigenous people as Molokai. Discover the high cliffs and deserted hiking trails far away from hotels and hustle and bustle. Take a peek into the lives of the indigenous people: In the south, you'll find fishing ponds on the coast that people created centuries ago.
  • lanaiSmall but nice! Lanai is the smallest accessible island and has devoted itself to luxury tourism. Exclusive golf courses and hotels are as much a part of the island's image as the Garden of the Gods: an area with red lava rocks that the gods are said to have scattered here.

These are the Hawaii residents

Hawaii is a very special part of the USA - and this is not only shown by the dreamlike landscapes, but especially by the inhabitants. More and more people are discovering that Hawaii is a paradise. Thus, the population is growing from year to year. More than 1.4 million people in 2015 inhabit the islands - the majority of them live in the Capital Honolulu. Just as colorful as the landscapes are the Hawaiians. Again and again settlers came from far away and settled on the islands. Thus, the Hawaiians can look back on an incredible Diversity of cultures look.

Hawaiian hula dancer
Hawaiian hula dancer

In the 19th century, many Britons moved to Hawaii to do missionary work. In addition, many Portuguese, Japanese and Chinese immigrated when the cultivation of Sugar cane and pineapple boomed shortly thereafter. The colorful population is made up of people from all continents.

Due to the incorporation into the U.S., the language mixes Hawaiian and English to form the so-called Pigdin dialect. Most Hawaiians today, however, speak English. Last but not least, the military plays a major role in Hawaii. Conveniently located in the Pacific Ocean, many U.S. military bases are represented here, such as Marine Corp Base Hawaii or the famous air and naval base Pearl Harbor.

The inhabitants were once focused on the cultivation and export of Sandalwood, sugar cane and pineapple focused. However, as the gorgeous islands attracted more and more tourists, the majority of Hawaii's population is now in the Tourism industry busy. But agriculture is also growing, as the fertile soil and warm climate offer the best conditions for growing orchids, coffee, bananas, tobacco, rice and cotton. And clearly the pineapple remains the trademark of Hawaii. Why not visit the Dole Plantation on Oahu. Here you can watch the sweet fruits from a young age.

Hawaii's traditional culture: hula dance, ukulele and much more.

Polynesian hula dancers
Polynesian hula dancers

The traditional culture is determined by the Polynesians. Due to the fact that more and more people immigrate from all over the world, new components are added and the culture is constantly evolving. And the folk dance - the Hula dance - has a long tradition in history. Once the hula dance was a ritual of the Polynesians, with which they worshipped their gods. They danced it when they arrived in Hawaii to thank their gods for this fertile land. Students learn hula in a special school with strict rules - the so-called Halau Hula. This traditional school still exists today in Hawaii.

In Halau Hula, the dance students wear necklaces made of flowers (Leis), a wide skirt (the Pau) and fine chains of animal bones on the ankles and are accompanied during the hula dance by the "Mele". These are the people (or person) who tells the story during the dance. Here, women and men can equally participate in the worship dance. Of course, the music for dancing must not be missing. Once these were sticks, bamboo canes and rattles. Today, anyone who comes to enjoy a hula dance in Hawaii will also recognize string sounds that are played by the Ukulel. originate This "small 4-string guitar" is owed to the Portuguese immigrants who brought it to Hawaii in the 19th century.

The unique spirit of the Hawaiians

We greeted you with Aloha at the beginning, and yet it means so much more than just "hello." It describes the whole attitude to life of the Hawaiians. We can translate it as "affection" or "love." If we are quite precise, then "Alo" means presence and "ha" breath. This is connected with a certain attitude towards life that you as a Hawaiian vacationer will feel immediately. It is a warm and loving interaction of the people with each other, with nature, the animals and with what was and what is coming. Mutual respect and love are in everything Hawaii residents do.

With the Spirit, people always send positive energy and harmony. This peaceful way of life not only appears in numerous business names, but the spirit is even enshrined in Hawaii law. State employees are required to always act in accordance with the idea of respectful and positive interaction with one another. Affection, kindness, consideration, patience and respect are also united in the word Aloha. Once you start talking to the locals, you will notice the warmth and honesty of the people.

The best time to travel for your Hawaii vacation

As you have already read, unlike most parts of the world, it is always pleasantly warm, but never too hot or cold. Hawaii doesn't really know extreme temperatures. This is one of the reasons that the islands At any time of the year are gladly visited by tourists: In the year come over six million vacationers The main season are the winter (mostly vacationers from Japan and USA) and of course in the time of the summer vacations (here also romp many Europeans among the travelers) - there it becomes with short-term booking already once tight with the hotel on Hawaii.

Hawaii in winter

winter-in-hawaiiThere is a lot for kids to discover at the winter Hawaii is a dream for surfers. Especially on the North Shore on Oahu annual competitions take place - surely you have seen videos or pictures. We can only rave about the huge waves in the winter months. Duke Kahanamoku was one of Hawaii's most famous surfers. Born in 1890, he was one of the founders of the surfing culture at Waikiki Beach on Oahu. Duke also made surfing popular in Australia and the USA. Later he became the sheriff of Honolulu and he can still be found there today - as a statue on Waikiki Beach.

Even if the waves are still like this in winter, you will find places with a gentler entry to the waves even at this time of year. surfing. However, join one of the many surf schools for this in any case. 

Hawaii in spring

fruehling-in-hawaiiThere is a lot for kids to discover at the spring - that is from March to May - you have a little more peace to explore the Hawaiian Islands. Now it can rain at times (a little more). But a clear advantage: There are now from Germany clearly cheaper offers for flights and hotels compared to the main season. Especially students use the time to travel cheap to paradise. Now you have the chance to witness the great Hawaii Hula contest. This so-called Merrie Monarch Festival takes place annually in Hawaii.

Hawaii in summer

summer-in-hawaiiFrom June till September is the somewhat warmer and rather dry time on Hawaii; nevertheless, the thermometer does not climb much higher than 30 °C. The only problem during summertime: The famous beach areas of Hawaii on Maui or Waikiki Beach are overcrowded and you should book your hotel in time. Also, the locals are on vacation. But at no other time of the year do you have a better chance to visit the Getting to know Hawaiians and be enchanted by their positive spirit. A must for your summer vacation in Hawaii: Be sure to try the ripe fruits like mangoes that are now available everywhere.

Hawaii in autumn

autumn-in-hawaiiIn autumn, that is, from September till Decemberthe air in Hawaii becomes minimally muggy and those who are used to a rather dry climate might find it oppressive. (but no comparison to vacation destinations like Singapore and Co.). Autumn is typically the time of some events: On Maui the annual writers conference takes place; there is the famous Aloha Festival or for the hardcore the big Honolulu Marathon. Also the dream beaches on Kauai invite you to relax. Advantage: The availability of hotels and guesthouses on the Hawaiian Islands is now increasing, ergo the prices somewhat decrease.

And no matter what time of year you choose to travel: If you have any questions, feel free to write us!

Hawaii feeling already on the outbound flight with Hawaiian Airlines.

For many, many people Hawaii is a dream, the islands are located in the middle of the Pacific. There remains for vacationers only a flight of several hours. With a international airport on Oahu, however, the island chain is well prepared for the onslaught of tourists from all over the world. Honolulu also the home airport of the Hawaiian Airlines. The airline has been in Hawaii since 1929 and is one of the safest airlines in the world.

The airline is now run by Mark B. Dunkerley and employs more than 5000 people. There are daily services between Kauai, Maui and the other Hawaiian Islands. Also international connections from Hawaii to America, Asia and Australia are offered. Europeans change planes in the USA. The main destinations in the USA are San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

The special thing about a flight with "Hawaiian" is certainly the special friendliness and the feeling of Aloha right on board. But if you don't get an onward flight with Hawaiian from your stopover, or if it is simply too expensive, feel free to use other airlines and let Hawaiian Airlines take you island hopping from island to island.

As colorful as Hawaii's inhabitants: Hawaiian Cuisine

What's the first thing you think of when you think of Hawaiian food? Pineapples, coconuts and colorful cocktails? But these fruits didn't arrive in Hawaii until the European explorers. The first inhabitants - the Polynesian - brought fruit and vegetable crops to the islands much earlier. Over time, it attracted more and more immigrants from around the world to Oahu and my other islands, and everyone brought their favorite dishes. And so Hawaii has only the best of every food culture!

A short journey through the history of Hawaiian Cuisine

All fresh at the fruit stand on Maui!
All fresh at the fruit stand on Maui!

When the Polynesians 800 after Christ arrived in Hawaii, they used what nature offered them: plants, fish and seafood. The basic ingredient for their dishes was Taro,: A plant that the early seafarers brought from their homeland. Later, sweet potatoes and coconuts were added. You will not believe how many recipes there are with the vitamin-rich Sweet potatoes gives.

Only in the 18th century European explorers arrived in Hawaii and brought new plants and animals with them. Now began the cattle breeding and so belongs Beef since then to many dishes: Dried as beef jerky, it is still a popular appetizer today, or marinated and grilled as a main course. The Europeans began, Pineapple and sugar cane to grow in large plantations. Japanese, Koreans and Portuguese in particular arrived in Hawaii as plantation workers. They all brought with them recipes and their own ways of preparing food. Thus, Hawaiian cuisine became more colorful. More and more US American settle in the Hawaiian Islands since Hawaii became a state of the USA. Of course, they also bring their favorite dishes with them: So there are barbecue and burger restaurants in the tourist regions. But the Hawaiians are still very proud of their original cuisine and so you can still try the delicious poi prepared in the traditional way in many places. We think: definitely try it:

From Taro Poi to Shave Ice: Here's what you should try on your trip

Many hotels have very good restaurants that also serve Hawaiian dishes. We are happy to tell you our insider tips on the Hawaiian Islands, where you can eat real Hawaiian food. Here is our Top 5 of the dishes that for us simply belong to Hawaii:

  1. From the Polynesians: Poi from the taro plant. The taro plant was the most important staple food for the Polynesian natives and it was used in numerous recipes. Even today, one dish is particularly popular among Hawaiians: poi. For this sweet dish, the tubers of the taro plant are pounded and extended with milk and sugar. Especially in rural areas you can try the poi on your trip.
  2. Thanks to the Asian immigrants: The Ahi Poke. The Japanese immigrants have conjured up a light dish that is wonderfully refreshing in the warm temperatures. The fresh tuna (the so-called Yellowfin Thuna) is simply mixed with soy sauce, onions and sesame oil for this purpose. Also very popular as an appetizer. Ahi Poke is available today in countless variations, some recipes you can also find in our magazine. So take a look!
  3. Kalua Pig. The Hawaiian Pulled Pork. On a traditional luau you will enjoy the Kalua Pig. In an earth oven ("operated" by hot lava stones) the pig is cooked slowly. This can take 10 to 16 hours. To keep the meat juicy, it is wrapped in banana leaves beforehand. As you know it from the US-American dishes, Kalua Pig is also pulled (similar to Pulled Pork), but is saltier and comes without BBQ sauce. It is served with traditional marinated cabbage.
  4. Loco MocoThe Koreans in particular have made rice a popular side dish in Hawaii. For the Loco Moco, they serve a meatball with dark (roast) sauce and a fried egg with the rice. Certainly not everyone's cup of tea, but still interesting because it combines so many cultures and their eating habits. Depending on the region, you can alternatively get meat from Kalua Pig or spicy beef in terikyaki sauce. On the coast this is the dish Seafood like shrimp modified Very fond of a cool macaroni salad as a side dish. 
  5. Shave Ice. The sweet, colorful cooling. If you have kids, I'm sure you'll be quickly drawn to Shave Ice, it's so colorful & cute.... On the Big Island, it's also called Ice Shave. It involves scraping water ice off a large block of ice, and pouring colorful syrups over it in a cup. Bedaf adds a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The syrup comes in every typical Hawaiian flavor like pineapple, coconut or mango are very popular. But there is much more.

Formation & Volcanism

The Hawaiian archipelago (an archipelago is an accumulation of several islands to form an island group or island chain) lies, tectonically speaking, on the pacific plate.

emperor volcano chain hawaii

Source Google Earth

The edge of the Pacific Ocean is known as the Ring of Fire, the English term is "ring of fire". This is because there is very high tectonic activity at the plate boundaries with the other plates. Volcanoes and earthquakes accumulate here. Due to the higher density of the oceanic Pacific plate, it sinks under the less dense and thus lighter continental plates and forms a so-called subduction zone.

Hawai'i, however, is not on the edge of the Pacific Plate, but very central on it, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the largest ocean on earth.

So how could there volcanic island?

Hawai'i is one of the best and most popular examples of the so-called oceanic intraplate volcanism: the hotspot.

One Hotspot can be thought of as a large hole in the Earth's crust on the ocean floor, fed with magma directly from the Earth's mantle through a tube-shaped vent.

Imagine a lava lamp: when the magma rises from the bottom to the top, a lump is formed at the top, followed by a long tail. The Hawaiian Islands are basically at the end of the tube, that is, the lump that poured onto the Earth's surface in the form of lava flows and gradually built up the islands.

As the Pacific Plate moves, namely northwestward at about 10 cm/year, it slides over the local stationary hotspot that has always carried magma from the mantle to the Earth's surface and caused the formation of a chain of volcanic islands and deep-sea mountains.

So the Hawai'i Islands are really just the peaks of a huge underwater mountain range, which is called the Hawaiian Emperor Volcanic Chain. This is visualized above in the Google Earth image.

At the same time, the Hawai'i archipelago (Hawaiian Archipelago) the part of the islands that is still above water: this concerns all islands from the Big Island in the southeast to Kure Atoll in the northwest. After the bend, the islands are called Emperor Seamounts (underwater mountains).

This means that the youngest islands are in the southeast (i.e., the Big Island with the active Kīlauea volcano) and the oldest of the main islands is Kaua'i. The oldest island, which is still above sea level, is far to the northwest and has already become an atoll (the Kure Atoll).

At some point you will see nothing more of this paradisiacal atoll either, because it gradually, driven by convection currents in the earth's mantle and by subsidence conditionally, disappear completely into the sea and is then called a seamount. Eventually, the seamount will subduct at a plate boundary and be melted by the heat in the Earth's interior. So that means that millions or billions of years from now, when the Hawaiian hotspot has long been extinct, Hawai'i will be gone for good.

Here are a few years so you can get a better idea of how old Hawai'i already is: Kure Atoll is at least 64.7 million years old, Kaua'i is 5 million years old, and the Big Island is less than 1 million years old. That makes Hawai'i's Big Island, at least geologically speaking, a baby! The oldest seamount in the far northwest is the Mount Meiji with around 80 million years. This means that the first island of the entire Hawaiian Emperor Volcanic Chain was born, when dinosaurs still existed, i.e. in the Cretaceous period.

By the way, the hotspot is still active. Currently, it forms a new island located 30km southeast of Big Island on the flank of Mauna Loa: Lōʻihi Seamount. This underwater volcano is still minus 975m below sea level. It is impossible to say exactly when Lōʻihi will break the water surface. At a growth rate of 5m per 1000 years, it could take another 200,000 years. Lōʻihi is called in German "long" and indicates the shape of the young volcano.

Hawai'is Lava

All of the Hawai'i Islands consist primarily of the Rock basalt. Basaltic lavas are basic due to their chemical composition. This means, among other things, that they have a low Silicon dioxide content (SiO2) have. Basalt is a dark, grayish-black to black rock and fine-grained (unlike granite, for example). Basalt is a type of rock and rocks are composed of minerals. Basalt in particular consists of two main minerals: Plagioclase and pyroxene. Pyroxene gives it its black coloration. Basalts also contain other minerals in a much smaller quantity, they are called accessory minerals, among others Olivine. This is a greenish mineral. Some know olivine as a mineral from the gemstone peridot, a variety of olivine that gets its green color from this same mineral. Olivine is also the most important and common mineral of the upper mantle!

Hawai'i's volcanoes

Hawai'i's volcanoes are all Shield volcanoes. Shield volcanoes are characterized by their relatively flat sloping flanks. Which type of volcano is formed is determined, among other things, by the outflowing lava. The magma of the hotspot on Hawai'i is basaltic and therefore very fluid (low viscosity). If this thin lava emerges from the volcanic vent or the rift zones of the volcano (now no longer called magma because it is transported from the volcano and has reached the earth's surface). it can spread over a wide area. It also usually flows very quietly out of the vent, can also form lava fountains in addition to fast lava flows. Nevertheless, volcanoes erupt, producing basaltic magmas, almost never explosive fromThis is due to its low gas content. Through constant eruptions and lava outpourings, the volcano continues to stratify. Shield volcanoes are characterized by the fact that they are very extensive and have large diameters. In shield volcanoes, the lava can flow out of the central vent as well as from the flanksas was last seen, for example, at the active Kīlauea volcano in 2018.

There are two typical types of lava in Hawai'i:

  • Pāhoehoe Lava (in German: Knit Lava): is thin-bodied lava that spreads out in layers and where the surface solidifies into a thin, elastic skin like a pudding. The hotter lava underneath continues to flow and pushes the upper skin together in beads, like pushing on a cozy wool blanket.
  • ʻAʻā-Lava (in German: Brocken Lava): is recognizable by cracked, spiky surfaces and resembles a freshly plowed farmland soil in appearance. This lava is more viscous than Pāhoehoe lava. That is, it flows less rapidly and forms a thick crust as it cools. If lava then flows in and pushes from behind, it breaks the previously formed surface and the familiar jagged and lumpy chunks are formed.

And this is how the last eight islands of the Hawaiian archipelago were created.

The formation of Big Island

The Big Island is the youngest of all the Hawai'i Islands and has grown from a total of six volcanoes: Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, Kīlauea, Hualālai, Kohala and the Māhukona.

Mauna Kea makes up about 23% of the land mass of the Big Island and Mauna Loa even 51%.. The diameter of Mauna Loa is 120km. Mauna Kea is slightly higher than Mauna Loa and, when measured from the sea floor to the summit, is the highest mountain in the world at 10,200m. Measured from the sea surface, Mauna Loa is 4,167m and Mauna Kea is 4,205m high.

Of these volcanoes, both Kīlauea and Mauna Loa are active. Mauna Kea and Kohala are the oldest volcanoes on the Big Island.

The creation of Kaua'i

Kaua'i is the oldest island of the eight main islands and no longer has an active volcano. Kaua'i consists of only one shield volcano. If you look at a cross-section of the island, you will see that there is an elevated plain in the west of the island and a depression in the east, the so-called Lihu'e Depression.

The creation of Maui Nui

Maui is located northwest of Big Island and is the second youngest island in the archipelago. It was formed from two shield volcanoes, which were joined by a lava flow from the younger active volcano Haleakalā have connected.

In fact, it was the case that West and East Maui were connected with Lāna'i, Kaho'olawe, and Moloka'i to form one large island. This will Maui Nui called (in German: Great Maui). Through erosion and especially through sea level rise, the islands formed as we know them today. So, in principle, they are the peaks of a common big mountain. In this bathymetric image, it is easy to see that Maui Nui is a large complex, with only the peaks breaking the surface of the water as Maui, Lāna'i, Moloka'i, and Kaho'olawe:

location volcanoes hawaii source usgs

Source: USGS

The West Maui volcano is about 2.5 million years old and today's ʻĪao Valley is the eroded caldera of this volcano!

Lāna'i also emerged from a single long eruption of a single shield volcano 1.46-1.2 million years ago and is highly eroded. The former collapsed crater is located in the Palawai Basin area.

Moloka'i, located between O'ahu and Mau'i, has grown from a total of three different shield volcanoes.

The creation of O'ahu

O'ahu is located between Kaua'i and Moloka'i, making it one of the most older islands of the main archipelago. O'ahu has two extinct volcanoes: Ko'olau and Wai'anae. Recent research, however, has now found that O'ahu actually formed from three volcanoes: the third in the bunch, the Ka'ena, lies northwest of Ka'ena Point and was previously known as Ka'ena Ridge, a shallower zone in the sea, between Kaua'i and O'ahu. The other two volcanoes actually grew on its flanks. The classic features of a shield volcano, such as a caldera, are no longer clearly visible on O'ahu because the volcanoes are very advanced in their development. Kāne'ohe Bay, however, shows the last remnant of Ko'olau Crater.

Maybe now you got a feeling for how old and yet how young the islands are. The Big Island is geologically still a baby, Kaua'i is a grandma. Mount Meiji, on the other hand, is actually as old as stone. Still, compared to the age of the earth at 4.56 billion years, all the Hawai'i islands, including the seamounts in the northwest, are a breath in the history of the earth.

How lucky we are to live right now and see the beauty of the islands with our own eyes.

Culture, Deities & Tradition

Hawai'i is so much more than its clichés. Hula dances, tanned, seductive women with coconut shells for bras, sipping cocktails by the pool, a paradise without depth or meaning. This is the image conveyed by the media and typical travel providers of Hawai'i. As you read this article, you will feel how pure and vulnerable Hawaiian culture is. You will see that Hawai'i's culture has been suppressed, that it has been despised. As a traveler, you can help respect Hawai'i's culture and support its resurgence. By reading this article and informing yourself, you are already doing quite a lot - because it will change your attitude towards Hawai'i.

Hawaii deities

Hawaiians feel a deep connection to nature and explained everything from the formation of the islands to humans with worshiped nature gods. These gods have significance in every area of life. Some well-known deities are:
  • Papahānaumoku: Mother of the earth, wife of Wākea, ancestor of all people and all islands, goddess who gave birth to Hawaii Island.
  • Wākea: Father of heaven, husband of daddy
  • Hi'iaka: Goddess of dance, younger sister of Pele, protector of hula dancers
  • Pele: Goddess of volcanoes and fire who controls the lava flows
  • Nāmaka: Goddess of the sea, sister of Pele
  • Poli'ahu: Goddess of snow, sister of Lilinoe, enemy of Pele
  • Lilinoe: Goddess of mist, sister of Poli'ahu, enemy of Pele
  • Kāne: God of reproduction, worshipped as god of chiefs and citizens
  • Haumea: Goddess of the seas and fertility, also equated with Papa
  • Lono: God of agriculture, fertility and peace, God of thunderstorms, earthquakes, rainbows, rain and wind
  • Ku: God of war, fishing, long life and national prosperity
  • Hina: Wife of the god Ku, goddess of the moon
  • Laka: God of Hula Dance/Goddess of Hula (there is once the male Laka and once the female Laka), the female Laka watches over the forest, the rain, Hula and the flora with which the Hula dancers decorate themselves and the altar. She is the wife of the Lono. The male laka is represented by an 'ōhi'a lehua tree, whose red flowers were used to decorate the altar during the religious ceremonies of the dance.
  • Kanaloa: God of the ocean and the underworld, considered by some Hawaiians as the Christian equivalent of the devil. He is wrathful and curses people of death. Is often found in association with Kāne.
The hawaiian mythology is very complex and often contradictory in the tradition. There are very many deities, kinship, enmity and friendship among them. However, the relationships are not clear. Therefore, I have given you a tiny insight above and tried to present you the most important facts. If you are interested in the mythology even more, I recommend the book "Hawaiian Mythology" By Martha Warren Beckwith. Another important concept in Hawaiian mythology and spirituality is "mana". In the Hawaiian Dictionary mana translated into English with: "supernatural or divine power, miraculous power". In German it means: "supernatural or divine power, miraculous power".. So it is not a physical force. It is believed that mana is in every object and person. Also some places are given a high mana power, e.g. the Rim of the Haleakalā crater and the island of Moloka'i. With the beginning of the 19th century, Hawai'i's natural religion was increasingly eclipsed by Christianity after the arrival of Europeans in the late 18th century. Today's composition looks like this: Today, about 2/3 of the Hawaiian population is Christian. A little less than 1/3 are non-denominational and the rest belong to Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam or others. Nevertheless, there are still some sites that mean a lot to the Hawaiians. Thus the Mauna Kea. It is often referred to as "white mountain", but in Hawaiian culture and prayers is also translated from "Mauna a Wākea" pronounced, that is, "The Mountain of Wākea". This name gives the mountain a completely different meaning. Wākea is the sky father. In the film Mauna Kea - Temple Under Siege it is said: "In our story of creation, Wākea is the broad expanse, the sky father, partner to Papahānaumoku, earth mother, who gave birth to the islands. Hawai'i Island is their hiapo, or eldest child. And Mauna Kea is that child's piko, or navel. Because of its place in our genealogies, Mauna Kea is a kupuna, an ancestor." The Big Island (= Island of Hawai'i) is thus the child of the Wākea and the Papahānaumoku. Mauna Kea is the "belly button" (piko) of the Big Island and connects today's people with their ancestors. Mauna Kea is a very sacred mountain, it is considered the ancestor (kupuna) of the Hawaiians. Mauna Kea is the highest mountain in the Pacific Ocean. Mauna Kea is not only a physical, imposing phenomenon, but also an inspiration and teaches people a way of life, and thus is also of great philosophical value to the lives of Hawaiians. With ho'oponopono are further referred to Hawaiian family rituals of reconciliation and forgiveness through prayer, discussion, mutual forgiveness, confession of guilt, and repentance.

Place of Refuge (Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau) National Historical Park

The Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau is located in the west of the Big Island at the bay of Honaunau. In German it means: Place of refuge, sanctuary or shelter. In ancient Hawai'i, there was a strict set of laws, the kapu system. The Polynesian word for capu is tapu and is similar to the English taboo or the German Taboo. Fun fact: The German word Tabu has its origins in the Polynesian language area. Disobeying laws could be punished by death. Here are a few examples of kapu:
  • Men and women must eat separately.
  • Some foods were not allowed to be eaten by women, such as some types of fish, bananas, pork, and coconuts.
  • If a citizen's shadow fell on a chief's house or anything else that belonged to the chief, the person was executed
If the kapu were broken by a citizen, he still had a single opportunity, to escape with his life and save himself from execution: in which he sought a place of refuge like the Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau. You can imagine it as in the burning ball from the school, where there are also protection zones for the athlete, on which nothing can happen to him. The Pu'uhonua protect the lawbreaker, but also defeated fighters and civilians during a war. The lawbreaker was then absolved of his sins in a ceremony (= absolution).

Are there any other pu'uhonuas?

In the past, there were numerous pu'uhonuas. But with the Abolition of the kapu system by Kamehameha II in 1819 and the sweep of Christianity, nature religion and the worship of Hawaiian gods was stifled. The Hawaiian queen Ka'ahumanu, who converted to Christianity, ordered all religious sites associated with capu associated with it. The ruins of Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau, however, is the last well-preserved site.

The importance of fish ponds

The fish ponds (engl. Hawaiian Fishponds) are the testimony ancient hawaiian aquaculture and very refined ponds for sustainable Fishing. These semicircular ponds are made of lava stones and corals (see in the picture): the walls let the seawater and small fish through. The fish could then gorge themselves on food supplies and then eventually became too big to leave the pond. They were considered to be really trapped and the Hawaiians could help themselves with relish. However, it was only the royal (alii = chiefs) allowed to eat fish from the fishponds. Known fishponds, which are still handed down today, can be found in:
  • Moloka'i: many of these fishponds are located along the south coast, most between 700-800 years old, e.g. the 'Ualapu'e Fishpond
  • Menehune Fishpond (also known as Alekoko Fishpond) on Kaua'i, south of Lihu'e just upstream of Nawiliwili Bay (see picture).

The cultural asset Hula

Nothing is considered more the symbol of Hawaiian culture than the hula (dance). King David Kalākaua's famous words are: "Hula is the language of the heart and therefore the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people"(Engl.: "Hula is the language of the heart and therefore the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people"). This sentence makes clear how essential the hula is for the Hawaiian religion. We also return to King David Kalākaua in the History tab, as he has taken a significant role in the history of hula in Hawai'i. Hula is not just a dance. Hula is an expression of Hawaiian history and culture and a way of life for many Hawaiians. Hula is a way to tell stories and preserve Hawai'i's culture. This was especially important at a time when there was no written language in Hawai'i. The stories are about the creation of the earth and life, about gods and humanity, about Hawai'i's history and genealogy, about relationships and the cycle of life. The dancer's movements express all this. The dancers have a deep knowledge of the stories they tell and truly embody them. The hula is also for expressing gratitude for life, the land, and all of life's other gifts. Learning the hula is also the student's process of disciplining and taming their body and mind. When Hula students learn hula, they also learn to become better people. By the way, hula teachers are called "kumu" called, hula schools "halau" and hula student "haumana". Unfortunately, after the arrival of the Europeans, the hula, like the language, suffered a sharp decline, caused mainly by a Hula dance ban was triggered. The missionaries were negative about hula, but did not have the power to enforce a ban. Queen Ka'ahumanu, who had converted to Christianity, however, supported this and enforced the ban, which prohibited public hula shows. But the law has been largely ignored, fortunately. When King David Kalākaua ascended the throne in 1874, he lifted the ban, thereby giving hula a public revival. In recognition of the protection and promotion of the hula by King Kalākaua gave the organizers of today's Hula Festival "Merrie Monarch Festival. the appropriate name. "Merrie" because the king was considered friendly, happy and funny. The Merrie Monarch Festival is a week-long festival, which takes place annually in Hilo. It starts every Easter Sunday. It was originally founded by businessmen to attract more tourists to Hawai'i during the off-season. In the course of this, the two types of hula known today were also created to distinguish this festival from the usual hula shows and to promote the real hula:
  • the original hula: hula kahiko (old dances)
  • the modern hula: hula auana (modern dances)
Kalākaua himself died in 1889 and his sister, Queen Lili'uokalani, who succeeded to the throne, was overthrown in 1891. The end of the Hawaiian monarchy was thus also the end of hula as a component of official government. In the early 20th century, Hawai'i, and with it hula, was discovered by American filmmakers from Hollywood and adapted and used for their purposes and fantasies.

Costumes and jewelry at Hula

The jewelry is extremely individual and tailored to the particular stories being told. The Laka plants represent divine personalities and qualities aspired to by the students of hula. The dancers of both sexes can wear skirts (haw. pa'u) wear men can also wear only the loincloth. Men as well as women adorn themselves with leis (engl. garland, wreath) and cupe'e:
  • lei is the wreath of flowers that is placed around the head
  • kupe'e are tied around wrists or ankles

Lei information

The lei is used not only in hula, but also as a Sign of affection given by one person to another as a gift. They were also given as welcome tokens or for parting. Nowadays, leis are given for all kinds of personal events, such as birthdays, weddings, births, school graduations, etc. Most leis consist of Plumeria flowers, pikake flowers (jasmine), orchid flowers 'ōhi'a lehua flowers and maile leaves.n.

Lū'au - a Hawaiian festival

Lū'off are Hawaiian festivalswhere people come together and celebrate. Commercially offered Lū'aus for tourists are a great way to experience traditional Hawaiian cuisine. To taste there is the kalua pig,which is produced in an earth oven (haw. imu) is prepared overnight or early in the morning, poi (porridge from the taro plant, so to speak), Hawaiian purple-colored sweet potatoes, poke (fish cut into pieces) and haupia (a coconut-based dessert). After the meal, a hula show awaits the guest. The hula that is shown here, however, is not slow like the traditional one. Instead, there is a lot of show, with fire, torches and fast hip movements.

How did Lū'aus come into being?

In ancient Hawai'i, men and women were forbidden to eat together. In 1819, Kamehameha II began to lift this prohibition (haw. kapu, Eng. taboo): He ate with women. Lū'au actually means "young taro tips" which are served at Lū'aus. The name Lū'au is not traditional, but was given as recently as 1856 by a reporter from a daily newspaper, the Pacific Commercial Advertiser. Hawaiian feasts are pāʻina or ʻahaʻaina .

Hawaii sports

I am very sure that this point does not surprise you: Hawai'i is world famous for the surfing. Surfing was a sport for all, whether king, ali'i (chief) or ordinary citizen; men, women, young or old. Surfing was described as a "national pastime". And it has always been so. However, some stretches of coast were only ali'i reserved. Surfing originates from the Polynesian Ocean and is therefore no Sport invented by the Hawaiians. But: in Hawai'i, surfing was observed, written down and documented for the first time by Europeans. And: in Hawai'i the sport has developed the very most. So it was the Hawaiians who developed the he'e nalu, the board surfing, have strongly influenced. The boards could be made of wood of the Koa Baums, of the breadfruit tree ('ulu) or of the Vilivili tree to be made. Surfing was a high priority for Hawaiians, even higher than going to church. Unfortunately, surfing, like other parts of Hawaiian culture, suffered from colonization by Europeans and Americans: in 1890, introduced diseases caused about 95% of Hawai'i's inhabitants to die. In addition, missionaries found surfing silly and distracting, a waste of time. After the end of the Kingdom of Hawai'i and the annexation by the USA at the beginning of the 19th century, surfing was almost extinct. A statue of Duke Kahanamoku at Waikīkī Beach commemorates his important role in bringing surfing to the world. Duke won some Olympic medals, his first at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm: a gold medal in swimming 100 meters freestyle. In December 1914 he brought surfing to Australia. George Freeth and Alexander Hume Ford also played a large part in bringing surfing back to popularity and recognition in Hawai'i. George Freeth was a lifeguard and brought surfing to California in 1907. Today, surfing is not only part of Hawai'i's culture, but also a popular sport worldwide. In a broader sense, outrigger canoe surfing also belongs to the sport of surfing. Outrigger canoes are canoes with an outrigger that gives the boat increased stability. This sport was also once threatened with extinction.

Modern traditions, customs and values

Here are five other Hawaiian customs and values that make Hawaiian culture so special:
  • Honi ihu: a warm greeting in which two people place their foreheads and noses against each other, thus breathing (hā) Today, kissing on the cheek is a common way of greeting friends, acquaintances and new people.
  • "Please take your slippers off" - This is a phrase you read a lot in Hawai'i. Before entering someone's house, you have to take off your shoes (slippers is a common English word in Hawai'i for flipflops 😊).
  • Mālama 'āina: Respect and take care of the land (and ocean). Do not take sand, stones, shells or coral from the beach and do not take volcanic stones home.
  • Haʻahaʻa: Humility. Don't brag about your accomplishments, possessions, success or money. In Hawai'i, modesty is valued.
  • Aloha Spirit LawTreat your neighbor with respect and love - and yourself as well.
  • Show interest in and respect for Hawai'i's culture and language. It is also important to refer only to indigenous Hawaiian culture, traditions, and people as Hawaiian or Hawaiian*in. Incoming residents of Hawai'i are simply Hawai'i residents (Hawaiian residents), locals, or kama'āina.

Hawaii's - History


  • 400-1,300 years CE:  The Polynesians, probably from the Marquesas Islands, discover the Hawai'i Islands. There is some disagreement about exactly when and how the discovery took place. However, it is certain that the Polynesians were very good navigators. Hawai'i is the most isolated place on our planet. So the Polynesians were not able to see the islands with the naked eye. They also did not have other devices that would have helped them navigate the Pacific Ocean. So how did they know it would be worth traveling further north? It is assumed that they observed the migration patterns and feeding behavior of birds in order to discover new islands. On their way to the islands, which they did in canoes, by the way, they only used the stars, because technology didn't exist yet, of course. Very impressive, isn't it?
  • 1753-1761 (probably 1758): Pai'ea, later known as Kamehameha I, is born to a royal family in northern Kohala. Legends tell that the birth of Pai'ea was accompanied by storms and a "light in the sky with feathers like a bird." Hawaiians at the time thought this heralded the birth of a powerful chief. Historians suggest that a comet, Halley's Comet, which passed by Hawai'i in 1758, was the cause of this phenomenon. Kamehameha means "the lone one." He was given this nickname because he grew up in isolation in Waipi'o on the Hāmākua Coast for 5 years after his birth because his life was in danger due to the prophecy.
  • 1778: Captain James Cook, the English navigator and explorer, discovers Hawai'i and sets foot on the island of Kaua'i in Waimea Bay on January 20. The sailors are struck by the similarity to the language, culture, animal species and tools used by the Polynesians of the southern Pacific.
  • 1779: James Cook returns to Hawai'i on January 17 and boards at Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island. He is killed at Ka'Awa Loa, Kealakekua Bay, on February 14 after an argument by locals.

Kingdom and Republic:

  • 1795Kamehameha I (or Kamehameha the Great) also wins the last island of O'ahu through war and conquest at the Battle of Nu'uanu. Hawai'i becomes a kingdom and the Kamehameha dynasty begins.
  • 1810Kamehameha I united all the Hawai'i Islands, now including Kaua'i. This was very important for the following history of Hawai'i, as they were now protected from the influence of Western powers. So Kamehameha the Great, despite the many battles and violence used, has been a very popular king. A famous statue of the king is located across from the 'Iolani Palace on Oahu. June 11 is Kamehameha Day, when statues of the king are decorated with leis.
  • 1819Kamehameha I dies. Kamehameha II, the son of Kamehameha (also called Liholiho), refuses to comply with the tradition that men and women must eat separately. His behavior leads to the abolition of kapu, the strict taboo system. He also allows the arrival of Protestant missionaries from New England. Liholiho died of measles in July 1824. His brother Kauikeaouli becomes king.
  • 1820: The first missionaries from New England arrive.
  • 1835The first sugar plantation opens on Kaua'i. Agriculture thus greatly increases in economic importance.
  • 1845Honolulu becomes the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
  • 1850s: Plantation production is steadily increasing, leading to increased demand for labor. The first workers come from China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Portugal.
  • 1874: The Kamehameha dynasty ends. In total there were 5 kings from the Kamehameha family. In 1874, the Kalākaua dynasty begins with David Kalākaua.
  • 1882The 'Iolani Palace is completed under King Kalākaua. The 'Iolani Palace is the last seat and official residence of the last Hawaiian monarchs (King Kalākaua and his successor Queen Lili'uokalani).
  • 1887The Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawai'i is signed, largely removing authority from the monarchy and giving more power to the legislature and government. It became known as the Bayonet Constitution because the king was forced to cooperate by force of arms.
  • 1891: King David Kalākaua dies on January 28, 1891, leaving the throne to his sister, Lydia Kamakaeha, as Queen Lili'uokalani. Queen Lili'uokalani is the composer of the famous song "Aloha Oe" (for those who know Lilo & Stitch: the song can be heard in the movie 😊).
  • 1893: On January 17, 1893, Queen Lili'uokalani is deposed and the Hawaiian monarchy is overthrown by Caucasian businessmen and lawyers.
  • 1894: The Republic of Hawai'i is established.

Annexation by the USA:

  • 1898: The islands are annexed by the USA with the help of the Newlands Resolution.
  • 1900: Hawai'i becomes a U.S. territory through the Organic Act.
  • 1917: Queen Lili'uokalani, the last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, dies.
  • 1941: During World War II, on December 7, 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on O'ahu. The U.S.S. Arizona sank with 1,100 men on board and the wreck was declared a memorial in 1962.
  • 1945: On September 2, 1945, Japan signs its unconditional surrender on the U.S.S. Battleship Missouri, which is now part of the Pearl Harbor Monument and Museum Complex.  
  • 1959: Hawai'i will become the 50th U.S. state on Aug. 21.
  • 2006: The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is "established" on June 15, 2006, under President George W. Bush. The name represents Papa (the Earth Mother) and Wākea (the Sky Father), who created the Hawaiian Archipelago, the taro plant, and Hawaiian people. It is the largest contiguous protected area under the U.S. flag and one of the largest marine protected areas in the world. It covers the entire Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, from Nihoa Island, west of Ni'ihau to Kure Atoll, and encompasses 1,508,870km².

What came with the immigrants

Diseases: The arrival of the explorers not only changed the culture and life in Hawai'i, but it also brought diseases, such as syphilis and tuberculosis. Hawaiians, previously isolated from the world, were not immune to disease and so it spread quickly. 175,000 Hawaiians died. Later, with the arrival of missionaries, thousands more Hawaiians died from measles and whooping cough. Hansen's disease, also known as leprosy, also came to Hawai'i this way. By 1920, only 24,000 native Hawaiians remained. Lepers had to live in isolation for the rest of their lives. All of Hawai'i's lepers were taken to Moloka'i, on the northern headland of Kalaupapa. The first 12 were removed on January 3, 1866. In all, more than 8,000 people were separated from their friends and families and deported to this isolated piece of earth. Very barbaric, because they were required to build an independent life - even though the disease was already well advanced. Later, Father Damian De Veuster, a Belgian doctor, took care of the abandoned sick. In 1889, two years after he too was diagnosed with leprosy, he died on Moloka'i at the age of 49. In all, he spent 16 years of his life with those infected with leprosy. On October 11, 2009, Father Damian was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI.

sugar cane (haw. kō) came to the islands with the Polynesians. Captain Cook thus also found sugar cane when he arrived in 1778. The plant was used as a sweetener and as a windbreak. It was not processed into sugar until later, in 1825. Ten years later, the first successful factory was established by Ladd & Company, in Koloa on Kaua'i. The first commercial crop in 1837 yielded about two tons of sugar, was marketed and the market grew rapidly. A year later, there were already 20 factories. Demand for labor increased, but native Hawaiians did not want to work on the plantations. In addition, many Hawaiians were dying from the introduced diseases and the population was rapidly shrinking. So entrepreneurs hired cheap labor from abroad (mainly Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos). This led to the mix of cultures and people as we know it today in Hawai'i. Today, sugar is no longer produced in Hawai'i. The last sugar producer closed on Maui at the end of 2016. Still, you can try sugar cane juice in Hawai'i. There are local vendors or visit a Farmers' Market!

The pineapple is so intensely associated with Hawai'i that one could be forgiven for thinking it was a native plant here or, like the taro and sugar cane plants, was introduced very early with the Polynesians. But this is not true! The pineapple is a rather recent addition to Hawai'i. The cultivation of pineapples really only stemmed from the fear of making the economy solely dependent on sugar production. People were looking for a way to diversify agriculture. The pineapple came to Hawai'i no later than 1813, actually by a Spaniard named Don Francisco de Paula Marin. Since then, several entrepreneurs have tried their hand at building a viable pineapple economy. But they all failed - until James Dole, a Harvard graduate, came to Hawai'i at the turn of the century. In 1901, the Hawaiian Pineapple Company was established and 75,000 pineapple fruits were planted at Wahiawā on O'ahu. In 1903, the company built its first cannery and achieved great sales success the following year. It was realized that the crop had what it took to become a plantation crop. More plantations were opened

In 1922, the Dole Company purchased the island of Lāna'i and additional acreage on O'ahu, dramatically expanding its farmland. On Lāna'i, it established Lāna'i City and the port of Kaumalapau. At its wedding, Lāna'i harvested 75% of the world's pineapple production. The Palawai Basin was also covered with pineapple fields.

There were a total of 10 pineapple companies during the heyday of pineapple farming. Pineapples were also grown on Kaua'i and Moloka'i.

After 1957, the production of canned pineapple was shifted to the Philippines, Thailand and Costa Rica due to cheaper labor costs. This led to the decline of the canning industry in Hawai'i.

In 1992, Dole closed all pineapple plantations on Lāna'i. The last cannery closed in 2007 and in 2009 Maui Land & Pineapple Inc. (subsidiary: Maui Pineapple Company) also closed its production of fresh pineapple. This leaves Dole Food Co. on O'ahu as the sole producer on Hawai'i.

The reasons for the success of pineapple production in Hawaii (peaking in 1957) include:

  1. Research and innovation in pineapple cultivation and canning (e.g. use of a specific pineapple variety called Smooth Cayenne, which is particularly suitable; innovative peeling and coring machine called Ginaca, which manages 100 pineapples per minute, treatment of plants with iron fertilizers and nematicides).
  2. Marketing campaigns
  3. Fertile, volcanic soils, cultivation all year round and pleasant climate due to the northeast trade winds.

The coconut is not native to Hawai'i, but was brought from Polynesia by early settlers. In Hawai'i, the coconut was used not so much for consumption, but for other purposes. The most important use was for the fibers of the husk, which were braided or twisted into cords. The shells of the nuts were used as drinking vessels or for musical instruments. In food, a little coconut mixed with taro was found in at least one dessert-but haupia, often served at lū'aus, may not have become popular in Hawai'i until after 1778.

Also taro was brought by the Polynesian settlers. The tuber of the plant is used to make poi, a porridge. Poi is an important food for Hawaiians and the people of Hawai'i, both in the past and still today. Other parts of the plant can also be eaten: Shoots, leaves, and stems. Poi is also usually served at lū'aus. Taro is grown, for example, in the Hanalei Valley on Kaua'i.

Coffee: Big Island (Hawai'i Island) is also famous for one of the best coffees in the world - and the Ironman. But we're not talking about the latter here. We're talking about the so-called "100% Kona" coffee. What is it all about? To be called "100% Kona Coffee", the coffee has to grow in the Kona region, which is also called the "Kona Coffee Belt". This belt it extends about 3.6 km along the west coast of the Big Island along the slopes of Hualālai and Mauna Loa at an elevation of 180m-760m. There are about 600 small coffee farms here.

The coffee bean arrived in Hawai'i in the early 1800s, but by the mid-1800s, poor weather conditions, disease, and little labor almost lead to a halt in coffee cultivation. At the end of this century, in 1892, a bean was introduced from Guatemala, now known as "Kona Typica".

The reason this coffee is so good is due to several factors: Altitude, temperature and precipitation. In the Kona Coffee Belt, all three of these conditions are met. The elevation ensures that the temperature is always lower and more comfortable than at coastal elevation. The lower temperatures allow the beans to ripen more slowly, resulting in a denser and therefore more flavorful bean.

The Kona Coffee Belt receives about 1,524mm of rain annually (=l/m²). In comparison, Germany received about 590mm of rain in 2018 and about 830mm in 2017. In addition, there is sufficient shade here due to the many clouds that move over the mountain and protect the plants from drying out and the strong sunlight. Furthermore, the slope on the slopes of Mauna Loa is ideal, because here the water accumulates and does not run off too quickly.

In addition, the volcanic soil in which the coffee plants grow is full of minerals and nutrients that support the growth of the plants.

And last but not least, there's a whole lot of aloha in Kona coffee 😉.

If you're a coffee fan, then you shouldn't miss out on trying Kona Coffee. There are even farm tours that take you through a coffee plantation. There, you'll be shown how the bean goes into the cup! Other Big Island coffees are also available from the Ka'ū and Puna regions, as well as the Hāmākua Coast. 100%iger Kona Coffee can be quite expensive, but a Kona Coffee Blend is a more affordable alternative. By law, the Kona Blend must contain at least 10% Kona Coffee.

By the way, there is even a festival dedicated to coffee: the annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival.

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