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FUN FACTS

THE LUAU

Everyone knows that a luàu is a big feast, but actually the word luàu is a misnomer. The word luàu refers to the leaf of the taro plant served at a luàu. The correct word is päìna, which means a gathering of people for the purpose of dining in a celebratory way– in other words-a party!

But today, even Hawaiians use the word luàu to refer to this party gathering. If you have an opportunity to go to a luàu, you should go for a real Hawaiian experience. There is usually lots of great food, music and hula. The food traditionally served at a luáu includes kalua pig, which is pork that has been cooked in an imu or underground oven, fish, limu (seaweed), crab, he’e (octopus), opihi (limpets), lau lau (pork and vegetables wrapped in leaves), and poi.

Local Hawaiians have luàu to celebrate important occasions such as birthdays, weddings and graduations. An especially important lu`au is for a baby’s first birthday. The reason the baby luáu is so important is that traditionally in some Hawaiian families, the baby was not given a name until the first birthday. This gave the grandparents and others a chance to watch the baby and pick a name appropriate to that baby’s mission in life.

That is why so many Hawaiians have nicknames such as honey, sweetie, girlie, boy, junior, braddah, sistah—these were the names they had that first year.

a woman standing next to a christmas tree
a group of people performing on stage in front of a building

THE LANGUAGE

The beautiful Hawaiian language captures the natural beauty of the islands in its tones and phrases. Most Hawaiian words have multiple meanings and sometimes hidden meanings. When the language is spoken, the understanding comes from the context of what is being said.

Our name is pronounced;
“loo ow kah lah mah koo”

a woman in a green dress standing in front of a building

OUR ISLAND

The Hawaiian Islands sit on the Pacific tectonic plate. Hawai‘i is the youngest of the Hawaiian island chain.

The island of Hawai‘i is made up of 5 volcanoes.

Kohala is the oldest. Kohala is considered to be extinct because it has not erupted for 60,000 years. Deep canyons have been eroded on the north flank of the volcano.

Mauna Kea is the tallest volcano on the Island of Hawai´i, and when measured from sea floor to summit it is the tallest mountain in the world. In winter, you can see snow on its peak, and all year round it is covered by a glacier. The most recent eruption was about 3,500 years ago. Mauna Kea is considered a dormant volcano.

Hualälai is the westernmost shield volcano on the Island of Hawai´i. The most recent eruptions of Hualälai occurred in 1800-1801. It is considered an active volcano. Two large flows reached the ocean. The Kona airport is built on the 1801 flow.

Mauna Loa is the largest volcano on Earth. It makes up half of the Island of Hawai´i. Mauna Loa is considered very active, erupting 15 times since 1900. The last eruption was in 1984 and sent lava within 4 miles of Hilo.

Kïlauea is the youngest of the volcanoes on the Island of Hawai´i. Much of the bulk of the volcano is below sea level. The present-day caldera formed in 1790 and contains a pit crater, Halema´uma´u. Kïlauea is in the shield-building stage and is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. Over 90 percent of the surface is covered by lava less than 1,000 years old. The current eruption of Kïlauea began in 1983.

Hawai‘i is unique in the world. The Pacific tectonic plate has opened up another hot spot just off the coast of Hawai‘i Island. Volcanologists have the rare opportunity to see the earliest stages of island growth. Lö´ihi is the youngest volcano associated with the Hawaiian chain and is located under water 15 miles southeast of Kïlauea volcano. This volcano is active. The summit of the volcano is 3,178 feet below sea level. If Lö´ihi erupts at rates comparable to Kïlauea and Mauna Loa, it will reach sea level in a few tens of thousands of years.

OUR FOOD

Poi

Poi is the most beloved of Hawaiian foods, perhaps because it was and still is often the first food that is given to a baby. Poi was considered so important and sacred a part of daily Hawaiian life that whenever a bowl of poi was uncovered at the family dinner table, it was believed that the spirit of the ancestor of the Hawaiian people, was present. Because of that, all conflict among family members had to come to an immediate halt.

Kalo is a staple food for the native Hawaiians. You can eat almost every part of the kalo. The corm which grows in the ground can be eaten as poi, kalo which is mashed and mixed with water. You can also eat the whole corm after it has been steamed. You can also use the raw corm as fish bait. The stems of the kalo or the hähäkalo can be cut into pieces and used as a vegetable in any dish. The leaves of the kalo or the lü´au is most commonly found in laulau, a Hawaiian dish that uses beef, pork, fish, uala (sweet potato), and lü´au all wrapped nicely in ti-leaf and steamed. The kalo provides for the native Hawaiians so in turn the people need to mälama the kalo.

The kalo plant in itself represents one´s family. The òha or offspring of the kalo is the root of the word òhana which means family. Every part of the kalo represents a different generation. So instead of having a “family tree” Hawaiians think of their extended families as kalo plants.

Today, you may read about taro in the newspaper for several reasons. One is a proposal to genetically modify taro to make it more resilient to the invasion of insects and other plant diseases. Some native Hawaiians feel that taro should not be genetically modified because of its historical and cultural significance. Taro also makes the news because many groups are trying to bring about its resurgence as a way of teaching children and new-comers about the Hawaiian culture.

Taro is grown and eaten in 65 countries throughout Asia, India and Africa, but Hawaiians are the only people to make poi. Traditionally they cooked the taro root, then pounded it on large flat boards, using heavy stone poi pounders. If you go to any museums while you are here you will see some beautiful poi pounders. Pounding poi is hard work and traditionally is done only be men.

Today poi is still found in grocery stores around the state and is still a staple in Hawaiian food. If you go to a luau you will have an opportunity to eat poi.

The Pineapple

The pineapple is native to southern Brazil and Paraguay. Native tribes sailing up through South and Central America to the West Indies are thought to have spread its growth before Columbus arrived. Christopher Columbus is responsible for introducing the pineapple to Europe following his exploration of the Caribbean islands in 1493, when he brought samples to Queen Isabella of Spain. European explorers called the fruit the “Pine of the Indies.” Later, when it was introduced to the English, the word “apple” was added to associate it with another delicious fruit that people enjoyed. However, in those days it was very rare in Europe and so highly prized that it was called “The Royal Fruit” and “The Fruit of Kings.” In the 1600s, King Charles II of England posed for an official portrait in an act then symbolic of royal privilege — receiving a pineapple as a gift. Pineapple was subsequently spread around the world on sailing ships that carried it for protection a gainst scurvy.

Pineapple was first planted in Hawaiì in 1813 by a Spaniard, but it did not begin to become a cash crop until 70 years later. Captain John Kidwell is credited as being the pioneer of the industry in Hawai´i. He began crop development trials in 1885 when he planted in Mänoa, O´ahu. He sold the first plants to Alexander & Baldwin on Maui in 1890. From the 1900s to the 1950s, pineapple production grew. By the early 1960s, Hawaiì supplied over 80% of the world´s output of canned pineapple. But just 20 years later, in 1983, the last big Hawaiian cannery folded. It was cheaper to grow and can pineapple elsewhere. Today, 75% of the world´s (and Hawaiì´s!) pineapples come from Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Today, Hawaiìs pineapple producers are concentrating on creating new varieties of pineapple to appeal to the gourmet market. There are a number of new pineapple varieties—currently the most popular is often referred to as the Gold variety—which is extra sweet and has golden colored flesh.

THE UKULELE

About 60 years after the introduction of the guitar, a Portuguese immigrant introduced the small four-stringed instrument called the braginha. This replaced the guitar as the preferred range instrument because it was small and fit in the saddlebag. The Hawaiians adapted this instrument and named it the ùkulele. Ùkulele means “jumping flea” referring to how fast the fingers move on the strings. According to Queen Liliuokalani, the last Hawaiian monarch, the name means “the gift that came here”, from the Hawaiian words “uku” (gift or reward) and “lele” (to come).

Today the ukulele is a common instrument found in almost any Hawaiian music and is known internationally as “the Hawaiian instrument.” Ukulele′s come in four sizes, soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone.

KAUAI

The island of Kauai is home to the wettest spot on Earth. The average yearly rainfall on Mt. Waialeale is about 397 inches (10 m).

Kauai is home to Waimea Canyon, also known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” It measures about 3,000 feet (914 m) in depth and 12 miles (19.3 km) in length.

Kauai is the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands. It’s over six million years old.

Kauai is the northernmost island in the Hawaiian chain and is the most isolated inhabited land mass in the world.

By Hawaii law, no building on Kauai is allowed to be built taller than a palm tree.

The official color for the Island of Kauai is purple.

Kauai Coffee is the largest coffee plantation in the United States.

Kauai is the legendary home of the Menehune, a mythical race of very small people who preformed legendary “magical” feats of construction and engineering, oftentimes overnight.

Kauai has the only navigable rivers in the State of Hawaii.

Nearly 50% of Kauai′s 111 miles of coastline are lined with beautiful beaches.

Kauai is the only Hawaiian island without the mongoose.

97% of the Island of Kauai is used for agriculture and conservation.

Capitan Cook made his first landing in the Hawaiian Islands at Waimea Beach on Kauai.

Some of the rugged cliffs along the Na Pali Coast reach heights of over 2,500 feet.

Move than 70 movies have been filmed on Kauai including Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark, Tropic Thunder, and more.

OAHU

Honolulu is the “largest” city in the world. According to state constitution any island not belonging to a county belongs to Honolulu. This makes the entire island of Oahu, plus all other small, uninhabited islands known as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, a part of Honolulu. Honolulu therefore is about 1,500 miles long, or the distance from Los Angeles California to Denver Colorado.

Oahu is home to the world′s largest wind generator. The windmill has two blades that measure 400 feet long and rests on the roof of a tower twenty stories high.

There are more than 100 world renowned beaches around Honolulu.

Honolulu is the nation′s 11th largest metropolitan area.

Iolani Palace is the only royal palace in the United States had electricity 5 years before the White House and 17 years before Buckingham Palace.

One third of Hawaii′s best surfing beaches are on Oahu.

Hawaii and Alaska are the only two states to have an interstate highway without actually bordering on another state.

MAUI

Haleakala Crater is the world′s largest dormant volcano.

Lahainaluna, founded in 1831, is the oldest public school west of the Rocky Mountains.

The famous Road to Hana is a 55 mile long narrow road featuring 617 turns, 26 bridges and has some of the most breathtaking ocean scenic views in the world.

Maui is home to some of the best whale watching in Hawaii due to the fact that the Humpback Whales swim through the Auau Channel from Alaska to their birthing grounds in the warm waters off Maui.

Haleakala High Altitude Observatory Site is considered one of the best astronomical and space surveillance sites in the world.

Maui is the second largest island at 727 square miles

MOLOKAI

The east end of Molokai is a tropical rainforest that receives over 240 inches of rain a year.

Molokai′s north shore is home to the world′s largest sea cliffs at more than 3,000 feet high, Hawaii′s longest waterfall (Kahiwa Falls at 2,165 ft) and Hawaii′s longest white sand beach (Papohaku Beach 3 miles).

Kalaaupapa on Molokai was once a leper colony administered by Father Damien, who currently is up for Sainthood.

There are no traffic lights on Molokai.

There are no shopping centers on Molokai.

The largest rubber lined water reservoir in the world is in Kualapuu, holding over 1 billion gallons of water.

LANAI

Lanai has only three paved roads.

Lanai has no stop lights or traffic signals and has only one stop sign.

Nicknamed “The Pineapple Isle” Lanai at one point the island was producing 75% of the world′s pineapple.

The island of Lanai is considered Hawaii’s most secluded island.

Hulope Bay is a marine preserve and considered one of the best diving spots in the world.

Lanai is only 141 square miles

NIIHAU AND KAHOOLAWE

Niihau

Niihau is called “The Forbidden Isle”.

Niihau is the only island that is privately owned and is hoe to less than 230 people.

The island was originally purchased from King Kamehameha V by Elizabeth Sinclair in 1864 for $10,000. Since then descendents of Elizabeth, now known as the Robinson family, continue to live on the island.

No one can visit the island without express invitation from one of the Island′s residents.

Niihau is the only Hawaiian island where Hawaiian is the dominant spoken language.

Legends say that Niihau was the original home of the Goddess Pele.

Kahoolawe

The island of Kahoolawe was once used as a target by the United States Navy and Air Force.

Kahoolawe is the only Hawaiian island uninhabited.

THE BIG ISLAND

The Big Island of Hawaii is the largest of the Hawaiian Islands at 4,038 square miles. It is twice the size of all other Hawaiian Islands combined.

Kilauea is the world’s largest and most active volcano. It has been active with no prolonged periods of quiescence for over 600,000 years.

The largest contiguous ranch in the United States is Parker Ranch at 480,000 acres.

At 800,000 years old the Big Island is the youngest island.

Two of the tallest mountains in the Pacific reside on the Big Island – Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.

Most of the world’s macadamia nuts and orchids are grown on Hawaii.

Mauna Kea is the largest mountain in the world – measured from its base at the bottom of the ocean.

Hawaii is home to the world’s largest telescope and is home to more scientific observatories in one place than any where in the world.

Ka Lea is the southernmost point in the United States and has consistent 27 knot or approximately 32 mile per hour winds blowing 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.