Impossibly beautiful, incredibly remote, the land of dreams and fantasies, Hawai’i occupies a very unique place on planet Earth. We continue our exploration this week of more of the highlights which the 50th State, has declared as her most significant.
Last week we covered a few of the traditional things States like to spotlight, such as the State Motto, the State Flag, and the State Song, along with some distinctive things like the State Dance and Iolani Palace, the one and only (formerly Royal) palace in the USA.
This week, let’s jump right in with sports. Hawai’i claims a team sport and an iconic individual sport. If you have ever been here, longed to be here, or lived near the sea, you most probably can make a good guess at what they are.
Number 1 Most Unique Sport in Hawai’i is: SURFING!
YES! You probably guessed it – SURFING! The best thing we can do is share it with you in this YouTube video as words cannot describe how humongous the waves can be and how incredibly fearless the surfers in these islands are. Visitors can grab a board and head for the beaches with the beginner waves and have a blast surfing as well!
Number 1 Team Sport in Hawai’i: Outrigger Canoe Racing!
#1 Team Sport in Hawai’i – Outrigger Canoe Racing: Large outrigger canoes arrived in Hawai’i around 200 AD. Some canoes were large enough to carry 80 people plus the many essential items (edible plants, water, and animals) for the ancient Polynesians’ long journey to their new land. Outrigger canoe paddling and racing is called hei hei wa’a* and was practiced widely among the Hawaiian chiefs for sport and recreation. Today, there are more than 60 Canoe Clubs following traditional canoe protocols along with numerous regattas on every island.
- Outrigger Canoe with sail
- Fishermen in Waikiki
- Canoe Beach in Maui Today
- Outrigger Canoe Race Today
7 More Treasures Unique to Hawai’i
- State Flower – called Ma’o Hau Hele*: Until 1988, the state flower was the Hibiscus (of any color or variety). It was at that time, that the yellow Hibiscus officially became known as the state flower. The pure yellow Ma’o Hau Hele Hibiscus is found only in Hawai’i. It is extremely rare and grows on all the Hawaiian Islands. There are so few growing in the wild, that it is now considered endangered.
- State Bird – Nēnē Goose: Endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, the Nēnē rarely swim and have no predators so, they do not fly much or migrate. However, when you visit the Haleakalā National Park on Maui, you may see them flying around the Paliku end of the crater during mating season. Since they spend most of their time on the ground traversing through rugged, rocky terrain made of lava, their feet have adapted and are not completely webbed. Their toes are long and there is extra padding on the bottom. The plumage of male and female Nēnē is identical. Their black-capped heads and unusual neck markings make them very distinct and beautiful.
- Three State Mammals:
- Hawaiian Hoary Bat: is believed to be the only land mammal native to Hawai’i and is estimated to have arrived some 10,000 years ago. The Ōpe’ape’a* faithfully provides free pest control services to us all and has been elevated to state mammal to increase awareness of the environmental issues affecting its survival. They are quite small and fly at sunset. If you are lucky enough to see one, it will look like a bird flying quickly around the area to eat bugs in the air.
- Hawaiian Monk Seal: is one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world. They get their name from the folds in their skin that resembles a monk’s robe. You may see them and their cubs sleeping on the sand. There are “monk seal guards” around that layout a protective boundary so that visitors do not get too close. They need their rest, away from the predators in the ocean, so please don’t disturb them should you be lucky enough to see one sleeping on the beach!
- Hawai’i State Marine Mammal – The Humpback Whale: also endangered, they were common in oceans worldwide in the not too distant past. After being put on the endangered list, their population has started to increase. They winter in Hawai’i where they mate and have their babies and then, summer in Alaska. They don’t eat while they are here in Hawai’i as the clear water means very little food for them. Back in Alaska, they eat slowly all summer long while they raise their young, practice next year’s whale song, and prepare for their trip back to Hawai’i.
- State Insect: The Kamehameha Butterfly is one of two endemic species of butterflies in Hawai’i. It feeds and lays its eggs on native plants. It is found only in the Hawaiian Islands. Once abundant, it is noticeably decreasing in the wild due to loss of natural habitat – especially all the native plants they know as food and nesting spots.
- State Fish: Humuhumunukunukuapua’a: A species of reef triggerfish, the Hawaiian name is just as wild as the fish’s colors, starting with the top lip and teeth which are blue. This colorful fish can change colors to camouflage itself for protection and has a second spine to swim faster when in danger. It can even make grunting, pig-like noises when caught! Which explains why the word pua’a* is part of its name. The humuhumunukunukuapua’a can be an aggressive fish and will charge at snorkelers or divers if they get too close. So enjoy the striking colors of this State Fish but keep your distance.
- State Gem Stone – Black Ocean Coral: Hawai’i is a young land and due to the volcanic activity on the Big Island of Hawaii, the state is still growing! The land is so young, that except for peridot sand, it contains no gemstones or crystals. Our State Gem comes from the sea – the Black Coral! The black coral grows almost out of reach in the depths of Hawai’i’s ocean. There are over 200 black coral species with 15 found in Hawaiian waters. In nature, Hawai’i coral beds are used as habitats for many different fish species. Coral has been very abundant in certain deep-sea channels around the islands and is harvested and used in jewelry. Urban development and agriculture are the most significant threats to Hawaiian coral reefs because of runoff containing sediments, chemicals, and nutrients which are quite harmful to all species of living coral.
As we mentioned last week, Maui and each island have three things unique to each island, besides their name.
Here are 3 Things Maui Has Claimed as Her Own:
- Nickname – The Valley Isle*
- Color – ‘Ākala*
- Flower – Lokelani*
After surfing the big waves, paddling the outrigger canoes, and playing with the whales and other beautiful animals and insects, it’s time to say Aloha and Mahalo for joining us on this journey and experiencing the highlights unique to Hawai’i and Maui.
If you missed Part One, you can catch up HERE.
If you are heading to Maui and want to learn more about the treasures of our island home, VISIT US HERE, where you can peruse exceptional adventures designed especially for you and your family.
Writing and graphic creation by Sugandha Ferro Black
GLOSSARY* of Hawaiian Words
‘Ākala – the color pink
Hei hei wa’a – the sport of canoe racing
Kahalawai – The West Maui Mountains means: “holding house of water” and the home of Iao Valley
Lokelani – the pink Damask rose belonging to Maui
Ma’o Hau Hele – traveling/spreading yellow hibiscus, the state flower
Ōpe’ape’a – Hawaiian Hoary Bat
Pua’a – pig
Pulelehua – Kamehameha ButterflyThe Valley Isle – for the large valley between Maui’s two main mountains – Haleakalā on the east side and Kahalawai* on the west side.
*Please keep in mind that all Hawaiian Words have many meanings. The meanings we share here are the specific translations for the words as they pertain to this particular blog’s subject matter.