The Hawaiian Islands


The entire Hawaiian archipelago is made up of thousands of sea floor lava flows which first broke through the surface of the Pacific Ocean before the origin of man, more than six million years ago. The peaks of a great volcanic submarine mountain range formed on the ocean floor gently moving into their present locations by the geophysical process called “plate tectonics”. Today we call the product of this miraculous creation, the eight populated islands of Hawaii. Provided with green mountain tops wreathed in clouds covering an area of 6,435 square miles, making Hawaii larger than any other Polynesian group, outside of New Zealand.

The islands of Hawaii are situated around 2800 miles from the coast of Mexico on the East and about 5000 miles from the shores of China on the West and around 2700 miles from Tahiti in the South. The eight main islands are Hawaii, Maui, , Kahoolawe, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai, and Niihau. They  are to some extent bounded by barrier reefs of coral and have a few harbors. Their formation is all together volcanic, and they possess the largest perpetually active volcano and the largest extinct crater in the world. The trade winds blow for 9 months out of the year, and on the windward coast there is an abundance of rain generating luscious vegetation. The climate is reputed as the finest on earth.

Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii is the highest peak in the Pacific Basin at 13, 796 feet. If you were to measure Mauna Kea from the floor of the Pacific Ocean, it would become the world’s loftiest mountain with a height of about 30,000 feet. Fertile lands with their well-constructed terraces, watered by a network of irrigation ditches and streams combined with the wealth of the sea creating a bounteous living for its inhabitants.


Exploration of the open seas were being plotted and mapped by the Europeans without going directly West into the vast Pacific Ocean. From 1529 to 1542, Ruy Lopez de Villalobos and Juan Gaetano sailed from Navidad, Mexico to Mindanao, Philippines. They mentioned that one group of these islands has been held by some to have been the Hawaiian Islands. The direction of exploration from East to East left the West to the “Terra Nullius Ignatia”, the unknown that is to be found. The complete mapping of the latitude and longitude of the whole globe was said to be completed by a Captain by the name of  James Cook. The transit of Venus, expected on June 3, 1769, aroused a great deal of interest in scientific circles, and as the newly discovered island of Tahiti in the south Pacific was held to be a favorable place for making scientific observations of the impending phenomenon.

In 1768, the British King George III had commissioned Captain James Cook to take scientists to observe the Venus Transit in Tahiti. Cook sailed into the Hawaiian Archipelago fronting the waters of Waimea, Kauai seeking to port for open trade. Navigation upon the sea was based on celestials leading the Polynesians to accomplish long legs as those from Marquesas and Tahiti. It was most likely that around this time Hawaii would have been just a place of trade not conquest. Up until the unification of the Hawaiian Islands by Kamehameha the Great before he died in 1819, there were four separate kingdoms. They each had their own international relationships with countries that frequented their islands. Each of the islands have remnants of temple ruins that explains the societal, political, and religious practices of the Hawaiians. They incorporated a ceremonial system designed to establish and preserve the right relationship between man and the unseen powers.

Earliest Inhabitants

Until the great thaw more than 20,000 years ago when the swelling seas rose, and land disappeared into new shorelines. The remote islands of Oceania were separated from each other by hundreds and frequently thousands of miles of blue Pacific. With improved sailing skills, the ocean movement among the Pacific was busier than ever. Sailors from Africa and the Middle East navigated into the Pacific Ocean experiencing the world of Polynesia all the way to the far corners of Hawaii.

The first island to be inhabited was Oahu, around 400 A.D. based on archaeological evidence found at a historical site at Waimanalo. The Polynesians were said to have sailed from Marquesas, learning about the winds, seasons, tides on both sides of the equator. They followed the signs of the moon, the milky way across thousands of miles of uncharted water. Long before reaching the shores of what we call today, the State of Hawaii. The first inhabitants of early Hawaii used a calendar based on the stages of the monthly moon and a yearly cycle that counted from the positions of Pleiades, they had no written alphabet and no metal. The four principal islands; Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai were once governed by separate kingdoms.

The essence of Aloha spirit is distinct to the people of the majestic islands Hawaii, the “Kanaka Maoli”, or commonly referred to as Native Hawaiian. The beautiful Polynesian people of the vast Pacific Ocean. The legal status in the authority of the lands and people of the Hawaiian Island chains are Mother Nature herself. With the sandy shorelines, green valleys, and rustic cliff sides of the Hawaiian Islands. And from the depths of the Pacific Ocean to the snowy tips of Mauna Kea, it is all the natural landscapes defining the true meaning of paradise.

Plantation Days

A century after Captain James Cook’s arrival in Hawaii, sugar plantations started to dominate the Hawaiian landscape. In 1835, William Hooper a young man from Boston transformed both the land and the native society in Koloa Town with the first successful sugar plantation in the Hawaiian Islands.  On September 12, 1836, he proudly listed his accomplishments: 25 acres of cane under cultivation, a mill dam, 20 houses for native workers, a sugar house, a home for the superintendent, a billing house, a blacksmith shop, and a sugar mill. Sixteen years after Hooper’s plantation opened, contract laborers from China arrived. The company employed about 3,500 immigrant workers. The company built 17 camps, which provided rent-free housing, water, electricity, and complimentary medical care to hundreds of immigrants from around the world.

Starting in the 1850s, labor shortages were eased by bringing in contract workers from Asia, Europe, and North America. There were three big waves of workforce immigration: Chinese 1852, Japanese 1885 and Filipinos 1905. Several smaller, but substantial, migrations also occurred: Portuguese 1877; Norwegians 1880; Germans 1881; Puerto Ricans 1900; Koreans 1902 and Spanish 1907. U.S. sugar companies promised these immigrant dreamers higher pay, decent living conditions and a new life. Sugar companies lured Japanese workers to Hawai‘i with the expectation that they would return to Japan with sizable savings within two years. In reality, most immigrants could not save enough to make the trip back to Japan. Hawai‘i became their permanent residence. Upon this realization, families quickly adapted and established strong ties within their camps to create a permanent home away from home.

The camps were self-sufficient, and resources, hours and pay were tightly controlled by plantation management. As their contracts expired, members of these ethnic groups either moved back to their home countries or moved to “plantation towns” and began mercantile businesses, boarding house bars, billiard dance halls, and movie theaters. This led to company towns with schools, churches, businesses, hospitals, and ball parks, all emerging as workers raised families on the plantations. The plantation provided the hierarchy of the social milieu while the students attending was represented the American middle class upholding values of hard work and upward mobility motivating the second-generation children from the 1930s to the present.

Although immigrants did not own their own homes or lots, the families were largely content with this economic support system. The kitchen, more specifically the kitchen table, was the center of the families’ activities.  In this area the family ate, children studied, and houseguests were entertained.  Standing against the wall was one of the most important pieces of furniture, the safe, a screened food cabinet.  The four legs of the safe were placed in sardine cans filled with kerosene to keep the insects out.  An “ice box” periodically replenished with blocks of ice, was considered a modern convenience.

Hawaii Today

Today’s communities throughout Hawaii are made up of neighborhoods of plantation era descendants. Most of the locals you find come from a mixture of all the ethnicities that made up the plantation camps of the plantation era, keeping history alive.

Hawaii has been called the most expensive place to live, and while there are many retirees living in Hawaii, it’s gotten more and more difficult to live there. With rising costs, crowded streets, and an increase in tourism, retiring in Hawaii may not be the paradise you thought it was. Hawaii is truly a paradise, but the cost of living in Hawaii overall is 86% higher than the national average, and the cost of housing in Hawaii is a jaw-dropping 207% above the national average.

Eventually, the plantation camps were torn down and converted to agricultural use as plantations struggled to get the maximum return from their acreage. For many of us condominium living is a new way of life. Each owner is entitled to complete use of his own condo as well as the outside facilities, but such use must not conflict with the rights of the other owners. Hence, certain standards for individual behavior are necessary to assure pleasant and harmonious community living.

A place where there is no need to get in a car and drive to a store and then go to work you can easily grow and propagate to stay home and sustain. Hawaii, one of the world’s most remote islands centered in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean.