Hawaii (S5.09)

Audio: Hawaii

In this episode of 80 Days: An Exploration Podcast, we’ll be talking about Hawaii, and specifically the Big Island of Hawaii. Which is also called Hawaii.

Hawaii is the southeasternmost of the Hawaiian Islands, which make up the US state of Hawaii. The island makes up 63% of the archipelago’s landmass, but only 13% of its total population. The island is the third largest island in Polynesia, behind the two main islands of New Zealand. With a total area of around 10,000 km2 (or 4,000 square miles), Hawaii is similar in size to the islands of Puerto Rico or Cyprus, or our old friend Gambia.   

With a rich history and culture, Hawaii and its sister islands flourished as ancient societies, developing unique religions and customs, that is until the arrival of one Captain James Cook. In 1779 the famous explorer made his second and final landing here, and would not make it off the island alive. By the end of the century, the islands came under the protection of the British Crown, and missionaries soon followed, changing island life forever. The 1800s brought modern developments and the consolidation of the Kingdom of Hawaii, but ended in the annexation of the territory by the United States, a controversial episode to this day. In 1959, Hawaii becomes the 50th State, now famous for tourism, spam and pineapples. Hawaii Island, also known simply as The Big Island, is today home to around 185,000 people, and due to ongoing volcanic activity, Hawaii is the only US state that is still growing.



Your hosts, as always, are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Dublin, Ireland, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Galway, Ireland. Our theme music and other stings come from Thomas O’Boyle @thatthomasfella. Thanks to Kuʻu Kauanoe one of the hosts of the Offshore Podcast from Honolulu Civil Beat, for speaking to us for this episode – you will hear clips from her interview throughout.


The city of Hilo in 1907

Some further reading material is provided below:

  • A great website for all things Big Island is Love Big Island, and is particularly useful for tourists wishing to visit, but also helped us with plenty of history.
  • Rethinking the Native Hawaiian Past By Kanalu G. Terry Young is available on Google Books.
  • For more on the Kapu system, see storymaps.com
  • Hawaii: The Aloha State By Robin Doak has a lot more on the process of annexation, which you can find on Google Books.
  • The Eisenhower Library has more on Hawaii’s journey to statehood, which you can find here.
  • Smithsonian Magazine has an excellent article on Liliʻuokalani, the Last Queen of Hawaiʻi.
  • The Stuff You Should Know episode on the annexation is available here. Thanks, Josh and Chuck!
  • Richard B Frank’s article in TIME, headlined How Hawaii’s Japanese Population Was Spared Internment During World War II was a key source for that section of the show.
  • For more on the totally not supervillian Starfish Prime, you can check out this article in Discover Magazine.
  • Hawaii Beef also has lots of info on cattle farming on the islands.
  • Finally, the season of the Offshore Podcast on race relations in Hawaii can be found here. It’s definitely worth a listen.

Check out that green sand!

The music used in this episode is as follows:

Thanks to all our patrons who support the show. We really appreciate your continued backing of us. If you want to join them, more information is available at www.patreon.com/80dayspodcast


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