With winter officially behind us and spring working its way into full bloom, it is once again time to plan your summer getaway. Your family could take a trip to Washington, D.C. to visit the museums and see the nation’s capitol, or head overseas for the chance to be steeped in Europe’s historical sites. If you’re interested in taking a vacation where you can learn some history, there’s no need to go all the way to Europe. Hawai’i has a unique history all its own, a gorgeous tropical landscape, a friendly culture, and you don’t need a passport to get there.
How many of the United States can claim they were once ruled by a king? Hawaii was once its own kingdom, complete with its own culture, its own cuisine, and its own style. The belt of islands were originally settled by Polynesian tribes who allowed the land to develop naturally, letting the rich, wild vegetation flourish.
In 1778, English explorer Captain James Cook dropped anchor in Hawaii and set out to explore. On this first visit, Captain Cook and his men were welcomed, and the crew traded goods with the island natives. Later visits were not as successful, however, and a group of the English explorers were attacked at Kealakekua Bay. Cook, along with several of his men, were killed. You can take a cruise along the Kona Coast to visit the Captain’s monument and learn more about this part of the island’s history.
The first to rule Hawaii was Kamehameha I. The kingdom as we know it, today, was founded in 1795 after Kamehameha defeated his rivals in the civil uprising that took place on the island. Kamehameha’s reign marked the first in a long list of monarchs in Hawaii. After visiting Captain Cook’s monument, try checking out Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site. The site is a temple of worship for the god of war that Kamehameha ordered built as tribute to seek aid in his efforts to unite the islands of Hawaii.
Hawaii continued as its own monarchy up until the late 19th century. Queen Lili’uokalani abdicated the throne in 1893 in order to keep the peace, to prevent war and upheaval in her land, and to transition into the governance of the United States to which Hawaii was annexed in 1898.
Even after Queen Lili’uokalani stepped down as queen, Hawaii did not officially become the 50th state until after the end of World War II. It was the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese military that drove the United States government and military to turn the beautiful tropical getaway into a base of operation to help further the efforts being made to stop the war. Pearl Harbor is quite easily one of the best known memorial sites on the collection of islands. There are guided tours and museums that offer a better understanding of what happened on December 7, 1941.
Instead of the same hum drum vacation to a summer home, take your family to Hawaii and visit the beaches, catch some sun, and pick up some more history of one of the most unique and beautiful states in the country. From Polynesian settlers to ruling monarchs, from ancient temples to WWII sites, there is something to grab everyone’s interest in beautiful Hawaii.