A popular tourist destination for many, thanks to its beautiful scenery, friendly people, and gorgeous cuisine, Hawaii is one of the most traveled countries in the world.
Especially popular for Americans residing on the Pacific coast, Hawaii offers an escape from the mainland United States, providing a tropical paradise right on their doorstep. But just how far away is Hawaii from California, and when did it become so popular?
California To Hawaii: Time & Distance
Particularly popular as a vacation destination for Californians, Hawaii is a relatively short plane journey away, taking only 5.5 to 6 hours to travel 2,480 miles from Los International Airport to Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu – the main airline hub for the Hawaiian islands.
Hawaii As A Tourist Destination
In modern times, it could be said that Hawaii is considered one of the most sought after vacation destinations for people all around the world.
Considered a romantic hotspot for couples and newlyweds, Hawaii is also a great location for extreme sports like surfing, a good spot for swimming and snorkeling, and the home of some of the best beaches on planet Earth.
The majority of what is considered to be Hawaiian cuisine is fusion food, formed over time thanks to the continual immigration of foreigners into the islands.
There is a heavy Asian influence on Hawaiian food, due in part to the proximity of Polynesia to Japan and southeast Asia. Other influences include American food, Filipino food, Chinese food, Korean food, Puerto Rican food, and Portuguese food.
However, many indigenous elements remain popular, important parts of the Hawaiian diet, including poi (a local starch made from taro), and fruits such as pineapples, which serve a wide purpose in the country’s cuisine.
Within Hawaiian mythology, there are four main deities that natives have traditionally worshiped – namely Kane (the creator and the giver of life), Lono (the god of rainfall, agriculture, fertility, music, and peace), Ku (the god of strength, war, and healing), and Kanaloa (the god of the underworld, amongst other things).
As previously mentioned, the Hawaiian islands are perhaps best known for surfing, which is the national sport of the country.
The native Hawaiians have a long and storied history with the surfboard, once a larger, heavier piece of equipment used for travel, hunting, and fishing, and eventually becoming a popular pastime and worldwide phenomenon.
Since the increase of American tourism, baseball, college football, golf, and even mixed martial arts have all become popular sports practiced throughout the Hawaiian islands.
Hawaii has long had its own indigenous music, beginning with traditional Hawaiian folk music, and extending in the modern era to popular music, and a budding Hawaiian hip hop scene – which remains incredibly popular amongst the younger generations in the country.
Hawaii & European Settlers: A History
Hawaii has had a complex history with outside influence.
Ever since the first European explorer – Captain James Cook – discovered the islands in 1778.
Spanish explorers are also thought to have arrived some two hundred years prior to Cook, but the specific reports from the time are muddied with inconsistencies – making it unclear whether they described the Hawaiian or Marshall Islands.
Early European Visitors
With the discovery by Cook, and the subsequent publishing of several books, papers, and maps regarding the Hawaiian islands, this saw an influx of traders, merchants, and even whalers travel to the region, using it as a port for storing resources, and a valuable trading location.
This ultimately led to the reduction of the native Hawaiian population, as they had no immunity to European diseases such as smallpox, influenza, and measles – all of which soon became rampant.
Early Asian Visitors
It is thought that the first Chinese visitors to the islands came with Captain Cook’s voyage in 1778, and was followed by several waves of settlers, traders, and merchants in the mid 1800s – something that is highly attributed with the arrival of leprosy, something else that proved detrimental to the Hawaiian people.
Since Hawaii’s statehood in 1959, the main economic source in the country has been foreign tourism (representing ¼ of the economy), following on from the previous industries of sandalwood harvesting, whaling, sugarcane plantations, and pineapple plantations.
Hawaiian Tourism: The Impact
Despite foreign tourism representing a significant part of Hawaii’s economy, there are many native Hawaiians who resent the negative effects that tourism has.
One major complaint is the continual commodification of Hawaiian culture by American companies, who seek to promote an idea of ‘escapism’ built off the back of Hawaiian struggle and exploitation.
Many critics of the tourism industry describe how to many Americans, Hawaii is only seen as a vacation destination for Americans, as opposed to a valid, respected country in its own right.
Hawaiian scholar Haunani-Kay Trask describes this commodification as cultural ‘prostitution’, suggesting how American corporations have stolen and marketed sacred Hawaiian cultural traditions as a product to be sold to the American public.
There are also frequent complaints of cultural appropriation from some critics, who describe cultural traditions like the hula, the luau, and the image of the Hawaiian grass skirt as having been widely commodified and sold to white westerners – with the latter in particular going from being a sacred traditional dress, to a novelty costume.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about traveling from California to Hawaii, the indigenous culture of the islands, and the effect that foreign tourism has had on the country’s cultural landscape.
It’s true that Hawaii is a beautiful country, with much to offer in terms of culture, cuisine, geography, and spiritualism, but it is worth pointing out that, with all of these things Hawaii has given us, we must in turn meet them with the respect and honor they deserve as a proud, community minded, welcoming people.