The BIG Islands
Measuring in at just under 11,000 square miles, Hawaii is one of the smallest U.S. states. But we make the most of our tiny footprint. We boast big waves, a big culture, and some of the biggest attractions around. Here’s a sampling of can’t-miss destinations that will leave you wondering if, after all, everything is bigger in Hawaii.
The World’s Biggest Collection of Pacific Artifacts
In the course of its illustrious, 120-year history, Honolulu’s Bishop Museum has acquired more than 25 million artifacts relating to the natural and human history of the Pacific Islands. The museum houses an impressive collection of natural history specimens and more than 77,000 cultural objects relating to more than 60 islands. Few other museums offer such a comprehensive portrait of a cultural and geographical region, and it’s well worth a visit while you’re in town.
The World’s Biggest City
Speaking of being in town, you might be in Honolulu right now—even if you didn’t know it. That’s because Hawaii’s constitution has a little-known quirk that makes Honolulu the largest city in the world … technically. Our constitution states that any island not assigned to a county is treated as if it’s part of Honolulu. That would make Honolulu’s border a whopping 1,500 miles long, or about half the width of the continental United States.
Technicalities aside, Honolulu is still quite large. Even by more standard measurements, it is the 11th largest metro area in the entire United States.
The West’s Biggest Collection of Buddhist Temples
Well, one of them, at least. Due to its proximity to Asia, Hawaii has drawn a sizeable Buddhist population over the years, resulting in more than 30 Buddhist temples being constructed across the islands. One of the most stunning examples is the Byodo-In Temple, Oahu’s full-scale replica of a 900-year-old temple located in Kyoto, Japan.
Closer to Honolulu, you’ll find the Mu Ryang Sa Temple, a peaceful retreat perched on a verdant mountainside.
The World’s Biggest Active Volcano
Mauna Kea soars more than two miles above sea level and more than five miles above the ocean floor, making it the planet’s largest active volcano. It’s also Hawaii’s highest peak and the second-highest point of any island on Earth, with only New Guinea’s Puncak Jaya beating it out for the top spot.
By “active,” we don’t really mean “erupting.” According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Manua Kea hasn’t erupted for about 4,500 years. Although it’s still connected to its lava supply and therefore bound to go off again, Manua Kea isn’t likely to erupt within the lifetime of anyone living today. We hope.
Written by Chris, a local expert guide for Waikiki Crawling. A historian on the lam from the world of academia, Chris enjoys gardening, hiking, and playing at open mic nights after one too many beers. Want to learn more about Honolulu’s hidden history? Join us on an Aloha Pub Crawl!