Happy Birthday Hawaii: Your Landmarks Mapped

Hawaii is one of the smallest of the United States and the most recent to join the union. Despite its size and age, there is a lot of history on this collection of islands thousands of miles from the rest of the US. With the state celebrating a birthday in August, we thought it made sense to look at some of its historical landmarks. Think of it like a sunny, beach vacation without the sun and with only photos of the beach. And the vacation will only last as long as it takes to read this post, unless you have a really good imagination.

View National Historic Landmarks of Hawaii in a full screen map

Honokohau beach with templeMany of the landmarks celebrate the heritage of Hawaii long before Captain Cook ever discovered the islands. For example, the beach in this photograph includes an ancient Hawaiian temple reconstructed at the Honokohau National Historic Landmark on the Big island of Hawaii. There are two other temples, or heiaus, to the North of Honokohau, including Mookini, which dates back over 1,500 years.

The Big Island has seven landmarks. In addition to the heiaus, there’s the final residence of Kamehameha I, who united the Hawaiian islands; an ancient quarry along the dormant volcano Mauna Kea; an early settlement that also stands as the southernmost place in the United States; and the remains of Keauhou Holua Slide, a toboggan-like course originally over 4,000 feet long, which was used by the nobles of ancient Hawaii.

By far the most landmarks are on the state’s most populous island. Oahu has 16 of the 33 National Historic Landmarks. Of those 16, more than half commemorate the Pearl Harbor attacks of December 7, 1941, which precipitated the US entry into World War II.

USS UtahBatchGeo’s grouping feature allows easy filtering to show exactly the data you want to see. Try this:

  1. In the lower left of the map, select Island from the drop-down
  2. Click O’ahu from the list of islands to show only the markers from that island
  3. Now select Area from the drop-down and the marker colors change to show the underlying data, which makes it easy to visually see how many sites are related to Pearl Harbor
  4. Finally, click Pearl Harbor to display only those markers associated with the 1941 attack

Most of these are bunched in the actual harbor, including the battleships sunk by Japanese weapons. Two of these are airfields the Japanese attacked first in order to gain air superiority. The other, way to the North of the island, is the first radar site used by the United States during wartime.

In addition to Oahu and the Big Island, another six are scattered around Maui and its nearby islands, plus three sites are on Kaua’i. Over half of the sites were registered on December 29, 1962, just over three years into Hawaii’s life as a state. The most recent was added in 2007, the home of Queen Liliʻuokalani, the last reigning monarch of the Hawaiian kingdom.

Keep your Hawaiian vacation going: in addition to these 33 National Historic Landmarks, Hawaii has two World Heritage Sites, and shows up on USA Today’s New Seven Wonders of the World.