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Hawaii really is “the most”

Hawaii is an archipelago of extremes and superlatives, if we are going with Merriam-Webster’s definition of “superlative”: denotes an extreme or unsurpassed level or extent. Yes, the beaches of the Aloha State are routinely declared “best in the world” by various travel industry publications. We certainly don’t disagree. But Hawaii really is the “most” by objective scientific metrics. Let’s take a look at a couple of them.

The population here is somewhere around 1.6 million souls. Honolulu, with a population over 1 million, is the most remote city in the world with a population over 500,000. Tristan da Cunha, located 1,740 miles from South Africa, is actually the most remote inhabited island in the world. Its population in 2021 was listed as 245 people. A technicality. There are lots of ways to parse Hawaii’s remoteness. We’ll leave it at that.

The “most” remote archipelago on earth? Not quite, but close.

Hawaii is also home to the “wettest city in the United States” according to weather.com: Hilo on Hawaii Island. That may come as a surprise, even to lifetime residents who have grown up knowing Mount Waiale’ale on Kauai as the “wettest spot on Earth”. It’s a dubious claim, as the peak actually ranks 5th in annual rainfall, with locations in India, New Zealand, and Columbia being the only places on Earth with a higher annual rainfall average. But what’s the difference? Mount Waiale’ale is without question the wettest place in the United States.

Kauai, near “the wettest spot on Earth”, Mount Waiale’ale.

Hawaii is also regarded as the “extinction capitol of the world”. Of 1,653 species in the United States listed as endangered or threatened, Hawaii is home to 501 of them. The most in the world. According to the American Bird Conservancy, 95 of 142 species found only in Hawaii are now extinct. It’s certainly not something to be proud of, but it is a good reason for Hawaii visitors to take special care to respect what remains of Hawaii’s native and natural spaces.

Endangered native i’iwi bird.

For all of the “best beaches”, “best food”, “best sunsets” and other such claims, there are also designations of being Hawaii being the “worst”. Worst state to drive in. Worst place to start a business. Among the worst in education in the US. It goes on and on. Frankly, it’s a drag to think about it. Let’s move on.

“Best sunsets”? Sure, we’ll buy that.

While Hawaii can be measured objectively as “best” or “worst” or as having the “most” of something, we prefer to approach the matter subjectively. And we encourage Hawaii visitors to do the same. As a lifelong resident of Hawaii (minus a few years on the road with a rock and roll band) and someone who has traveled fairly extensively, I’m happy to offer my subjective opinion:

Hawaii has the best beaches in the world. Hawaii has more rainbows than anywhere I’ve been in the world. Hawaii has the best surf in the world. Hawaii has the best seafood in the world. Hawaii has, as one famous local meteorologist likes to say, “the best weather on the planet.” Can that be proved? Maybe not. But it can’t be disproved, either.

“Best nature”? We’ll buy that, too.

Forget about Hawaii being the “most” or “best” or “worst” of anything. If you are planning a Hawaii vacation, the only thing you should be concerned about is making the most of it. There’s a reason Hawaii has the highest life expectancy in the United States.

Posted by: Jamie Winpenny