Why Does Hawaii Celebrate Prince Kuhio Day?

Prince Kuhio Day
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Prince Kuhio Day is a state holiday in Hawaii, but do you know why this person is so important and why the holiday exists? Let’s talk all about this fascinating historical figure and the many ways he influenced modern-day Hawaii. 

Who Was Prince Kuhio

Prince Kuhio is most famous for spearheading the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. This set aside ​​200,000 acres of land for Native Hawaiian homesteads.

He served as a non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives for 20 years, sponsored the first bill for Hawaii statehood, and created the Hawaiian Civic Club. 

His Life & Career

Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole was the grandson of Kauai’s last king. He was born on Kauai in 1871 and later named a prince by his uncle Kalākaua, the last king of the Hawaiian kingdom. 

Kuhio spent his early years in Honolulu and then went to college in California, where he’s credited with introducing surfing to America. He also attended agriculture college in England and spent time in Japan. In his travels abroad, he received the royal treatment. To this day, his holiday, Prince Kuhio Day, still honors him as an Hawaiian aliʻi, or royal.  

When the Hawaiian Kingdom was overthrown in 1893, Kuhio joined the resistance and attempted to restore the monarchy. He was unsuccessful and served a year in prison for charges of treason. 

Once released, he married and traveled abroad, spending time in Europe and Africa. 

He returned to Hawaii in 1902 and served as a non-voting delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives until he died in 1922. 

a statue of prince kuhio
The Prince Kuhio statue is in Waikiki on Oahu, near Kuhio Beach.

Prince Kuhio Day: The Holiday

In 1949, Prince Kuhio Day became an official Hawaii state holiday. It’s celebrated on his birthday, March 26, and aims to honor his legacy and work for Native Hawaiian rights. 

Many state offices and businesses close on the holiday, and there are several celebrations throughout the state to honor the influential figure. You may see parades, gatherings, festivals, and special presentations happening in the days around Prince Kuhio Day. 

There are also special services at Oahu’s Royal Mausoleum, Prince Kuhio’s burial site.

What does that mean for your vacation? 

You’ll need to review your itinerary and make sure you’re not planning to patronize a business that will be closed that day. That would mostly be government buildings, banks, and schools, though. 

Also, transportation services will run on a holiday schedule for Prince Kuhio Day. So, if you’re planning to take TheBus anywhere, you’ll need to be aware.

It also means you may discover a fun festival that only happens once per year. Many celebrations will feature food vendors, hula and music performances, and art displays. 

Hawaii activities booked through Hawaii Aloha Travel, such as ziplining, hiking tours, and Whale Watching tours, will run as scheduled unless your tour professional contacts you.

If you happen to be in Hawaii during Prince Kuhio Day, it’s important to know about the man it honors. And, that goes for all the Hawaii holidays — part of respecting the Hawaii culture is learning about the influential people in its history.