How many islands in hawaii?

HotbotBy HotBotUpdated: June 27, 2024

Hawaii, the 50th state of the United States, is an archipelago located in the central Pacific Ocean. It is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, diverse ecosystems, and rich cultural heritage. But how many islands make up this tropical paradise? The answer is more intricate than one might think.

The Main Hawaiian Islands

The Hawaiian archipelago consists of eight main islands, which are most often associated with the state. These islands are:

Hawaii (The Big Island)

The island of Hawaii, often referred to as the Big Island to avoid confusion with the state's name, is the largest and the youngest island in the chain. It's famous for its diverse climate zones, active volcanoes like Mauna Loa and Kilauea, and lush landscapes.


Known as the "Valley Isle," Maui is beloved for its beautiful beaches, the scenic Hana Highway, and the dormant Haleakalā volcano. It's a popular destination for tourists seeking outdoor adventures and luxury resorts.


Home to the state capital, Honolulu, and the world-famous Waikiki Beach, Oahu is the most populous island. It offers a mix of urban and natural attractions, including Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, and the North Shore's surfing beaches.


Nicknamed the "Garden Isle," Kauai is the oldest of the main islands and is known for its lush, tropical landscapes, dramatic cliffs of the Na Pali Coast, and the expansive Waimea Canyon.


Molokai is often referred to as the "Friendly Isle." It offers a slower pace of life, with a strong sense of traditional Hawaiian culture. Highlights include the historic Kalaupapa National Historical Park and the lush Halawa Valley.


Once known as the "Pineapple Island" due to its history of pineapple plantations, Lanai is now a destination for luxury and seclusion. It features pristine beaches, rugged landscapes, and the exclusive Sensei Lanai resort.


Niihau, also called the "Forbidden Isle," is privately owned and access is highly restricted. It's inhabited by Native Hawaiians who live a traditional lifestyle, largely isolated from modern influences.


The smallest of the main islands, Kahoolawe is uninhabited and was once used as a military training ground. Efforts are currently underway to restore its natural environment.

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

Beyond the main eight, the Hawaiian archipelago extends into a series of smaller, mostly uninhabited islands and atolls known as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. These islands stretch over 1,200 miles and include:


Nihoa, also known as Bird Island, is the tallest of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and features steep cliffs and a rich population of seabirds.

Necker Island (Mokumanamana)

Necker Island is smaller and lower than Nihoa but holds significant cultural importance due to its numerous ancient Hawaiian religious sites.

French Frigate Shoals

This is a large atoll encompassing several small islands and islets. It's a critical habitat for the endangered Hawaiian monk seal and green sea turtles.

Gardner Pinnacles

These are two small rocky islets surrounded by extensive coral reefs, providing important breeding grounds for seabirds.

Maro Reef

Maro Reef is a complex network of reefs and sandbars, noted for its biodiversity, particularly in marine life.

Laysan Island

Laysan is a low, sandy island with a central lake, home to unique species like Laysan duck and Laysan finch.

Lisianski Island

Similar to Laysan, Lisianski is also a low, sandy island supporting diverse bird populations.

Pearl and Hermes Atoll

This atoll comprises several small islands and islets, named after two English whaling ships. It's another crucial habitat for marine and bird life.

Midway Atoll

Midway Atoll is famous for its World War II history and is now a National Wildlife Refuge, hosting millions of seabirds.

Kure Atoll

The northernmost atoll of the Hawaiian chain, Kure is an important ecological site managed by the Hawaiian Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

Other Lesser-Known Islands and Islets

In addition to the well-known islands, Hawaii includes numerous smaller islets, rocks, and submerged reefs. Some of these include:


Molokini is a crescent-shaped volcanic crater off the coast of Maui, popular for snorkeling and diving due to its clear waters and abundant marine life.


Lehua is a small, uninhabited islet near Niihau, noted for its bird populations and rugged cliffs.


Kaula is a small, rocky islet used for military training and known for its seabird colonies.

Counting the Islands

So, how many islands are there in total? The exact number can be elusive because it depends on what one considers an "island." If we count every landmass, including islets and rocks, the Hawaiian archipelago consists of over 130 islands. This number encompasses everything from the large, inhabited islands to tiny, often overlooked islets.

The Hawaiian Islands offer a rich tapestry of natural beauty, culture, and history, from the well-trodden paths of Oahu and Maui to the remote and untouched corners of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Each island, regardless of size, contributes to the unique mosaic that is Hawaii, inviting exploration, wonder, and respect for its diverse ecosystems and cultural heritage.

The islands of Hawaii, known and unknown, tell a story that stretches across time and space, waiting for each visitor to discover their own piece of paradise amidst the waves.

Related Questions

Where is hawaii located?

Hawaii, an archipelago comprising 137 islands, is located in the central Pacific Ocean. It is situated about 2,400 miles southwest of California, USA, and approximately 3,850 miles southeast of Japan. The geographic coordinates of Hawaii are approximately 20.7967° N latitude and 156.3319° W longitude, placing it in the Northern Hemisphere and within the Pacific Ocean's vast expanse.

Ask Hotbot: Where is hawaii located?

Where to go in hawaii?

Hawaii, the tropical paradise of the Pacific, is a dream destination for many travelers. With its stunning beaches, lush landscapes, and rich cultural heritage, it's no wonder that Hawaii is a top choice for vacations. Whether you're seeking adventure, relaxation, or a mix of both, Hawaii has something to offer. Below, we explore some of the best places to visit on the major islands of Hawaii.

Ask Hotbot: Where to go in hawaii?

When did hawaii become a state?

Hawaii's journey to statehood is a tale rich with historical significance and cultural transformation. The islands were originally settled by Polynesians around 1,500 years ago, forming a complex society with a unique set of traditions and governance. European contact began in 1778 when British explorer Captain James Cook arrived, forever altering the islands' trajectory.

Ask Hotbot: When did hawaii become a state?

What to do in hawaii?

Hawaii is a unique archipelago with six main islands, each offering distinct experiences. The primary islands include Oahu, Maui, Kauai, the Big Island (Hawaii Island), Lanai, and Molokai. Each island has its own special charm, attractions, and activities, making Hawaii a versatile destination for all kinds of travelers.

Ask Hotbot: What to do in hawaii?