American’s (and almost everyone around the globe) already know that the Fourth of July is the day to celebrate our independence from the British monarchy. Although Congress signed and agreed upon this just two days prior, it was officially announced on July 4, 1776. From that day forward, the 13 original colonies were no longer under the rule of Great Britain and its people were now able to live as free, united, independent states. However, in Hawai’i, this day of independence is 3-fold.
Here’s why July 4th may be even more meaningful to the beautiful isles.
In 1776, the islands of Hawai’i were not yet established as part of the union. In fact, during this time, Hawaiians were not modernized at all – at least not in the way the rest of the world was developing. They were separated and isolated, living through fear and prosecution for things that now seem completely absurd (like when women would be put to death for eating a coconut or banana)! There was no clay pottery, no written language, and only scraps washed ashore were available to help them during their day-to-day lives. Human rights? What human rights? Both slavery and sacrifice were commonplace. War, famine, theft, and murder were everyday worries until the demise of Captain Cook when Kamehameha The Great embraced human rights and unity between the islands and their inhabitants.
Less than a century after King Kamehameha I passed, Hawaiians had embraced reading and writing, the Christian religion, human rights, private property rights, and a market economy. By 1893, a local militia of 1500 members replaced their own corrupt (and ineffective) monarchy with that of a republic. International recognition of the Republic accepted the revolution of 1893 as having been legal. It empowered the Republic as a member of the family of nations under international law. On July 4th, 1894, the Republic of Hawai’i was officially established by way of the Provisional Government when a constitutional convention was held. This convention publicly declared the formal establishment of the Republic of Hawaii, with Sanford B. Dole acting as President. However, Dole was the one and only president of Hawai’i, from 1894-1898.
Interestingly, although first resistant to the idea, eventually Queen Lili’uokalani abdicated and swore allegiance to the Republic of Hawaii. While under arrest (after relinquishing her throne), she wrote, "I hereby do fully and unequivocally admit and declare that the Government of the Republic of Hawaii is the only lawful Government of the Hawaiian Islands, and that the late Hawaiian monarchy is finally and forever ended and no longer of any legal or actual validity, force or effect whatsoever.”
Then, in early 1959, the people of Hawai’i had a 94% approval rate, stating “YES!” to statehood. In the Statehood Admission Act of 1959, it was determined that the United States government could not strip or impair the State of Hawaii from exercising full control over the lands returned to Hawaii by the United States. On August 21, 1959, President Eisenhower had issued Proclamation 3309 - "Admission of the State of Hawaii into the Union" published in the Federal Register at 54 F.R. 6865. On August 21, 1959, the President then issued the accompanying Executive Order 10834, "The Flag of the United States," published at F.R. 6868, which followed the tradition of naming the next July 4th as the date for official display of the new flag. On July 4th, 1960, the last star was displayed and flown proudly on the flag we see all over the world today. The State of Hawaii was official in every way legally possible.
The importance of July 4th and it’s three successes (1776, 1894, and 1960) is clearly worthy of its many celebrations. It’s also widely considered a good day to remember the inspirational first sentence written by Kamehameha III in his Declaration of the Rights of Man. Known as the profound and beautiful words which help heal the racial divisiveness now plaguing “Hawaii Nei” (“this beloved Hawai’i”), he wrote this eloquent preamble of the first Hawaii Constitution in 1840:
“Ua hana mai ke Akua i na lahuikanaka a pau i ke koko hookahi, e noho like lakou ma ka honua nei me ke kuikahi, a me ka pomaikai.”
Loosely translated to English, this beautiful sentiment means: “God has made of one blood all races of people to dwell on this Earth in unity and blessedness.”
Independence Day is a great time to be in Hawai’i, enjoying fireworks displays over the glorious Pacific Ocean and celebrating with friends, family, and the local community. Regardless of which island you’re visiting, start your month off with a bang with one of the many July 4th celebrations happening in the islands. Here’s where you can celebrate the 4th of July in Hawai’i, 2019:
Ala Moana Beach Park in Honolulu. One of the best fireworks shows in the country, this pyrotechnic show is accompanied by a synchronized soundtrack featuring popular songs from the past 60 years to celebrate Ala Moana Center’s 60th anniversary. Live entertainment begins at 12 p.m. and the Fireworks Spectacular starts at 8:30 pm.
Kailua Fireworks on Kailua Beach. This location is known for its spectacular Fourth of July fireworks display. For more than 60 years, the show has dazzled residents and visitors with a fireworks exhibition and twilight air show featuring aerobatic performances. This year, the community is adding a skydiving show at 6 p.m., followed by a fireworks display at 8 p.m.
Lahaina’s Independence Day celebration kicks off at 10 a.m. Stroll historic Lahaina and enjoy an old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration. A variety of bands will entertain throughout Lahaina during the day and a fireworks display will light up the night beginning at 8 p.m. from an offshore barge off of Front Street.
Kehaka Fireworks - This free annual fireworks show is held on the west side of the island in Kekaha. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. with cultural demonstrations, exhibits, crafts, Keiki activities, food and more. The spectacular fireworks show begins after dark for a full day of fun!
Kauai Hospice presents the biggest fireworks show on the island with their annual Concert in the Sky. The event takes place at Vidinha Stadium and includes live music, games for all ages and delicious food. Proceeds from the games all go to benefit Kauai Hospice.
Kona July 4th Parade & Fireworks over Kailua Bay - The 24th annual Kailua-Kona Fourth of July Parade begins at 6 p.m. Arrive early to score a great spot to watch the parade along Ali’i Drive. Fireworks over Kona’s Kailua Bay start at for 8 pm. For more information visit
Waikoloa Beach Resort July 4th Fireworks & Events - The King’s and Queen’s Shops at Waikoloa Beach Resort are hosting several family-friendly events for the Fourth of July holiday. Festivities at Kings’ Shops begins at 10 a.m. and carry on through 6 p.m. The 28th Annual Waikoloa Rubber Duckie Race, a fundraiser for the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Hawaii, starts at 3 p.m.
Queens’ MarketPlace hosts live entertainment, face painting, cotton candy and popcorn at the Coronation Pavillon starting at 2 pm.
The Waikoloa fireworks extravaganza at the Waikoloa Bowl is set for 8 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.
And last but not least - although there aren’t any fireworks - you can still enjoy some fun with the honu!
Turtle Independence Day Celebration at Mauna Lani Bay
Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows - Mauna Lani receives juvenile honu, Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, from Oahu’s Sea Life Park, and raises them in the hotel’s saltwater ponds. The honu is cared for until they are ready to be released into the wild. This release occurs every July 4th at the ocean’s edge fronting the hotel. This year, the honu will be gathered at 10:30 a.m. from the Honu Ponds and will be paraded to the beachfront for their release. There will be live entertainment, educational displays about Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles and 4th of July fare available for purchase. It is recommended guests arrive two hours early for parking.
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