Hawaii Fact 6 of 50: Hawaii Has 5 Counties

imageThough Hawaii is made up of eight major islands, the 50th State is organized into five different counties. The divisions and names might not be as intuitive as you might have guessed. Unless you are a Hawaii resident or a Hawaii nerd like me, you’ll probably find some interesting surprises.

While we’re looking at each county, I’ll link to the county’s Web site. I’d encourage you to have a look around the Web site for the county that you’ll be visiting. These resourceful Web sites will help you find useful information for your vacation such as:

  • information on county beach parks and their facilities
  • parks where you can play tennis
  • how to obtain a camping permit
  • public transport schedules and routes
  • Where to recycle

As we explore the counties of Hawaii, we’ll start North with Kauai and work our way South to Hawaii’s Big Island.

Niihau and Kauai islands are part of Kauai County. This Hawaii county has a population of 63,689 with almost all people residing on Kauai island. Here is the county’s official Web site.

The entire island of Oahu is Honolulu County. It is the most populated county with almost 905,034 residents, most live in the city of Honolulu. The official Honolulu county and city Web site is here.

image Maui County consists of four islands – Maui, Molokai (with the exception of the Kalaupapa peninsula), Lanai and Kahoolawe. These islands are also referred to as Maui Nui which means ‘Big Maui.” The population of Maui County is approximately 143,574 with most approximately 93% of Maui County residents living on the island of  Maui. The island of Molokai is home to approximately 7,000 resident while Lanai has around 3,000 residents. Here is the link to Maui County’s official Web site.

Kalawao County is the Kalaupapa peninsula of Molokai. It is by far Hawaii’s smallest county in size and population with only 117 residents.

The largest Hawaiian Island, Hawaii’s Big Island, is Hawaii County. In terms of land mass size, Hawaii County is bigger than all the other counties combined. Hawaii County’s population is approximately 175,784 people. Their official Web site is here.

Population statistics source: 2008 US Census Bureau

To see other posts in this series of 50 Facts about the 50th State, click this link for this growing collection.

  1. I knew about the four islands making up Maui County, but never heard of Kalawao County until just now.

    I always love learning new things about the islands.

    Great job with this new series.

  2. Thanks for the positive feedback on this series. For a while there, I was wondering if anybody was reading this new series or not. 🙂 Maybe people are catching up from the holiday, but good feedback is just starting to trickle in.

    It wasn’t until I started doing some research for this post this morning that I first learned about Kalawao County. Isn’t that kind of weird that Maui County is made up of those four islands, with the exception a tiny piece of Molokai?

  3. love this series, I am a Hawaii nerd as well so interested to learn things I didn’t know. What is the purpose I wonder of having the little piece of Molokai in a different county? Don’t worry, even if I don’t comment, always know I am definately reading and interested! :>)

  4. @ Janet – oh good, I’m glad you let me know you like the series.

    I’m not sure why that small area of Molokai is separated from the rest of the county. That’s a great question. I would guess that it probably has something to do with the Kalaupana Peninsula being the Hansen’s disease (leper) colony. Though the residents have all been cured, they have and continue to receive full federal funding.

    In case you aren’t familiar with the history of the Kalaupana Peninsula, see this post: https://www.govisithawaii.com/2008/02/07/a-brief-history-of-father-damien-and-the-kalaupapa-settlement-in-hawaii/

  5. Kalawao County. First I’ve heard of it. Makes sense when you consider how isolated the Kalaupapa settlement was for years. Excellent research!

    Interestingly Honolulu County is officially the City and County of Honolulu. So everyone who lives on Oahu technically lives in Honolulu.

  6. @ David – Yeah, the Kalaupapa settlement is still pretty isolated. The only ways you can get there is by a long hike or donkey ride or by plane or boat. To me that’s pretty fascinating.

    I think it’s funny to look at the list of county names matching with the island names….and then queue the record needle scratching sound….the island of Oahu is the county of Honolulu? Strange, huh?

  7. @ Rick – In some ways I agree it might be odd that the entire island is a county, but on another hand it does make sense — particularly when I consider that the islands are predominately populated along the coastal areas.

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