Hawaii Fact 14 of 50: Another Name for the Hawaiian Islands

When British explorer Captain James Cook stumbled upon the islands of Hawaii in 1778, he dubbed them the Sandwich Islands to honor his sponsor, the Earl of Sandwich. (I have to wonder if the Earl of Panini was jealous. 🙂 )

I found this exceptionally well researched paper on the history of Hawaii’s name change. (Do take a few minutes to read the paper. It’s excellent!) Here’s an excerpt,

Captain James Cook’s name for the Hawaiian Islands, the Sandwich Islands, was widely accepted and commonly used by foreigners and foreign governments for well over fifty years after his arrival.

As you might imagine, the name Sandwich Islands was not popular with Hawaiians. I found it interesting to learn that Americans weren’t too pleased with the name either. Americans aided Hawaiians in reclaiming their rightful name of the islands.

  1. The Sandwich Islands?!? Is that because Hawaii reminds ANYONE of a little medieval village in the County Kent? Oh, silly British explorers…how very often you missed the mark.

    We’ve just returned from Jamaica, where the counties have names like Cornwall and Middlesex, and the 14 island “parishes,” or sections, have names like Saint Ann, Westmoreland and Manchester. Brilliant…Goes just perfectly with the jungly hillsides, coconut palms and descendants of West African slaves.

    Hawaiians would get the irony immediately.

  2. “As you might imagine, the name Sandwich Islands was not popular with Hawaiians”

    I’ll bet!

    That makes me wonder… Did they call residents of the Sandwich Islands back then anyway?


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