7 Best Books on Hawaiian History (2024 Review)

Hawaii has a very interesting history. Also known as the Aloha State, Hawaii was initially annexed by the United States in 1898 to be used as a military base during the Spanish-American War, but was granted statehood and became the 50th state in the United States in August 1959 with its capital at Honolulu.

Hawaii and New Zealand and Easter Island make up the Polynesian Triangle, a group of three islands with similar languages, cultures, and traditions.

best books on hawaiian history

Best Books on Hawaiian History: Our Top Picks

If you want to know more about how Polynesians from Tahiti and the Marquesas settled in Hawaii in the 7th century, then you must read some of the best books on Hawaiian history that our team of expert book reviewers has put together in this article.

These select books will instruct you on the four distinct chiefdoms of Hawaii – Hawai’I, Maui, O’ahu, and Kaua’I; how the original Hawaiian society revolved around a royal, priestly, and slave caste system; how the people mistook British navigator Captain James Cook for the Sun god Lono on his arrival to the island in 1778, and about King Kamehameha 1 and his descendants.

1. Shoal of Time: A History of the Hawaiian Islands


This book tells the history of Hawaii as you’ve never heard it before. From the arrival of the first Polynesians to the Japanese Pearl Harbor bombing to the statehood of Hawaii in 1959, this book tells it all. It covers the times of the kings and queens of Hawaii up till the time the state became independent with its own constitution and government. 

Obtain a copy of Shoal of Time: A History of the Hawaiian Islands and feel transported into the Aloha State.

  • Author(s): Gavan Daws  
  • Publisher: University of Hawaii Press  
  • Current Edition: Paperback (June, 1974) 
  • Pages: 512

2. Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii


Captive Paradise is the story of a distinct people living on distinct islands. It is the story and history of Hawaii and its people. It captures the rule of King Kamehameha 1 and the kings who descended from him as well as the last queen of Hawaii, Lili’uokalani.

It tells of the bloodshed and unification of the islands in Hawaii, and of the sugar plantations and coffee fields. It tells of the arrival of British navigator James Cook and the arrival of American Marines as well as the skirmishes that occurred there.

  • Author(s): James L. Haley  
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin  
  • Current Edition: Paperback, Reprint Edition (December, 2015) 
  • Pages: 464

3. The Great Book of Hawaii: The Crazy History of Hawaii with Amazing Random Facts & Trivia (A Trivia Nerds Guide to the History of the United States)


If you have always been interested in the history, pop culture, folklore, and sports of Hawaii among other things, then you may want to acquire a copy of The Great Book of Hawaii. This book provides deep answers to all the questions you may have regarding the last state to join the union of the United States. 

This book is recommended for you if you want to obtain answers to questions about how Hawaii derived its name, reasons for calling it the Aloha State, its ancient kings and queens, its first settlers, the local wars, and how it triggered the second World War, the sports the natives engage in and the movies that have been shot on the island. There’s so much to learn from having this book.

  • Author(s): Bill O’Neill  
  • Publisher: Independently Published   
  • Current Edition: Paperback (March, 2019) 
  • Pages: 183

4. Timeline Hawaii: An Illustrated Chronological History of the Islands


Timeline Hawaii is a Hawaiian book of history that details the founding and expansion of the islands of the Aloha State. This book tells the story of the kings and queens of Hawaii and the prominent men and women who shaped its history. It touches on the voyage and arrival of British navigator Captain James Cook and how his arrival nearly obliterated the native cultures of the people.

Containing more than 300 color photos, factual dates, names of prominent natives, and a timeline of the state’s history, this is actually the book you have been waiting for to more about Hawaii.

  • Author(s): Daniel Harrington and Bennett Hymer  
  • Publisher: Mutual Pub Co.  
  • Current Edition: Paperback, 1st Edition (March, 2013) 
  • Pages: 224

5. Ancient Hawaii: A Captivating Guide to Hawaiian Human History, Starting from the Polynesian Arrival through the Growth of a Civilization to Kamehameha the Great


This fascinating book is all about ancient Hawaii and how it became and fared as an independent state within the United States. This book takes the reader from 400 CE which is about 1,500 years ago to present Hawaii. It tells how the Polynesians settled on the islands, how their civilization started, their native life in the most isolated place on Earth, their native gods and how the people eventually became a part of the United States of America.

Filled with historical facts and references, this covers the people and islands of the nation within the Pacific Ocean.

  • Author(s): Captivating History  
  • Publisher: Captivating History  
  • Current Edition: Paperback (February, 2022) 
  • Pages: 116

6. Hawaiian History: A Captivating Guide to the History of the Big Island, Starting From Ancient Hawaii to the Present (The History of U.S. States)


This book centers on the history of Hawaii and the lives of its ancient people in prehistoric times. It reveals how Polynesians sailed 2,500 miles of ocean to settle there and the mythology of the people after settlers became a nation. You will gain insights into the leaders, heroes, and legends that shaped the destiny of this nation and even the role of President McKinley in annexing the islands for the United States.

  • Author(s): Captivating History  
  • Publisher: Captivating History  
  • Current Edition: Paperback (February, 2022) 
  • Pages: 264

7. History of Hawaii: A Captivating Guide to Hawaiian History (U.S. States)


Hawaii is not just called the Aloha State or the beach island paradise for nothing; these descriptions are rooted in the history and development of the nation. History of Hawaii completes the picture and fills you in on how Polynesians sailed the Pacific Ocean to reach the most isolated archipelago in the world, as well as the tribal wars and contact with Europeans. 

According to the team of authors that wrote this captivating history of Hawaii, “despite the global presence of their name and influence, the history of Hawaii remains fairly unknown to most, a problem that this book seeks to remedy.” This great resource is recommended to all lovers of Hawaii and everyone interested in visiting one day.  

  • Author(s): Captivating History  
  • Publisher: Captivating History  
  • Current Edition: Paperback (January, 2022) 
  • Pages: 156