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The beautiful Hawaiian Islands are known for their stunning beaches, volcanoes, and vibrant culture. But did you know that Hawaii is actually home to quite a few cities as well? If you’re wondering exactly how many cities can be found in Hawaii, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: There are 5 incorporated cities in the state of Hawaii. These cities are Honolulu, Hilo, Kailua, Kaneohe, and Wailuku.

An Overview of Cities in Hawaii

Hawaii, the beautiful island state located in the Pacific Ocean, is known for its stunning beaches, lush landscapes, and vibrant culture. While it may be famous for its natural beauty, Hawaii is also home to several cities that offer a unique blend of tradition and modernity. Let’s take a closer look at some of the notable cities in this tropical paradise.

Honolulu – The Capital and Largest City

When it comes to cities in Hawaii, Honolulu takes the crown as both the capital and the largest city. Located on the island of Oahu, Honolulu is a bustling metropolis that offers a wide range of attractions and activities. From the iconic Waikiki Beach to the historic Pearl Harbor, there is no shortage of things to see and do in this vibrant city. Whether you’re looking for a taste of Hawaiian cuisine, shopping opportunities, or a bustling nightlife, Honolulu has it all.

Hilo – The Big Island’s Main City

On the eastern coast of the Big Island, you’ll find Hilo, the main city and commercial center of Hawaii’s largest island. Hilo is known for its lush rainforests, beautiful waterfalls, and volcanic landscapes. One of the city’s highlights is the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where visitors can witness the power of nature up close. Hilo also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with various museums, art galleries, and traditional festivals that showcase the island’s history and traditions.

Kailua and Kaneohe – Windward Oahu Cities

Located on the windward side of Oahu, Kailua and Kaneohe are two charming cities that offer a more relaxed and laid-back atmosphere compared to the bustling Honolulu. Kailua is famous for its picturesque beaches, including the stunning Lanikai Beach, which is often hailed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Kaneohe, on the other hand, is known for its lush valleys, majestic mountains, and the scenic Kaneohe Bay. These cities are perfect for those seeking a quieter escape while still enjoying the beauty of Hawaii.

Wailuku – A Historic Maui City

Located on the island of Maui, Wailuku is a historic city that offers a glimpse into the island’s past. With its charming downtown area and beautifully preserved buildings, Wailuku is a delightful place to explore. The city is also home to various art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants, making it a cultural hub of Maui. From Wailuku, visitors can easily access other popular attractions on the island, such as the Road to Hana and Haleakala National Park.

These are just a few examples of the cities that make up the vibrant tapestry of Hawaii. Each city offers its own unique charm and attractions, contributing to the overall allure of this island paradise. So whether you’re planning a visit to Hawaii or simply intrigued by its cities, there’s no denying that this tropical state has something for everyone.

The Criteria for Being a Hawaiian City

Population Size

In order to be considered a city in Hawaii, there is no specific population requirement. However, most cities in Hawaii have a population of at least a few thousand residents. The largest city in Hawaii is Honolulu, which has a population of over 350,000 people. Other cities, such as Hilo and Kailua, also have significant populations. While smaller towns and villages exist throughout the islands, they may not meet the criteria to be classified as cities.

Government Structure

In addition to population size, a city in Hawaii must have a specific form of government. Most cities in Hawaii operate under a mayor-council system, where a mayor is elected to serve as the chief executive and a city council is responsible for passing laws and making decisions for the city. This ensures that there is a formal governing body in place to oversee the affairs of the city and provide essential services to its residents.

Infrastructure and Services

A city in Hawaii should also have a well-developed infrastructure and provide a range of services to its residents. This includes having paved roads, utilities such as water and electricity, public transportation options, schools, hospitals, and other essential facilities. These services are crucial for the city to function efficiently and meet the needs of its population.

Economic Activity

Economic activity is another important criterion for being considered a city in Hawaii. Cities typically have a diverse range of industries and businesses that contribute to the local economy. This can include tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, and services. Cities with a strong economic base are more likely to provide employment opportunities and attract residents and visitors alike.

It’s important to note that Hawaii is unique in its geographic and cultural makeup, and the criteria for being a city may differ from other states. If you’re interested in learning more about the cities in Hawaii, you can visit the official website of the State of Hawaii at This website provides valuable information about each city, including population data, government structure, and local services.

Other Major Towns and Places in Hawaii

While most people are familiar with the popular cities in Hawaii such as Honolulu and Hilo, the island state is home to several other major towns and places that offer unique experiences and attractions. Let’s take a closer look at a few of them:

Kahului – Maui’s Business Hub

Located on the island of Maui, Kahului is often referred to as the business hub of the island. It is home to the largest airport in Maui, the Kahului Airport, making it a popular entry point for visitors. Apart from its economic significance, Kahului also offers a range of attractions, including the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, where you can enjoy live performances and exhibitions. You can also explore the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, which showcases native Hawaiian plants and offers a peaceful escape from the bustling city life.

Lihue – Kauai’s Biggest Town

Lihue, located on the island of Kauai, is the largest town on the island. It serves as the commercial and government center of Kauai, offering a variety of amenities and services. One of the notable attractions in Lihue is the Kilohana Plantation, where you can take a train ride through the plantation and learn about its history. The town is also home to the Kauai Museum, which provides valuable insights into the island’s culture and heritage. Lihue is a great place to base yourself while exploring the stunning natural beauty of Kauai, including the nearby Wailua Falls and the Kalapaki Beach.

Waipahu – A Suburban Oahu Community

Located on the island of Oahu, Waipahu is a suburban community that offers a mix of residential and commercial areas. It is known for its diverse population and rich history, with many plantation workers and immigrants settling in the area. Waipahu is home to several shopping centers, including the popular Waikele Premium Outlets, where you can find great deals on designer brands. The community is also home to the Hawaii Plantation Village, an open-air museum that showcases the history and culture of the sugar plantation era. If you’re looking for a taste of authentic local cuisine, Waipahu is also known for its delicious plate lunches and local food establishments.

Exploring these lesser-known towns and places in Hawaii can provide a deeper understanding of the island state’s diversity and unique characteristics. Whether you’re seeking cultural experiences, natural beauty, or a taste of local life, these destinations offer a wealth of opportunities for exploration and discovery.

The Unique Nature of Cities in Hawaii

When it comes to cities, Hawaii has a unique and fascinating landscape. Unlike many other states in the United States, Hawaii doesn’t have traditional cities in the same sense as places like New York or Los Angeles. Instead, the Hawaiian islands are made up of smaller towns and communities, each with its own distinct character and charm.

The Concept of Cities in Hawaii

In Hawaii, the concept of a “city” is quite different from what you might be used to. The state is divided into five main counties, each with its own set of municipalities. These municipalities, often referred to as “cities,” are actually smaller towns or urban centers that serve as the hub for the surrounding areas. Some of the larger cities in Hawaii include Honolulu on the island of Oahu, Hilo on the Big Island, and Kahului on Maui.

While these cities may not have the sprawling skyscrapers or bustling streets you might expect, they still offer a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural experiences. From stunning beaches and lush tropical landscapes to vibrant local markets and traditional Hawaiian cuisine, each city in Hawaii has its own special attractions.

The Role of Tourism

One of the key factors that shape the cities in Hawaii is the role of tourism. With its pristine beaches, world-class resorts, and rich cultural heritage, Hawaii attracts millions of visitors each year. This influx of tourists has fueled the growth of the hospitality industry, with many cities in Hawaii catering to the needs of travelers.

City centers often feature a variety of accommodations, ranging from luxury hotels to vacation rentals and bed and breakfasts. They also boast a wide range of dining options, from local Hawaiian cuisine to international flavors. Tourists can explore the unique shops and boutiques, visit historical sites, and immerse themselves in the local culture.

The Spirit of Aloha

One thing that sets the cities in Hawaii apart is the spirit of aloha that permeates throughout each community. The concept of aloha goes beyond a simple greeting; it encompasses a way of life that values kindness, respect, and harmony with the natural world. This spirit can be felt in the warm smiles of the locals, the laid-back atmosphere, and the strong connection to the land and sea.

Whether you’re exploring the bustling streets of Honolulu or the charming towns of the other islands, you’ll find that the people of Hawaii embody the true meaning of aloha. Visitors are often welcomed with open arms, making their stay in the cities of Hawaii an unforgettable experience.

The Importance of Cities in Hawaiian History

When we think of Hawaii, we often picture stunning beaches, lush landscapes, and a vibrant culture. However, the history of Hawaii goes far beyond its natural beauty. Cities in Hawaii have played a crucial role in shaping the state’s identity and development over the years.

The Birth of Hawaiian Cities

Before the arrival of European explorers, the Hawaiian Islands were divided into chiefdoms, each with its own ruling chief and settlement. These settlements, known as ahupua’a, were self-sufficient communities that encompassed a range of environments from the mountains to the sea. Over time, as trade and population grew, these settlements evolved into more structured and organized cities.

Centers of Trade and Commerce

As Hawaii became a hub for trade between Asia, the Americas, and the Pacific, cities like Honolulu and Hilo emerged as important ports and centers of commerce. Honolulu, the capital and largest city of Hawaii, became a bustling hub for the sugar and pineapple industries, attracting immigrants from around the world. Today, it is a thriving cosmopolitan city with a rich blend of cultures.

Hilo, on the eastern side of the Big Island, has a history rooted in the sugar industry and is known for its deep-water port. It has also been an important center for education and government, serving as the county seat of Hawaii County. These cities have not only shaped Hawaii’s economy but also its cultural diversity and heritage.

Preserving Cultural Heritage

Hawaiian cities have also played a vital role in preserving the state’s cultural heritage. Places like Lahaina on Maui and Kailua-Kona on the Big Island are known for their historical significance and preservation of traditional Hawaiian culture. Lahaina was once the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii and was a major whaling port. Today, it is a charming town with historical sites, art galleries, and a vibrant waterfront.

Kailua-Kona, on the other hand, is famous for its connection to Hawaiian royalty and its association with the legendary King Kamehameha I. The city is home to historical landmarks, such as Hulihee Palace and Ahuena Heiau, which offer a glimpse into Hawaii’s past.

Aloha Spirit in Urban Centers

While the natural beauty of Hawaii is undoubtedly breathtaking, it is the warmth and hospitality of its people that truly make the cities special. The concept of “aloha spirit” is deeply ingrained in Hawaiian culture, and it can be felt in the urban centers as much as in the rural areas.

Whether you’re exploring the vibrant streets of Waikiki in Honolulu or strolling through the charming town of Hanapepe on Kauai, you’ll likely encounter friendly locals who are eager to share their love for their home. The cities in Hawaii are not just concrete jungles; they are vibrant communities that embody the spirit of aloha.


So in summary, there are 5 official incorporated cities in the Hawaiian Islands today. However, Hawaii is home to many more major towns and communities that each contribute to the state’s vibrant culture and local way of life. Exploring the unique cities, towns, and places across Hawaii’s islands provides a fascinating glimpse into the diversity of the Aloha State.

We hope this overview gave you a comprehensive answer to the question of how many cities there are in Hawaii. The island state may not have a huge number of official cities, but it certainly has no shortage of iconic and beloved communities that showcase Hawaii’s one-of-a-kind spirit.

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