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With its beautiful beaches, stunning landscapes, and idyllic weather, Hawaii is considered a paradise and dream destination for many. But have you ever wondered how much it would cost to actually buy the Hawaiian islands? As the 50th state to join the United States, the answer may surprise you.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: While the Hawaiian islands are not for sale, individual parcels of land are traded daily on the real estate market. In 2021, the median price for a single-family home on Oahu was $950,000. So purchasing all 6,423 square miles of Hawaii would likely cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

Background on Hawaii’s Statehood and Land Ownership

Before discussing the cost of buying Hawaii, it is important to understand the history and background of its statehood and land ownership. Hawaii became the 50th state of the United States on August 21, 1959. Prior to that, it was a territory of the United States for nearly 60 years. The statehood of Hawaii was a significant event that brought about various changes in its governance and land ownership.

Ownership of Land in Hawaii

The ownership of land in Hawaii is unique compared to other states in the United States. The concept of land ownership in Hawaii is based on the principle of “alodial” land tenure, which originates from the Hawaiian Kingdom era. Alodial land tenure means that individuals can own land outright, free from any obligations or restrictions imposed by a superior authority.

However, it is important to note that a significant portion of land in Hawaii is owned by the government or held in trust by the state. This includes lands designated as national parks, military bases, and other protected areas. Private ownership of land in Hawaii is also prevalent, with individuals and corporations owning residential, commercial, and agricultural properties.

The Cost of Buying Hawaii

While it may be intriguing to imagine buying an entire state like Hawaii, the reality is that it is not possible to purchase an entire state as a private individual or entity. The land in Hawaii is not for sale in its entirety. Instead, land transactions in Hawaii involve buying individual properties or parcels of land.

The cost of buying property in Hawaii can vary greatly depending on various factors such as location, size, and amenities. The demand for real estate in Hawaii is high, which contributes to higher prices compared to other states. According to a report by the Hawaii Association of Realtors, the median price of a single-family home in Hawaii was $835,000 in 2020.

It is also worth mentioning that there are regulations and restrictions in place to protect Hawaii’s natural resources and preserve its unique environment. These regulations can affect the development and use of land in Hawaii, and potential buyers should be aware of these considerations.

If you are interested in exploring real estate options in Hawaii, it is advisable to consult with a local real estate agent who is knowledgeable about the market and can guide you through the process. Additionally, conducting thorough research and understanding the laws and regulations pertaining to land ownership in Hawaii is crucial.

Factors That Impact Land Prices in Hawaii

When it comes to buying land in Hawaii, there are several factors that can significantly impact the price. Understanding these factors can help you make an informed decision and ensure that you are getting the best value for your investment. Here are some key factors to consider:


The location of the land is one of the most important factors that determine its price in Hawaii. The island and specific area within the island can greatly influence the cost. For example, prime beachfront properties in popular tourist destinations like Waikiki or Maui can demand premium prices. On the other hand, properties located in more remote or less developed areas may be more affordable. It’s important to research the different areas of Hawaii and their respective land prices to find the location that suits your needs and budget.

Size and Zoning

The size of the land and its zoning classification can also impact the price. Larger parcels of land generally command higher prices, especially if they are suitable for development or have potential for various uses. Zoning regulations can restrict the type of development that can be done on a particular piece of land, so it’s important to understand the zoning laws and restrictions before making a purchase.

Infrastructure and Amenities

The availability of infrastructure and amenities can influence land prices in Hawaii. Land that is already connected to utilities, such as water, electricity, and sewer systems, may be more expensive compared to undeveloped land that requires these services to be installed. Additionally, proximity to amenities like schools, hospitals, shopping centers, and recreational facilities can also impact the price of land.

Market Demand and Economic Factors

The overall market demand for land in Hawaii and the state of the economy can also affect land prices. During times of high demand and economic growth, land prices may increase. Conversely, during economic downturns or periods of low demand, land prices may decrease. It’s important to consider the current market conditions and economic outlook when evaluating land prices in Hawaii.

Environmental Factors

Hawaii is known for its unique and delicate ecosystem, and environmental factors can play a significant role in determining land prices. Land that is protected or has environmental restrictions may be less expensive due to limitations on development. Conversely, land that is free from such restrictions may be more valuable. It’s important to consider the environmental impact of the land and any potential restrictions or considerations before purchasing.

By considering these factors, you can gain a better understanding of the land prices in Hawaii and make an informed decision when buying property. Remember to consult with real estate professionals and conduct thorough research to ensure that you are getting the best value for your investment.

Estimating the Total Cost to Buy All Hawaii’s Land

Have you ever wondered how much it would cost to buy an entire state? In the case of Hawaii, a tropical paradise in the Pacific Ocean, estimating the total cost to buy all its land is a challenging task. However, by considering various factors such as land value, size, and ownership, we can get a rough idea of the astronomical price tag attached to this dream.

The Value of Land in Hawaii

Hawaii is known for its stunning landscapes, pristine beaches, and lush vegetation, making it a highly desirable location. As a result, land values in Hawaii tend to be significantly higher compared to other parts of the United States. According to a report by the Hawaii Association of Realtors, the median sales price for a single-family home in Hawaii was $810,000 in 2020, a 10.1% increase from the previous year. This gives us an indication of the lucrative nature of the real estate market in the state.

The Size of Hawaii’s Land

Estimating the total cost to buy all of Hawaii’s land requires considering its size. The state of Hawaii encompasses approximately 4,028 square miles (10,430 square kilometers) of land. To put this into perspective, it is larger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. With such a vast land area, it is clear that the cost to acquire all of Hawaii would be substantial.

Ownership and Accessibility

Another important factor to consider is the ownership and accessibility of Hawaii’s land. The majority of the land in Hawaii is owned by various entities, including private individuals, corporations, and the state government. While some parts of the land are publicly accessible, such as beaches and parks, a significant portion is privately owned and may not be available for purchase. This further complicates the estimation of the total cost to buy all of Hawaii’s land.

The Astronomical Price Tag

Considering the high land values, the vast size of Hawaii, and the complexities of ownership, it is safe to say that buying all of Hawaii’s land would come with an astronomical price tag. While it is difficult to provide an exact figure, it is not unrealistic to speculate that it would be in the trillions of dollars.

So, if you dream of owning the beautiful islands of Hawaii, be prepared to shell out a significant fortune. It’s safe to say that buying Hawaii is not a venture for the faint of heart or light of wallet!

Who Actually Owns Land in Hawaii?

When it comes to land ownership in Hawaii, it is important to understand that the concept of ownership is quite complex. The history of land ownership in Hawaii is deeply rooted in its indigenous culture and the arrival of Western settlers. Today, the land in Hawaii is owned by a diverse range of individuals, organizations, and entities.

Native Hawaiians and Hawaiian Homelands

Native Hawaiians hold a unique status when it comes to land ownership in Hawaii. The Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920 established the Hawaiian Home Lands program, which set aside approximately 200,000 acres of land for the benefit of Native Hawaiians. This program aims to provide affordable housing and agricultural opportunities to Native Hawaiians, helping to address historical injustices and promote self-sufficiency within the community.

However, it is important to note that not all Native Hawaiians automatically have access to Hawaiian Home Lands. There is a lengthy application and qualification process to become a lessee of these lands, and demand often exceeds supply.

Private Individuals and Corporations

A significant portion of the land in Hawaii is owned by private individuals and corporations. These can range from large-scale land developers and real estate companies to individual property owners. Many people from the mainland United States and other countries have purchased land in Hawaii for various purposes, including vacation homes, investment properties, and business ventures.

It is worth mentioning that some of the largest landowners in Hawaii include large corporations and trusts. These entities may own extensive lands for agricultural purposes, conservation efforts, or other business interests.

Government and Public Ownership

The state and federal government also own a substantial amount of land in Hawaii. The state government owns land for various purposes, including public parks, schools, and infrastructure. The federal government owns land for military bases, national parks, and other federally managed areas.

Additionally, there are public lands managed by government agencies such as the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA). These lands are held in trust for the benefit of the public or Native Hawaiians, respectively.

It is important to note that land ownership in Hawaii is a complex and nuanced topic, influenced by historical, cultural, and legal factors. If you are interested in learning more about land ownership in Hawaii, I recommend visiting the official website of the DLNR ( or the OHA ( for more detailed information.

Attempts to Buy Hawaiian Islands in the Past

The Hawaiian Islands have always held a certain allure, attracting the attention of individuals and nations alike. Over the years, there have been several interesting attempts to buy these beautiful islands, each with its own unique story.

1. The New York Stock Exchange Offer

In the late 1800s, a group of New York businessmen, led by William G. Irwin, made an audacious offer to purchase the Hawaiian Islands. The group, known as the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, made a bid of $4 million to the Hawaiian monarchy. However, their offer was declined, and the islands remained under Hawaiian rule.

2. The Russian Tsar’s Interest

In the early 19th century, Russian Tsar Alexander II expressed a keen interest in acquiring the Hawaiian Islands. It is said that he was particularly drawn to the strategic location of the islands in the Pacific Ocean. However, negotiations between the Russian Empire and the Hawaiian Kingdom never materialized, and the islands remained independent.

3. The Failed Proposal of King Kamehameha IV

Even the Hawaiian monarchy itself contemplated the idea of selling the islands. In 1857, King Kamehameha IV proposed the sale of the Kingdom of Hawaii to the United States for $10 million. However, this proposal was met with strong opposition from the Hawaiian people, and the idea was ultimately abandoned.

These attempts to buy the Hawaiian Islands highlight the timeless appeal and value that these islands hold. While they may have remained independent, the interest from various parties serves as a testament to the unique allure and significance of Hawaii in global affairs.


While purchasing the entire state of Hawaii is theoretically possible by buying up all private and public land, it would come at an astronomical cost likely in the hundreds of billions. Hawaii’s unique allure as an island paradise gives its real estate some of the highest values in the country. But unless you have incredibly deep pockets, owning a slice of the Hawaiian islands through property purchase may be a more realistic goal.

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