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If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: While small, there is a growing Puerto Rican population in Hawaii. As of 2020, there were about 40,000 Puerto Ricans living in Hawaii, making up less than 3% of the state’s population.

In this in-depth article, we’ll explore the history and background of Puerto Ricans in Hawaii, look at census data and population statistics, examine why many Puerto Ricans have moved to Hawaii, discuss areas with notable Puerto Rican communities, and highlight some of their contributions and culture in the state.

Background and History of Puerto Ricans in Hawaii

Background and History of Puerto Ricans in Hawaii

The presence of Puerto Ricans in Hawaii dates back to the early 20th century. The migration patterns of Puerto Ricans to the islands can be traced to a few key factors.

One significant factor was the labor shortage in Hawaii’s agricultural industry, particularly in the sugar plantations. To fill this gap, plantation owners turned to recruiting workers from different parts of the world, including Puerto Rico.

Early history and migration patterns

The initial wave of Puerto Rican migration to Hawaii began in the early 1900s.

Many Puerto Ricans saw this as an opportunity for a better life and a chance to escape the economic hardships they faced at home. They were promised steady employment and a chance to provide for their families.

Upon arrival in Hawaii, Puerto Rican immigrants faced numerous challenges. They had to adjust to a new culture, language, and way of life.

Despite these obstacles, they worked tirelessly on the plantations, contributing significantly to the development of Hawaii’s sugar industry.

Over time, Puerto Ricans in Hawaii formed tight-knit communities, preserving their culture and traditions. They established social clubs, organized cultural events, and maintained connections with their homeland.

These communities provided a support system for Puerto Rican immigrants, helping them navigate their new lives in a foreign land.

Influx after World War II and the postwar period

The population of Puerto Ricans in Hawaii experienced a significant increase after World War II and during the postwar period. Many Puerto Rican soldiers who were stationed in Hawaii during the war chose to stay on the islands after their service ended.

This influx of veterans, along with the already established Puerto Rican community, contributed to the growth of the Puerto Rican population in Hawaii.

The postwar period also saw changes in the economic landscape of Hawaii.

The decline of the sugar industry led to diversification and the growth of other sectors such as tourism and military presence.

Puerto Ricans, like other immigrants, found employment opportunities in these emerging industries.

Today, the Puerto Rican population in Hawaii continues to make valuable contributions to the cultural fabric of the islands. They have enriched Hawaii’s culinary scene, music, and arts, infusing their unique Puerto Rican heritage into the local culture.

For more information on the history of Puerto Ricans in Hawaii, you can visit this website.

Puerto Rican Population Statistics and Demographics

The Puerto Rican population in Hawaii has a rich cultural history and has contributed significantly to the state’s diversity.

Let’s take a closer look at the statistics and demographics of this vibrant community.

Total population and percentage of state population

The Puerto Rican population in Hawaii has been steadily growing over the years. According to the latest census data, there are approximately 40,000 Puerto Ricans living in the state, accounting for 2,5% of the total population.

This population growth can be attributed to various factors such as migration, job opportunities, and the desire for a better quality of life.

Puerto Ricans have made significant contributions to various sectors of the state’s economy, including tourism, agriculture, and healthcare.

Population growth trends

The Puerto Rican population in Hawaii has experienced both periods of rapid growth and stability.

In the early 20th century, many Puerto Ricans migrated to Hawaii to work in the sugar plantations. This wave of migration contributed to a significant increase in the population during that time.

However, in recent years, the growth rate has slowed down due to various reasons such as changing economic conditions and different migration patterns.

Despite this, the Puerto Rican community in Hawaii remains vibrant and continues to make valuable contributions to the state.

Age, gender, and geographic distribution

The Puerto Rican population in Hawaii is diverse in terms of age and gender. It comprises individuals of different age groups, ranging from children to older adults. This diversity adds to the richness of the community and contributes to its cultural heritage.

In terms of geographic distribution, Puerto Ricans can be found throughout the Hawaiian Islands. While some prefer to live in urban areas such as Honolulu, others have chosen to settle in more rural parts of the state.

This distribution reflects the diverse preferences and lifestyles of the Puerto Rican population.

For more detailed statistics and information about the Puerto Rican population in Hawaii, you can visit for the latest data and research studies.

Reasons for Puerto Rican Migration to Hawaii

The migration of Puerto Ricans to Hawaii has been influenced by several factors.

Let’s explore some of the key reasons why Puerto Ricans have chosen to make the journey to the islands.

Economic opportunities

One of the primary reasons for Puerto Rican migration to Hawaii is the promise of better economic opportunities.

Many Puerto Ricans have sought employment in industries such as tourism, agriculture, and construction, which have thrived in Hawaii.

The booming tourism industry, in particular, has created a demand for workers in hotels, restaurants, and other hospitality-related businesses. By relocating to Hawaii, Puerto Ricans hope to find stable employment and improve their financial situations.

Military service

Another significant reason for Puerto Rican migration to Hawaii is military service. Puerto Ricans have a long history of serving in the United States Armed Forces, and Hawaii is home to several military bases.

The opportunity to serve their country while also experiencing life in a different part of the world has attracted many Puerto Ricans to Hawaii.

Additionally, the military offers benefits such as housing and healthcare, making it an appealing option for those seeking stability and security.

Attractive climate and environment

Hawaii’s beautiful climate and environment have also been a draw for Puerto Ricans looking for a change of scenery. The tropical weather, stunning beaches, and lush landscapes make Hawaii an attractive destination.

Puerto Ricans who are tired of the hustle and bustle of city life or who simply want to experience a different way of living are often enticed by the laid-back island lifestyle that Hawaii offers.

The opportunity to live in a place with such natural beauty is a major factor in their decision to migrate.

Also readHawaii Vs Puerto Rico: Which Tropical Paradise Is Right For You?

Notable Puerto Rican Communities in Hawaii

Large group of people forming Hawaii flag map in The United States of America, USA,


Kapālama, located in Honolulu, is one of the notable Puerto Rican communities in Hawaii.

This vibrant neighborhood has a rich cultural heritage, with a significant population of Puerto Rican residents. The community is known for its close-knit atmosphere and strong sense of unity.

Puerto Rican traditions and customs are celebrated here, creating a sense of belonging for the residents.One of the highlights of Kapālama is the annual Puerto Rican Festival, where locals come together to showcase their heritage through music, dance, and mouth-watering traditional Puerto Rican cuisine.

The festival attracts not only the Puerto Rican community but also people from all walks of life who are eager to experience the vibrant culture and flavors that Puerto Rico has to offer.


Another notable Puerto Rican community in Hawaii is Wahiawā, a town located in central Oahu. With its picturesque landscapes and welcoming atmosphere, Wahiawā has become a popular destination for Puerto Rican families settling in Hawaii.

One of the reasons why Wahiawā has been a preferred choice for Puerto Rican immigrants is its strong agricultural heritage. Many Puerto Ricans have found opportunities in the local farming industry, contributing to the town’s economy while preserving their cultural roots.

The farms in Wahiawā not only provide fresh produce for the community but also serve as a reminder of the Puerto Rican connection to the land.

Ewa Beach

Ewa Beach, located on the western coast of Oahu, is also home to a thriving Puerto Rican community. This beachside town offers a laid-back lifestyle and a tight-knit community that embraces diversity and cultural exchange.

One of the defining features of Ewa Beach is its vibrant music scene, heavily influenced by Puerto Rican rhythms.

Locals can often be found enjoying live music events, dancing to the beats of salsa and reggaeton.

The fusion of Hawaiian and Puerto Rican cultures in Ewa Beach creates a unique and exciting atmosphere that residents take great pride in.


Situated on the windward side of Oahu, Kāneʻohe is another notable Puerto Rican community in Hawaii. Known for its breathtaking natural beauty and warm community spirit, Kāneʻohe offers a peaceful and welcoming environment for its residents.

One of the highlights of Kāneʻohe is the strong emphasis on preserving Puerto Rican traditions and passing them down to future generations.

The community actively organizes cultural events, language classes, and traditional dance workshops to ensure the continuity of Puerto Rican heritage.

This commitment to preserving their roots has fostered a strong sense of identity and pride among the Puerto Rican residents of Kāneʻohe.

The Puerto Rican communities in Hawaii, including Kapālama, Wahiawā, Ewa Beach, and Kāneʻohe, contribute to the rich diversity of the islands.

They have not only brought their unique cultural traditions but have also become an integral part of the local fabric, enriching the Hawaiian society as a whole.

Puerto Rican Culture and Contributions in Hawaii

The Puerto Rican population in Hawaii has not only brought their vibrant culture but has also made significant contributions to the local community. From their unique cuisine to their rich music and art, Puerto Ricans have left an indelible mark on the Hawaiian islands.

Additionally, there have been notable individuals of Puerto Rican descent who have achieved great success in Hawaii. Let’s explore these aspects in more detail.


Puerto Rican cuisine, with its blend of Spanish, African, and Indigenous influences, has become an integral part of the culinary landscape in Hawaii.

Staples such as arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), lechón (roast pork), and pasteles (savory filled pastries) have found their way onto the menus of local restaurants.

The popularity of these dishes is a testament to the delicious flavors and unique combination of ingredients that Puerto Rican cuisine offers. If you want to experience the taste of Puerto Rico in Hawaii, you can’t miss trying these mouthwatering dishes.

Music and Art

Puerto Rican music and art have also thrived in Hawaii. The lively rhythms of salsa, merengue, and reggaeton can be heard at various social gatherings and festivals throughout the islands.

Puerto Rican artists have also made their mark in the local art scene, bringing their vibrant and colorful style to galleries and exhibitions.

The fusion of Puerto Rican and Hawaiian influences has created a unique and exciting artistic expression that adds to the cultural diversity of Hawaii.

Notable Puerto Ricans from Hawaii

Hawaii has been home to several notable individuals of Puerto Rican descent who have achieved great success in their respective fields.

One such example is Robert Bobby Lee, a renowned chef who has introduced the flavors of Puerto Rico to the Hawaiian culinary scene.

Another notable figure is Maria Santiago, a talented artist whose paintings have gained recognition both locally and internationally.

These individuals serve as inspirations not only to the Puerto Rican community but to all residents of Hawaii, showing that with passion and hard work, anything is possible.

The Puerto Rican population in Hawaii continues to enrich the cultural fabric of the islands with their cuisine, music, art, and remarkable achievements.

Their contributions are a testament to the power of diversity and the ability of different cultures to come together and create something truly amazing.

So, the next time you visit Hawaii, make sure to immerse yourself in the vibrant Puerto Rican culture and appreciate the lasting impact they have made on the islands.

Also read: Why Is Hawaii A State And Not Puerto Rico?


In conclusion, while relatively small, Hawaii’s Puerto Rican community has a rich history and culture and has made many contributions to the state.

Understanding the background of this community provides insight into one of the many diverse ethnic groups that call Hawaii home.

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