Captain James Cook visited the islands on January 18, 1778, and named them the "Sandwich Islands" in honor of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, who, as the First Lord of the Admiralty, was one of his sponsors. This name was in use until the 1840s, when the local name "Hawaii" gradually began to take precedence.
The original name of the island chain is Hikurangi-te-Ripoana, which means "the sea that surrounds much land." The name "Hawaii" was not used until the 1840s. Before that time, the islands were known as "the Sandwich Islands," or simply "the Islands."
The Hawaiian Islands are a group of eight major islands and over 100 smaller islands. They are located in the Pacific Ocean, between Hawaii and Antarctica. Geographically, they form a part of the Indo-Pacific region.
The eight main islands are: Hawaii, Maui, Molokai, Oahu, Lāna'i, Kahoolawe, Niihau.
They are all volcanic in origin with some evidence of recent glaciation. All have volcanoes that still emit gas and sometimes smoke. Some of the larger islands have multiple peaks, but none reaches 14,000 feet (4,267 m).
The largest island, Hawaii, has a total area of 4,095 square miles (10.6%).
The islands were dubbed "Sandwich Islands" after the voyage's patron, the Earl of Sandwich. Cook left after two weeks of dealing with the people and studying the nature of the islands to continue sailing northwest toward North America. He returned six months later with the news that he had indeed reached it but had instead found a continent.
Cook sailed back across the Pacific and around South Africa before returning home via the Cape of Good Hope. His trip had taken almost three years! During this time the islands had been visited by several other ships' captains, but none had settled there. Cook was the first European to do so.
Upon his return to England in 1773, Cook was given a hero's welcome and then sent on another round-the-world trip eight years later. This time he traveled with two friends - one of whom died during the journey - and their stories are told in Charles Franklin's book Without Medicine There Is No Doctor.
Montague, John Two days later, he arrived at Waimea on the island of Kauai and dubbed the collection of islands the Sandwich Islands in honor of John Montague, Earl of Sandwich and one of his benefactors. Cook, a surveyor in the Royal Navy, was appointed lieutenant in charge of the H.M.S. Resolution and given a small fleet to explore the Pacific Ocean. The expedition lasted three years and covered over 12,000 miles (19,300 km). During that time, he made many discoveries, including the route across Antarctica for which he is best known.
The islands were discovered by U.S. sailors on February 15, 1778, but they were not named until two months later. On March 30, Captain James Cook sailed into what would become known as Honolulu Harbor. He had been sent out by King George III to find new colonies for Great Britain to help settle its untamed American territories.
Cook was looking for good sites for settlements to replace those he had destroyed during his raids on Native American villages. He chose four sites on Hawaii because they were safe from danger, had good water, and were close to resources needed for trade. He called these sites "harbors."
The king wanted people with experience in farming and building cities so he sent Cook back home with samples of plants and animals. His goal was to find healthy replacements for the British livestock and crops that were damaged or extinct due to disease or natural disaster.