Humans Arrive

Humans Arrive

The geographic isolation of the Hawaiian Islands also played a prominent role in the Islands’ history of human settlement. The seafaring Polynesians discovered the Hawaiian Islands long after the rest of Polynesia was settled, and Westerners (Europeans) were also relatively late in coming to the Hawaiian Islands.

Cristobal Colón (Christopher Columbus) reached the New World in 1492. Ferdinand Magellan (Fernão de Magalhães) of Spain sailed across the Pacific Ocean in 1519. French, English, and Dutch ships undertook many voyages of discovery through the early 1700s, and yet still Westerners had not visited Hawai’i.

Magellan died during his voyage, but by 1522 his ship and crew had circumnavigated the planet. Still it would take 256 more years before British Captain James Cook established the first Western contact with the Hawaiian Islands in 1778. Note: There are undocumented accounts of Spanish galleons reaching the Hawaiian Islands before 1778—see Captain Cook section, Chapter 3.