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On Assignment In Waimanalo, Hawaii
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By Tom O’Neill Photographs by Jodi Cobb

Outriggers rule in the Hawaiians’ Hawaii.

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There it is: Waimanalo. The town stretches out lazily along the coast like a sleeping hound, a three-mile [five-kilometer] reach of homes, shops, and parks penned between ridges of the cloud-catching Koolau Range. Waimanalo is a half hour’s drive from Honolulu, and yet it feels like another planet. The village faces a long, curving white-sand beach, one so luscious that it is used as a backdrop for the television series Baywatch Hawai’i.

Surrounded by suburbs, Waimanalo residents like to say: “We live in the country.”

Behind the village climb acres of farmland, most of it given to raising ornamental plants. People keep horses and chickens. The salty trade winds spice the air even in the foothills.


Hawaiian consciousness takes a variety of forms in Waimanalo. Villagers paddle outrigger canoes and grow taro and other traditional staples. An increasing number speak Hawaiian, a language discouraged in schools during pre-statehood days, and some locals even agitate for an independent Hawaiian nation.

One of the first things drivers see when approaching the village on the coast road from Honolulu is a large faded state flag hanging upside down in the “distress” position. It’s a defiant symbol of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement, a heated subject in Waimanalo’s neighborhoods.

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During the December 7, 1941, air attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor five Japanese midget submarines were ordered to steal into Pearl Harbor, wait for their bombers to appear, and then launch torpedoes at select ships. Midget sub HA-19, commanded by Ens. Kazuo Sakamaki and crewed by Chief Warrant Officer Kiyoshi Inagaki, was the last of the five subs to be launched. Hindered by a malfunctioning gyrocompass, an important navigational aid, the midget sub struck submerged coral reefs several times and was unable to reach Pearl Harbor before the air attack began. Spotted and shot at by a U.S. vessel, the sub drifted for hours and finally went aground once again, this time off Waimanalo. The men attempted to escape, but Inagaki drowned and Sakamaki, America’s first prisoner of war, was sent to a POW camp. The HA-19 was recovered and put on tour across the United States to raise funds for the war effort. Sakamaki, who went on to be a successful businessman after the war, died in November 1999 at the age of 81.

State of Hawaii
Official website for the state of Hawaii offering information on the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust, employment opportunities, cuisine, weather, tourist sites, and more.

Zip Code Boundaries
Want to find out the geographic boundaries of a specific zip code area? This is your website.

Hawaiian Affairs
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs website provides coverage of the major issues confronting the native Hawaiian community.

The Nation of Hawaii
The Nation of Hawaii website offers a look at the Hawaiian independence movement and provides an extensive list of links to Hawaiian sovereignty and cultural resources on the web.


Bell, Roger. Last Among Equals: Hawaiian Statehood and American Politics. University of Hawaii Press, 1984.

Michener, James A. Hawaii. Fawcett Books, 1994.


Ariyoshi, Rita. The National Geographic Traveler: Hawaii. National Geographic Books, 2000.

Willoughby, Scott. “The Adventure 100,” National Geographic Adventure (Mar./Apr. 2000) 76-102.

Dunn, Jerry. “Aloha, Hawaii!” National Geographic World (Oct. 1994) 2-6.

Eckstrom, Christine K. Forgotten Edens: Exploring the World’s Wild Places. National Geographic Books, 1993.

Ramsay, Cynthia Russ. Hawaii’s Hidden Treasures. National Geographic Books, 1993.

Brower, Kenneth. “The Big Island: Hawaii in Essence,” National Geographic Traveler (Autumn 1985) 30-47.

Rockefeller, Laurance S. and Mary French Rockefeller. “Problems in Paradise,” National Geographic (Dec. 1974) 782-793.


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