Captain James Cook discovered the Hawaiian Islands on this day. Interestingly, he originally named them the “Sandwich Islands” – in honor of Cook’s sponsor at the time – the Earl of Sandwich (after whom the sandwich was also named).
On this day in 1778 the first documented European discovery of Hawaii took place. The man who made this venture was the famous British explorer James Cook, also known for his research of Australia and New Zealand. Indeed, James Cook is one of the most famous maritime explorers throughout history, comparable to Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan.
Captain James Cook spotted the Hawaiian Islands and then made landfall at Waimea Bay, which is located on the island of Kauai. It is interesting that this is the most northern of all major Hawaiian Islands, because Cook came to Hawaii sailing almost directly from the north (he was previously in the Bering Strait between Asia and North America).
Cook’s main ship was called the HMS Resolution, and was accompanied by one slightly smaller sailing vessel named HMS Discovery. Interestingly, Cook originally named the Hawaiian Islands the “Sandwich Islands” in honor of Cook’s sponsor at the time – the Earl of Sandwich. It was precisely Earl of Sandwich after whom sandwiches were named (he was a passionate card player so he wanted food that he could eat without interrupting the game). Not until later were the “Sandwich Islands” renamed Hawaii.