The earliest settlements in the Hawaiian Islands were made by Polynesians who traveled to Hawaii using large double-hulled canoes. They brought with them pigs, dogs, chickens, taro, sweet potatoes, coconut, banana, and sugarcane.
There are several theories regarding migration to Hawaii. The "one-migration" theory suggests a single settlement. A variation on the one-migration theory instead suggests a single, continuous settlement period. A "multiple migration" theory suggests that there was a first settlement by a group called Menehune (settlers from the Marquesas Islands), and then a second settlement by the Tahitians.
On January 18, 1778 Captain James Cook and his crew, while attempting to discover the Northwest Passage between Alaska and Asia, were surprised to find the Hawaiian islands so far north in the Pacific. He named them the "Sandwich Islands". After the discovery by Cook, other Europeans and Americans came to the Sandwich Islands. An entry was found in James Cook's log describing the natives as "riding the ocean's waves on wooden boards", which became the first written account of surfing.
 Kingdom of Hawaii[show]v • d • eUnification of Hawaiʻi
Mokuʻohai – Olowalu – Kaʻūpūlehu – Kepaniwai – East Hawaiʻi – Kawaihae – Kawela – Nuʻuanu – Kauaʻi
Main article: Kingdom of Hawaii
 Formation of the Hawaiian KingdomThe islands were united under a single ruler, Kamehameha I, for the first time in 1810 with the help of foreign weapons and advisors. The monarchy then adopted a flag similar to the one used today by the State of Hawaii present flag, with the Union Flag in the canton (top quarter next to the flagpole) and eight horizontal stripes (alternating white, red, blue, from the top), representing the eight major islands of Hawaii.
In May 1819, Prince Liholiho became King Kamehameha II. Under pressure from his co-regent and stepmother, Kaʻahumanu, he abolished the kapu system that had ruled life in the islands. He signaled this revolutionary change by sitting down to eat with Kaʻahumanu and other women of chiefly rank, an act forbidden under the old religious system—see ʻAi Noa. Kekuaokalani, a cousin who thought he was to share power with Liholiho, organized supporters of the kapu system, but his forces were defeated by Kaʻahumanu and Liholiho in December 1819 at the battle of Kuamoʻo.
 Imperial RussiaIn 1815 the Russian empire affected the islands when Georg Anton Schäffer, agent of the Russian-American Company, came to retrieve goods seized by Kaumualiʻi, chief of Kauaʻi island. Kaumualiʻi signed a treaty making Tsar Alexander I protectorate over Kauaʻi. From 1817 to 1853 Fort Elizabeth, near the Waimea River, was one of three Russian forts on the island.
 The FrenchMain article: The French Incident
In the early kingdom, Protestant ministers convinced Hawaiian rulers to make Catholicism illegal, deport French priests, and imprison Native Hawaiian Catholic converts.
In 1839 Captain Laplace of the French frigate Artémise sailed to Hawaii. Under the threat of war, King Kamehameha III signed the Edict of Toleration on July 17, 1839 and paid $20,000 in compensation for the deportation of the priests and the incarceration and torture of converts, agreeing to Laplace's demands. The kingdom proclaimed:
That the Catholic worship be declared free, throughout all the dominions subject to the king of the Sandwich Islands; the members of this religious faith shall enjoy in them the privileges granted to Protestants.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu returned and Kamehameha III donated land for them to build a church as reparation.
Main article: The French Invasion (1849)
In August 1849, French admiral Louis Tromelin arrived in Honolulu Harbor with La Poursuivante and Gassendi. De Tromelin made ten demands to King Kamehameha III on August 22, mainly that full religious rights be given to Catholics,...