Nearly 2,000 miles from the nearest continent, Hawaii has always lured travelers seeking paradise. Polynesian explorers first paddled into the islands between 300 and 500 CE. Following centuries of civilization, the Hawaiians first met Europeans in 1778—sparking a story whose ultimate end was American statehood in 1959. Tourism is now the state’s largest industry, and most travelers are familiar with stock photos of hula, leis, and surfboards. But as with most idylls, there’s much more to discover beyond the pages of glossy brochures.