Why is Las Vegas Known as the Ninth Island?

Pop quiz: What could Las Vegas and Hawaii possibly have in common?

More than you might think. At first glance, you might not find a lot of similarities between the two. Look a little closer, though, and you’ll see that Hawaiians have a lot to love about Las Vegas. After all, it’s known as the “ninth island” for a reason.

Fact: Hawaiians Love Las Vegas

This is a transient city, and people come and go every day. Las Vegas is such a revolving door of tourists and even locals that sometimes it can be hard to even find people who were born and raised here.

Surprisingly, though, there’s at least one pattern: a large portion of the Vegas population is from Hawaii. In fact, the city has the largest population of Hawaiians outside of Hawaii.

What can we say? This city is pretty irresistible. Hawaiians come to Las Vegas to enjoy the entertainment, the gambling and the excellent food (can’t blame them). It doesn’t hurt that the cost of living is so much more reasonable, too.

Also, Las Vegas has a certain charm. It’s no wonder why so many people come back again and again and again. Today, over 300,000 Islanders visit Vegas every year with a few of the regulars dropping by the city about four to six times in a single year.

Why do they feel so at home here? How did it all begin? The story starts with the Boyd family and the iconic California Hotel & Casino on Fremont Street.

The Cal Exterior

The California Hotel & Casino

Some Hawaiians have quite a passion for gambling, which they cannot express freely while on the island due to the state laws. With this as a baseline, California Hotel & Casino initiated regular marketing trips to Hawaii and now partners with Vacations Hawaii to provide chartered non-stop flights to Las Vegas. As a result, Islanders get to experience Sin City and the many joys of Vegas.

Careful attention to detail and the desire to make Hawaiians feel at home made the California Hotel & Casino, affectionately referred to as “The Cal,” a favorite among Islander tourists.

The Cal goes to great lengths to capture the look and feel of Hawaii. From the decor to the entertainment to the food, the Hawaiian vibe is real. If anyone is craving authenticity, The Cal has what you want and more.

Authentic Island Food

The Cal offers a wide variety of delicacies that cater specifically to the Hawaiian taste buds.

Restaurants in the area, such as Aloha Specialties, offer delicious and authentic Hawaiian dishes from the traditional oxtail soup to saimin, a few types of stews and other Islander specialties.

California Noodle House

The California Noodle House also offers authentic dishes you would find at any local restaurant in Hawaii. Be sure to try their oxtail fried rice if you’ve got a craving for awesome island cuisine.

Island-Inspired Drinks

If you’re in the mood for Hawaiian-themed cocktails, then The Cal has something for you. Holo Holo, a.k.a. The Happy Bar serves the spirit of Aloha with their tasty and creative offerings. After all, Las Vegas is a desert so it’s imperative to stay hydrated!

Holo Holo
“Holo holo” means “go out for pleasure” in Hawaiian.

Umbrellas and wicker chairs line the area and native art and Aloha decorations can be observed in every direction, helping guests to feel like they’ve been temporarily transported to the islands.


Want to do some shopping while in Las Vegas? Many shops and boutiques in the area cater to the distinct taste of Hawaiians, so guests will surely be satisfied with the merchandise offered.

That’s not all. Even when you step outside The Cal, you’ll find many shops reflecting the Aloha vibe — from Polynesian crafts to Hawaiian wares, Hawaii-based convenience stores and even classes teaching Hawaiian-style street fighting.

The Hawaiian Community

Alright, we know Las Vegas isn’t Hawaii, but that doesn’t stop Hawaiian people from holding high school reunions in the city. By that, we mean Hawaii high school reunions (with the actual schools located in Hawaii and not in Vegas). Events like these are so common that they’re considered the norm. In fact, The Cal alone handles about 40 high school reunions every year!

Aside from the special events, the hotel caters almost exclusively to Hawaiians. Roughly 90 percent of the staff and guests are from the island. That’s because this place isn’t faking it — it truly is bursting at the seams with all things aloha.

Event on Fremont Street

Although the Entertainment Capital of the World and the Paradise of the Pacific don’t have that many things in common on the surface, especially considering that the first is a desert and the second is an island, Sin City has bridged the gap by paying homage to the gorgeous destination. To many Hawaiians, The Cal isn’t just a place they stay whenever they’re visiting Las Vegas. It’s a home away from home.

Once you’ve booked your room at The Cal, step out onto Fremont Street and see what else downtown Las Vegas has to offer. The SlotZilla Zipline and Zoomline won’t disappoint and the Viva Vision light shows are out of this world. Also, check out all the things you can do in downtown Las Vegas on a budget.