Hawaii Billboards

When traveling around Hawaii, you'll likely come across a variety of billboards promoting everything from local businesses to tourist attractions. While some may view them as a necessary evil of modern advertising, billboards have a rich history in the islands and continue to play an important role in Hawaiian culture. In this article, we'll explore the past, present, and future of Hawaii billboards, as well as their impact on the local community.

The History of Billboards in Hawaii

Billboards have been a part of Hawaii's advertising landscape for over a century. Early advertisements consisted of painted signs on buildings and businesses. However, as tourism grew, so did the desire for eye-catching and effective advertising. The first billboards in the state were erected in the early 20th century, typically promoting local products and services.

Early Advertising in the Islands

During the 1920s and 1930s, billboards became more prominent, particularly in urban areas like Honolulu. Local companies such as Matson Navigation and Hawaiian Electric Company utilized billboards to promote their services to both locals and tourists. These early billboards were typically hand-painted or paper posters pasted onto boards.

One of the most interesting early billboards was the "Drink Primo" campaign, which featured a cartoon character named "Primo" holding a bottle of beer. The Primo brand was created by the Honolulu Brewing and Malting Company in 1901, and the beer became a staple in Hawaii's drinking culture. The Primo billboard campaign was so successful that it continued for over 30 years.

The Impact of Tourism on Billboard Growth

With the rise of tourism in the mid-20th century, billboards became even more prevalent. Tourist-focused billboards promoted everything from hotels to luau shows, providing visitors with vital information about things to see and do. By the 1960s, Hawaii had over 1,000 billboards, with many located on Oahu's busy highways.

One of the most interesting tourist-focused billboard campaigns was the "See Hawaii" promotion by the Hawaii Visitors Bureau. The campaign featured a series of billboards that showcased Hawaii's natural beauty, including its beaches, waterfalls, and lush greenery. The "See Hawaii" campaign was so successful that it continued for over a decade.

Notable Hawaii Billboard Campaigns

Over the years, various billboard campaigns have left a lasting impact on Hawaii's advertising history. One of the most memorable was the United Airlines "Fly the Friendly Skies" campaign, which featured a smiling stewardess and iconic Hawaiian imagery. The campaign ran in the 1970s and helped to establish United Airlines as a major player in Hawaii's tourism industry.

Another notable campaign was the "Duke Kahanamoku for President" billboard erected in 1952. Duke Kahanamoku was a legendary Hawaiian surfer and Olympic gold medalist who was known for his charisma and charm. The billboard was erected as a publicity stunt, but it quickly became a sensation and helped to boost Kahanamoku's popularity.

In conclusion, billboards have played an important role in Hawaii's advertising history. From the early hand-painted signs to the modern digital billboards, these advertisements have helped to promote local businesses and attract tourists to the islands. As Hawaii continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how billboards continue to shape the state's advertising landscape.

The Current State of Hawaii Billboards

While billboards remain a common sight in Hawaii, they have also become a point of contention for some. As the state seeks to balance tourism and environmental concerns, regulations and restrictions have been put in place to limit billboard proliferation.

Billboards have been a part of Hawaii's landscape for many years, but concerns about their impact on the environment and the state's natural beauty have led to increased regulations and restrictions in recent years. While some people enjoy the colorful and creative billboards that line the highways and streets, others feel that they detract from the state's natural beauty and can be a distraction for drivers.

Regulations and Restrictions

In recent years, restrictions on billboard size, location, and content have been implemented. The City and County of Honolulu has placed a moratorium on new billboards, while Maui County has banned them entirely. Additionally, state regulations prohibit billboards from being placed in designated scenic areas or within 500 feet of public parks or beaches.

These regulations and restrictions have been put in place in an effort to preserve Hawaii's natural beauty and protect the environment. While some businesses and advertisers may feel that these restrictions limit their ability to promote their products and services, others see them as a necessary step to protect Hawaii's unique and fragile ecosystem.

Popular Locations for Billboards

Despite the regulations, billboards still have a presence in Hawaii's urban areas. Popular locations include the H-1, H-2, and H-3 highways, as well as major arteries in Waikiki and other tourist-heavy areas. Companies like Oceanic Cable and Aloha Petroleum frequently utilize billboards to promote their services.

Many of these billboards are strategically placed to reach a specific audience, such as tourists or local residents. For example, billboards advertising local restaurants and attractions can often be found near popular tourist destinations, while billboards promoting local businesses and services are more common in residential areas.

Trends in Billboard Advertising

In recent years, digital billboards have become more prevalent, allowing for more dynamic and interactive advertising. These billboards can display multiple messages and images, and can even be programmed to change based on the time of day or weather conditions. Additionally, some companies have utilized billboards to promote social causes and raise awareness about environmental issues.

One example of this is the "Keep Hawaii Beautiful" campaign, which uses billboards to encourage residents and visitors to take steps to reduce litter and protect the environment. Other billboards promote local charities and non-profit organizations, encouraging people to get involved and make a difference in their communities.

Overall, while billboards remain a controversial topic in Hawaii, the state's regulations and restrictions have helped to limit their impact on the environment and preserve Hawaii's natural beauty. As technology continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how billboard advertising adapts and changes to meet the needs of businesses and consumers alike.

The Future of Billboards in Hawaii

As technology and advertising trends continue to evolve, the future of Hawaii billboards remains uncertain. However, there are several factors that could shape the future of this industry.

Digital Billboards and Their Potential

As mentioned earlier, digital billboards have become more common in recent years. These billboards allow for greater flexibility in advertising, with companies able to switch up their messaging in real-time. This can be especially useful for companies that want to promote time-sensitive offers or events. However, concerns have been raised about their energy use and potential impact on driver safety. Some studies have suggested that digital billboards can be distracting to drivers, leading to potential accidents. As such, it remains to be seen how these billboards will be regulated in the future.

Environmental Considerations

As more attention is paid to Hawaii's unique ecosystem, some have raised concerns about the impact of billboards on natural habitats. Companies are being urged to find more sustainable advertising methods that are less harmful to the environment. One potential solution is the use of biodegradable materials in billboard construction. Another option is to use billboards that are powered by renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power. These solutions could help to reduce the environmental impact of billboards in Hawaii.

Innovative Advertising Strategies

The rise of social media and other digital platforms has led to a shift in advertising strategies, with companies looking for new ways to engage consumers. Some have embraced experiential marketing, using billboards as a starting point for immersive brand experiences. For example, a company might create a billboard that doubles as a photo booth, allowing consumers to take pictures with the brand's logo and share them on social media. Other companies have used billboards to promote interactive games or contests, encouraging consumers to engage with the brand in new and exciting ways. These innovative strategies could help to keep billboards relevant in an increasingly digital world.

The Role of Local Government

Ultimately, the future of billboards in Hawaii will be shaped by a variety of factors, including technological advancements, environmental concerns, and changing advertising strategies. However, local government will also play a key role in determining the fate of this industry. As concerns about driver safety and environmental impact continue to grow, it is possible that regulations will be put in place to limit the use of billboards in certain areas. On the other hand, if companies are able to demonstrate that they can operate in a sustainable and responsible manner, billboards could continue to be a valuable advertising tool in Hawaii for years to come.

The Role of Billboards in Hawaiian Culture

Despite the controversies surrounding billboard advertising, they remain an important part of Hawaiian culture. Billboards have been a staple of the Hawaiian landscape for decades and have played a significant role in shaping the state's identity.

One of the most notable aspects of billboards in Hawaii is their use as a form of expression and art. Local artists have utilized billboards to share their work with a wider audience, using the massive canvases to make a statement or evoke emotion. These billboards often feature bold colors and striking imagery, drawing the eye of passersby and leaving a lasting impression.

Another way that billboards reflect Hawaiian culture is through the use of Native Hawaiian imagery and language. Many billboards feature traditional Hawaiian designs and patterns, paying homage to the state's rich cultural heritage. Some billboards even incorporate the Hawaiian language, promoting modern businesses and services while also preserving the state's linguistic traditions.

While billboards are undoubtedly a part of modern advertising, it's important to strike a balance between tradition and progress. As Hawaii continues to grow and change, so too will its advertising landscape. However, it's crucial to ensure that these changes are made with respect for the values and traditions that make Hawaii unique. By embracing both the old and the new, we can create a vibrant and dynamic advertising culture that reflects the spirit of Hawaii.

Case Studies: Successful Hawaii Billboard Campaigns

Finally, let's take a closer look at some of the successful billboard campaigns that have made an impact in Hawaii over the years.

Local Businesses Making an Impact

Local businesses such as Zippy's and L&L Drive-Inn have utilized billboards to provide information about their products and services. These billboards have become part of the fabric of Hawaii's urban landscape, promoting beloved local institutions.

For example, Zippy's billboards often feature their famous chili or their popular Zip Pacs, which are a staple for many locals. L&L Drive-Inn's billboards often showcase their mouth-watering plate lunches, which are a must-try for tourists and locals alike.

Tourism and Travel Advertising

Tourism remains a vital part of Hawaii's economy, and billboards continue to play an important role in promoting the state's attractions. The "Visit Hawaii" campaign mentioned earlier utilized bright colors and catchy slogans to inspire travel to the islands.

Another successful tourism campaign was the "Hawaii Food and Wine Festival," which used billboards to showcase the state's culinary offerings. The billboards featured images of delicious dishes and encouraged visitors to explore Hawaii's diverse food scene.

Social and Environmental Campaigns

Finally, billboards have been utilized to raise awareness about social and environmental issues. One example is the "There's More to the Picture" campaign, which used billboards to promote mental health awareness.

Another successful social campaign was the "Plastic Free Hawaii" initiative, which used billboards to encourage residents and visitors to reduce their use of single-use plastics. The billboards featured images of marine life affected by plastic pollution and encouraged viewers to take action to protect Hawaii's oceans.


Overall, Hawaii billboards have a rich history and continue to play an important role in the state's advertising landscape. Despite controversy and new regulations, they remain an effective way for businesses to promote their products and services, and for artists and activists to make a statement. As Hawaii continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how billboards adapt to new technology and changing trends, while retaining their unique place in Hawaiian culture.

Billboards in Hawaii


  • State in US
  • 1,420,491
  • Population
  • Area
  • 6,422
  • Square Miles
  • Population Density
  • 221.2
  • People per square mile


  • Age
  • 39.3
  • Median age
  • Sex
  • 49.97%
  • Female
  • 50.03%
  • Male
  • Race
  • 1.9%
  • Black
  • 10.66%
  • Hispanic
  • 36.69%
  • Asian
  • 21.71%
  • White


  • Income
  • $35,255
  • Per capita income
  • Poverty
  • 8.84
  • Persons below poverty line
  • Transportation to work
  • 27.63
  • Mean travel time to work


  • Households
  • 455,309
  • Number of households
  • People
  • 3
  • Persons per household
  • Marital status
  • 50.93
  • Percent Married
  • Fertility
  • 5.9%
  • Women 15-50 who gave birth during past year


  • Units & Occupancy
  • 546,261
  • Number of housing units
  • Value
  • $631,700
  • Median value of owner-occupied housing units
  • Owernship of occupied units
  • 58.28
  • Owner occupied
  • Geographical mobility
  • 13.72
  • Moved since previous year

Hawaii at a glance

There are at least 22 billboards in the Hawaii area. Check out the breakdown from our inventory!



Street furniture






Everything Else


Find billboards in other states

Ready to see AdQuick in action?

Get Started ->

Launch hyper-targeted OOH campaigns in minutes