Though Hawaii became an American state in 1959, you can find official records for genealogy usually dating from around 1842. Be warned that many old documents are not in English, so learning a little Hawaiian may help with your searches.
Hawaii Vital Records
Vital records include all documents pertaining to births, deaths and marriages, and they are crucial to doing any Hawaii genealogy research.
This material is not totally open to the public, and there will be some restrictions on what records you can request. All records become public domain after 75 years, so there will be no issues trying to get copies of material older than that. If you need records more recent, you will need to be a relative of the person on the document (or one of the parties for a marriage record). It doesn’t need to be an immediate relative, any level of relation will do.
These Hawaii genealogy records are kept mainly by the Office of Health Status Monitoring, which is part of the larger state Department of Health. You can get a request form from their website and either mail it in to their office in Honolulu or drop it off in person. Unlike most other states that have counter service, you do not get while-you-wait service if you make your request in person. You will have to go back and pick up the documents in about 10 days. Mailed in forms take closer to 3 weeks to come back to you.
Along with the filled out forms, you need to include a money order for $10 (made out to the Department of Health). These fees cover the cost of the search and are not refunded if they can’t find your records.
If you are looking for marriage records, the Health Status Monitoring office only has documents from 1951 until 2002. For all other years, you will have to contact the courthouse where the marriage was registered.
Other Sources for Material
The Hawaii State Archives can be helpful to find Hawaii genealogy documents that go beyond the typical vital records. But you can find court records, wills, passenger lists, naturalization papers, census records, obituary indexes and more. They also have maps and photos that can help you get a better picture of the region you are studying.
The Archives are located in Honolulu, and they are open through the week during normal business hours. Some of their material is on microfilm and some documents may require staff permission to access (no charge though).
You can also get further help through one of the genealogy societies for the island. Many are regional (Kona Historical Society) but the state-wide Hawaiian Historical Society covers the entire island. Granted, it is not only for Hawaii genealogy but these groups can be a great help when trying to locate odd bits of old information. For any ancestors who are native Hawaiians, try the Native Hawaiian Genealogy Society.