How to Find a Grave in Hawaii for Free: Step-by-Step

Updated

Are you trying to find a specific grave in Hawaii? Then we might be able to help. We'll give you several online resources to consult, which may result in a photograph of the headstone. 

Jump ahead to these sections:

Before we begin, consider the reasons you are trying to find the grave. For example, if you wish to visit the burial spot to say goodbye to the deceased, you will need to uncover the name of the cemetery as well as how to find a grave within a cemetery

Some of you may be looking for a grave to uncover information about the deceased. We might be able to help you find that information, even if the location of the grave remains undiscovered.

What Information Will You Need Before You Try to Find a Grave in Hawaii?

You may have to do some online research or look through your family records to help you find a grave in Hawaii. Here is the essential information you are seeking:

Name

Of course, the most important way to begin your search for a grave in Hawaii is to consider the deceased's name. Unfortunately, however, a person's name is sometimes complicated.

Hawaii began officially recording births in 1842 – well before it became a state. This means that you might be able to uncover the person's given name without having to turn to local or family records.

However, having the given name of the deceased doesn't always mean that you will be able to find the grave. For example, sometimes, a nickname is used on a headstone. Also, of course, marriage, divorce, and re-marriage may make it challenging to find a burial record.

Common names, especially those within the same family, also may cause confusion. This means that it is helpful to have additional details about the person's life (besides their name) to learn more about their death. 

Dates

Knowing the birth and death dates of the deceased may help you find their grave in Hawaii. 

Death records in Hawaii go back to 1896. Prior to this time, the local Board of Education was in charge of recording the deaths of those living within the community.

It isn't clear what kind of information can be found on those early death certificates. However, at minimum, you will uncover the date of the death. The documents may also list the final resting place of the deceased.

Location of death

Knowing the island (or region of the island) where the death occurred may also help you find the burial site, especially if you are searching for an old grave. Again, this will help you narrow down your search to a specific region. 

Additionally, knowing the faith of the deceased may also help find a grave in Hawaii. Churches often have cemeteries for their members, or sections of cemeteries may be designated for those of particular beliefs. 

Hawaii-Specific Resources to Help You Find a Grave

Have you gathered as much information as possible about the deceased? By using the first two resources on our list, you might be minutes from seeing a photograph of your loved one's headstone. 

Find A Grave

Find a Grave is the most popular grave-finding website. Visitors to the website can plug in the name(s) of the deceased, exact or approximate dates of birth and death, and the place of death. The results might yield a photograph of the headstone.

Volunteers throughout the country visit cemeteries and photograph headstones. Then, they upload their photos and the information found on the headstone engraving onto the website. 

If you weren't able to uncover any results, you might consider including the names of the close family members of the deceased. 

Billion Graves

Billion Graves is a competitor of Find a Grave. Both websites depend on the work of volunteers to record information found on headstones in Hawaii and other parts of the world. 

Interment

Interment won't help you find a photograph of the person's headstone, but it may be used to help you find the newspaper obituary or death notices of the deceased. 

Interment also has some of the cemetery records for Kauai and Oahu, but the records are woefully incomplete. Also, not all of the documents you can access through Interment are free. 


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Ancestry

Learn more about the deceased by using the most popular genealogy site online – Ancestry. While you can access some information on Ancestry without paying, you might need to visit a local library or genealogy research center to use this source for free.

Using Ancestry, you might be able to find more information about the deceased that was recorded by a close or extended family member – as long as they made their research open for public use. 

Ancestry also provides users with a link to Find a Grave. We prefer Ancestry's search page to the one found on the Find a Grave website. 

Even though Ancestry's primary purpose isn't to record burial sites, it may help you find more information about the deceased. For example, you might find the date or place of death. Through Ancestry, you might also connect with extended family members who might have the information you are seeking in their documents at home. 

Nationwide Gravesite Locator 

If your family member served in the U.S. military, they might be buried in a National Cemetery. Look through this gravesite locator offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to see if you can find a record of their burial.

You can also search for your soldier's grave through the American Battle Monuments Commission website. 

Hawaii Vital Records

The Hawaii State Department of Vital Records website may help you access the information you need about the deceased. However, there may be a cost to obtain a copy of each document.

Hawaiian Historical Society

Reach out to the Hawaiian Historical Society to help you with your search. While this website is for the state's historical society, you might also search for historical societies on each island. 

Reasons You Can't Find a Gravesite

While some of you may already have a photograph of the gravesite you were seeking, others may be even more frustrated than before. There may be a reason that you weren't able to uncover the burial site. Here are some possible reasons that your search was unsuccessful.

The person is still living

Verify the date of the person's birth. Is it possible that the person is still alive? Learn more about how to find out if someone is still alive before you continue your search.

The cemetery records aren't online

If the Interment website gives any indication about the number of Hawaiian cemetery records available online, it's not very hopeful that you will find the one you need. Only two islands were listed, and there weren't many cemeteries listed for each of those islands.

The cemetery records you are searching for may not be available online. The volunteers working for Find a Grave of Billion Graves may not have recorded the headstones in your loved one's cemetery. Or perhaps the cemetery records don't exist. 

The headstone is difficult or impossible to read

Headstones weather and deteriorate over time, making them difficult or impossible to read. Or a person with good intentions may have tried to clean the monument improperly while ruining it in the process. 

Your loved one was buried in an unmarked grave

The burial traditions in Hawaii may be a bit different than those in other states. 

Some graves were marked by stacked stones, and others (particularly graves in sand dunes) were not marked at all. In addition, the remains of high chiefs were often interred at night to conceal their place of burial. This means that the burial site of your ancestor may never be known. 

Steps for Finding a Grave in Hawaii for Free

If you aren't ready to give up your search, we have a few more suggestions on how to find a grave in Hawaii for free. 

1. Seek help from family members

Reach out to the oldest living relatives in your extended family. Even if your grandparents are gone, perhaps they have siblings who are still alive that might be able to give you the information you seek. They might also have a shoebox full of newspaper clippings and funeral cards to help you with your search. 

Even if they can't help you find the grave in Hawaii, you might be able to find out other interesting stories about your family. And, older people sometimes like being able to tell stories about their past to active listeners. 

2. Visit the Hawaiian island where your ancestor lived and died

Of course, visiting the Hawaiian island where your family member lived may not be a "free" way to find a grave. However, your spouse might not complain about spending the money for a visit. 

Once there, visit the local historical societies. These places are usually staffed by volunteers who are passionate about local history. 

3. Visit the local cemeteries

We know this might not be the most efficient way to find a grave in Hawaii. Still, if you can't find the burial location of your loved one by doing in-person or online research, you might simply need to visit Hawaiian cemeteries. Instead of walking through each graveyard, you might see if the cemetery records are available onsite. 

Did You Find Your Loved One's Grave in Hawaii?

We hope we were able to help you find a grave in Hawaii. If you found the site, you might consider leaving a gift to honor your loved one at the gravesite. Please be aware that each cemetery has rules on what type of gifts are allowed. 

If you're a Hawaii resident and ready to start preparing your own end-of-life planning documents, Cake has Advance Care Planning forms you can download. To help ease your planning, we have all the documents you need in one place.

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