It was known as Quarantine Island during the nineteenth century, when it was used to quarantine ships believed to carry contagious passengers.
During World War II, Sand Island was used as an Armyinternment camp to house Japanese Americans as well as expatriates from Germany, Italy and other Axis countries living in Hawaii. The camp opened in December 1941, soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent mass arrests of civilians accused — often without evidence — of espionage or other fifth column activity. Over 600 Hawaiian residents, many of them U.S. citizens, would pass through Sand Island before it was closed in March 1943. Most of the internees had been transferred to Army and Department of Justice internment camps on the mainland beginning in February 1942; the remaining 149 were moved to the newly constructed Honouliuli Internment Camp.
During the 1970s, over 100 homeless native Hawaiians cleaned up the garbage that filled the island, built homes and took up residence. In the early 1980s, 180 acres of the island were reclaimed by the State of Hawaii for industrial and recreational development. Those who had taken up residence were evicted without compensation.
Sand island climate is mild year round with very little seasonal difference in temperatures, however there is a very distinct difference between the wet and dry season. Summer high temperatures range from upper 80's to low 90's °F, with winter highs range from upper 70's to mid 80's °F. Precipitation is light year round, more so in the Summer. There is approximately 3,100 hours of sunshine annually.
Kashima, Tetsuden (2003), Judgment without trial: Japanese American imprisonment during World War II, The Scott and Laurie Oki series in Asian American studies, University of Washington Press, ISBN978-0-295-98299-1