The Hawaii bill would have allowed gay and lesbian couples to gain most of the benefits and protections of marriage by registering civil unions.
The USA states Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage, through judicial or legislative actions.
Hawaii's supreme court in 1993 found banning gay marriage was unconstitutional, but voters in 1998 amended the state constitution to allow such a ban.
"There has not been a bill I have contemplated more or an issue I have thought more deeply about during my eight years as governor than House Bill 444 and the institution of marriage," said Linda Lingle.
"I have been open and consistent in my opposition to same-sex marriage, and find that House Bill 444 is essentially same sex marriage by another name," she added.
About 60 per cent of the more than 34,000 letters, telephone calls, e-mails and other communications from the public to the governor asked her to veto the measure.