Historical and Cultural Activities
Hawaii has a very interesting history, and the Hawaiian culture remains an important component of the land's culture. Given its importance as a political and commercial center, you could expect to find a lot of historical sites and cultural activities on Oahu — and find them you will!
Polynesian Cultural Center 55-370 Kamehameha Hwy., La'ie 1-877-722-1411 1-800-367-7060 www.polynesia.com email@example.com
The Polynesian Culture Center (or PCC) is a cultural theme park featuring various Pacific islands, including Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti, New Zealand, the Marquesas and, of course, Hawaii. Since its opening in 1963, the PCC has been one of Hawaii's most visited attractions. You'll find lots of demonstrations, hands-on activities, food, and entertainment. There's an IMAX theater, a daily “Rainbows of Polynesia Canoe Pageant,” and an amphitheater show entitled Horizons! A Celebration of Polynesian Discovery. The PCC also hosts a big luau.
The PCC is open every day but Sundays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, from 12:30-9 P.M. You can choose from a whole variety of prices and packages that include meals and transportation. The cheapest arrangement, which is to drive yourself and forgo the prepaid food arrangements, costs $40 for adults and $24 for children ages 3–11. Transportation packages start at $53 and $37, respectively.
The PCC is located on Oahu's windward side, about 35 or 45 miles from Waikiki depending on which route is taken. You can drive there yourself, let the PCC provide the transportation, or you can take TheBus #55 Kaneohe-Circle Island from Ala Moana Center. Get off in the town of La'ie, and also take the #55 coming back.
Bishop Museum 1525 Bernice St., Honolulu 847-3511 www.bishopmuseum.org
The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum was established in 1889 and is the officially designated State Museum on Natural and Cultural History. The museum is a major center for all kinds of Pacific research and exhibits. Its vast collection includes artifacts and natural history specimens, many of which are on display. The permanent exhibition of items relating to Hawaiian history and culture is a must-see, and there are temporary exhibitions on a variety of subjects. Consult the museum's Web site for the latest news. The museum is also home to a planetarium that offers a variety of programs, including solar viewing between 2:30 and 3:15 P.M.
The museum and planetarium are open every day but Christmas from 9 A.M.-5 P.M. Admission price for adults is $14.95. Seniors 65 and over pay $11.95, as do children ages 4–12. Kids aged 3 and under are free.
To reach the museum on TheBus from Waikiki, catch the #2 (School St.-Middle St.) going westbound. Get off at School St. and Kapalama Ave. Walk one block toward the ocean to Bernice St. Reverse the directions to go back via the #2 eastbound (Waikiki-Kapiolani Park). The museum's Web site provides detailed driving directions. You can also reach the museum on the Waikiki Trolley's Red Line.
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There are a number of ancient Hawaiian temple sites (heiau) on Oahu. One of the best preserved is Kane'aki in Makaha Valley on the western leeward side. It can't be visited without special permission and it is still occasionally used by modern Hawaiian religious practitioners. Pu'u O Mahuka (“hill of escape”) Heiau is the largest heiau on Oahu. It is located at Pupukea overlooking Waimea Bay on the North Shore.
King Kamehameha Statue 957 Punchbowl St., Honolulu
The statue honors the great Kamehameha, who unified the islands and served as the first king of Hawaii. The statue was dedicated in 1883 by King Kalakaua. It stands in front of the Ali'iolani Hale, a building which served as a palace for Kamehameha V and now is home to the state supreme court.
Hawaii Maritime Center Pier 7, Honolulu Harbor, Honolulu 536-6373 www.holoholo.org/maritime
The Hawaii Maritime Center is home to a number of interesting exhibits and attractions related to Hawaii's interaction with the sea. There are exhibits, for example, that deal with whaling (including the skeleton of a humpback whale) and surfing. You'll also see two extraordinary watercraft: the four-masted Falls of Clyde, a sailing ship built in 1878, and the famous Hokule'a, the experimental Polynesian voyaging canoe that has traversed the Pacific in the manner of ancient mariners.
The maritime center is open every day except Christmas from 8:30 A.M.-5 P.M. Admission is $7.50 for adults and $4.50 for children 6–17 years old. Kids under 6 are free. You can get to the center by taking TheBus #19 or #20, and the Waikiki Trolley's Red Line stops there as well. The Hilo Hattie/Dole Pineapple Cannery Tour also provides free bus transportation.
Mission Houses Museum 553 South King St., Honolulu 531-0481 www.lava.net/~mhm
The Museum explores the lives and lifestyles of the Protestant missionaries who came to Hawaii beginning in the early nineteenth century. The site contains a visitor's center and three historic buildings, including the Frame House that dates back to 1821.
The museum is open from 9 A.M.-4 P.M. Tuesday through Saturday, with tours at 10 A.M., 11:15 A.M., 1 P.M., and 2:45 P.M. Admission is $10 for adults; $8 for seniors, Hawaii residents, and members of the military; $6 for students and children 6 and over; and free for children 5 and under. The museum also offers 2½ hour-long morning walking tours of historic sites in downtown Honolulu. The cost is $15. Call for reservations 24 hours in advance. You can take TheBus #2 from Kuhio Ave. toward down-town and get off at Beretania and Punchbowl. Walk toward the ocean to King St.
'Iolani Palace 364 South King St., Honolulu 522-0832
The beautiful 'Iolani Palace is the only royal residence found within the United States. The palace was completed in 1882 and was home to King Kalakaua and his successor, Queen Lili'uokalani, until the latter was overthrown in 1893. Afterwards, the palace served as the islands' administrative center. It continued to serve this purpose after Hawaii joined the United States, until the new state capitol building was finished in 1969. The interior of the palace includes a throne room, a state dining room, royal residences, and a library.
Admission is by docent-led tour only, Tuesday through Saturday (except major holidays) from 9 A.M.-2 P.M. The grand tour of the palace and its galleries costs $20 for adults, $15 for adult residents, and $5 for children ages 5–17. Children under age 5 are not allowed on the tour. Reservations are highly recommended. Take TheBus #2 or #13 to the palace, or you can take the Waikiki Trolley, either the Red or Blue line.
Hawaii's Plantation Village 94-695 Waipahu St., Waipahu 677-0110 www.hawaiiplantationvillage.org
Located within the Leilehua plateau northwest of Honolulu, Hawaii's Plantation Village gives visitors a glimpse of life in the multicultural world of the Hawaiian plantation life of the early twentieth century. Interesting restored and replica buildings, exhibits and artifacts illustrate an extremely important facet of Hawaii's history and developing economy.
The village is open Monday through Friday, 9 A.M.-4:30 P.M. and Saturdays from 10 A.M.-4:30 P.M. It is closed on major holidays. Guided tours begin at the top of the hour. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for local residents and military, $4 for seniors, $2 for students, and free for kids 5 and under. You can take TheBus #42, Ewa Beach. Transfer at Waipahu Transit Center to #432 West Waipahu.
Byodo-In Buddhist Temple 47-200 Kahekili Hwy.
The Byodo-In is located in the Valley of the Temples. The temple is a replica of an old temple of the same name in Uji, Japan. The tranquil site is landscaped with lovely Japanese koi ponds and gardens. The temple features a nine-foot wooden Buddha statue and a giant peace bell. Open daily from 8:30 A.M.-4:30 P.M. Admission is $2.
Nu'uana Pali is a large cliff. Its historical claim to fame is that Kamehameha I forced the Oahu army over this cliff during his conquest of the island. Today, the Pali Highway (Route 61) passes right along the spot on its traverse over the mountains to the windward side. There is a lookout where one can shudder at the horror of the historic battle and also enjoy the tremendous views.
Mauka Makai Excursions 593-3525 1-877-326-6248 www.oahu-ecotours.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Take a half-day or a full-day cultural and archaeological tour of windward and North Shore Oahu. You'll hear the local legends and myths along with plenty of cultural information as you visit the island's major archaeological sites. Some hiking is involved, and swimming at a nice beach is part of the program. Prices range from $45 for a half-day to $75 for a full-day tour.
Memories of War
The 1941 Japanese surprise attack put Pearl Harbor in the history books, and the site of this world-changing event is visited by a great many tourists. A memorial to the many killed in the attack can be found there as well as a famous battleship, the USS Missouri, and a submarine, the USS Bowfin. Pearl Harbor is located off Highway 1, east past the airport.
USS Arizona Memorial 1 Arizona Memorial Place, Honolulu 422-0561 www.nps.gov USAR_ Administration@nps.gov
When Pearl Harbor was attacked on that December day in 1941, 1,117 crewmen (about half of those who were killed that day) perished during the sinking of the USS Arizona. The ship was never raised, and the bodies of many remain entombed in its wreckage. In 1962, a somber memorial was constructed over the ship, and the site is supervised by the National Park Service. There is a visitor's center on land; boats take visitors out to the actual memorial.
The memorial is open daily from 7:30 A.M. until 5 P.M. except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. The first boats to the memorial go out at 8 A.M., and 7:45 A.M. during the summer. Keep in mind that the memorial receives a good many visitors, and anticipate that you might have to wait in line for a while to get on the boats. Admission is free.
You can take TheBus from Waikiki: #20 (Airport-Pearlridge), #42 (Ewa), #40 from Ala Moana Center (Makaha Beach), #40A (Makaha Towers), or #62 (Wahiawa Heights). Return on TheBus #20 or #42 to Waikiki, or #40 and #62 to Ala Moana. The Memorial is also a stop on many tours.
Battleship Missouri Memorial 423-22631 1-877-MIGHTYMO www.ussmissouri.com email@example.com
The USS Missouri, nicknamed “Mighty Mo,” is one of the most famous ships to have survived World War II. The USS Missouri Memorial Association was created to preserve this historic battleship, and in 1998, the ship arrived in Pearl Harbor. It is indeed a poetic statement that this ship, on whose decks the Japanese signed surrender documents ending the war, should sit next to the memorial to the USS Arizona, representing the very beginning of the U.S. participation in that conflict.
A variety of tours are offered, from the basic Chief's Guided Tour ($22 for adults and $14 for children) to a deluxe Captain's Tour ($49 and $39), which includes refreshments in the captain's cabin.
USS Bowfin Submarine and Park 423-1341 www.bowfin.org
The USS Bowfin was commissioned in 1942 and completed a number of undersea missions during World War II with her crew of eighty. This attraction is operated by a nonprofit organization, the Pacific Fleet Submarine Memorial Association. Self-guided audio tours are provided for exploring the Bowfin, and there is a museum dedicated to submarines, a memorial to lost submariners, and a gift shop.
The park is located next to the Arizona Memorial. It is open daily from 8 A.M.-5 P.M. and is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. The last tour of the Bowfin is at 4:30 P.M. Admission is $8 for adults and $3 for kids ages 4–12. Children under age 4 are not allowed on the actual submarine.
Almost all of the ships sunk during the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor were later raised and rebuilt. The only ones left on the ocean floor were the Arizona and Utah. The Oklahoma was raised but not rebuilt.
Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific 2177 Puowaina Dr., Honolulu 566-1430
The Punchbowl cemetery, located in an old volcano crater, serves as a memorial to members of the Armed Forces who lost their lives in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Other honored veterans are also buried there alongside other graves that contain unidentified remains. There are a number of monumental tributes including some dedicated to those missing in action. Situated above the city, the Punchbowl cemetery has commanding views of Honolulu and the southern coast while the mountains rise behind. It is open seven days a week from 8 A.M. until 5 P.M.
Like any big modern city, Honolulu plays host to the arts. Art lovers will find numerous commercial galleries for viewing and shopping. The following museums and other art organizations are open to visitors.
Hawaii State Art Museum 250 South Hotel St., Honolulu 586-0900 www.state.hi.us/sfca
The museum showcases Hawaiian artists. It is located on the second floor of the No. 1 Capitol District Building. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 A.M. -4 P.M. It is closed on state and federal holidays. Admission is free! You can reach the museum on TheBus or by taking the Waikiki Trolley's Red Line.
The Honolulu Academy of the Arts 900 South Beretania St. 532-8700 www.honoluluacademy.org
The Honolulu Academy of the Arts calls itself Hawaii's “premier art institution and one of the finest museums in the United States.”The museum is home to a very diverse range of art from all over the world including the Pacific, Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East. Along with the permanent collection, there are regular temporary exhibitions.
The Academy is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 A.M. until 4:30 P.M. and Sundays from 1-5 P.M. It is closed on Mondays and major national holidays. General admission is $7; $4 for seniors 62 and older, students 13 and older, and military; and free for children 12 and under.
Reach the museum on TheBus #2 from Kuhio Ave. toward downtown. You can also take the Waikiki Trolley's Red Line.
The Contemporary Museum 2411 Makiki Heights Dr., Honolulu 526-1322 www.tcmhi.org
As the name implies, the Contemporary Museum features exhibitions of modern and contemporary art from the 1940s to the present. It is located in Honolulu's Makiki Heights and is centered at the historic Spalding House, built in 1925. There is also a nice café on the premises. The museum also exhibits at the First Hawaiian Center, 999 Bishop St., in downtown Honolulu.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 A.M.-4 P.M. and on Sundays from 12-4 P.M. It is closed on Mondays and major holidays. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and students, and free for children 12 and under. Museum admission is free to the public on the third Thursday of each month. Take TheBus #15 to Makiki Heights Dr.
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For decades, the Kodak Hula Show was an extremely popular tourist attraction. Now called the Pleasant Hawaiian Hula Show, its performers continue to put on delightful free performances three times a week at the Waikiki Shell in Kapi'olani Park. Performances are from 10-11:15 A.M. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.