HAWAII — Around Honolulu

A little further out of Honolulu you will find some beautiful State Parks to visit as well as the famous Pearl Harbour.

The areas found here are:
Royal Mausoleum State Monument
Bishop Museum
Contemporary Museum
Lyon Arboretum
Manoa Falls
Pu´u´ualaka´a State Park
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
Sand Island State Recreation Area
Tantalus and Makiki Valley Trails
Pearl Harbour
Hawaii’s Plantation Village
Kea´iwa Heiau State Park

Royal Mausoleum State Monument
This is the burial place of Hawaiian royalty and is found at Mauna Ala, in the Nu´uanu Valley and is considered to be one of the most sacred burial sites by many residents. Members of the Kamehameha and Kalakaua Dynasties as well as their households are found buried here. It was originally built in 1865 by King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma as a burial site for their dead son, Prince Albert. It isn’t a popular tourist site but visitors are welcome to visit the grounds for free.
For information about the monument visit the following website at: http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/parks/oahu/royal.cfm

Bishop Museum
If you are interested in learning more about the Hawaiian culture then this is the place to visit as it is Hawaii’s largest museum dedicated to studying and preserving the history of Hawaii and the Pacific. It contains millions of artefacts, documents and photos. Some of the highlights include the yellow feather cloak of King Kamehameha the Great, a full-size thatched hut and carved temple images. Check out the daily programmes which can include interactive presentations, some especially for children. There is also a planetarium.
For information about the museum visit the website at: http://www.bishopmuseum.org

Contemporary Museum
This is the only museum in Hawaii devoted to contemporary art. The museum has two sites including the First Hawaii Center which is found in downtown Honolulu and the museum housed in the historic Spalding House with its tropical gardens and views of Honolulu. One of the highlights of the museum is the installation by David Hockney based on the L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, an opera by Ravel. The museum houses changing exhibitions of paintings, sculpture by local and international artists and you can check these out by looking at the website of the museum.
For information about the museum visit the following website at: http://www.tcmhi.org

Lyon Arboretum

Lyon Arboretum
The University of Hawaii oversees the Lyon Arboretum which consists of almost 200 acres of tropical plants from Hawaii and Polynesia. You can explore the gardens by yourself using a map which you can download from the website ahead of your visit or on a guided tour which you must book at least 24 hours in advance.
For information about this garden visit the following website at: http://www.hawaii.edu/lyonarboretum/

Traveller's Tip

The walk to Inspiration Point is worth it for the view at the end which is spectacular.
  • Be sure to take insect repellant when visiting this area especially in the summer as the mosquitos can be fierce.

    Manoa Falls

    Manoa Falls
    These falls are found near the entrance of the Lyon Arboretum and you can hike to the falls before or after visiting the gardens. The hike is easy and takes about 30 minutes one way but be warned that it can get very slippery and muddy especially after rain so you will need to wear sensible shoes. The flowers and plants found along the trail and near the falls are wonderful as well as the many birds you will hear. This is a magical place and well worth the visit.

    Pu´u´ualaka´a State Park

    Pu´u´ualaka´a State Park
    If you have a car this is the place to come for a fantastic view over Honolulu. Entrance to the park is found up Round Top Drive from Makiki Street.


    For information about the park visit the following website at: http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/parks/oahu/index.cfm?park_id=29

    Traveller's Tip

    If you want a great sunset view over Honolulu take a drive around Round Top Drive. The park closes around 6.45pm but the drive is still worth it and there are lots of places to stop and take photos.

    National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
    The location of this cemetery is Punchbowl which is the remains of an extinct volcano just north of downtown Honolulu. The cemetery covers an area of around 114 acres and is a memorial to those who served in the US Armed Forces. There is a lookout nearby which gives you a view of Honolulu.
    For information about the cemetery visit the following website at: http://www.cem.va.gov/CEMs/nchp/nmcp.asp

    Sand Island State Recreation Area

    Sand Island State Recreation Area
    This 140-acre park is found at the entrance to Honolulu Harbour, at the end of Sand Island Access Road, off Nimitz Highway. The park was used by the military during WW11 for coastal defence and evidence of this can be found in the bunkers and lookout towers that still remain. Today it is mostly used by locals but if you make the effort to come here you will be rewarded with a lovely view of the coastline, especially at sunset. Just be aware this lies in the flight path of the Honolulu Airport and can get very noisy at times.

    Tantalus and Makiki Valley Trails

    Tantalus and Makiki Valley Trails
    If you like hiking then there are several trails that you can follow in the area between Tantalus Drive and Round Top Drive. The trails are well maintained and never get too crowded. A popular hike is the Makiki Valley Loop Trail which is a 4 kilometre hike where you will see lots of luscious tropical forest and lovely views. To find out how to get to these trails and others in the area visit the website below for directions and downloadable maps.
    For information about the hiking trails visit the following website at: http://hawaiitrails.ehawaii.gov/island.php?island=Oahu

    Traveller's Tip

    It is always a good idea to wear sensible clothing and footwear as a lot of these trails can be muddy. Water and an insect repellent are also advisable.
    Pearl Harbour

    Pearl Harbour
    Pearl Harbour was named for the pearl oysters that were found here once and it is the largest natural harbour in Hawaii. It is probably most famous for the attacks made by the Japanese Navy on December 7, 1941 which forced the US into WW11. There are three memorial sites you can visit here. The first of these is the USS Arizona Memorial which is named after the battleship that was hit by a bomb which sank it and killed 1,177 crewmen. This is one of Hawaii’s most visited sites and admission is free. When you arrive here you can visit the Visitors Centre to watch a film about the attack and to see the plaques honouring the people who died in it. After that you can take the boat shuttle to the floating memorial which is built over the sunken battleship USS Arizona. A visit to the shrine room to see the names of the crew who lost their lives on this ship is a very moving experience. The next place to visit is the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum Park where you will find the USS Bowfin and the Pacific Submarine Museum. The museum will teach you about the development of submarines and you can take a 30 minute self-guided tour around the USS Bowfin. It is free to walk around the park and look at the missiles and torpedos but you will pay to visit the submarine and museum. The last place to visit here is the Battleship Missouri Memorial which is famous for its Surrender Deck where General Macarthur accepted the formal Japanese surrender that ended WW11. You can walk around the ship by yourself or take one of the guided tours. You will need to take a shuttle to the Battleship Missouri as it is located on Ford Island. Tickets for both the USS Bowfin and USS Missouri are bought at the ticket office at the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum.
    For information about the USS Bowfin visit the website at: http://www.bowfin.org/
    For information about the Battleship Missouri Memorial visit the website at: http://www.ussmissouri.com/

    Traveller's Tip

    It is a good idea to pick up your tickets for the boat shuttle to the USS Arizona in the morning as they are often gone by the afternoon with the summer months being the busiest time.
  • Be aware that because of security measures you are not allowed to bring bags of any kind into the visitor centre or ship tours. There are lockers where you can store your belongings in the parking lot near the USS Missouri site.
  • There is a Battle Stations Tour available on the Battleship Missouri Memorial which is a lot of fun where you can pretend you are a sailor on board a submarine for a little while. It is best to reserve this tour if you want to do it because there is a limited capacity. Information about this can be found on the website.
    Hawaii’s Plantation Village

    Hawaii’s Plantation Village
    The village is found north of Pearl Harbour and is a re-creation of a sugar plantation village and botanical garden of a century ago. There are 30 homes and buildings that were typical of the times with period furnishings showing the different ethnic groups — Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Puerto Rican and Filipino. You can take a one-hour guided tour.
    For information about the village visit the website at: http://hawaiisplantationvillage-info.com/

    Kea´iwa Heiau State Park

    Kea´iwa Heiau State Park
    This 384-acre park is found a few miles northeast of Pearl Harbour. At the entrance to the park is the Keaiwa Heiau which is a healing temple where the priests would treat various illnesses and injuries using the plants in the surrounding area, many of which are still found here today. People still see this temple as a special healing place and if they wish to be helped they visit and leave offerings. You will also find the Aiea Loop Trail that begins and ends in this park. It is a 7 kilometre trail that has lots of things to see along the way including the remains of a plane that crashed in 1943 as well as some beautiful plants and some scenic views. It can get muddy at times but is still quite easy to manage by anyone with some level of fitness.
    For information about the park visit the following website at: http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/parks/oahu/keaiwa.cfm