HAWAII — Honolulu

Honolulu is the only big city found in the Hawaiian Islands and it is the centre of business, culture and politics. Most of the sights you will see in this area are found in downtown and Chinatown. You will find lots of things to see including beautiful public gardens, lovely beaches, museums, restaurants as well as some great shopping centres which are easily accessible on foot.

The areas found here are:
´Iolani Palace
Hawaii State Art Museum
Queen Lili´uokalani Statue
Washington Place
State Capitol
Hawaii Maritime Center
Aloha Tower
St Andrew’s Cathedral
Kawaiaha´o Church
Mission Houses Museum
Ali´iolani Hale
Honolulu Hale
First Hawaiian Center
Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center
Kaka´ako Waterfront Park
Chinatown
Foster Botanical Garden
Kuan Yin Temple
Ala Moana Beach Park
Ala Moana Center
Honolulu Academy of Arts

´Iolani Palace

´Iolani Palace
This is the only royal palace in the USA. It was the last official residence of King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani from 1882 to 1891 and of Queen Lili´uoklani in 1892 and 1893. It was the first building in Hawaii to have telephones and electric lights. When the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown in 1893 by the USA the building became the Capitol for the territory then the State. The government moved out of ´Iolani Palace in 1969 and it was left until 1978 when it was fully restored and turned into a museum. The highlight of this building is the red and gold Throne Room with the original thrones of the king and queen. The interior of the palace can be visited by a guided tour or on a self-guided audio tour. You are free to visit the palace grounds which include the former Royal Household Guards barracks, the Coronation pavilion built for the coronation of King Kalakaua in 1883 and is still used for the inauguration of governors. Every Friday afternoon from 12 to 1pm (except in August) there is a free concert by the Royal Hawaiian band in the pavilion.
For information about the palace visit the website at: http://www.iolanipalace.org/

Traveller's Tip

Visitors to the palace need to dress appropriately which means no beachwear or brief tops or shorts and men will need to remove hats. When you take the tour you will need to wear booties over your shoes to protect the wooden floors.

Hawaii State Art Museum
The Hawaii State Art Museum is found across the street from the ´Iolani Palace in the former Capitol District Building which was built in the Spanish-Mission style in 1928. The museum exhibits the best of traditional and contemporary art and promotes ethnic diversity. There are three galleries displaying fine art, sculpture, photography and mixed-media.
For information about the museum visit the website at: http://www.state.hi.us/sfca

Queen Lili´uokalani Statue

Queen Lili´uokalani Statue
The bronze statue of Queen Lili´uokalani who was Hawaii’s last queen is found between the ´Iolani Palace and the State Capitol and faces Washington Place. The statue holds the Hawaii constitution which was the cause of Queen Lili´uokalani’s deposing in 1893. The statue is draped with fresh leis everyday.

Washington Place
This large colonial building is the governor’s official residence and it is found across the street from the State Capitol. It was built in 1846 by US sea captain John Dominis whose son (of the same name) became the governor of O´ahu and married the hawaiian princess who later became Queen Lili´uokalani. Queen Lili´uokalani lived in exile here until 1917 when she died. A new Governor’s residence has been built here and the original is now a museum of Hawaiian history. You can take a tour by reserving a place in advance and it is free.
For information about the museum visit the following website at: http://hawaii.gov/gov/about/washington-place/index.html?searchterm=Washington+Place

State Capitol
The State Capitol building was built in the 1960s and this era is reflected in the architecture which is loved by some and hated by others but the two cone-shaped chambers represent volcanoes and the supporting columns represent palm trees so this makes it interesting. It has an open rotunda which you can walk through and the building is surrounded by a pool that represents the ocean surrounding Hawaii. The State Capitol houses the offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and the state legislature.
For information about the State Capitol visit the following website at: http://hawaii.gov/gov/about/state-capitol/state-capitol.html

Traveller's Tip

Guided tours of the building are not available at the moment but you can take a self-guided tour by picking up a brochure from Room no 415. Check the website from time to time to see if they are going to resume giving guided tours.

Hawaii Maritime Center
This museum is found near the Aloha Tower and it contains a fascinating insight into the history of Hawaii from the time of Captain Cook’s visit up to the present day. There are some great boats found in the museum which you can explore for yourself including a four-masted rigger and a double-hulled sailing canoe. This Centre is closed at the moment and it is not known when it will reopen so you can check the website from time to time to see if this changes.
For information about the museum visit the website at: http://www.holoholo.org/maritime/

Aloha Tower

Aloha Tower
The Aloha Tower was built in 1926 and in those days it was the tallest structure in Hawaii. That is no longer the case but it is still one of the most recognisable landmarks in Hawaii. It is used as the traffic control centre for Honolulu Harbour and cruise ships disembark at the terminal under the tower. It is also a popular attraction for visitors because you can take a lift to the tenth floor observation deck for spectacular 360° views. There is a shopping centre under the tower full of shops and places to eat.
For information about the tower visit the website at: http://www.alohatower.com/

St Andrew’s Cathedral

St Andrew’s Cathedral
This church was founded by King Kamehameha 1V and Queen Emma in 1858 but the building wasn’t finished until 1867 which was four year’s after the king had died. The church is French Gothic in design and has an impressive stained glass window made from hand blown glass that came from England.

Kawaiaha´o Church

Kawaiaha´o Church
Kawaiaha´o Church is the oldest church in O´ahu and was built between 1837 and 1842 on the site of the original grass thatch church built by the missionaries when they first arrived in Hawaii. The church was built of around 14,000 stones and it took more than a thousand men to build it. They collected wood from their own lands and carried coral reef rocks from the ocean. The church has been popular with Hawaiian royalty and it was the site of King Kamehameha IV’s coronation as well as his wedding to Queen Emma. Today Kawaiaha´o is one of the few remaining churches in Hawaii to offer services in the Hawaiian language.
For information about the church visit the website at: http://www.kawaiahao.org/index.php/home

Mission Houses Museum

Mission Houses Museum
These buildings are found across the road from Kawaiaha´o Church and they include three of the original buildings from the Sandwich Islands Mission headquarters. The Mission Houses contain original furnishings and are authentic recreations of what life was like for the missionaries and their families when they came to the islands. The first of the three buildings is the Hale La´au which is the oldest frame structure found in the Hawaiian Islands and served as a home for the missionaries. The second building is the Ka Hale Kamalani or Chamberlain House and was built from blocks of coral skeletons. It was used as a storehouse. The third building is the Ka Hale Pa´i or Printing Office and it housed a press to print the Bible in Hawaiian.
For information about the museum visit the website at: http://www.missionhouses.org/

Ali´iolani Hale

Ali´iolani Hale
This building was built for King Kamehameha V to be used as his palace but he died before it was finished and so it was never used as a palace but as the headquarters for the Hawaiian government and home to the Legislative Assembly and Supreme Court. It was in this building that the Provisional government officially overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893. Today it is the home of Hawaii’s Supreme Court and State Law Library and there is a Judiciary History Centre on the first floor.
For information about the Judiciary History Centre visit the website at: http://www.jhchawaii.net

Traveller's Tip

If you are a fan of the TV series Lost you may like to know that this building was used in several scenes in the series. One of the conference rooms was used in the scene where Claire meets the prospective adoptive parents of her baby and where Michael and his wife meet with their attorneys about their divorce.
Honolulu Hale

Honolulu Hale
Honolulu Hale is City Hall and was built in 1927 as a Spanish Mission. The building is quite beautiful and contains an inner courtyard, staircase and ceiling that were modelled on the Bargello Museum in Florence. The courtyard is sometimes used as a concert venue. It is found on King Street near some of the other historic buildings such as the State Capitol, ´Iolani Palace, the Mission Houses Museum and Kawaiaha´o Church. At the front of the building is an eternal flame memorial to the victims of the September 11 terrorist attack.

First Hawaiian Center
The First Hawaiian Center is the headquarters of the First Hawaiian Bank and it houses the downtown gallery of the Contemporary Museum. The exhibits feature modern Hawaiian Art that regularly changes. A highlight of the building is the four-storey high glass wall with 185 prisms.
For information about the gallery visit the following website at: http://www.tcmhi.org/ex_fhc.htm

Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center
The center is found across from the Kaka´ako Waterfront Park in downtown Honolulu and is a great place if you are travelling with young children and you want a change from the beach. It is a place that encourages children to use all of their senses to discover the world around them. It is a hands on experience that is fun as well as being educational. They have lots of changing exhibitions which you can check out on their website.
For information about the center visit the website at: http://www.discoverycenterhawaii.org/

Kaka´ako Waterfront Park

Kaka´ako Waterfront Park
This is a large recreational park found at the end of Cooke or Coral Streets, just off Ala Moana Boulevard. It is often overlooked by visitors but is a peaceful and charming place to walk with a fantastic view of the shoreline. The Park is home to various works of public art including the Ehime Maru Memorial which is a tribute to the tragic accident that resulted in the sinking of a Japanese educational fishing vessel.

Traveller's Tip

This is a great place to have a picnic and view the sunset and if you happen to be here on a Friday evening you can enjoy the sailboat races and at the Diamond Head end you will see the fireworks display as well.
Chinatown

Chinatown
This is a very colourful place that is great to visit during the day time but becomes extremely busy in the evening. There are lots of cheap restaurants as well as historic buildings that you will find very interesting and well worth the trip. Some of the sights to visit in this area include Maunakea Street, the Chinatown Cultural Plaza with some interesting shops to look at and the River Street Pedestrian Mall with its delicious places to eat. There is an excellent website with heaps of information if you want to visit this area.
For information about Chinatown visit the following website at: http://www.chinatownhi.com/

Foster Botanical Garden

Foster Botanical Garden
This garden is found at the north end of Chinatown and is the main botanical garden found on O´ahu. This garden was established in 1853 by a German doctor and botanist, William Hillebrand who planted the magnificent trees that you can still see here today. It was later bought by the Fosters who continued to develop the garden. It is a lovely place to visit and now covers an area of 13.5 acres. Some of the highlights are the Lyon Orchid Garden, The Main Terrace which is the oldest part of the garden, the Prehistoric Garden and the Exceptional trees that are scattered throughout the garden and they are labelled for your information. You can pick up a pamphlet at the entrance to the park and follow a self guided tour.
For information about the garden visit the following website at: http://www.co.honolulu.hi.us/parks/hbg/fbg.htm

Kuan Yin Temple

Kuan Yin Temple
This is the oldest Buddhist temple in Hawaii and is found near the entrance to the Foster Botanical Garden. The temple is dedicated to Kuan Yin Bodhsattva, the Goddess of Mercy and worshippers make offerings of seeded fruit to promote fertility. You are welcome to visit but remember this is a place of worship.

Ala Moana Beach Park

Ala Moana Beach Park
This huge and beautiful public park is found between downtown Honolulu and Waikiki. It is one of the most popular beaches for both residents and visitors because the water is mostly calm and peaceful because of the outer reef protecting the beach. There are lots of shady trees making it the perfect place for picnics, barbecues, and outdoor games. You will find lots of amenities here including showers, tennis courts, food stands, a music pavilion, picnic tables and phones.

Traveller's Tip

Be aware that if you are swimming here at low tide there is a deep channel that runs the length of the beach and this can be a hazard for poor swimmers. Also this park can be unsafe after dark.

Ala Moana Center
This large open-air mall which is Hawaii’s largest shopping centre is found on Ala Moana Boulevarde and can be reached easily by public or private transport. You will find plenty of designer shops as well as the major department stores and a host of smaller shops. There are also plenty of restaurants to choose from if you get hungry after all that shopping.
For information about the center visit the website at: http://www.alamoanacenter.com/

Honolulu Academy of Arts
This is definitely the museum to visit in Hawaii mostly because of its Asian gallery exhibits which are considered to be one of the finest found in the USA. Other exhibits include hawaiian artefacts and paintings as well as collections of European art. There is a large gift shop and cafe as well.
For information about the museum visit the website at: http://www.honoluluacademy.org/cmshaa/academy/index.aspx

Traveller's Tip

If you are here on the last Friday of the month there is an event called ARTafterDARK where you can dance, listen to live music and browse through the museum’s exhibits and buy food at the Pavilion cafe. Each of these events has an art-inspired theme and they are a lot of fun. Look on the website for information.