The excitement of a cosmopolitan city, the underpinnings of a gracious host culture, the progressive business climate at the hub of the Pacific Rim, it is all wrapped up in one tropical metropolis Honolulu.
Nicknamed “The Gathering Place” Honolulu practically oozes with things to do and see, all within a radius of about 6 miles. Parking is generally a chore, so hop on The Bus for cheap public transportation.
There’s much to choose from including botanical gardens, museums, the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium theaters and historical points of interest. To give you an idea of where to start, here are some of the town’s top-rated attractions, each worth a morning or afternoon of its own.
The Bishop Museum is considered the best Polynesian anthropological museum in the world. Within its collections are artifacts, clothing and life-size exhibits that depict life in Hawaii, Melanesia, Micronesia, the Cooke Islands and other Polynesian islands. Of special interest is a feather cloak that was made for Kamehameha I and handed down to subsequent kings; the cloak was created from the bright yellow tail feathers of about 80,000 now-extinct mamo birds that were caught, plucked and released.
Young visitors will enjoy the museum’s “Kidspace,” where they can play with Hawaiian instruments, try on hula skirts and crawl under large turtle shells. The Bishop Museum is located at 1525 Bernice Street (ph. 847-3511). Admission charged.
USS Arizona Memorial
Hawaii’s most visited attraction is the USS Arizona Memorial, which is run by the National Park Service. Each year, about 1.5 million people tour the memorial to “Remember Pearl Harbor,” taking in the museum; theater and the boat ride to the monument and back.
During the two-hour attack on December 7, 1941, some 2335 U.S. soldiers died, with 1177 perishing on the USS Arizona battleship. The ship rests in 40 feet of water, with the soldiers buried at sea in its hull. There is no charge for the 1-hour program, but each visitor must pick up his or her own admission ticket. The memorial opens at 8 a.m. daily; come as early as possible to avoid a long wait.
To visit the only royal palace in the U.S., make reservations to tour Iolani Palace (ph. 522-0832). The palace was the official residence of King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani from 1882 to 1891, and of the King’s successor (and sister), Queen Liliuokalani, for two years after that. When the monarchy was overthrown in 1893, the palace became the capitol for the republic territory and finally for the State of Hawaii.
Later, the Queen was tried for treason in the palace throne room, and she was imprisoned for nine months in a bedroom that had once been her home. Guided 45-minute tours (wheelchair accessible) of the beautifully restored palace are offered Wednesday through Saturday; children under 5 are not admitted. Admission charged.