4 Authentic Ways to Experience Honolulu

by Lexa Pennington / Feb 07, 2015 /
Lexa Pennington's picture

The fiftieth state of the United States is unique among the states in its natural setting, culture, and history. The Hawaiian Islands were first inhabited almost 2,000 years ago by Polynesian settlers, and present day inhabitants of Hawaii are very proud of their past. Participating in luaus and festivals is a great way for the visitor to get to know the Hawaiian people, as well as their dance, food, and folklore.

 

Waikiki beach and Honolulu.

Aerial view of Waikiki Beach and Honolulu, Hawaii. Wikimedia Commons: Highsmith, Carol M.

 

Located on the island of Oahu, Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii. The beach at Waikiki is a natural adornment to the modern city, and nearby Pearl Harbor was the scene of the deadly surprise attack by the Japanese — an attack that propelled the United States into World War II.

 

Surf at Waikiki Beach

Surf at Waikiki Beach, Honolulu. Wikimedia Commons: Dr. Edwin P. Ewing, Jr.

 

Visitors to Honolulu find history at Pearl Harbor

The Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 was a seminal event for the "greatest generation." Commemorating the sinking of the USS Arizona, the white memorial straddling the sunken battleship's hull is a simple and moving tribute to the 1,177 officers and crewmen who lost their lives when the USS Arizona was bombed.

 

USS Arizona Memorial

Wikimedia Commons: Kerri-Lynn Rath

 

Hillary Rodham Clinton at the USS Arizona Memorial

Shown here Jan. 12, 2010, in Pearl Harbor, after a wreath-laying ceremony at the USS Arizona Memorial, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reads the names of U.S. Sailors from USS Arizona who were lost during the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. Wikimedia Commons: defenseimagery.mil

 

Folklore, art, and natural history are on display at the Bishop Museum

Cultural artifacts and natural specimens tell the tale of the Hawaiian Islands. The Bishop Museum houses a huge collection of the flora and fauna of the south Pacific. Over 22 million specimens include birds of paradise, golden metallic beetles, corals, nautiluses, and butterflies.

The Bishop Museum hosts exhibitions featuring Ku, the god of procreation, prosperity, and warfare.  It has also hosted other diverse exhibitions, including an exhibit of chiefly cultures of Polynesia, which features items such as whale ivory adorments, feathered cloaks, shell fishhooks, and long clubs.  Make sure to check out Gogobot, where you can find nearby hotels and more information about the local culture.

 

Bishop Museum, Honolulu

INTERIOR, NORTHWEST EXHIBIT WING - Bishop Museum, Main Building, Likelike Highway, Honolulu, Honolulu County, HI. Wikimedia Commons: Library of Congress

 

Iolani Palace: the only American palace

In a state full of unique attributes, Iolani Palace stands alone as the only royal palace in the United States. Built by King David Kalakaua, the cornerstone was laid in 1879. After his death, his sister Queen Liliuokalani lived at the Palace until her overthrow in 1893 and subsequent imprisonment in the Palace in 1895.

The Palace and its grounds are comprised of a state dining room, private suites, an imprisonment room, the Coronation Pavilion, a barracks, a throne room, and a sacred mound or royal tomb.

After the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, the Palace furniture and furnishings were auctioned off. A search to find missing items is ongoing.

 

Iolani Palace & Gate, Honolulu

Iolani Palace, Honolulu – Hawaii. Wikimedia Commons: Cristo Vlahos

 

King Kalākaua lying in state, with the pāʻū of Nāhiʻenaʻena visible. Queen Kapiʻolani kneeling next to the casket in the Throne Room of ʻIolani Palace; Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. 1891. Wikimedia Commons: Bernice P. Bishop Museum

King Kalākaua lying in state, with the pāʻū of Nāhiʻenaʻena visible. Queen Kapiʻolani kneeling next to the casket in the Throne Room of ʻIolani Palace; Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. 1891. Wikimedia Commons: Bernice P. Bishop Museum

 

Luaus are must goes for visitors to Honolulu

There are luaus everywhere in Honolulu. The only thing difficult about a luau is how to choose which one to attend.
Popular luaus in Honolulu are the Polynesian Cultural Center, Germaine's Luau, and The Royal Hawaiian Luau.

 

Polynesian Cultural Center, Honolulu

The Polynesian Cultural Center in Oahu, Hawaii. Wikimedia Commons: Gh5046

 

The Royal Hawaiian Luau is located in the "Pink Palace of the Pacific' — The Royal Hawaiian hotel.  Luaus began in ancient times as Aha 'Aina — a gathering for feasting, song and hula. The Royal Hawaiian's waterfront luau commemorates this ancient Hawaiian tradition with an evening of Hawaiian dance, song and storytelling, and great food and drink.

 

Photograph of Royal Luau thrown by King Kalakaua with Robert Louis Stevenson and Queen Liliuokalani. This photograph was taken at the Henry Poor residence in Waikiki. Others present are Fanny Stevenson, her children Lloyd Osbourne and Isobel Strong, and Stevenson's mother Margaret B. Stevenson. Wikimedia Commons: Hawaii State Archives

Photograph of Royal Luau thrown by King Kalakaua with Robert Louis Stevenson and Queen Liliuokalani. This photograph was taken at the Henry Poor residence in Waikiki. Others present are Fanny Stevenson, her children Lloyd Osbourne and Isobel Strong, and Stevenson's mother Margaret B. Stevenson. Wikimedia Commons: Hawaii State Archives

 

No matter what reason you're visiting Honolulu, make sure you check out these authentic traditional activities.

 

Waikiki at Dusk

Waikiki at Dusk. Wikimedia Commons: MNKFotos

 

 

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