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Oʻahu Historic Sites

As the location of Hawaiʻi’s capital, Honolulu, Oʻahu historical sites come in a wide variety of interest to visitors. Here’s a highlight of some of the major O’ahu historical sites you might not want to miss during your vacation:

ʻIolani Palace and Downtown Honolulu

Built in 1882 by King Kalākaua, ʻIolani Palace was the seat of Hawaiʻi’s monarchy until the time of the government’s overthrow in 1893 making this historic site one of the most cultural of O’ahu history. In 1895, Queen Liliʻuokalani was imprisoned in her rooms there for nearly eight months for attempting to restore her throne. There is no other building in Hawaiʻi that embodies the aspirations and challenges of Hawaiʻi’s monarchs as does ʻIolani Palace. It is also fascinating to realize how very modern it was in the time of its construction: it had electricity and a telephone several years before the White House did. It also had indoor plumbing, rather rare in the 1880s.

Plan your visit beforehand; book reservations on the Palace’s website. Guided and self-guided tours are available. Please note that visitors are expected to conduct themselves with the dignity expected of a royal home; bathing suits, beachwear (including cover-ups), and clothing displaying profanity are prohibited. Children under five are required to be in a carrier or strapped into a palace stroller at all times.

The palace is in the heart of O’ahu’s historic downtown Honolulu. Within a few blocks’ radius lie the Hawaiʻi State Capital, Washington Place, Kawaiahaʻo Church, Mission Houses Museum, and the Hawaiʻi State Library. Sign up for a walking tour of downtown for a deeper understanding of how O’ahu history is woven throughout the city’s architecture.

The Arizona Memorial and Pearl Harbor

No history buff is going to want to miss a visit to Pearl Harbor, site of the Japanese bombing of Hawaiʻi in 1941. As the USS Arizona Memorial is an incredibly O’ahu historical site (approximately 4,000 visitors daily), it’s recommended to make reservations up to two months in advance of your visit, otherwise you can show up early that morning to claim walk-in tickets. Tickets are free, though there is a marginal fee to reserve them online through www.recreation.gov. For military enthusiasts, there are also several other historic sites worth visiting at Pearl Harbor: the Battleship Missouri, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum, and the Pacific Aviation Museum. If you want to see everything, your best bet is to reserve a Passport to Pearl Harbor discount package on the website.

A visit to the island is greatly enhanced by learning something about O’ahu history before you come, so you can decide which places you’d like to see. Happy historical hunting!

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