Hawaii History and Cultural Attractions:
Fun, Free, and Fascinating!

Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Tiki

It goes without saying that Hawaii is like nowhere else in the United States.  But it’s not just the climate that makes our islands exceptional.  Many singular occurrences in Hawaii history and unique characteristics of the Hawaii culture have made the islands of aloha a distinctive destination that visitors travel around the world to experience!



Aloha Spirit is more than just a friendly greeting.  It involves emoting a positive attitude and making everybody feel welcome; and it’s the foundation of all relationships.  Most importantly, it’s the normal way of life in Hawaii!

This attitude of openness has drawn people to Hawaii from throughout the Pacific and around the world.  With them came diverse cultures that have been woven together into one remarkable Hawaii history.

Hawaii is also noteworthy with regards to war history as U.S. involvement in World War II began with the bombing of Pearl Harbor…


Historic Hawaii landmarks:

Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture: Kawaiahao Church

Kawaiahao Church: Often referred to as the Westminster Abbey of Hawaii or the State Church of Hawaii, portions of every worship service are still conducted in the Hawaiian language.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Kamehameha Statue

King Kamehameha statue: It’s on every episode of Hawaii FIVE-0, and its twin is one of two Hawaii statues in the National Capitol at Washington DC.  See the King who united the Hawaiian Islands!


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture: Hawaii State Capitol

Hawaii State Capitol: Don’t look for a dome!  The Hawaii Capitol is designed to symbolize our volcanic islands rising from the ocean.  Look for the statue of Saint Damien, which is also on display at the Nation’s capitol.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture at Iolani Palace

Kama’aina Sundays at Iolani Palace: Before annexation by the United States, much of the recorded Hawaii history centered on the monarchy.  Now, on one Sunday of each month, kama’aina can tour the royal palace for free.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture: Aloha Tower

Aloha Tower: Once the tallest building in Hawaii, Aloha Tower is the second most famous landmark in the city’s skyline.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Dole Pineapple Plantation

Dole Pineapple Plantation: Pineapple was once the state’s number one industry.  Those days have passed, but you can still get a glimpse of Hawaii’s plantation history – and a delicious frozen pineapple whip!


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Haleiwa Hawaii

Haleiwa Hawaii: The heart of Oahu’s famous north shore, this surf town is a favorite place to spend the day strolling among specialty shops and art galleries or snacking on shave ice and other tasty treats.




Hawaiian cultural history:

Hawaii History Mauna Ala Royal Mausoleum

Mauna Ala: See the royal mausoleum of the kings and queens from Hawaii history!  Located in beautiful Nuuanu Valley.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Kamehameha Day

Kamehameha Day: If you’re here in June, commemorate the great king who united the Hawaiian Islands with a lei draping ceremony at his statue and a floral parade!



Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Kings Guard Changing

King's Guard Changing Ceremony: The monarchy has sadly passed into Hawaii history, but the King’s Guard carries on a 19th century tradition nightly.


Hear Hawaii History with the Royal Hawaiian Band

Royal Hawaiian Band: Hear the kings’ band perform live on most Fridays (weather permitting) at the Iolani Palace grounds and/or on some Sundays at the Kapiolani Park Bandstand.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Hawaii Memorabilia

Hawaii memorabilia at the Moana Surf Rider: Stroll through Hawaii history as you peruse several cases of collectibles in the lobby of this historic Waikiki Beach hotel.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture: Prince Lot Hula Festival

Prince Lot Hula Festival: Hawaii history and culture is probably best preserved by the storytelling art of hula.  If you’re here in July, catch the biggest non-competitive hula event in Hawaii.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Nuuanu Pali Lookout

Nuuanu Pali Lookout: Primarily visited as a scenic lookout spot, this thousand-foot cliff also has historic significance as the battleground where King Kamehameha the Great conquered Oahu.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Heiau

Heiau: These Hawaiian temples came in many sizes and were dedicated for many purposes.  Many have fallen to ruins since the demise of the Hawaiian religion, but some have been fully restored.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Hawaiian Fish Ponds

Hawaiian Fish Ponds: Native Hawaiians practiced aquaculture since as early as the 1300’s by building rock walls in shallow waters.  Some of the resulting ponds are still in use today.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Hawaii Petroglyphs

Hawaii Petroglyphs: Prehistoric Hawaiians created art by carving images on stone.  Depictions include animals, humans, sailing canoes, fishhooks, circles, and other unknown markings.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Wizard Stones

Wizard stones: Yeah, they look like they're just rocks.  But they come with a story, and they’re just a few feet from a half-dozen other attractions.  You might as well see them all!

 

Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Kukaniloko Birthing Stones

Kukaniloko Birthing Stones: Some of the most important rocks in Hawaii history – a culturally and historically significant site on Oahu, because this is the place where chiefs were born.

 

Wartime Hawaii history:

Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture USS Arizona Memorial

USS Arizona Memorial: The number one visitor attraction in Hawaii!  Thus proving that the day it was sunk really has continued to live in infamy.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Punchbowl Crater

Punchbowl Crater: The National Cemetery of the Pacific, located inside a dormant volcano, features magnificent mosaics and a breathtaking view over the downtown business district.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Natatorium War Memorial

Natatorium War Memorial: Closed since 1979, this seawater swimming pool was built as a World War I memorial, and it became the home of Hawaii’s Olympic swimming stars.


In addition to these historic sites, you can see the ruins of wartime relics on several Hawaii hikes.  There are pillboxes, bunkers, and/or fire control stations at Diamond Head crater, Koko crater, Makapuu lighthouse, Lanikai Pillboxes, Puu Maelieli, and elsewhere.  And along the Aiea Loop Trail, you can see the wreck of a B-24 bomber that crashed in 1944.


Diverse cultural experiences in Hawaii:

Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Chinatown Honolulu

Chinatown Honolulu: Stroll through the biggest and the oldest Chinatown in the United States.  See many historic and cultural landmarks; and enjoy a unique window-shopping experience.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture: Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year: Gung Hee Fat Choy!  The Hawaii celebration of Chinese New Year is a blast!  Watch a parade, lion dances, dragon dances, and other cultural displays in Chinatown.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Izumo Taisha Mission

Izumo Taisha Mission: Located on the Northwest corner of Chinatown, this Japanese Shinto shrine is a place of simple beauty and tranquility.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture: Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace.

Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace: Whether you’re interested in religious art and architecture, or its history as the location of Saint Damien’s ordination, this 19th-century downtown landmark has it all.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Mu-Ryang-Sa Buddhist Temple

Mu-Ryang-Sa Buddhist Temple: As the largest Korean temple outside of Korea, this hidden gem showcases visually stunning art and architecture.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture University of Hawaii Japanese Garden

University of Hawaii Japanese Garden: Popular for wedding pictures and student stress relief, this well manicured garden is a haven of peace and beauty.


Hawaii Culture Kyoto Gardens of Honolulu

Kyoto Gardens: Located inside the Honolulu Memorial Park, the dominant feature of this garden is the three-tiered Sanju Pagoda.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Laie Hawaii Temple

Laie Hawaii Temple: Accessible only to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, you can still walk the beautiful grounds and tour the on-site visitor center.


Hawaii Hiphop is Part of Hawaii Culture

Hawaii Hiphop: Though not a traditional part of Hawaii history, there is a dynamic urban culture here.  Local B-boys give it a unique island flavor that keeps it fresh!


Hawaii Culture: Bon Dance

Bon Dance: If you’re here in the summer, you can honor your ancestors and have fun in the process.  Japanese Buddhist Obon Festivals are held all over the state from June through August.


Hawaii museums:

Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Hawaii State Art Museum

Hawaii State Art Museum: Located across the street from the Hawaii state capitol, this museum features many beautiful examples of fine local arts.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Honolulu Museum of Art

Honolulu Museum of Art: Though generally inexpensive, this Asia-Pacific art museum features free admission on the first Wednesday and third Sunday of every month.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture: Honolulu Police Museum

Honolulu Police Museum: Discover the history of law enforcement in Hawaii.  It’s not exactly as seen on Hawaii FIVE-0 and Magnum P.I.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Army Museum of Hawaii

Army Museum of Hawaii: The old Battery Randolph at Fort DeRussy survived two World Wars and proved easier to repurpose for peace than to remove.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Tropic Lightning Museum

Tropic Lightning Museum: Even without a military ID, you can visit this World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War museum located on Schofield Barracks.


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Kings Guard Museum

King’s Guard Museum: Discover the history of the King's Guard Drill Team: a ceremonial honor guard for the only royal palace in the United States!


Hawaii History/Hawaii Culture Father Damien Museum

Father Damien Museum: It’s now Saint Damien – the man who gave his life caring for those afflicted with Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy) when nobody else would.


Hawaii History Lucoral Museum

Lucoral Museum: View a private collection of jewelry, gemstones, and other unique treasures.




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