Culture & History

The history of these unique islands goes back well over 1,000 years. The many cultures, which have blended to make Oahu so special tell endless fascinating stories. Set some time aside to immerse yourself in it and soak up the wonderful tales for yourself.

Bishop Museum
Bishop Museum
© OAHU VISITORS BUREAU / Linda Ching

Bishop Museum

"The Smithsonian of the Pacific" boasts rare and superb artifacts and chronicles in-depth the history and people of Hawaii. In addition, visit the planetarium and other special exhibits.

Hawaii Maritime Center

2,000 years of Hawaiian seagoing history housed on the site of King Kalakaua's old boathouse. Educational and interactive, the centre also houses a complete humpback whale skeleton! Docked nearby is the only remaining four-masted, fully-rigged ship in the world and, when in town, the Hokulea — a replica of the first Hawaiian voyaging outrigger canoe.

Iolani Palace
Iolani Palace
© OAHU VISITORS BUREAU / Chuck Painter

Iolani Palace

The only royal palace on US soil, built in 1882 by King Kalakaua, this offers a fabulous look at Hawaiian royalty in its glory days. Tours are available Tuesday to Saturday and reservations are recommended.

Mission Houses Museum

Missionaries arrived in Hawaii in 1820 to convert the Hawaiians and had a tremendous cultural impact. Walk through these historical buildings and step back in time.

Queen Emma Summer Palace

Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV summered here in this beautifully restored Victorian touch of royal Hawaiiana.

USS Arizona Memorial
USS Arizona Memorial
© OAHU VISITORS BUREAU / Joe Solem

Pearl Harbour

Home to the Arizona Memorial, the USS Bowfin Submarine and the Missouri Battleship Memorial. An in-depth look at the beginning of World War II, submarine activity during the war and the famous battleship where Japan signed her surrender to the war.

Hawaii Plantation Village

Many ethnic groups came to Hawaii to work the sugar cane plantations. Walk through eight village/camp reproductions and experience their unique lifestyles.

Byodo-In Temple
Byodo-In Temple
© OAHU VISITORS BUREAU / Chuck Painter

Byodo-In Temple

A magnificent replica of a 900 year old Japanese temple. Its Koi fish ponds and Zen gardens set against the stunning Koolau mountain range ensure complete tranquillity.

Chinatown

A vibrant part of Oahu's history since the first Chinese came to work in sugar fields almost 150 years ago. Today its sights, smells and tastes symbolize the melting pot of Hawaii's people. Each new wave of immigrants keeps their traditions alive with open-air markets, shops and great ethnic restaurants. Discover local art galleries and antique shops. Learn Hawaii's rich lei culture with the variety of flowers and artistry of this tradition at the lei shops on Maunakea Street.

Tiki Face
Tiki Face
© OAHU VISITORS BUREAU / Chuck Painter

Polynesian Cultural Center

Experience the seven different Polynesian cultures in one splendid setting — Hawaii, Easter Island, Fiji, Maori, Marquesas, Samoa and Tonga. Meet the people, try their food, learn their dances and culture and see how they live. Enjoy a great luau and show in the evenings. Closed Sundays.

Punchbowl National Memorial

A stirring sight and moving memorial to thousands of fallen heroes from World War II, Korean and Vietnam conflicts.

Luau

Enjoy a traditional Hawaiian gathering or Luau, complete with Polynesian dance, music, food and lots of "good fun".

Paradise Cove and Germaine's Luau located on our west shores, while the Polynesian Cultural Centre's luau is on the beautiful North Shore and the Royal Luau right in Waikiki.