King Kamehameha statue
Mission Houses Museum
Punchbowl National Cemetery
Details: Honolulu guided sightseeing tour
While today’s mainland tourists come to Honolulu to snap photos and relax on the beach, earlier American visitors came to convert the inhabitants and prohibit the “lascivious” hula. See their work at the Mission Houses, residences built by 19th-century missionaries in the New England wood-frame style—not ideal for the wet and humid Honolulu climate. (Recent renovations were required to evict the termites.) Even if their buildings had problems lasting, their ideology did not. The nearby Kawaiahao Church shows their ultimate success at converting the islands to Christianity. The monarchy didn’t cave in immediately, however. King Kalakalua fought against the religious restrictions by reinstating the hula and building the extravagant Iolani Palace, which had electricity before either the White House or Buckingham Palace—and which bankrupted the Hawaiian government. Oops.
Details: Arizona War Memorial
When Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, the enormous U.S.S. Arizona sunk completely within nine minutes. With a licensed local guide, see the battleship, still beneath the water, and the memorial built to honor those who died in the attack. Though normally serene, the area buzzed with activity when scenes from the Blockbuster movie “Pearl Harbor” were filmed here in the spring of 2000.
Details: Luau evening
Get your ukuleles and grass skirts ready—it’s time for the quintessential Hawaiian experience. The luau, originally a celebratory feast for family and friends, got its name from the leaves of the taro plant, which are used to wrap food before it’s placed in a traditional underground oven. The highlight of the meal is the roasted pig cooked in this oven, but you’ll also see poi (pounded taro root), fish, shellfish, chicken, vegetables.… After all this food, you’ll wonder how anyone has the energy to hula.