History, Art, and Architecture on Oahu
Collected by Amanda Castleman, AFAR Local Expert
Known as "The Gathering Place," Oahu embraces all the peoples who have settled there, from the first Polynesian voyagers to the Japanese immigrants who helped harvest pineapple and sugarcane. Immerse yourself in this rich heritage, which includes America's only royal palace.
417 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96813, USA
Known today as the Hawaii Five-O headquarters façade, Aliiolani Hale means "house of the heavenly king" in the Hawaiian language. The building was designed under King Kamehameha V and served as a palace with government offices for the Kingdom of...
1525 Bernice St, Honolulu, HI 96817, USA
The largest museum in Hawaii studies and preserves the history of the islands and the Pacific—for those interested in local culture, it's a must. The Victorian building originally housed family heirlooms from Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop,...
364 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96813, USA
The grand koa wood staircase was shining with a new coat of oil as the focal point of the room; it’s beautiful curves lead the eye gently from the second floor down to the first floor. Men and women dressed in ornate gowns and neck-restricting...
327 Lana Ln, Honolulu, HI 96813, USA
Hundreds of local and international artists have gathered each Valentine's Day week since 2011 to make music, murals, and live installations in Honolulu's Kakaako district. They also host block parties and panel discussions. Centered on the Lana...
2005 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
This family-run luthier shop has been handcrafting world-renowned instruments since 1916. They are often made of koa, a native wood prized for its luminous, almost psychedelic wood grain patterns. The company's rich-toned ukes inspire beginners...
49-560 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe, HI 96744, USA
This 4,000-acre private nature reserve moonlights as an adventure playground and also a film set. Kaaawa Valley serves as Hollywood's "Hawaii backlot" and has hosted more than four dozen shoots, ranging from Elvis hits to Jurassic Park and 50...
265 Kaelepulu Dr, Kailua, HI 96734, USA
Lanikai is by far one of the prettiest areas on Oahu, laden with spectacular homes, crystal clear water and the famous Mokoluas also known as “mokes” (Mountains) out in the ocean. Only a few blocks back from Lanikai Beach is the beginning of the...
Honolulu, HI 96819, USA
This nonprofit perpetuates the art, science, and spirit of traditional Pacific Ocean exploration. It has two wa‘a (voyaging canoes): the modern Hikianalia, which has erased its carbon footprint, and the Hokulea, which proved Polynesians...
Pupukea Rd, Haleiwa, HI 96712, USA
The cultural site is home to Pu‘u o Mahuka, Oahu’s largest heiau, or ancient temple. The site has beautiful panoramic views, and you can look out to Waimea Bay, which is cool when the waves are big. —Hoku Haiku Off Pupukea Rd. This appeared in...
2913 Pali Hwy, Honolulu, HI 96817, USA
Back in the 19th century, Queen Emma of Hawaii used to slip away to this summer retreat when she felt like a change from court formality. Today, the landmark is preserved in stately style by the Daughters of Hawaii. Inside it's an eclectic mix of...
4055 Pāpū Cir, Honolulu, HI 96816, USA
If you're interested in architecture, design, or Islamic art, Doris Duke's Shangri La is for you! Don't be fooled by the simple facade; the interior of the home as well as the views from the gardens are spectacular! Islamic art from all over the...
Once an oyster-farming backwater, this area was held sacred to the shark goddess Ka‘ahupahau. But it's forever etched into America's psyche due to the 1941 Japanese surprise attack on the naval base, which launched the U.S. into WWII's...
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