Honolulu: Historic Hawaii

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SEE Iolani Palace
364 S. King St., 808/522-0832, iolanipalace.org
Take a grand tour of the restored Hawaiian royal palace, which dates from 1882. Crown jewels, ancient feathered cloaks, and royal china give a glimpse at what was America's only monarchy. The Royal Hawaiian Band plays an hour-long concert on the grounds at noon most Fridays. Reservations necessary for the tour. $20. Closed Sun.-Mon.

SEE Kawaiahao Church
957 Punchbowl St., 808/522-1333
Christian missionaries and Hawaiians completed Kawaiahao in 1842, after five years' work. No wonder it took so long-they used some 14,000 coral blocks from offshore reefs weighing 1,000 pounds. Sunday morning services, with lively sermons and hymns, are conducted in Hawaiian and English. 9 a.m.

SEE National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
2177 Puowaina Dr., 808/532-3720
It was called Puowaina ("hill of sacrifice") by ancient Hawaiians because lawbreakers were put to death here. These days, the long-extinct volcanic sister of Diamond Head serves as the final resting place for many World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War soldiers.

SEE Shangri La
4055 Papu Circle, 866/385-3849, shangrilahawaii.org
Famously reclusive, the late tobacco heiress Doris Duke built this estate in the 1930s after visiting Hawaii on her honeymoon. She was known to surf with the Kahanamoku brothers-Duke Kahanamoku was the father of modern surfing-and filled Shangri La with rare Islamic art. Call months in advance to reserve a tour. $25 (includes entry to Honolulu Academy of Arts, 900 S. Beretania St., where the tour starts).

SEE USS Arizona Memorial
1 Arizona Memorial Pl., 808/422-0561 (recorded info) or 808/422-2771, nps.gov/usar
The visitors center commemorating the attack on Pearl Harbor, has a small museum, two theaters, and an offshore memorial over the remains of the USS Arizona. Visits include a documentary on the infamous day. Admission is free but entrance tickets are required; arrive very early (7-8 a.m.) to get one. Leave any large beach bags or purses back at the hotel.

SEE Hawaii's Plantation Village
94-695 Waipahu St., Waipahu, 808/677-0110, hawaiiplantationvillage.org
A fascinating open-air museum in Waipahu that earnestly re-creates the lives of varied ethnic groups-native Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Puerto Rican, Okinawan, Korean, Filipino-who worked the sugar fields. $13, kids $5.

PLAY Bishop Museum
1525 Bernice St., 808/847-3511, bishopmuseum.org
Premier natural and cultural artifacts of Hawaii and the Pacific, encompassing pre-Western contact through the present. Hula dancing demonstrations are twice a day. Its summer Moonlight Mele on the Concert Lawn Series is especially popular. Call or check online for schedule. 6 p.m.; Museum admission $15 adults, $5 kids.

The Hawaiian alphabet has just twelve letters, and only seven of them are consonants (h, k, l, m, n, p, and w). If you stress each vowel, you'll come close to pronouncing words correctly.


  • Aloha Hello, goodbye, love

  • Kama'aina Literally "child of the land"; refers to both longtime and island-born residents

  • Kane Man (on a door, it means men's room)

  • Kapu No trespassing

  • Mahalo Thank you

  • Malihini Newcomer, visitor

  • Ono Delicious (literally, a kind of fish)

  • Pupu Snacks or appetizers

  • Wahine Girl or woman (on a door, the ladies' room)
  • If you hear some pidgin in Honolulu, it's likely to be one of these phrases:


  • Brah All guys in the islands are brahs, or brothers

  • Grindz Food

  • Howzit? What's happening? An informal hello

  • Mo Bettah Good, a good idea

  • Shaka It's cool, hello, goodbye (for the hand signal, make a fist, then stick out your thumb and pinky and shake)

  • Slippahs Flip-flops
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