Most people don’t think about visiting museums when coming to Hawaii. But if you’re a history buff wanting to learn more about the culture and military influence on the islands, then this post is for you.
U.S. Army Museum at Ft. DeRussy
We’ll start in Waikiki with the U.S. Army Museum located at Fort DeRussy. This museum is actually the Battery Randolph that was built in 1911 housing two 14-inch guns used by the coastal defense to protect the harbor from any invasions. Inside are a number of galleries and exhibits telling the military story of Hawaii dating back to the Vietnam war.
The museum is free to visit. However, donations are accepted. And there is an audio tour that you can purchase. The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday.
King’s Guard Museum at King’s Village
Another museum in Waikiki is the King’s Guard Museum located at King’s Village. This is a very small museum which tells the history of the local military guards and the development of the King’s Guard Drill Team. “The Changing of the Guard Ceremony” was once a very popular event in Waikiki. The ceremony no longer exists but the museum is still there. Fire dancing, hula dancing, and other Polynesian events are performed on various days just outside King’s Village.
The museum is free to visit. It’s open 7 days a week and usually stays open until at least 10 pm.
Pacific Aviation Museum at Pearl Harbor
Now let’s venture out to Pearl Harbor where you’ll experience first-hand the surprise Japanese attack. Aside from the main exhibits at the Visitors Center, you can also visit the Pacific Aviation Museum. Here you will see the hangars and aircraft used during World War II. There are videos and audio tours that will help educate you on the area and the history. For a more hands-on experience, climb into one of the cockpits and take part in an interactive flight simulator.
The museum is open 7 days a week except for major holidays. There is an admission charge and various tours that you can purchase. Please check the museum website for the most current information on hours and prices.
Downtown Honolulu Museums
Downtown Honolulu has a lot of history in and of itself. There’s quite a few museums worth visiting, as well as a number of other places. You can read our full blog post on Exploring Downtown Honolulu for more details.
But in summary, here are a few of the downtown museums you should visit:
Iolani Palace is the royal residence of the Hawaiian monarchy.
Bishop Museum has a number of exhibits on the Hawaiian culture.
Hawaii State Art Museum houses works of different Hawaiian artists.
Honolulu Museum of Art has an exceptionally large collection of artwork from different cultures around the world.
Hawaii Mission Houses explores the life and times of the first missionaries who settled in Hawaii.
Go! Explore! Learn!
Take your time as you’re exploring the museums. There’s a lot to take in. And you certainly cannot do it all in one day. Spread it out over a few days. Or mix it up and take a tour when you need a break from the sun or if you just need to slow down for a bit. There’s a lot of culture and a lot of history to learn here.