The Best Historical Sites to Visit in Hawaii

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Hawaii is a state rich in history and culture. It has a unique blend of Polynesian, Asian, and American influences, making it an interesting and exciting place to explore.

Whether you’re interested in ancient Hawaiian traditions or the more recent events that have shaped Hawaii’s history, there are plenty of historical sites to visit throughout the state.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best historical sites to visit in Hawaii.

Iolani Palace – Honolulu, Oahu

Iolani Palace is the only royal palace in the United States and served as the residence of the Hawaiian monarchy until it was overthrown in 1893. The palace is a stunning example of American Florentine architecture and was completed in 1882.

Today, visitors can take guided tours of the palace and learn about Hawaii’s royal history, including the reign of King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani.

Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park – Honaunau, Big Island

Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, also known as the Place of Refuge, is a sacred site that served as a sanctuary for those who broke ancient Hawaiian laws.

The park features reconstructed temples, wooden statues, and traditional thatched structures, offering a glimpse into ancient Hawaiian culture. Visitors can take guided tours of the park and participate in cultural demonstrations, such as traditional Hawaiian games and crafts.

Lahaina Historic Trail – Lahaina, Maui

Lahaina Historic Trail is a self-guided walking tour that takes visitors through the historic town of Lahaina. The trail features 62 sites, including the Lahaina Fort, the Baldwin House, and the Old Prison. Visitors can learn about the town’s whaling history, as well as the role it played in Hawaii’s plantation era.

Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site – Kawaihae, Big Island

Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site is a significant cultural site that played a crucial role in Hawaii’s unification.

The heiau, or temple, was constructed in the late 1700s by King Kamehameha I, who prophesied that if he built the temple, he would unite all the Hawaiian islands under his rule. Today, visitors can take guided tours of the site and learn about the history and culture of ancient Hawaii.

Bishop Museum – Honolulu, Oahu

The Bishop Museum is the largest museum in Hawaii and offers a wide range of exhibits and programs on Hawaiian history and culture.

The museum features extensive collections of Hawaiian artifacts, including traditional weapons, clothing, and tools, as well as exhibits on Hawaiian language and music. Visitors can also learn about the history of Hawaii’s immigrant populations, including Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino.

Mokuaikaua Church – Kailua-Kona, Big Island

Mokuaikaua Church is the oldest Christian church in Hawaii and served as the center of the Christian community in Kailua-Kona during the 19th century.

The church was built in 1820 and features beautiful stained glass windows and a hand-carved pulpit. Visitors can take guided tours of the church and learn about its history and significance.

USS Arizona Memorial – Pearl Harbor, Oahu

The USS Arizona Memorial is a must-visit for anyone interested in World War II history. The memorial honors the 1,177 sailors and Marines who lost their lives on the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Visitors can take a guided tour of the memorial and the USS Bowfin submarine, which played a significant role in the war.

Kalaupapa National Historical Park – Molokai

Kalaupapa National Historical Park is located on the remote Kalaupapa Peninsula on the island of Molokai. The park is a significant site for Hawaii’s leprosy history, as it served as a quarantine settlement for those with Hansen’s disease from 1866 to 1969.

Visitors can take guided tours of the park and learn about the experiences of those who were forced to live in isolation on the peninsula. The park also features historic buildings, churches, and cemeteries.

Honokohau Settlement and Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park – Kailua-Kona, Big Island

Honokohau Settlement and Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park are two sites that offer a glimpse into ancient Hawaiian life.

Honokohau Settlement features the ruins of an ancient Hawaiian village, including stone platforms, petroglyphs, and fishponds. Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park offers a similar experience, with additional features such as traditional Hawaiian hale (houses) and canoe-making demonstrations.

Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum – Pearl Harbor, Oahu

The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is an excellent addition to any visit to the USS Arizona Memorial. The museum features a wide range of exhibits on aviation history in Hawaii, including the role of airplanes in World War II. Visitors can see historic planes up close, watch films about aviation history, and participate in interactive exhibits.

Hawaii Plantation Museum – Papaikou, Big Island

The Hawaii Plantation Museum offers a unique look into Hawaii’s plantation era, which lasted from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s.

The museum features exhibits on the lives of plantation workers, including their living conditions, food, and entertainment. Visitors can see historic photographs, artifacts, and machinery used during the plantation era.

Hawaii is a state with a rich history and culture, and there are plenty of historical sites to explore throughout the islands. From ancient Hawaiian temples to World War II memorials, there is something for everyone to discover.

The above list offers just a few of the best historical sites to visit in Hawaii, but there are countless others waiting to be explored. Whether you’re a history buff or just interested in learning more about Hawaii’s past, a visit to these sites is sure to be a rewarding experience.