Museums in Downtown Honolulu

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The story of the Ionali Palace is rich in drama and makes many historical novels look tame. After the original palace was razed because of severe termite damage, the second Ionali Palace that stands today was completed in 1882. Only King Kalākaua and Queen Lili’uokalani governed from the palace. The monarchy was overthrown in 1893 and by 1898 the U.S. flag flew over the palace. The only royal palace now part of the United States, it has been painstakingly restored and is located in downtown Honolulu. The palace is open Monday – Saturday (closed Sunday). There are two tour options – a docent-led tour and a guided audio tour which are 60 – 90 in length. Reservations are required and ticket purchase must be made at the Iolani Barracks.

364 S King St
Honolulu,
HI
US

Nestled in the luscious garden oasis of a historic missionary house, Mission Houses Museum Café and Tea Parlor immerses guests with bountiful varieties of tea, sandwiches, petite pleasure cakes, and exotic, leafy cups of mirth. The Lucia Holman's Tea package inaugurates balmy afternoons with assorted tea sandwiches served on an elegant platter ($39.90 for two). A medley of merry dessert pastries saunter across the table, stringing along drooling tongues and lazy suitors as freshly baked scones dance alongside homemade lemon curd and devonshire cream. Loose-leaf teas pour from a charitable spout caressing shallow cups with a warm splash of worldly beverages. Tea service is only valid on Fridays and Saturdays, and you must call ahead with an alphorn to make a reservation.

553 South King Street
Honolulu,
HI
US

Somehow, every scuba-diving trip is distinct, even visits to well-traveled locations. Pearl Harbor Divers' team, for example, had visited the wreck of the USS Scrimmage, a World War II minesweeper, many times before. But one evening, while slipping through the water above the site, the crew heard a puff of air burst from the ocean, drowning out the motor. A humpback whale then crested just 15 feet from the boat. When the captain cut the engines, the crew realized they were surrounded by whales, which continued to break through the surface and catch breaths tinged with ocean spray in the moonlight.

In the shop, which is certified by the National Association of Underwater Instructors, guides work toward such unique experiences on scuba diving and snorkeling trips. They lead clients—including handicapped divers—to sunken ships, airplanes, lava caverns, and coral reefs throughout the Hawaiian Islands. On these dives, groups encounter common creatures such as sea turtles and native fish, as well as rare marine animals such as shy Pacific bottlenose dolphins, manta rays, and endangered Hawaiian monk seals. The instructors pride themselves on their ability to teach and engage by imparting the facts and historical significance of wrecks. They can also name and discuss each species that divers spot, at least the ones documented by science. On the nighttime Dive the Abyss adventure, divers are tethered within 40 feet of the boat and watch bioluminescent creatures, many of which are still not cataloged by zoologists, arise from depths of up to 2,000 feet.

In addition to dives, instructors conduct courses that work towards open-water or instructor certification. Chatter about past adventures drifts from a full-service pro shop, where technicians sell, service, and repair equipment from brands such as Atomic, Aeris, Oceanic, Mares and Zeagle.

725 Auahi St
Honolulu,
HI
US

Honolulu's cultural hub—5,000 years of art from around the world, tours, art classes, film, concerts, lectures, shopping, dining. Linger in galleries and tranquil courtyards to be transformed.

900 Kinau St
Honolulu,
HI
US

Located in downtown Chandler, La Stalla Cucina Rustica offers a warm ambience and authentic Italian cuisine. They serve lunch and dinner and specialize in pizza, their signature being the Margherita cooked to perfection in their brick pizza oven. They also offer a robust wine selection, delicious coffees and espresso and a highly rated Crème Brulee, as well as other sweet treats. Owner Antonio Vetrati opened his first pizzeria 25 years ago with little money and a passion for food from his hometown in the small fishing village of Mola di Bari, in Puglia, Italy. Since then, he has opened four new restaurants, including La Stella Cucina Rustica.

111 Ohe St
Honolulu,
HI
US

Named a great place for a first date by Honolulu Weekly, The Contemporary Museum provides lover-candidates with plenty of conversational topics as they wander an assortment of accessible, provocative art. Education programs and exhibitions, such as the Contemporary Museum Biennial of Hawaii Artists exhibition, give freshly hatched masterpieces a chance to rub frames with the permanent collection of classics by Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, and more. The museum's emphasis on works created in Hawaii also makes it easy to meet the archipelago’s homegrown talent, who are often on-hand to answer puzzled stares and challenge you to aesthetically pleasing arm-wrestles.

2411 Makiki Heights Drive
Honolulu,
HI
US