Explore Oahu

Come, See, Do

Honolulu has a thriving artistic community and a rich cultural heritage. Remarkably, both of these cultural threads can often be explored in the same institutions.

THE BISHOP MUSEUM The point of cultural entry for most visitors is the venerable Bishop Museum. Founded in 1889, this matriarch of Hawaiian cultural preservation has educated and enthralled generations of visitors and residents, and a series of facelifts in recent decades make it as essential as ever. Bishop Museum’s enduring centerpiece is Hawaiian Hall, whose three floors explore the cultural, economic and political heritage of the Hawaiians. The Hall itself is a wonder of Victorian architecture, with an imposing lava rock exterior giving way to mezzanines of rich Hawaiian koa. The atrium’s vastness is amplified by what may be Bishop Museum’s most famous display: a massive sperm whale hanging intact from the rafters. Timing is key when considering a museum visit, and the Bishop is no exception. In addition to permanent displays like those in Hawaiian Hall and the Kähili room (a great place to explore the personal effects of Hawaiian royalty, particularly the extraordinary feather standards) the museum features a diverse lineup of temporary exhibitions, most exploring the intersections of art and history.

FOR THE KEIKI (CHILDREN): Visitors with school-age children will want to be sure to visit the Watumull Planetarium, which offers a range of daily programs on subjects from Polynesian navigation to the coming evening’s sky. The Mamiya Science Adventure Center, with interactive exhibits on vulcanism, tides, and other scientific elements of Hawai‘i, is also a draw.