Hawaii. Where to go? What to see? What to do? Lehua Parker, the author of the Niuhi Shark Saga and Lauele Town Stories, gives her recommendations.
Visit Waikiki Aquarium
Located on the Diamond Head side of Waikiki, the aquarium offers an up close and personal view of the amazing undersea world of the Pacific. Through interactive displays and a bazillion aquariums you can learn all about rare and indigenous fish, turtles, corals, jellyfish, and monk seals. Younger visitors enjoy splashing in the tide pool and watching brightly colored fish; older visitors come away with an awareness of marine ecology and conservation. It’s a low-key and entertaining way to spend a morning or afternoon. Tip: if you have an annual membership to your local zoo or aquarium, check to see if it’s on the reciprocal list – you may be eligible for free or reduced admission.
Visit Bishop Museum
Just outside Honolulu City proper, there’s something for everyone at the Bishop Museum. Founded in 1889 by Charles Reed Bishop in honor of his wife, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the museum is the place to see ancient Hawaiian artifacts, learn about the many emigrants who came to Hawaii, and explore the stars. Docents provide hands-on crafts, cultural activities, and share the myths and legends of Hawaii and the larger Pasifika. Explore star maps at the planetarium, see lava melting in action, and wander the gardens to learn about native and introduced plants. Major exhibits and programs change frequently, so be sure to check the schedule before you go. Tip: closed TUESDAYS!
Visit Iolani Palace
Located in downtown Honolulu, Iolani Palace was the official residence of the Hawaiian monarchy. Styled after the homes of European monarchs, Iolani Palace was innovative, opulent, and full of political intrigue. In 1886 Iolani became the first royal residence in the world to be lit by electricity. Committed to modernity, King Kalakaua had indoor plumbing, hot water, electricity, and telephones installed – well ahead of the White House! The architecture and restoration are beautiful and showcase another side of Hawaii often startles visitors expecting grass shacks. Classes and lectures are offered daily. Tip: free concert by the Royal Hawaiian Band on the palace grounds most Fridays.