As Hawaii prepares to open its doors to tourists again, some of the state’s biggest visitor attractions have already reopened, or will soon, and kamaaina are eagerly welcomed.
These highly popular attractions are more than just entertainment for out-of-towners; collectively, they contain many of Hawaii’s most precious cultural, historical and natural treasures — the story of the unique place we live. But with the absence of the usual paying guests, some nonprofits are struggling to keep the lights on.
So it’s an opportune time for local residents to reacquaint ourselves with these places, giving them a vital lifeline, even if we don’t have mainland guests to entertain.
You can visit Iolani Palace, the only royal palace on American soil, where King Kalakaua held court and Queen Liliuokalani was imprisoned. You can also visit the Bishop Museum, filled with artifacts from those days of royalty and earlier, pre-contact Hawaii.
The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, the Battleship Missouri Memorial and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park bring Hawaii’s military history to life. And some parts of the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, including the visitors center, have reopened (although the USS Arizona Memorial remains closed for now).
Hawaii’s exotic and endangered wildlife can be seen at the Honolulu Zoo, which began welcoming human visitors on June 5. And the Waikiki Aquarium, featuring Hawaiian monk seals and marine life from all over diverse Pacific ecosystems, is scheduled to reopen on Monday.
The Honolulu Museum of Art, an oasis of beauty and calm, reopens on July 16, featuring “30 Americans,” an exhibit that should have particular resonance with the rising Black Lives Matter movement.
Reservations can be made on their websites, and health and safety protocols are in place.
Of course, while these are among the most popular places on Hawaii’s must-visit list, they are hardly the only ones. And if you can’t visit, consider a donation.
After all, supporting the keepers of Hawaii’s history and culture should be as important as supporting our favorite local restaurants.