One of my favorite things to do in Honolulu is visit the Bishop Museum. The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum has culture, history, science, and the Hawai’i Sports Hall of Fame. With seven exhibit buildings and gardens on a beautiful site above Honolulu, this is a must-see Honolulu attraction.
The museum was founded in 1889 in honor of Bernice Pauahi Bishop, a tribute of her husband. The princess was of the Kamehameha line and owned many royal heirlooms. At one time, this campus was shared with the Kamehameha Schools. Open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, admission for adults is $22.95 and $5 per car for parking. Check the website for membership and other rates. I like to start my visits with paying my respects to the ali’i (royalty) of Hawai’i in the Kāhili Room in Hawai’ian Hall. Kāhili are the feather staffs used by Hawai’ians as symbols of royal power. Portraits of the monarchs are here along with some of their family heirlooms.
The three floors of Hawai’ian Hall tell the story of Hawai’i from ancient times and the importance of land, sea, and nature. Pacific Hall tells the story of Oceania. There are so many diverse peoples in this part of the world and their migrations and common linguistics are so fascinating. Outside, the Native Garden has lovely specimen plants of native origin along with those that were brought to the islands and became important. I especially like the hala tree (also known as pandanus).
The Castle building is the location for special exhibits. Check the website for exhibit schedules. The museum also hosts special cultural shows and workshops on the grounds, such as hula, mele chanting, and lauhala weaving. The Science Adventure Center is designed to bring you through a journey around the volcano that goes up through the middle of the building. The natural history collection of millions of specimens is featured here (cool spiders and frogs!). Don’t miss the lava demonstration! A wonderful theater surrounding a furnace allows you to watch college students simulate a lava flow and get a sense of the heat and power.
The Entrance building houses the café, gift shop, and Planetarium. Planetarium shows are given throughout the day. I love the Wayfinders show. It is based on the work of the Hokule’a voyaging canoe and the crews’ quest to learn the ancient Pacific ways of navigating. The gift shop is excellent, featuring local handicrafts and books and videos to help you learn more about Hawai’ian culture.
Honolulu map – Bishop Museum
Grabbing a bite
At the museum, the café serves food from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm. The Highway Inn operates the café, which means you’ll get a great taste of local flavor. For more food options, the Kamehameha Shopping Center has Starbucks and other choices at the corner of School Street and Makuahine Street. Helena’s Hawaiian Food is near the corner of School and Aupuni Street. Or check Yelp, Urbanspoon, or your favorite app for the Kalihi neighborhood.
From Waikiki, take Ala Wai Boulevard to McCully Street. Take the H1 going west towards the airport and Pearl Harbor. Exit onto School Street and continue west. Turn left on Kapalama Avenue. The entrance to the museum parking lot is on the right after you pass Bernice Street. If using The Bus, take route 2 to the museum.
- The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum
- Hokulea and the Polynesian Voyaging Society
- Hawai’i Sports Hall of Fame
- Highway Inn Hawai’ian food
- Bernice Pauahi Bishop from History of American Women
- The Bus
Let’s talk story
Usually our flights back to the east coast are in the evening. We like to save Bishop Museum for our last day in Oahu. After checking out of the hotel, the museum is a good place to spend time on the way back to the airport. Affiliate links: if you make a purchase using these links, I’ll receive a small compensation towards maintaining this blog, at no extra cost to you.