The Best Museums on Oahu

Categorized as Oahu Vacation Information

Oahu has a variety of great museums that provide visitors with a glimpse into the rich historical and cultural past of the Hawaiian Islands and beyond. Here are some of Oahu’s best museums.

Bishop Museum
Hawaii’s preeminent museum is the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum founded in 1889. Bishop Museum displays the artifacts of ancient Hawaiians and other Pacific cultures including millions of items. The recently remodeled museum provides many different themed exhibit areas, and also offers many educational programs and hands-on activities for kids. The museum’s Planetarium provides shows about the celestial navigation techniques of the ancient Hawaiian mariners in their voyag- ing canoes. Call (808) 847-3511 for more information.

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Iolani Palace
The country’s only royal palace, Iolani Palace is one of Hawaii’s great treasures. This was the ruling place of kings and queens including Hawaii’s last monarch Queen Liliuokalani. Built in 1882 by King Kalakaua, who was known as the Merrie Monarch for his revival of hula, and his wife Queen Kapiolani, the palace is now fully restored and is one of Hawaii’s most memorable tours. Also interesting are the palace grounds including Iolani Barracks and the Coronation Pavilion. Call 808-522-0832 for more information.

Mission Houses Museum
Designated as a National Historic Landmark, the Mission Houses Museum was constructed of coral blocks in 1821 by American Protestant missionaries. The site includes three structures: Hale Laau which was a missionary home; Hale Pai, the Printing House where the Hawaiian alphabet was promulgated and books were printed; and Hale Kamalani, the Chamberlain House where mission goods were stored and which now is a lovely art gallery. Located in downtown Honolulu, the Mission Houses Museum also has a nice gift shop. Call (808) 531-0481 for more information.

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Contemporary Museum
Set high above Honolulu, the Contemporary Museum is located in a renovated estate and houses some of the finest art from the last four centuries. Gardens on the estate are also very enchanting, providing some great views of Honolulu.

Hawaii Surf Museum
This free museum on the north shore features historic surfboards, photos, and other surf memorabilia chronicling the sport of surfing. Videos are also shown at this museum located in the North Shore Marketplace.

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Honolulu Academy of Arts
With more than 34,000 art pieces of the Asian as well as Western cultures, the Honolulu Academy of the Arts is comprised of thirty galleries. Also offered at the Honolulu Academy of Arts are various collections and publications, and the Academy sponsors educational programs, theater activities, and studio art classes. Call (808)532-870 for more information.

Hawaii’s Plantation Village
Dedicated to Hawaii’s immigrant sugar plantation workers, Hawaii’s Plantation Village includes 30 homes to represent the different ethnic groups of the sugarcane era. There is also a steam locomotive hooked to a sugarcane hauling car on the same style of narrow-gauge track that was used in the early 1900s.