We all have our own reasons for wanting to spend time in a place like Oahu. For some, it’s the natural beauty it exudes, the rich vibrancy of its tropical vistas that breathe life into travelers who come from more mundane environments. Others enjoy the island for its greatest asset, the many golden beaches that border the great expanse of clear blue water. Then there are tourists who see The Gathering Place for its abundance of historical importance.
Hidden in plain view around the island are bits of history dating back to the foundation of the Kingdom of Hawaii. If you’re a history buff and are considering traveling to Oahu to experience its past, here are a few places you’ll want to mark on your map to get the complete experience.
You don’t hear much about royalty in the Untied States, likely because there was never such a system in place. But when you travel beyond the US Mainland to Oahu, you encounter Iolani Palace, the only royal residence on American soil. Once home to rulers of the Kingdom of Hawaii, the palace is now a museum showcasing royal life of monarchs including King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani, the last Hawaiian monarch.
King Kamehameha Statue
Located on the grounds of Aliiolani Hale—currently the home of the Hawaii State Supreme Court in downtown Honolulu—this massive gold-leafed statue honors Kamehameha I, who united the Hawaiian Islands into one kingdom.
Built as a private residence in the mid-19th century, Washington Place served as a home to Queen Liliuokalani after the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy, and later as the official residence of Hawaii Territorial and State Governors. The stately building, a Greek Revival-style home, is located near Iolani Palace. It’s also where then-Princess Liliuokalani wrote the words to the well-known song, Aloha Oe, commemorated by a plaque on surrounding fence. Now a National Historic Landmark, the house carries with it many years of history.
Of great historical importance not just to Oahu, the naval base at Pearl Harbor was the site of a turning point for the entire nation. After the Japanese launched an assault on the base, killing 2,403 Americans, the United States ended its isolationism and began its rise to become a global power. The attack and its aftermath are commemorated in the memorials and exhibits of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument and Pearl Harbor Historic Sites.