Though Oahu isn’t the oldest island of the Hawaiian Island chain, there’s something about it that seems to have attracted quite a bit of history. From Downtown Honolulu to the North Shore, “The Gathering Place” is ripe for any curious-minded visitors looking to immerse themselves in Hawaiian history. In fact, there are so many historic sites on Oahu that visiting them takes several days.
Let’s see what journeys through time Oahu has to offer.
If it’s Hawaiian history you’re after, the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum should be high on your list. Offering a collection of historic artifacts related to life in ancient Hawaii, the Bishop Museum provides a complete look throughout the island’s history.
More recent Hawaiian history is explored through the royalty exhibits, which give insight into the royal families that once ruled over the Kingdom of Hawaii before the overthrow of the monarchy.
Even the island’s natural history is on display at the Bishop Museum, from the creatures that once roamed the land to the volcanic formations that formed the island chain. If there’s something to be learned about Hawaii’s past, it will be within the Bishop Museum.
Diamond Head State Monument
Formed during the Honolulu Volcanic Series over 200,000 years ago, Leahi, or Diamond Head as it’s known in English is one of the most recognizable of the historic sites on Oahu. The 700’-tall summit can be reached by most hikers, providing the opportunity to experience one of the best views Oahu has to offer.
Before Hawaii joined the United States, the unified Hawaiian Kingdom was ruled over by royal families, beginning with the kings of the Kamehameha Dynasty. The only royal residence in the United States, Iolani Palace was the seat of the royal—and later territorial and state—governments.
Curious travelers stepping inside the walls of this beautiful building find it restored to its original beauty, furnished to appear just as it did when it housed Hawaiian royals.
Best-known among all the historic sites on Oahu, Pearl Harbor was the site of a devastating surprise attack carried out by a Japanese aerial strike force. Launched in response to trade embargoes enforced by the United States, the attack was the start of World War II for the United States.
Today, Pearl Harbor is still an active military base but is also home to the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which along with associated Pearl Harbor Historic Sites features a series of exhibits and memorials to commemorate the events of 1941. From the USS Arizona wreckage to the “Pearl Harbor Avenger” the USS Bowfin, this site offers a complete look at all aspects of the attack and the war in the Pacific that ensued.