Enjoying Architecture During Your Hawaii Vacation

Are you an “architecturist,” someone who loves to visit special buildings and maybe have your picture taken in front of as many as possible?

Hawaii is not your ideal destination for that. Our history goes back maybe two hundred years; our architecture little more than one century. This is not Europe or Asia. When you come to visit, you’ll have other things on your mind such as sunshine, beaches, waves, perfect weather, natural wonders …

But there is a small number of buildings worth checking out while you’re here. They have a little history, a little uniqueness and certain qualities of design. You might make a note of them, and take the time to check them out.

Moana Hotel

Now it’s the Sheraton Moana Surfrider Hotel. If you stay in Waikiki, you’ll see it on Kalakaua Avenue, Diamond Head side. This place opened in 1901 and has come to be called “The First Lady of Waikiki.” Renovations began in the 1920’s, but the building’s architectural integrity and elegant ambience have been retained. The huge banyan tree on the beachfront remains, and you should make it a point to swing by, have a cocktail or some tea, and reflect on what Waikiki must have been before tourism became fashionable in the 1940’s.

Iolani Palace

This is the only official residence of royalty in all of the United States. It was re-opened in 1978 as a museum, its rooms restored to reflect their appearance during the monarchy days. There are daily tours, and they’re worth your time, even if you aren’t an architecturist.

Aloha Tower

When it was built in 1926, this was Hawaii’s tallest structure. It welcomed passengers during the so-called “boat days,” when people were discovering Hawaii as a vacation paradise, and it provided a directional guide for sailors. Today, it still welcomes cruise ships. You can go to the observation deck and get a terrific view of Honolulu Harbor and beyond. Its complex is a busy shopping and dining venue.

Hawaii Theatre Center

This neoclassical theater in Downtown Honolulu provided a venue for the arts – film, vaudeville and theater – between 1922 and the 1970’s, after which it showed a hodgepodge of art films, foreign sex films and “B” movies. It was restored and re-opened in 1996. It still reflects the opulence and splendor of its day, stages big-time performances and offers tours of its awesome confines.

The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum

Originally designed to house the royal family’s heirlooms and artifacts, it now contains those and other Hawaiian royalty memorabilia; literally millions of plant, mammal and Bird specimens; and an impressive planetarium. It’s worth a visit, not only because of its architecture, but also because it holds a comprehensive collection of just about everything that is Hawaii.

No, you’re not coming to Hawaii for its architecture. But a visit to any of the foregoing buildings will be worth your while.

Posted by: Jamie Winpenny