The beautiful beaches, breathtaking views and exhilarating night life frequently win out over the seemingly mundane history of Hawaii as the preferred Hawaii vacation activities. After all, it’s difficult to compete with the enticing idea of a lazy day listening to the ocean, hiking, and snorkeling.
However, if you have more than a couple of days in Oahu, you need to get off your hungover ass and venture out to see some of the historical sites that this amazing island offers.
Not sure what types of historical Hawaiian places await you?
A wide range of interesting historical sightseeing are at your service, as Hawaii is chock full of recent and ancient history. So, shake off the bored feeling of your sucky history class and check out these seven can’t miss historical places in Oahu.
Time to get your day’s fill of glitz and glamour! A fascinating activity in Hawaii is a tour of this incredible place. The gorgeously decadent Iolani Palace is the official residence of Hawaii’s monarchy.
Built in 1882 so Hawaii could take its place as a modern nation, the palace has been recently restored to its original grandeur and is a masterpiece.
Take a guided tour of the Iolani Palace, hear the stories and see both public and private rooms for around 20 bucks.
Reservations are recommended and it’s closed on Sunday.
This temple was built without using nails and is said to be a smaller scaled replica of Japan’s 900 year old Fuji Temple. The complex architectural marvel was erected in 1968 to mark the historical significance of the first immigrants from Japan a hundred years before. It welcomes people of all faiths to enjoy the serene environment.
Pause to reflect or meditate at the calm reflection pool. Take a walk on the grounds and catch glimpses of peacocks, and watch hundreds of koi carp swim in the ponds throughout this historical site.
You will remember this Hawaiian activity as a peaceful interlude to your vacation.
The Byodo-In Temple is open daily and charges $3.00 for admission. Be ready to kick off your shoes to enter.
An epic historical Hawaiian place that will blow your socks off, Pearl Harbor is a must see for anyone even remotely interested in American history. When Japanese planes attacked Oahu’s base in 1941, the assault marked the beginning of the United States’ involvement in World War II.
The surprise attack killed 2390 people from 44 states.
The historical site offers a variety of tour options at different price points, depending on how much you want to see and how long you wish to stay.
Try to go as early as possible so you beat the heat and the crowds.
Polynesian Cultural Center
When talking about cool Hawaiian vacation activities, few are as intriguing as this one. The creators designed small “replicas” of the Polynesian islands, from Fiji to Tonga to Hawaii.
This amazing activity in Oahu lets you get a taste of all of them, from one place!
Experience the unique feel of each “island” as you walk from one to the other. Their unique costumes, the music each island plays with different instruments, their crafts, and ceremonies breathe life into this exhibit, and create a killer memory for you.
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen, and a hat, as most of this activity is outdoors in the heat.
For easy booking to the Polynesian Cultural Center, click here.
This site is on the U.S. Register of Historic Places for good reason. Ulupo Heiau is an ancient site associated with the dwarf like Menehune people from Hawaiian mythology, and more recently (if you call the 1400’s “recent”) with the Kakuhihewa HighChiefs.
The site was abandoned when Oahu was conquered in the 1780’s but has since been partially restored.
The site is said to be a peaceful and enhancing place to visit. Admission is free.
This is one of the most prominent cultural places on Oahu. Built before the 13th century, it is said this place is the birthplace of the island’s High Chiefs. The legend goes that the women who gave birth here would do so free of pain.
While the area was ravaged long ago, it’s still fascinating to see the remnants of one of the most sacred places in Hawaii of a culture long past.
In 2000, the University of Hawaii studied the area, and it became known to be somewhat of a Hawaiian Stonehenge. They speculate the area was used at some point to track the stars for calendar marking purposes.
This historic site is free and open to the public from sunrise to sunset.
Puu O Mahuka
Dive into a fascinating world of centuries’ worth of religious and political Hawaiian history here. Twenty minutes off Highway 83, this exotic historical place awaits. This is Oahu’s largest temple.
Built in the 1600’s, it is set on the North Shore, overlooking the scenic Waimea Bay. It served at a “Heiau,” which means “place of worship” on the island, and was used until the 1880’s, when the government ordered all Heiau to be destroyed.
The historical significance of the location as well as the incredible view make this a must-do Hawaiian activity. Plus it offers free admission!
Even if history isn’t your thing, these seven places are sure to keep your interest and help add a new wrinkle of awareness into your Oahu vacation.
Put all of them on your list of planned activities while you are visiting Oahu, or choose two or three that sound the most interesting.
Grab your water bottle, put on some comfy shoes, and go experience the beauty and history of Oahu!