Historical Sites

Hulihee Palace, Kailua-Kona

Hawaii Island has a broad spectrum of museums for those of you who enjoy delving into the history and culture of a new location. Here’s a brief description of most of them:

Lyman House Memorial Museum, Hilo
Take a look at what life in Hawaii was like during the missionary era by touring the 1839 missionary home here. Also, browse thru the photo and library archives, which provide an in-depth history of the establishment of the sugar industry, Hawaiian royalty, the immigrant experience and much more. There is also a collection of artifacts of Hawaiian and other major island ethnic groups. 935-5021 or www.lymanmuseum.org.

Pacific Tsunami Museum, Hilo
Tidal waves are fascinating and often deadly. Hawaii has had her share of experience with them, and in addtion to scientific information pertaining to these dramatic natural events, there is recorded first-hand testimony from survivors to be found here. The museum is a memorial to those who lost their lives in Hawaiian tsunamis and it hopes to educate people about them in preparation for future occurances. 935-0926 or www.tsunami.org

Laupahoehoe Train Museum, Laupahoehoe
In the heyday of sugar plantations on the Big Island, the railway was the main way of transporting the crop, and the Hamakua portion of the railway was the most expensive section of railway in America at the time. The museum is housed in the old Laupahoehoe Railway Station, and has photos, memorabilia and tales of the times. It is marked by a RR Xing sign on Hwy. 19 on the Hamakua Coast. 962-6300

Onizuka Center for International Astronomy, Mauna Kea Visitor Center
This is a great place to stop on your way up to the Mauna Kea summit. A lot of people stop here to acclimatize for a 1/2 hour or so before heading up to the observatories on the peak (it cuts down on elevation sickness to do so). There are videos and displays about the observatories, astronomy, and the geography and ecology of the mountain. Often in the evenings there is a telescope set up with a helpful ranger or two pointing out features in the night sky. It can be chilly and windy, so we recommend that you take a hooded jacket with you for stargazing. 961-2180 or www.ifa.hawaii.edu/info/vis/

Parker Ranch Museum and Historic Homes, Waimea
Get introduced to the Hawaiian cowboy or paniolo, and one of the largest privately owned cattle ranches in North America. Ranching tools of the trade, a ranch history video, historic photos, and furnishings. One of the homes on site was built in the mid-1800’s by Parker Ranch founder John Palmer Parker, and features an interior made entirely of rare koa wood. The other home was built by former ranch owner Richard Smart and houses his wonderful international art collection. 885-7311 or www.parkerranch.com

Ellison S. Onizuka Space Center, Kona International Airport
This is an educational facility dedicated to the memory of astronaut Ellison Onizuka, who was born and raised on the Big Island, and who tragically perished in the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster of 1986. It’s an interactive museum, where visitors can learn about the forces of gravity, manned space flight programs and more...there’s a moon rock, an astronaut suit, and models of spacecraft. 329-3441

Hulihee Palace, Kailua-Kona
The Palace was a hub of Kailua-Kona when Governor John Adams Kuakini built it in 1838. Among the many things to see inside, there is a fascinating collection of local artifacts, which includes some from the reign of Kamehameha the Great, and some beautiful koa furniture. Outside on the lawn, near the royal fishpond, you may well see hula lessons taking place. Tours are offered. 329-1877

Kona Historical Society Museum, Captain Cook
The historic Greenwell family store, a stone and coral mortar building built in 1875 as a general merchandising store, post office and meeting place, serves as the Museum. Ranching and coffee farming artifacts, photo exhibits, and a book and gift shop featuring locally made crafts. On Hwy. 11, one quarter mile south of Kealakekua. You can also arrange to participate in one of the KHS’s historic walking tours of downtown Kailua-Kona by calling 323-3222, or go to www.konahistorical.org

Kona Coffee Living History Farm, Captain Cook
Also run by the Kona Historical Society, the coffee farm, also known as Uchida Coffee Farm, is a working farm in the midst of a coffee plantation, and was built by Japanese immigrants in 1925. Guides are dressed in clothes from the early 20th century, and they show visitors the original farmhouse, the Japanese (furo) bath house, the coffee processing mill and drying platforms, and talk of the immigrant farmworker experience. To reserve a spot on a tour, call 323-2005 or for more info. go to www.konahistorical.org

Thomas A. Jaggar Museum, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Besides an incredible view of Kilauea caldera, visitors can see displays of different types of lava, videos of eruptions, seismographs, and some illustrated Hawaiian legends, especially those relating to Pele, the goddess of the volcano. The mural art was done by wonderful local artist Herb Kane. Located on Chain of Craters Road. 985-6000 or www.nps.gov/havo/home.htm

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