This week we are heading to Hawai’i to journey to its capital, Honolulu. Home to crystal clear waters, vibrant sea life, an awe-inspiring volcanic crater, and more wonders, Honolulu is definitely a must see destination. Through our guide, you can still experience all the city has to offer in the comfort of your own home. Journey to the island of O’ahu, and take a virtual accessible tour of the city.
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Visit the Museums and Sites
Being that Hawaii is made up of a series of volcanic islands, it should come as no surprise that one of Honolulu’s most visited sites is Diamond Head, an enormous volcanic tuff cone. Known to Hawaiian’s as Lēʻahi, Diamond Head offers stunning views of the island and a glimpse into the fascinating geological history of Hawai’i. To learn more about Diamond Head, read the blog linked here and watch the video at the link here. The video comes with auto-generated captions.
Serving as a reminder of the Kingdom of Hawai’i, the Iolani Palace was the royal residence for the rulers of the kingdom and now stands as a museum. The palace was built in 1882 and was home to the last reigning monarchs of Hawai’i before the monarchy was overthrown in 1893. Both the inside and outside of the building are beautifully adorned in regal decorations. For more information on the palace, watch the virtual tour at the link here and another video at the link here. To access their virtual and digital resources, use the link here. The videos both come with auto-generated captions.
The effects of World War II were felt all over the world, including Hawai’i, where many brave sailors and Marines lost their lives due to the Attack on Pearl Harbor. The Pearl Harbor Memorial in Honolulu gives remembrance to that fateful day, and informs visitors of Hawai’i’s extensive military past. To learn more about the memorial and why it was built, read the blog at the link here and watch the video about the U.S.S. Arizona at the link here. The video comes with subtitles.
Honolulu and Hawai’i in general are known for their incredible natural sites, like beaches, mountains, and waterfalls. One such attraction is the popular Manoa Falls, an 150-foot waterfall surrounded by trees and vegetation. For more details about the waterfall, read the blog at the link here and watch the video with auto-generated captions at the link here.
To discover the cultural history of Hawai’i and other Pacific Islands, look no further than the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu, or the Bishop Museum for short. The museum features exhibits on Hawai’ian taxonomy, Hawai’i's olympic champions, and other fascinating local treasures. To learn more about the Bishop Museum, take a virtual tour at the link here and read the blog at the link here. The virtual tour comes with auto-generated captions.
Hawai’i’s flora is some of the most beautiful in the world, with breathtaking flowers, lush green trees, and other exciting plants. A great place to experience this flora is at the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden, known as a “peaceful refuge” for its wide variety of plant species and tranquil surroundings. For more information about the garden, watch the video with auto-generated captions at the link here and read the blog at the link here.
Tune in to Shows and Movies About Honolulu and Hawai’i
Many films and TV shows feature Honolulu and Hawai’i, either as a backdrop or a main feature of their plots. Finding accessible shows and movies that were only about Honolulu was difficult, so we turned our attention more broadly to Hawai’i.
A film for all families to enjoy, “Finding ‘Oahu” follows two siblings as they come upon an old journal that points them to a long-lost treasure. While on their grand adventure, the pair makes friends, explores the island, and reconnects with their Hawai’ian heritage. The film is available to watch on Netflix at the link here and includes closed captions and audio description.
“Kumu Hina” is a touching documentary film that looks at themes of diversity, tradition, and LGBTQ+ acceptance. Kumu Hina, a transgender Hawai’ian teacher, inspires her outwardly female student to lead the school’s male hula team while also dealing with happenings in her personal life. To watch the film, click on the link here, and the film comes with closed captions.
One of the most popular films set in Hawai’i is “Lilo and Stitch”, a family friendly Disney classic. A little girl takes on an intergalactic criminal unknowingly as her pet dog, and the two begin to bond through love, faith, and the Hawai’ian tradition of family. The film is available on DisneyPlus at the link here and includes closed captions and audio description.
“Hawaii Five-0” focuses on crime solving in the Aloha State, where detectives remain determined to remove illegal activities from Hawai’i. Though there is some disagreement within the group of detectives, they know that by working together, they can make the state the safest it has ever been. To watch the show, click on the link here. ‘
A well-rated recent comedy drama, “The White Lotus” follows the exploits and journeys of various guests at a tropical Hawai’ian resort over the course of one week. With big names like Sydney Sweeney and Jennifer Coolidge, the series’ talent shines and adds depth to an engaging plot. The show is available on HBOMax at the link here and comes with closed captions and audio description.
“Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.” is a series centering around teenage girl Lahela ‘Doogie’ Kamealoha, who is headed towards a promising career in medicine. Though her future seems set, she must still struggle with the realities of being a teen. The series is available on DisneyPlus at the link here and comes with closed captions and audio description.
Get Lost in Books About Honolulu and Hawai’i
Authors –– both Hawai’ian and from around the world –– have used Hawai’i and Honolulu as a part of the plot to their books. Accessible books that were only about Honolulu were difficult to find, so we turned our attention more broadly to Hawai’i.
Now a major motion picture, “The Descendants” by Kaui Hart Hemmings follows the descendant of successful missionary ancestors, Matthew King, who is now one of the wealthiest landowners in Hawai’i. Due to chaos in his personal life and the soon-to-come death of his beloved wife, King and the rest of his family must come to terms with the fact that their lives are changing in increasingly surprising ways. To read this book, click on the link here. The book has a Kindle and audiobook version.
In 1893, Queen Lili’uokolani would be deposed and lose the Hawai’ian kingdom forever, as it would soon become a territory then state of the United States. The book “Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen” by Lili’uokolani gives an incredibly personal history of the land that she was chosen to rule and the injustices of her situation. To read the book, use the link here, and the book has a Kindle and audiobook version.
“Moloka'i” by Alan Brenner tells the powerful, touching story of a young Rachel Kalama who contracts leprosy at seven years old and is quarantined on the island of Moloka’i. Though she is soon separated from her family and is forced to grow up isolated in the leper colony of Kalaupapa, Rachel finds moments of love and happiness. To read the book, click on the link here. The book has a Kindle and audiobook version.
If reading about Hawai’i isn’t enough, then supporting Hawai’ian bookstores may be another good way to connect with the islands. Though most of the books are only offered in hardcover or paperback, these stores offer works that are a vital part of Hawai’ian culture and should be explored if possible.
Talk Story Bookstore –– dubbing itself the westernmost bookstore of the United States –– is a small but thriving bookstore in Hanapepe, Hawai’i. The business describes itself as a great place to chit chat with old friends, pick up a few books and vinyls, and indulge in the history of Hawai’i. To access their online bookstore, click on the link here.
As for bookstores in Honolulu, look no further than Native Books, a cultural hub in the city. Harboring a large collection of Hawai’iana literature, including pieces written by indigenous authors in their tongue, Native Books makes it a part of their mission to ensure that the Hawai’ian way of life is not forgotten. To find their online bookstore, be sure to visit the link here.
Bring Honolulu to Your Kitchen
Honolulu and Hawai’i in general has some amazing dishes that are worth making at home. From savory meals to sweet treats, the vegan and gluten free recipes we’ve listed here are sure to leave you wanting seconds.
Hawai’ian mac salad is a popular side dish in the state and is very easy to make. The salad is usually comprised of a few staple ingredients: macaroni noodles, veggies, mayonnaise, and seasoning. For a vegan Hawai’ian mac salad recipe, click on the link here. To make the salad gluten free, you can use the gluten free macaroni noodles of your choice.
Another well-known dish is spam musubi, a dish from Hawai’ian-Japanese origins. Essentially, musubi is a piece of spam wrapped in rice and nori, or seaweed. The snack is highly portable yet also very filling. To make this dish, check out the vegan gluten free recipe at the link here.
A simple yet delicious Hawai’ian dessert is haupia, basically a coconut pudding with a jello-like consistency. Though it can be dressed up, the original recipe is very simple to make, and the dessert is often found at luaus or traditional Hawai’ian events. For a vegan gluten free haupia recipe, click on the link here. Enjoy!
Where to Next?
Thanks for wandering Honolulu with us virtually. Join us next time as we explore Singapore.