Illusion has been in Kewalo Basin Harbor since November 2014 and although Doug’s made a few trips down to work on the engine, he’s hardly been out of the engine room! So when Toby and I went down to join him for a while recently, it was up to us to go and check out what Honolulu has to offer the visiting cruiser. In Part 1 I talked about the practical stuff – bear in mind that we’re on a budget and not looking for the fanciest restaurants and bars, so it’s all pretty basic. But we had some fun times, and managed a little bit of exploring too in between hose-showers, galley cleaning, and swimming in the sea!
Obviously ideally you’d want to get away from Honolulu and explore the quieter parts of Oahu, (and even more ideally, take off to the other islands!), but even without a car and keeping local there are some fun and interesting times to be had. Diamond Head and Pearl Harbor are two of the most obvious nearby ‘attractions’, but although Doug explored both (and thought they were worth a visit), I decided to use my free time to check out the art galleries.
HISAM (Hawai’i State Art Museum) was well worth a visit. They had a great temporary exhibition on called “Voyaging: The Art of Wayfinding” which I loved – its topic of ‘maritime art related to Polynesian seafaring’ was so relevant to us after our trip through French Polynesia and I fell in love with pretty much every exhibit (from paintings to ceramics to textiles to model boats). Their permanent collections were good too, with lots of local art which gave a good insight into Hawai’i, its history, culture, challenges and delights. I adored the sculpture garden too – at first, stepping outside, it seemed a little underwhelming, but wandering around enjoying the various works I got pretty inspired and took a million photos! Also, top marks to the staff at this museum for being breastfeeding and baby-friendly.
I have mixed feelings about our trip to the Iolani Palace. I mostly enjoyed the visit – especially the insight into Hawai’i’s history which I knew very little about. It’s worth a visit for sure, and it was a pretty cool building with some good stuff to see, a decent informative film, some interesting old photos and some nice furniture and decor, if you like that kind of thing, which I do! On the not-so-great side, I thought it was pretty expensive and very strict. Even with an audio tour you have to wait and go in at a certain time which was kind of weird – and even with that happening, we had to wait for certain rooms to be available to us as the guided tour was in them. So it wasn’t the easiest of places to visit with a baby. And it wasn’t the friendliest of places either – in fact, Toby and I got shouted at by one of the security guards for daring to sit down on the carpet – out of the way of other people – while we were waiting to go into one of the rooms. Not sure what the big deal was, but it WAS a big deal! Who knows what would have happened if I’d started feeding him?! But despite these negative experiences, I’m glad to have gone and learnt about the history of the place and see the amazing restoration work going on.
Honolulu Art Museum was a highlight of my trip. It’s within walking distance of the harbour and has an extensive collection of interesting art and crafts from various countries, plus great temporary exhibitions including contemporary work by local artists. I was pleasantly surprised by what it had to offer! A mixture of very well known stuff (including in the European section works by PIcasso, Monet, Pissarro, Van Gogh, etc) and some unusual and inspiring new discoveries – just what you want in a gallery.
It was a real joy to find some challenging, thought-provoking work, including a cool piece called ‘Oil Tanker Sunsets’ by Alison Beste, from which we took a postcard to send to one of our Facebook followers! The museum is beautifully laid out, too, around little courtyards, and has a nice cafe and gift shop, plus very friendly staff. Definitely a good spot to hang out on a hot afternoon when you want a total change of scene from boat life.
In addition it’s worth a wander through the markets of China Town and even downtown Honolulu has some cool sights, which I enjoyed checking out. There’s of course no doubt lots more to be seen – like I said, we weren’t really focusing on tourism, and I didn’t do as much hanging out in cool bars and cafes as I might have done without a baby – so share your top spots in the comments telling me what not to miss if I end up going back 🙂
Here are some more sights from around our Honolulu explorings:
What did we miss? What are your favourite spots? Let me know… And check out Part 1 for all the practical stuff and an idea of the harbor itself.