Tourist to Hawaii soon find that the island state has more to offer than its beautiful beaches and tropical breezes. Hawaii has been a historic Pacific crossroads for centuries, and the top five historical sites in Hawaii tell the stories of these encounters.
1. Kalaupapa National Historical Park at Moloka'i
Among the tragedies of Hawaiian history, two events stand out are episodes in 1865 and 1895 when indigenous Hawaiians were removed from their own lands, and the ongoing forced isolation of people suffering from leprosy. Kalaupapa was established in 1980 as a setting to tell these two heart breaking stories of Hawaiian history. Forced removal broke Hawaiians' 900 year old ties with their land, a connection that figures prominently in Hawaiian religion and culture. The enforced isolation of lepers on Molokai broke apart families and condemned sufferers to pain and loneliness until the arrival of Joseph De Veuster. Father Damien is now revered as a saint who saw the sufferers of Hansen's disease as people who deserve to be treated with dignity and caring.
2. Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, Kona Coast, Hawai'i
Set along the magnificent Kona coast of the Big Island, this park's mission is to interpret and preserve Hawaiian culture and traditions. Throughout its 1,160 acres, visitors to Kaloko-Honokvhau NHP can see how Hawaiians lived and learn something of how they structured their culture. The park includes an ancient Hawaiian settlement, featuring examples of kahua (house site platforms), ki`i pvhaku (petroglyphs), heiau (a religious site), and hvlua (a stone slide). Some 45,000 guests have visited the park annually since it was established in 1978.
3. Royal Hawaiian residences, Oahu.
Hawaiian legends long claimed that a great king would unite their tribes chipped. This was King Kamehameha I, also known as Kamehameha the Great, who established the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1810 and lasted until overthrown in 1895. Two buildings, Queen Emma Summer Palace's Iolani Palace State Monument and in Honolulu, remain today as a reminder that the real past. Queen Emma Summer Palace was the home's Victorian style of the wife of Kamehameha IV. Emma inherited the house of his uncle, John Young II. The house was restored to its 19th century style and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Iolani Palace was the official residence of Hawaii's last two monarchs, King Kalakaua, who built the palace in 1882, and his sister and successor, Queen Lili'uokalani, who was deposed by his rebellious subjects in 1893.
4. Battleship Missouri Memorial, Oahu.
Few U.S. Navy ships have led to so much history in their platforms as the battleship USS Missouri, nicknamed "The Mighty Mo" The ship was built and commissioned in 1944, the last year of World War II. The last of the battleships of the Iowa class, "Mighty Mo" was built for firepower. His huge guns thundered in the battles of Iowa Jima and Okinawa, and later during the Korean War. The Missouri was the site of Japanese surrender to the United States September 2, 1945. Dismantled in 1955, Mighty Mo has been reformed and came out of retirement in 1986. She went to war again in 1991, serving as a floating Tomahawk missile launcher during Operation Desert Storm. His last mission was to lead a contingent ship at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1991, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Japanese attack. She was retired for the second time in 1996 and handed over to private association which now maintains it as a historical site.
5. USS Arizona Memorial, Honolulu, OahuMany people alive today still remember the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, which brought America into World War II. To commemorate this event, the USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu was built over the spot where the battleship sank with its crew. The visitor center offers a documentary about the attack, along with other programs of interpretation before a boat trip takes off at Pearl Harbor, including a boat trip to the memorial in the harbor. The site was opened in 1962 and became part of the U.S. National Park Service in 1980.