When you think about the United States of America you don’t think about Royal Dynasties, but the Islands of Hawaii, with its climate fit for royalty, was established as The Kingdom of Hawaii, under Kamehameha I in 1796 and operated as a monarchy under two major families – Kamehameha and Kalakaua – until 1893 when it was overthrown by the U.S. government.
The presence of the Kingdom’s royal families are still felt through the many cultural and historical sites throughout the archipelago:
King Kamehameha I Statue (Hawaii Island, Oahu) – born in 1758 in Kapaau, a small town in North Kohala on Hawaii, the Big Island, he would later become the Kingdom of Hawaii’s first monarch after unifying the islands under one reign. In 1880, a statue was forged in Florence, Italy to commemorate the King’s contributions to the Hawaiian Islands. When the statue was lost at sea during its voyage to Oahu, a replica was made which currently stands in Downtown Honolulu. Miraculously, the original statue was found and recovered in 1912 and rests today near Kamehameha I’s birthplace in front of the North Kohala Civic Center.
Iolani Palace (Oahu) – completed in 1882, the palace served as the official residence for the last two reigning monarchs: King David Kalakaua and later Queen Liliuokalani. After the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893, the palace served as government headquarters for the Provisional Government, Republic, Territory, and State of Hawaii until 1969. The palace is furnished with beautiful koa wood flooring and classic Italian architecture, with several informational displays highlighting paintings, jewelry, and artifacts. IolaniPalace.org
Iao Valley State Park (Maui) – This lush and serene valley was once the grounds for one of the most significant battles in Hawaiian history. In his pursuit to unite the islands, King Kamehameha I and his forces defeated Maui’s army in the Battle of Kepaniwai. The park is a perfect place to explore with a hike up the 1,200-foot Iao Needle to the lookout point used by Maui’s army highly recommended. There are also interactive exhibits at the Hawaii Nature Center located in the valley. HawaiiStateParks.org
Kapiolani Regional Park / Royal Hawaiian Band (Oahu) – Look down from the summit of Mount Leahi for a pristine view of the 300-acre Kapiolani Regional Park, the largest and oldest public park in Hawaii. Neighboring Waikiki, the park was originally built as a racehorse track by King Kalakaua and would later be dedicated as the first Hawaiian public space. Today, the park is maintained by the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Parks and Recreation and is set aside permanently as free public space. Although temporarily suspended due to renovations, every Sunday afternoon the Royal Hawaiian Band, founded by King Kamehameha III in 1836, puts on a free public concert at the park’s bandstand. The band will return to Kapiolani Park when the bandstand renovations are complete and continue to hold free public performances in other locations. RHB-Music.com
Hulihee Palace (Hawaii Island) – In historic Kailua-Kona rests several significant landmarks, including Hulihee Palace, once a favorite vacation residence of Hawaii’s royal families. Hawaii Island’s second governor, John Adams Kuakini contracted foreign seamen to build the palace in 1838. The elegant structure is comprised of native lava rock, coral lime mortar and koa and ohia timbers. Today, the palace serves as a museum, with several pieces of Hawaiian artifacts and beautiful furniture on display. HuliheePalace.net
Bishop Museum (Oahu) – Built in honor of his wife, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last descendent of the royal Kamehameha family, Charles Reed Bishop founded Bishop Museum in 1889 to house an extensive collection of Hawaiian artifacts and royal family heirlooms. To learn more about the Hawaiian monarchy, visit the Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kahili Room. On display are portraits of the esteemed alii (royalty) and some of their personal belongings including the precious kahili or feather standards that symbolized royalty. BishopMuseum.org
The Sacred Mound at Iolani Palace
Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson
Content Creator Company:Tor Johnson Photography