Must-See Museums in Oahu
From historic World War II memorials to world-class art and royal heirlooms, Oahu has museums to keep visitors occupied for days. Here’s a list of the top museums on the island.
Pearl Harbor Historic Sites
In addition to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, Pearl Harbor Historic Sites comprises the USS Arizona Memorial, built over the remains of a sunken battleship; the Battleship Missouri Memorial, the last American battleship ever built; the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, one of 15 surviving US combat submarines from World War II; and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, home to more than 20 aircrafts and a combat flight simulator.
How to Visit: To gain access to each site, you’ll need a separate admission ticket. Numerous tour options are available, from ticket packages and transfers to half- and full-day tours by land and sea. Opt for a skip-the-line-pass to save time. Day tours are also available from other islands, including the Big Island and Maui.
Founded in 1889 to house Princess Bishop’s extensive collection of artefacts and heirlooms, the museum—which covers topics from art and culture to archaeology and natural history—contains millions of artefacts and photos, and documents about Hawaii and other Polynesian cultures. Exhibits and interactive presentations are spread across five buildings.
How to Visit: Admission tickets can be booked in advance. Planetarium shows and some programs require a separate fee. Admission is also included as part of the multi-attraction Go Oahu Card.
Honolulu Museum of Art
One of the best fine art museums in Hawaii, the Honolulu Museum of Art has a permanent collection of more than 38,000 works of art from around the world. Find paintings, sculptures, and textiles across more than 30 galleries, including Spalding House, the Robert Allerton Art Library, the Art School, and the Shangri La Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.
How to Visit: Separate tickets are required for the main museum, Spalding House, and Shangri La. Docent-led tours are available and admission ticket are also included as part of the multi-attraction Go Oahu Card.
The meticulously restored Iolani Palace was home to the last two monarchs of the Hawaiian Kingdom, who lived there in the late 19th century. See all the main rooms and halls, which feature recovered original artefacts and furniture and then explore the grounds and ornate royal tomb.
How to Visit: Both guided and self-guided tours are available. A guided tour covers just the basement exhibits, which includes the crown jewels. Many historical and cultural tours include a stop here. Admission is also included as part of the multi-attraction Go Oahu Card.