With a deep connection to the land and environment, Hawaii arts and culture reflect centuries of tradition, trade, and multi-cultural influence. This unique US state has a distinctly Polynesian influence, yet it also incorporates elements of Japanese, American, and English custom.
From the spectacular Hawaii temples that represent Hawaiian, Buddhist and Christian beliefs, to celebratory feasts and village reconstructions, Hawaii is a place of diversity.
It also holds a significant position in modern history as the site of the Pearl Harbor bombings that brought America officially into World War II.
All this combines to create a fascinating destination of warmth, welcome, and appreciation.
Of all the experiences that symbolise and celebrate Hawaiian culture, luaus are the most renowned. Festive feasts bring together elements of Hawaiian and Polynesian tradition in a celebration that includes dance, custom, and authentic Hawaiian food cooked in a covered earth pit. You can enjoy a luau at destinations across the islands, but book early because the best can be sold out months in advance.
Located on Oahu, the Polynesian Cultural Center is a living museum dedicated to preserving Polynesian history and tradition. Try your hand at traditional Polynesian activities, or watch native representatives as you get an insight into cooking, crafting and dancing Polynesian-style in their Village Experience. The centre also hosts luaus and evening shows daily and has organised tours of Oahu Island.
Celebrating the history, culture and environment of Hawaii, Bishop Museum in Honolulu has an extensive collection of Hawaiian artefacts and displays. The museum features a three-storey hall dedicated to exploring Hawaiian culture, along with interactive shows. The facility includes a science centre and planetarium and is open daily except for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Showcasing the arts of Hawaii along with Japanese, American and European works, the Honolulu Museum of Art was opened in 1927 with the ethos of connecting people using art. From an initial gift of 4,500 artworks, the museum has expanded to house 50,000 pieces. It represents all the major cultures of Hawaii with items dating back 5,000 years.
The Hawaii State Art Museum is located in Downtown Honolulu and features semi-permanent along with changing displays. Dedicated to exhibiting and interpreting the art and culture of Hawaii, it boasts three spacious galleries. Once you’ve browsed the galleries, spend time strolling around the sculpture garden, or release your inner artist in their hands-on activity gallery.
Considered one of the top aviation attractions in the US, the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor has two hangars from World War II that house more than 50 aircraft. Some are original planes that flew before and during the Battle of Pearl Harbor. There’s also information about more modern aircraft that are used today to defend the Pacific region.