If you want to really "understand" Hawaii, this 45-minute tour is well worth the time. The Iolani Palace was built by King David Kalakaua, who spared no expense. The 3-year project, completed in 1882, cost $360,000 -- and nearly bankrupted the Hawaiian kingdom. This four-story Italian Renaissance palace was the first electrified building in Honolulu (it had electricity before the White House and Buckingham Palace). Royals lived here for 11 years, until Queen Liliuokalani was deposed and the Hawaiian monarchy fell forever, in a palace coup (led by descendants of the original missionaries and American sugar planters) on January 17, 1893.
Cherished by latter-day royalists, the 10-room palace stands as an architectural statement of the monarchy period. Iolani attracts 60,000 visitors a year in groups of 15; everyone must don denim booties to scoot across the royal floors. Tours are either a comprehensive guided tour, which offers visitors a brief video about the history of the palace, a docent-guided tour of the inside of the palace, and a self-guided tour of the basement; or an audio tour that provides guests with an audio wand for a tour through the first and second floors and concludes with a self-guided tour of the gallery; or the galleries tour, a self-guided tour for those with limited time, that includes the palace galleries, complete with crown jewels, the ancient feathered cloaks, the royal china, and more.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Recommended 2010
- User Rating