It is said that the history of
Hawai‘i is written in the sea, and for those who are
looking for an interactive way to learn about Hawai‘i’s
history, the Hawai‘i Maritime Center does not disappoint.
Located at Honolulu Harbor at Pier 7 near Aloha Tower, the Hawai‘i
Maritime Center features a full-size humpback whale skeleton,
a whaling exhibit, the King David Kalakaua Boathouse, and a Polynesian
Lei Iwi, meaning lei of cherished bones in Hawaiian, is the center’s
humpback whale skeleton. The skeleton is not only a wonder to
see because of its massive size, 40-50 feet in length, but also
because it is one of only five skeletons on display in the world.
Standing under Lei Iwi puts into perspective exactly how difficult
it must have been for the Hawaiians during the whaling era, the
sheer size and power of these animals being enough to endanger
dozens of men.
Kohala Lele, meaning leaping whale in Hawaiian, is the center’s
whaling exhibit. This interactive exhibit features video, pictures,
audio, and props that show the relationship between Hawaiians
and whales dating from the 19th century to today. The center
also serves as a memorial to the Hawaiians who lost their lives
whaling on the open sea.
The King Kalakaua Boathouse provides historical accounts of famous
explorers like Captain Cook. The exhibit also shows the impact
of trade in Hawai‘i, Hawai‘i’s monarchy, water
sports, and the evolution of Honolulu Harbor are all featured
in a hands-on-way that entertains, as well as educates, both
adults and children.
Finally, Polynesian navigation is explored with a double-hulled
canoe, a virtual game, and numerous paintings. The Polynesian
Navigation exhibit brings to life the rich Polynesian history
of the Hawaiian Islands.
Admission to the Hawai‘i Maritime Center is $8.50 for adults
and $5.50 for children ages 4-12. The center is open 9 a.m. to
5 p.m. daily.