Combine nostalgia for your youth with the wonder and enchantment of these incredible locations across the Hawaiian Islands for the quintessential adult field trip. When you were younger, these places might have simply provided an awesome opportunity to get out of the classroom for a day, but now, as an adult, you’re sure to appreciate the beauty and history found in these 16 locations.
1. Bishop Museum
Founded in 1889, the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum is the largest museum in Hawaii and home to the largest collection Polynesian cultural artifacts and natural history specimens in the world. Also on the 8-acre campus is the Jhamandas Watumull Planetarium, which is an educational and research facility devoted to the astronomical sciences – it is also the oldest planetarium in Polynesia.
2. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Bring that model volcano to life at this stunning national park. A trip to Hawaii Volcanoes isn’t complete without a visit to the Kilauea Caldera, a trip down the Thurston Lava Tube, a walk through the lava fields, and a drive down the Chain of Craters road.
3. Lyman Memorial Museum
This Hilo-based natural history museum was founded in 1931 in the Lyman family mission house, which was originally built in 1838. The home is island’s oldest surviving wood-framed building, and exhibits include Hawaiian cultural displays, as well as an impressive collection of shells and minerals. The Lyman Museum has been an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution since 2002.
4. Battleship Missouri
Learn about U.S. Naval history while exploring a real battleship at this incredible museum floating off Oahu’s Ford Island. The USS Missouri was commissioned in 1944 and fought in WWII, the Korean War, and even provided fire support during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
5. Haleakala National Park
Located on the Hawaiian island of Maui, Haleakala National Park is the island’s crown jewel, covering an area of approximately 33,200 acres. The dormant volcano is approximately 10,000 feet tall, and the Haleakala crater is a massive seven miles across, two miles wide, and more than 2,600 feet deep!
6. Iolani Palace
Located in the heart of Honolulu, Iolani Palace was the royal residence beginning with Kamehameha III in 1845 and ending with Queen Lili’uokalani in 1893. The beautiful palace was as the capitol building until 199, and was subsequently restored and opened as a museum to the public in 1975. It is the only palace on United States soil.
7. Pacific Tsunami Museum
Housed in a bank building that barely survived the last tsunami that hit the Big Island is the Pacific Tsunami Museum. Though the museum is a tourist destination, staff members strive to educate Hilo’s inhabitants about the tsunami preparedness.
8. Whalers Village Museum
The shallow warm water, which surrounds the main Hawaiian Islands makes up an important habitat for the endangered North Pacific Humpback Whales. The Whalers Village Museum takes visitors back to a time where Lahaiana, Maui was a bustling whaling town – and also features one of the world’s largest scale models of a whaling ship.
9. Mauna Kea Observatories
Due to the high altitude, dry environment and stable airflow, the summit of Mauna Kea is one of the world’s best sites for astronomical observation. Since the access road was built in 1964, thirteen telescopes funded by eleven countries have been constructed. The Mauna Kea Observatories are used for scientific research across the electromagnetic spectrum, the largest facility of its kind in the world.
10. Honolulu Zoo
The Honolulu Zoo is the only zoo in the United States to be established by grants made by a sovereign monarch. The 42-acre park is home to more than 1,200 animals in specifically-designed habitats, and is visited each year by more than 600,000 individuals, including school children and adults.
11. Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park
Located on the Big Island is this park, full of archaeological sites and reconstructions of an ancient Hawaiian “place of refuge.” The site, once home to Hawaiian royalty and those who broke a la or defeated military, features a self-guided tour.
12. Allerton Garden
Originally created by Robert Allerton, this 80-acre garden sits on the south shores of Kauai, transected by the Lawai Stream, which enters Lawai Bay. The grounds are absolutely stunning, and well worth a visit – as a child or an adult!
13. Hulihee Palace Museum
Once used as a vacation home for Hawaiian royalty, the Daughters of Hawaii converted Hulihee Palace into a museum in 1927. John Adams Kuakini, governor of the Island of Hawaii during the Kingdom of Hawaii, built the palace out of lava rocks.
14. Polynesian Cultural Center
Located on the northern shore of Oahu is the Polynesian Cultural Center, a Polynesian-themed attraction and living museum known for eight simulated tropical villages and phenomenal luau. Fun fact: the center is owned by neighboring Brigham Young University, and seventy percent of the staff are students at the school.
15. Parker Ranch
Located on Hawaii Island, Parker Ranch encompasses 250,000 acres, and is the largest contiguous ranch in the United States. The working cattle ranch was founded in 1847, pre-dating many mainland ranches in Texas and other southern states by more than 30 years.
16. Maui Ocean Center
Rated as a top family attraction by Zagat surveys, the Maui Ocean Center is home to an amazing exhibit called The Open Ocean, which is a 54-foot acrylic tunnel that offers 360-degree views of marine life, including manta rays, sharks, sting rays, and tropical fish. The 3-acre marine park is the largest tropical aquarium in the Western Hemisphere and features the largest collection of living corals in the United States, and more than 60 exhibits.
Children and adults of all ages are sure to find enjoyment in visiting all of these 16 places. How many of these amazing field trips did you take as a child in Hawaii?