Heritage Tourism

Heritage Tourism 2017-05-24T14:29:07+00:00

Hawaii’s heritage sites connect us to our past, and—with appropriate conservation and stewardship—will  continue to do so into the future. With its diverse and unique history, it is imperative that Hawai‘i maintain and preserve the state’s significant sites, including historic and pre-contact sites, buildings, districts, and landscapes. Cultural heritage travel is a growing sector within Hawaii’s largest industry of tourism. The funds raised through heritage tourism can provide for continued maintenance of important places, and visitation also can engage a strong constituency with interest in the long-term sustainability and preservation of these irreplaceable sites.

Historic Hawai‘i Foundation supports appropriate visitation, sensitive sharing and good stewardship. We encourage visitors to Hawai‘i to enjoy the unique culture and heritage and to help support the stewards who care for the places that tell Hawai‘i’s stories.

Visit Hawai‘i’s Historic Places


Historic Homes in Waikiki Showcased in Self-Guided Walking Tour

A Waikiki walking tour map for independent travelers is now available. The self-guided itinerary is suitable for individual travelers rather than group tours, and focuses on sites of historic or cultural significance that are either open to the public or visible from the public way.

The walking tour includes reminders on how to be a good visitor, including not to trespass on private property or to cause any harm to historic sites.


Historic Downtown Honolulu Map Available for Self-Guided Tours

Experience Honolulu’s architecture spanning two centuries through a walking tour of the Capital Historic District, Merchant Street Historic District and the Central Business District. Discover masterpieces of Hawaii’s architectural history and to learn more about places that are integral to the history of Hawai‘i and the ways these exquisite buildings reflect the people and events that shaped our communities. The walking tour covers 25 downtown Honolulu buildings along a three mile (5 km) route.

Historic Churches

Western contact with the Kingdom of Hawai‘i was punctuated by the influence of religious traditions, beliefs, missionaries and lifestyles. The self-guided walking tour of historic churches in downtown Honolulu introduces visitors to the architecture, artistry and history of four significant historic churches along a one mile (1.6 km) route. The non-sectarian tour values and respects the various traditions and faith of each denomination. The historic buildings that house these institutions also serve as touchstones for the larger community both as anchors for vibrant streets and in neighborhoods as objects of civic pride.

Historic Landmarks: Hawai‘i’s Top Ten Historical Spots

Mahalo to Lighthouse Hawai‘i Magazine for sharing Hawai‘i’s historical places with their readership in the May, 2017 issue.  The magazine caters to people of Japanese origin living in Hawai‘i and is distributed throughout Honolulu.

The article notes that since Captain Cook came to the islands in 1778, people from different parts of the world came and settled here with Japanese immigrating here about 150 years ago.  Since then, many historic events have unfolded and some historic buildings from those past events remain today.

The movement to preserve historic buildings began in the 1970’s (footnote–Historic Hawaii Foundation was founded in 1974).  This article introduces a small selection of them.

The article points out the most of the historical places noted are private properties and if readers are interested in visiting them proper etiquette should be observed:

  1. As these are not places open to tourists, pamphlets, guides and other information are unavailable.  Please do not attempt to contact the places that do not provide contact information for the public.
  2. Please view the places from the exterior and do not attempt to enter them.  Do not climb on walls or do something that may damage a property.
  3. Do not take anything from a site, not even a rock or pebble.
  4. Be quiet and do not cause disturbances.
  5. Littering, smoking or graffiti are prohibited.

Click here to read the full digital edition.

Be a Good Guest

Many of Hawai‘i’s archaeological sites, historic buildings or other cultural resources are fragile and susceptible to damage. Please be careful and thoughtful when visiting, whether it is a cultural site or historic building. When visiting historic or cultural sites, please be respectful and considerate. Some guidelines for good visitations include:

  • Learn before you go. Read up on Hawaiian culture and history before you visit. Many sites do not have interpretive signs or brochures. Learning about their importance will give you a greater appreciation and deeper connection to them.
  • Visit from the outside. This is especially true for places with rock walls. Don’t climb on or over the walls. The stacked rocks are unstable and may collapse.
  • Don’t take anything. It’s unlawful to take from, excavate, destroy or alter any historic site.
  • Don’t leave anything. It’s not appropriate to leave offerings at the historic and cultural sites. The best way to honor a site is to leave it unchanged.
  • Heed signs and be aware that historic residences are private property. Do not trespass, and try not to loiter or display suspicious behavior around private homes or property.
  • Be quiet.  It’s important to be respectful, and that can mean just being quiet and taking it all in. Many places are sacred to those affiliated with the sites, whether they are Native Hawaiians at cultural sites, veterans at war memorials, or congregations at historic churches or temples. Many people are seeking to learn or be inspired by these places.
  • Do not litter, leave items behind, or damage the historic buildings, sites, landscapes or archaeological sites. Restrict eating and smoking only to designated areas.