Whether you visit the Big Island for a few days, a couple weeks or a few months, you want to make the most of your time in Paradise. With such a wide variety of natural and commercial attractions, it is natural for the visitor to get a little overwhelmed in the “Option Overload” and not be able to make a balanced and informed decision on what they want to do and how best to spend their time.
Choosing which beach you want to spend time on, or where you want to hike or drive can be an exercise in confusion and conflicting advice. Even more so, finding quality information on the history, culture, geology and natural history of the area can be almost impossible–and much of what you do find is inaccurate, or third-hand retellings that are, well, better stories than histories. Clearly, visitors to Hawaii could use help making quality decisions about how best to spend their time and understanding what they are seeing, the culture they are visiting.
This is why Tour Guide Hawaii is so excited and proud to announce the release of their new GPS/WiFi enabled App for iPhone and iPod video tour that helps you navigate your trip to Hawaii with hours of informative, location-aware video and information. Although our video guide will lead you to dozens of unusual, untamed and unspoiled spots, as an example of the fabulous coverage our App for iPhone and iPod provides, let’s look at a fascinating historical site in the heart of Old Kailua Town itself, one which you might pass by, uninterested and uninformed, if you did not have Tour Guide Hawaii’s new App to pique your interest and feed your curiosity.
It is said that ghosts of Hawai’ian monarchs still haunt this palace, walking up and down the grand staircase and around the grounds. Built by Governor James Kuakini in 1838 as a home, it was used for many years by Hawai’ian royalty as a summer get-away palace, a place of great galas and parties. Abandoned to ruin in 1914, since 1928 the Palace has been operated as a museum by the Daughters of Hawai’i.
Also on the Palace grounds are the Pohaku Likanaka, a ceremonial execution stone, a fishpond and the Palace Gift Store, which has many fine art items and hard-to-find books on Hawai’iana.
The museum is open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There are friendly and knowledgeable docents who give free tours, which last about 45 minutes. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $1 for students; photographing inside the museum is forbidden. The museum was heavily damaged in the earthquake of 2006 and was closed to the public for almost three years during repair and renovation. The museum reopened to the public in 2009.
One of the more interesting things about the Palace is the derivation of its name, Hulihe’e. Huli means “to turn or spin” and comes from the same root as “hula” the “dance of turns”. He’e is a generic term for cephalopods (octopus and squid). The term “spinning octopus” refers not to an aquatic species, but rather to a form of tactical defense employed by the Hawai’ians when defending coastline against superior attacking forces. The defenders are spread-out in arms, or tentacles, which rotate from area to area as waves of attackers come ashore.
Hulihe’e Palace was built by High Chief (later Governor) James Kuakini in 1838 as a home. After his death, Princess Ruth Ke’elikolani lived in a grass house (hale pili) on the grounds, the foundations of which are still visible. The Palace next reverted to a summer party palace for the Hawai’ian Royalty, then residing in Honolulu, especially King Kalakaua–The Merrie Monarch–until it was abandoned to ruin in 1914. Prince Kuhio, the first delegate to Congress from Hawai’i, inherited the Palace from his father and in the 1920’s decided to auction-off all the furnishings. The Palace staff numbered every piece and noted who the buyers were.
Around the turn of the century, the Palace fell into disrepair and provided a discreet spot for men to gather in the evenings, play poker and drink by the light of kerosene lanterns. The Daughter’s of Hawai’i, when they learned in 1920 that the Inter Island Steamship Company planned to acquire and tear-down the Palace to build a luxury resort on the royal grounds, rescued the Palace and have operated it as a museum ever since. The Daughters of Hawai’i found the old list of purchasers of the furnishings Prince Kuhio had auctioned and persuaded many of the owners to return, re-sell or permanently lend these priceless pieces to the Museum.
Today the museum contains an impressive array of native Hawai’ian artifacts from fishhooks to clubs to combs. The walls are hung with many portraits of Ali’i and westerners important to Hawai’ian history. Also there are intricately carved pieces of furniture by local and European masters such as Wilhelm Fisher, including massive beds, impressive armoires and a 6-foot diameter table carved from a single koa log.
To see the new iPhone/iPod Touch App, please visit http://www.tourguidehawaii.com/iphone.html. The best of Tour Guide Hawaii’s free content about traveling to, and exploring, the Big island, can be found here. For more information on traveling to Hawaii in general and on touring the Big Island in particular, please also visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.