We visited the Iolani Palace this past January. (This is pronouced EE-O-Lani) It was my first time visiting this beautiful palace which is located in downtown Honolulu. Across the street is the famous gold statue of King Kamehameha. The well-maintained grounds are large considering this lovely palace, which was built in 1882 by Hawaiian King Kalakaua, is in the center of the Capitol district. The grounds upon which it is built has significance too, because they were thought to have been a place of worship in ancient times. This now beautiful palace had fallen into a state of disrepair for many years, but was finally been restored to its stately presence and has been open to the public since 1978. It is also a National Historic Landmark. The large gray block stone building is quite impressive.
Off to the side of the Iolani Palace, on the same grounds, is an imposing block building which was formerly the barracks (and called Halekoa). It had housed a kitchen, mess hall and living quarters for the soldiers, but is now the ticket office, video theatre and palace gift shop.
We purchased our tickets after waiting in a somewhat long line. It took us about 20 minutes to get through the line. We paid $13 to get our admittance for the self-guided audio tour. The entire tour through the Iolani Palace lasted about an hour.
The first thing we were instructed to do was to go into a room to watch a video detailing the lives of the Queen and her family. The video was on a large screen and played continuously, so people were coming and going all the time depending on when they came in. The running time of this film was about 20 minutes total. I found the film to be very interesting and educational. We didn't know much about the lives of the last King and Queen of Hawaii, so this film really helped.
After the film, we next were led up onto a large porch to wait until our group was invited to inside the palace. That wait was about 10 minutes, not too bad. During the time we were waiting, we took the time to take a few photos of the banyan trees outside the palace and the beautiful palace itself.
We were issued headsets with narration and instructions on which room to go to and when. Each room was actually fairly simple in it's furnishings, elegant, but really understated. I wouldn't say it was ostentatious at all, but more tasteful. The furniture was also elegant and the table settings in the dining room, for example, were what you would expect of a king and queen. The floors and wide hallways were a beautiful, dark hardwood and very clean and polished. (We were issued "booties" to put over our shoes, so that the floors wouldn't be damaged.) We also saw the King's private room, which to me, was the most interesting room of all. There were all kinds of clocks and gadgets of the day, and even an early telephone, things that were of interest and hobbies to him presented on a large gothic desk. To see the royal thrones in the gorgeous Throne Room was interesting too. These velvet chairs were a deep red and gold color. Beautiful portraits of the King and Queen and their predecessors are also on display. Our tour next led us to the simple room where Queen Liliuokalani was imprisoned at a difficult period in her later years. She was kept unfairly as a prisoner in her own palace for approximately five months, after the overthrow of the Hawaiian government, for a democratic government.
There is also a "basement" inthe Iolani Palace where there are a couple of other restrooms, and an area of more family photographs and sets of dishes and other kitchenware. I found this to be very interesting, I guess, because I really liked seeing the old family photos.
One thing that we thought seemed out of place is that around the palace, there is a parking lot. This is a Royal Palace and to see cars all around it just didn't set well with us. But we understand there are plans in place to remove the parking lot and restore the palace to a more complete and accurate reminder of it's former glory.
Our entire tour at the Iolani Palace took about an hour. You can take more or less time just depending on how long you wish to spend in each room. But if you do follow along with the narration on your headset, it will take about one hour. You can also pause or stop your headset anytime if you wish to do so. It was nice too, because it was not overly crowded. The way the tours are conducted helps because small groups of about 20 (give or take) or so visitors, are let in at one time. We all enjoyed our visit to the Iolani Palace. It wasn't a huge palace and spending a couple of hours here was plenty of time to get to know it and learn more about the rich Hawaiian history.
(Since my Dad had trouble getting around following his surgery, we had him use a wheelchair and this was worked out well for him to be able to enjoy our excursion to the Iolani Palace.)
No children under 5 years of age permitted. Docent-guided tours also available for $20 as are self-guided tours for $6.00. Closed Sundays and Mondays.
For more information: (808) 538-1471
~thanks for reading my review.~
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Best time to go: Anytime
Recommended for: Anybody
Review Topic: Overview