Iolani: Hawaii’s Royal Palace in Honolulu

By Napua Heen

Iolani-Palace

Iolani Palace. Photograph by Joseph Philipson.

‘Iolani Palace tells a story of Hawaii and her people. The Palace has been home to a royal family, executive building to a new republic, prison to an overthrown queen, capitol to a territory in transition, headquarters for martial law, treasure to Hawaii’s first governor, and now a National Historic Landmark and cultural icon.

Visit Iolani Palace

Iolani Palace is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Choose from Guided Tours ($21.75) led by volunteer docents or Self-led Audio Tours (14.75) where you can go at your own pace. Children are welcomed at Iolani Palace under certain guidelines and special rates.

$14.75 BOOK NOW

A King Who Spared No Expense

King Kalakaua was the last reigning King of the Hawaiian Kingdom.  Show here is a photo of His Majesty King Kalakaua, his ring, and pieces of jewelry belonging to his wife, Queen Kapiolani, including her diamond broach, compact, and diamond butterfly pin with wings that will flutter gently when moved.  (Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB)/Linda Ching)

King Kalakaua was the last reigning King of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Show here is a photo of His Majesty King Kalakaua, his ring, and pieces of jewelry belonging to his wife, Queen Kapiolani, including her diamond broach, compact, and diamond butterfly pin with wings that will flutter gently when moved. (Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB)/Linda Ching)

King Kalākaua built ‘Iolani Palace in 1882 after being the first monarch to circumnavigate the globe. He spared no expense. The finest of furnishings were ordered from around the world, and the Palace rivaled the majesty of European castles. Outfitted with electricity, telephones, and indoor plumbing, the Palace surpassed the White House in innovation and technology. ‘Iolani Palace was home to King Kalākaua, his wife Queen Kapiʻolani, and his younger sister Queen Liliʻuokalani. King Kalākaua passed away in 1891, leaving his sister Queen Liliʻuokalani as his successor.

A Meticulous Process of Restoration

iolani palace

ʻIolani Palace throne room. Photo courtesy of David Ramirez.

In 1893 Queen Liliʻuokalani and the Hawaiian monarchy were overthrown. The new government moved into the Palace and named it the Executive Building of the Republic of Hawaiʻi. At this time, Queen Liliʻuokalani was held prisoner in her own home. Also at this time, most of the furnishings were sold at auction.   Today about half of the original furnishings have been meticulously restored to the Palace from private owners around the world.

iolani palace

ʻIolani Palace state dining room. Photo courtesy of David Ramirez.

When Hawaiʻi became a United States Territory at the turn of the century, ‘Iolani Palace served as the capitol. After Pearl Harbor was bombed by Japan in World War II, Hawaii entered a period of martial law in which the Palace became military headquarters. It was on the Palace grounds that the brave Hawaiian soldiers of Japanese descent, known as the 442nd Infantry, were sworn in before leaving Hawaii. The 442nd Infantry returned as heroes and leaders of Hawaiʻi.

Hawaii became a state in 1959, and John Burns was elected as the first Governor of Hawaiʻi. Governor Burns treasured ‘Iolani Palace, moving the state offices to a new location and starting the process of restoration which cost $7.5 million.

A Grand Museum

iolani palace

ʻIolani Palace grand staircase. Photo courtesy of David Ramirez.

Today the ‘Iolani Palace is a grand museum open to the public, supported by volunteers and patrons. The Palace draws visitors and locals alike, inviting them to walk her 7,000 square feet of wooden floors and listen to her stories of yesteryear.

Available Tours

Visit Iolani Palace

Iolani Palace is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Choose from Guided Tours ($21.75) led by volunteer docents or Self-led Audio Tours (14.75) where you can go at your own pace. Children are welcomed at Iolani Palace under certain guidelines and special rates.

$14.75 BOOK NOW

Ticket Office (open Monday – Saturday 8:30 am – 4 pm) is located in the Barracks building on the Northwest corner of the property where a short introductory video is shown. Tour options are listed below. Guided and Audio tours cover the first and second floors of the Palace.

Guided Tours

Includes docent-led tour of the first and second floors of the Palace as well as a tour of the basement gallery exhibits.
Price
$21.75 (adult)
$6 (child, ages 5-12)
children 0-4 years not permitted
Hours
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 9 am – 10 am, tours enter every 15 minutes
Friday, Saturday: 9 am – 11:15, tours enter every 15 minutes

Self-Led Audio Tours

Includes a recorded audio tour of the first and second floors of the Palace.
Price
$14.75 (adult)
$6 (child, ages 5-12)
children 0-4 years permitted in child carriers or Palace strollers
Hours
Monday: 9 am – 4pm
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 10:30 am – 4 pm
Friday, Saturday: 12 pm – 4 pm

Basement Gallery Tours

Includes a tour of the basement gallery exhibits. The basement galleries, which are wheelchair-accessible, showcase the crown jewels of Hawaiian royalty and a collection of ancient regalia.
Price
$7 (adult)
$3 (child, ages 5-12)
children 0-4 years are free
Hours
Monday – Saturday: 9:30 am – 4 pm

Book a Tour of Iolani Palace

Visit Iolani Palace

Iolani Palace is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Choose from Guided Tours ($21.75) led by volunteer docents or Self-led Audio Tours (14.75) where you can go at your own pace. Children are welcomed at Iolani Palace under certain guidelines and special rates.

$14.75 BOOK NOW

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