See Hawai‘i While Staying In: Unique Virtual Experiences for Your Vacation

Posted in: Culture & History, Environment, The Arts, Things to Do

So you get to Hawai‘i and everything’s closed. That sucks. We hear ya. 

To protect the further spread of COVID-19 (aka coronavirus), the state governor and county mayors have issued orders which have effectively shut down various activities and facilities, including popular events and tourist destinations.

While that can put a damper on your vacation that you’d planned for months, there are ways to still enjoy the wonders of Hawai‘i’s sites and attractions. All you need is a computer or mobile device.

Honolulu Museum of Art courtyard
A Mediterranean-styled courtyard at the Honolulu Museum of Art

Honolulu Museum of Art (HoMA) has a YouTube channel, which now includes a spotlight on their current exhibit, “30 Americans.” Learn about some of the works that are included and hear from the artists themselves. Their channel also has videos of presentations, staff favorites and other goodies cultivated over the years.

The museum is also taking part in #museumfromhome on Instagram and Facebook. This hashtag allows the Honolulu Museum of Art and other participating institutions across the country to share their works of art with the world virtually. So even if you can’t make it to the museum in person, you’ll get to see its unique collection.

Want to take in even more art? You can take a virtual tour HoMA’s sister museum, Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design. Via Google’s Arts and Culture project, you can view a number of Shangri La’s exhibits on your screen. Shangri La is usually only open to scheduled, guided tours, and accessible only by shuttle, so this is a handy way to get to view some of their works, with or without a stay-at-home order.


Iolani Palace
Iolani Palace [Photo HTA / Tor Johnson]

The majestic Iolani Palace hosts a 360-degree online tour where you can explore the historic building on your screen. Walk the regal halls and climb its iconic koa staircase, stroll through beautifully ornate rooms. Unlike a guided tour, you can determine where you want to explore, as you hop from room to room. You may not be royalty, but you'll get to see how Hawaiian royalty once lived in the only royal palace in the United States.  


Thurston Lava Tube
Thurston Lava Tube at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park [Photo IHVB / Kirk Lee Aeder]

Did you have plans to visit Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park that got scrapped? You can still visit, kinda sorta. Google’s Arts & Culture project also features national parks, including the Big Island’s biggest attraction. Click through a virtual tour of the volcano with 360-degree views of the park’s geologic features as you listen to a park ranger guide you through what  you’re seeing. You’ll see the park in ways many in-person visitors don’t get to experience.

Other Hawai‘i attractions are unveiling their plans and activities for this unprecedented “downtime,” so stay tuned! We’ll be sharing more of these activities as we learn of them.


Further Reading: 

Honolulu Museum of Art: Honolulu's Not-So-Secret Hideaway


A Mediterranean-styled courtyard at the Honolulu Museum of Art


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