Activity Finds: Honolulu

1) Bishop Museum

Dive into Hawai‘i's history with a visit to the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, the state's largest history and science museum featuring collection upon collection of Hawaiian artifacts and documents. Tucked away in Kalihi the museum is a perfect diversion if you're stuck with one of Hawai‘i's few-and-far-between rainy days.

Make sure to carve out some time to visit the newly renovated Hawaiian Hall, a perfect place for keiki (children) and families to you learn all about old Hawai‘i with exhibits and collections on Native Hawaiian history and culture. The $20-million renovation has taken the hall into the 21st century with new computer technology, lighting and surround sound, offering recorded Hawaiian chants. And for those who have dreamt about doing it, this is your chance to go toe to toe (or nose to fin) with a complete 50-foot sperm whale skeleton suspended in the hall's foyer or get up close and personal with the museum's luxurious collection of Hawaiian regalia.

Waikiki Parc guests can simply flash their Parc key card for complimentary access to the museum, open from 9 p.m. to 5 p.m. except on Tuesdays, when the museum is closed. If your schedule allows, you'll be seeing stars with the Bishop Museum's planetarium shows, which take place daily at 10:30 a.m. (The Sky Tonight), 1:30 p.m. (Explorers of Polynesia) and 3:30 p.m. (Astronomy of Galileo).


Find out more about the Parc Perks program.

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2) Honolulu Fish Auction

At Pier 38 the Honolulu Fish Auction is reeling in visitors with the only fresh fish auction between Tokyo and Maine. Lace up your covered shoes (or rain boots if you have them) and get up close and personal with the 160,000 pounds of fresh fish that make their way through the auction each day.

Much like the well-known Tokyo fish auction, in Honolulu the fish are sold individually - a system that has been taking place for more than 50 years. After a long night hooking big eye tuna, swordfish, mahi mahi and deepwater bottom fish the boats tie up just a few feet away from where they are weighed, tagged and put on display on pallets of ice in a refrigerator-like room.

Set your alarm to get there by 5:30 a.m. and watch as suppliers enter into friendly competition bidding on their favorite fish finds (think Storage Wars but with big eyed tuna instead of lockers). Bring an extra sweater (or two) to ward off the frigid temperatures - but be prepared to wash them back at the hotel. The auction isn't the only thing fishy after a few hours spent here.


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3) Spalding House

Formerly known as The Contemporary Museum, Spalding House offers a tranquil art oasis mounted above Honolulu in Makiki Heights. With a collection of galleries and stunning statue gardens (including a permanent installation of some of David Hockney's work) the museum is the perfect escape to explore great Honolulu art and enjoy a light lunch at the museum's carefully cultivated café.

For those taking a tour of Tantalus' winding roads, a pit stop at Spalding House (the sister museum to the Honolulu Museum) offers an artful escape. Show your Waikiki Parc key card and gain complimentary access to the museum's rotating exhibits of contemporary art before breaking for lunch at the Spalding House Café.

Café Chef Susan Lai Hipp's equal parts artful and contemporary menu features Mediterranean-influenced fare spread over a menu of salads, soups and sandwiches. If you've got the time to spare we recommend phoning in (in advance!) an order for the café's Lauhala and Lunch picnic service. At $30 for two it includes a choice of sandwich or soup per person, dessert bars and beverages all prettily packed inside your picnic basket - plus a tatami mat for you to lay out in the garden. Luscious views of Honolulu and Diamond Head included free of charge.


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4) Bon Dance Festival

There's no better way to dance into summer than with a bon dance (or two). Each year, Hawai‘i's summer nights come alive with the sights, sounds and tastes of taiko drums, Japanese song and the faint-yet-mouth-watering scent of andagi, saimin and flying saucers (a Kauai bon dance favorite which consists of a grilled Sloppy Joe cut into the circular shape of - you guessed it! - a flying saucer). Part of the local Buddhist culture, bon dances are a way to honor and remember deceased ancestors and celebrate their memory.

While there are many Buddhist temples across Hawai‘i that host a bon dance each year, one of the more popular take place at the Honpa Hongwanji located on the Pali Highway on the outskirts of Honolulu. If you're driving, park across the highway behind Honpa Hongwanji School and take the short walk through an underground tunnel that passes below the Pali.

Perfect for families, bon dances attract residents from across the island who don the traditional garb (a hopi coat and head band) to partake in the weekend's merriment. And if you'd prefer to simply relax and take in the swinging scene, remember to BYOBC (bring your own beach chair). That way you'll have a place to rest in between rounds of dancing and orders of teri beef sticks.


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