Do Any Pearl Harbor Tours Visit Iolani Palace?


By: Mark Loproto

There is so much history on the island of Oahu and in many instances, you’ll be able to explore much of it when you embark on a tour of Pearl Harbor. The naval base, which was the site of the December 7, 1941 attack that drew the United States into World War II, is loaded with a huge amount of history. All Pearl Harbor tours take guests through the exhibits and galleries of the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and include the USS Arizona Memorial program. Some tours also visit some combination of the Battleship Missouri and the nearby USS Oklahoma Memorial, the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park.

Beyond Pearl Harbor

But that’s not all a Pearl Harbor tour can offer. Many take the time to drive through historic downtown Honolulu for a glimpse at some of the other iconic sites in Hawaiian history. This portion of a Pearl Harbor tour visits the King Kamehameha Statue, Iolani Palace, and the Hawaii State Capitol. Along the way, your tour guide provides you with the fascinating history of these sites, including Iolani Palace, the only royal residence on American soil.

As fascinating as the palace is to see, driving by is all a Pearl Harbor tour is able to include. With all of the history there is to fit into one tour, there simply isn’t enough time to stop and actually go inside Iolani Palace. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t able to walk through the historic residence of the last Hawaiian monarchs. You’ll just need to do it separately from your Pearl Harbor tour.

King Kamehameha Statue

Statue of King Kamehameha I, downtown Honolulu

Depending on which Pearl Harbor tour you choose, there might not be enough time to visit the palace on the same day, but if you have the time at some other point during your stay on Oahu, Iolani Palace is definitely worth a visit. Just as Pearl Harbor is the place you go to explore the history of December 7, 1941 and the war that followed, Iolani Palace is the place to go when you want a glimpse into royal life in the later years of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

Visit Iolani Palace for a Glimpse of Royal Life

Iolani Palace Throne Room

Iolani Palace Throne Room

Since the reign of King Kamehameha III, Iolani Palace was used as the residence for the royalty of the kingdom. Though the monarchy was abolished in 1893 and the palace was subsequently used as the territorial—and later state—capitol, the palace was eventually restored and decorated to appear as it did during the late 19th century. Furniture and decor, much of it original, give a feel for how the palace would have looked when it was in use as a royal residence.

The striking building is impossible to miss, and makes for a great history lesson. Though you won’t be able to go inside during your Pearl Harbor tour, just seeing the exterior is a treat in itself; and with a stop at the iconic King Kamehameha Statue just across the street, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to take pictures.

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