Located on Pier 7 at Honolulu Harbor, the Hawaii Maritime Center houses a variety of exhibits detailing the Islands’ maritime history, from Polynesian navigators and whalers to present-day nautical wonders.
Exhibits & Tours
Visitors are provided handy tape machines that provide expert narration on the center’s displays. The two-level museum is packed with insightful exhibits tracing the history of surfing, canoe racing, whaling era, Hawaii’s “Boat Days” and more.
Admission to the center includes the opportunity to board the Falls of Clyde, the world’s only surviving four-masted, full-rigged ship. Built in 1878, the Falls of Clyde served Hawaii as the largest ship in the sugar trade. After the turn of the century, she brought petroleum to the Islands. The ship was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. In 1989, she was named a National Historic Landmark.
A second historic vessel moored at the Hawaii Maritime Center is the Polynesian voyaging canoe Hokulea, a double-hulled canoe that has traveled throughout the Polynesian Triangle for more than a quarter of a century. The Hokulea is regarded as an important symbol of the revitalization of the Hawaiian culture.
Another unique exhibit at the center is a complete skeleton of a humpback whale, which is suspended in a diving position in the first-floor gallery. In January 1986, the humpback’s carcass was found washed up in a cove on the island of Kahoolawe. Six years later, the skeleton was restored and reassembled—an eight-month process that pieced together 159 bones ranging from inch-long digits to the 12-foot, 750-pound skull.
The whale’s new Hawaiian name is Leiiwi, which translates to “Lei of Cherished Bones.” Said museum director Dr. Evarts Fox, “As we originally envisioned, the humpback skeleton has become the impetus for many excellent opportunities. We are proud to have reconstructed and displayed this rare artifact in trust for the people of Hawaii and our visitor.”
The Hawaii Maritime Center is operated by the Bishop Museum, the state’s largest museum. Hours are 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily except Christmas Day.