Learning about Hawaiian culture in Waikiki
Photo: Bronze figure of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop (1831-1884), great-granddaughter of King Kamehameha and founder of the Kamehameha Schools, at the Royal Hawaiian Center, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Glamorous Waikiki Beach was once the retreat of Hawaiian royalty. Here at Helumoa, a royal grove of coconut palms, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop (1831-1884) wrote a codicil to her will establishing Kamehameha Schools dedicated to educating children of Hawaiian descent.
Today the Royal Grove is a garden at the heart of the Royal Hawaiian shopping center, the Schools’ largest real estate asset, generating revenue for the operation of 31 preschools and three K-12 campuses statewide.
The Royal Hawaiian Center remains a focal point of Hawaiian arts in the heart of Waikiki. Visitors can learn about Hawaiian culture through free on-site cultural programming including Hawaiian-made short films and free classes in Hawaiian arts like hula dance, ukelele playing, lei making, Hawaiian quilting and lomilomi massage.
Free concerts in the Royal Grove showcase the best of traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music. Twice a month, the Royal Hawaiian Band performs. Established by King Kamehameha III in 1836, The Royal Hawaiian Band is a 40-member ensemble with hula soloists and Hawaiian singers.
Spanning three blocks in Waikiki Beach in front of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, the Royal Hawaiian Center is a great place to find quality made-in-Hawaii products. Hawaiian specialty shops include Aloha Aina Boutique (fashions by local designers), Aunty Bella’s Lei Stand (fresh flower leis), Bob’s ‘Ukulele (offering both private label and popular brands), Hawaiian Island Arts (quilts, hula wear, mu’umu’u), Island Art Gallery (vintage hawaiiana to contemporary local artists), Island Soap & Candleworks (handmade in Hawaii with all-natural ingredients) and more.
Knowing you’re supporting the Kamehameha Schools makes buying that extra mu’umu’u or ukelele a guilt-free experience. For information on all shops, free classes, events and performance schedules, see the Royal Hawaiian Center‘s website.
For more things to do on Oahu and the other Hawaiian islands, see Go Hawaii, official website of the Hawaii Tourism Authority.