Explore, Family Trips, Hawaii, Travel, Travel with Kids

Hawaii: Bishop Museum

Every vacation needs a little down time–and vacations to Hawaii are no different.  Sometimes you need something besides the sun, the surf, and the sand.  When traveling with the kids, I always make sure that we have some time to explore museums, or historical sites —so that hopefully they will learn something about the place we are staying.

On our last trip, we made sure to include a day at the Bishop Museum–a historical, botanical, and science museum all rolled into one.  The Bishop Museum was created by Bernice Puaahi Bishop, with the sole purpose of preserving Hawaiian culture and natural history.  It is now the largest natural history museum in the Pacific.

Years ago, as a young biologist, I was very excited to go behind the scenes and see some very interesting marine specimens that they had preserved.  Their collection (that the public doesn’t usually see) is quite extensive and fascinating to go through.  The collection that is on display for the public is rather impressive as well.

Not only is the collection impressive, the entire campus of the museum is beautiful.  There are native Hawaiian plants growing everywhere and signs to indicate what you are looking at.  The gardens are really beautiful. The huge lawns are a great (and safe) place to let your kids run out their energy before hitting the museum displays.

The Bishop Museum has changed quite a bit in the last few years and now includes a whole building dedicated to teaching the science of the Hawaiian Islands.

The building is very modern and has some really unique attractions–including a large scale exploding volcano, a black-lit tunnel filled with Hawaiian sea and land animals, and submersible robots that you can drive yourself.

We go to a lot of childrens and science museums (since science is my favorite!) and sometimes they get a little boring with the same exhibits and displays at each one.  The Bishop Museum, stays on the theme of Hawaii and has some really cool hands on activities—all related to the development of the islands or the islands inhabitants.  We all loved this building and stayed for quite awhile–making sure to do and see everything.  It is a hands-on area and perfect for the kids.

Next up, was the planetarium show.  I always love planetariums and this show was going to teach us about the Polynesian voyaging canoes and their navigation by the stars.  Unfortunately, we were sitting in the front of the room and didn’t have a good view of what was going on.  It was a good place to cool off and Aaron even took a little nap.

From the planetarium, we headed to the hall that hosts the traveling exhibits.  We were there in time for the dinosaur exhibit–but, like I mentioned in a previous post–my kids don’t seem to care about those prehistoric reptiles.  We passed through there quite quickly and headed to the cafe for lunch.

I am sorry that I didn’t take any photos of the lunch–but for a museum cafe–the selection and quality were quite good.  The chocolate chip cookies were great! (And after ten days in the Philippines just what I was craving.)

The Hawaiian Hall was our last stop–filled with history and relics from long ago Hawaii.  The hall is filled with three floors of some amazing artifacts and some great information.  Even the kids were interested in learning more about Hawaii history.

The gift shop at the Bishop Museum is really classy as well.  If you are looking for tacky souvenirs, this is NOT the place for you.  However, if you want some very nice things that you will love forever–you should check here.  From T-shirts, clothing, books, and wall hangings–there are a lot of very cool things that you cannot find elsewhere.

We all really enjoyed our day at the Bishop Museum and highly recommend it to anyone visiting Hawaii–there is always something to learn about these amazing islands.

For more information on events, admission and hours see the Bishop Museum website:

Disclosure:  The Bishop Museum provided free admission for me and my family.  All opinions about our experience are my own.