A one-inch-long dwarf seahorse charms viewers in Waikiki Aquarium's new Amazing Adaptations gallery. // © 2014 Jeffery Jeffords
Feature image (above): Rendering of the Polynesian Cultural Center's new Hukilau Marketplace, which opens in January 2015. // © 2014 Polynesian Cultural Center
Like fine wines, great destinations keep improving over time, and Oahu is a perfect example of that.
Officials at the island’s attractions are paying close attention to visitor interests and needs, and responding with renovations and new additions that keep clients coming back with smiles on their faces.
Following is a look at five famous landmarks that have recently made moves to maintain their allure.
Battleship Missouri Memorial
The historic Pearl Harbor battleship spent $57,000 to restore 13 staterooms where high-ranking officers lived when the USS Missouri was in service. From period furnishings and fixtures to books, maps and uniforms, the rooms offer a real-life sense of how the upper ranks lived and worked. Next up: the renovation of the Wardroom where officers once dined to its original condition, providing a unique venue for meetings and special events.
Going strong at 125 years old and fresh from a multimillion dollar upgrade, Bishop Museum is the foremost collection of Hawaiian and Pacific artifacts. The museum recently introduced the Pacific Hall, where exhibits are designed to teach visitors about the connection between Pacific Island cultures and people. From Nov. 8, 2014 to Feb. 3, 2015, a special anniversary exhibit will highlight the museum’s role in chronicling the changes in Hawaii over the past 125 years through photos, memorabilia and archival materials.
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort
When Hilton’s 31-story Rainbow Mural debuted in 1968, it was the world’s tallest mosaic. Thanks to a $4.25 million investment, the mural has been refurbished with more than 31,000 new tiles replicating the original design. Visible from 2.5 miles away, the vibrant mural has been a fixture in many movies, TV shows and vacation snapshots. It measures 286 feet high by 26 feet wide and flanks the north and south sides of the hotel’s Rainbow Tower.
Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC)
Fifty years old and still a top draw, this north Oahu attraction will open Hukilau Marketplace in January 2015. Built in front of the PCC for easy access, the 119,000-square-foot Polynesian-inspired gathering place will feature an open-air design for its shops, restaurants, kiosks, carts and free live entertainment. Part of PCC’s five-year $100 million renovation, Hukilau Marketplace is designed as a stopping-off place for north shore sightseers as well as a destination in its own right.
It may be the second oldest aquarium of its kind in the U.S., but Waikiki Aquarium is keeping current with its new Amazing Adaptations gallery that was six years in the making. Featuring exotica such as the weedy seadragon, smooth seahorse, redstripe pipefish, dwarf seahorse and potbelly seahorse, the 60-foot-tall, 3,000-gallon exhibit also features a variety of fish from Hawaiian waters. Access to Amazing Adaptations is included in the cost of general admission.