Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Things to Do: Kapiolani Park

In Oahu you don't have to spend all your time at the beach.  If you want to lay out on lush grass beneath a palm tree you just have to stop by Kapiolani Park.  This is the oldest and largest public park on the island, with 300 acres there is enough space for barbeques, futbol (soccer), rugby, cricket, softball, archery fields, tennis courts, a bandstand, the Waikiki Shell, the Honolulu Zoo, and parking.  Just depends on what you want to do.

It's conveniently located the east end of Waikiki.  Depending on where you stay, it's within walking distance or a short trip by bus or Waikiki Trolley.  It's about 2 miles (3 km) around, so it also makes a good jogging route in the morning or evening.
The park is named after Queen Kapiolani.  Queen Kapiolani was the wife of King David Kalakaua and he dedicated the land to her after she died.  The park was created in 1877 when the Kapiolani Park Association leased the land from King David for $1.  That is not a typo, 130 acres of land was leased for $1 a year.  After the kingdom of Hawaii fell, the stewardship of the park passed to the Honolulu Park Commission.  Some of the stipulations for the park was that it will never be sold or leased, prohibited the charging of entrance fees, and that it will remain a free public recreational area.   

Speaking of free, the Royal Hawaiian Band plays at the bandstand for free every Sunday afternoon at 4:00 pm.  The bandstand is by Queen Kapiolani's statue.

The bandstand pond has ducks, so kids have something to look at when they walk by.  

Next to the bandstand are a row of ironwood trees.  Some of the ironwood trees are over 100 years old.  Ironwood trees line what use to be trails for horse carriages.  King Kalakaua was an avid fan of horses and horse racing.  The trail leads to the tennis courts along Kalakaua Ave.

Or you can walk over Monsarrat Ave and stop by the Honolulu Zoo.

Off in the distance you can see the Waikiki Shell Ampitheater.  This is the site of outdoor concerts, graduations, and the Kodak Hula Show.

The tennis courts are further down Kalakaua Ave near the Waikiki Aquarium.  The rules of the tennis courts are posted on the gates and ask that you limit court time to 45 minutes if people are waiting.  You can also reserve court time through the Parks and Recreation Department.  Scroll to the bottom of the page for instructions on how to apply for a permit.

Speaking of the Waikiki Aquarium, it's just across the street.  If you have little kids, and many people do, the Aquarium will keep them occupied for a couple hours.

There are shady areas with benches if you want to have a picnic or just sit and relax. 

Or you could just lay out on the grass.

Dillingham Fountain at the end of Kapiolani Park near Kaimana Beach and Diamond Head on Poni Moi Street.  The fountain was dedicated to the wife of Honolulu businessman Walter Dillingham, Louise Dillingham.  Walter Dillingham has been called the "Baron of Hawaii Industry" owning the Hawaiian Dredging Company and the Oahu Railway and Land Company developing Honolulu when Hawaii was a Territory.  Special thanks to Kim, full time Tweeter and part time photographer, for contributing her pictures.

If you want to get a park permit to reserve areas for BBQ's or parties call the regional park office at 808-971-2510 or the main office at 808-973-7250 between 7:45 am to 4:00 pm Hawaii time Monday through Friday.  Leave your name, number, the date, and picnic area.  Depending on the number of people and if you have tents, fees might apply.  Note: they cannot return long distance phone calls, so you might want to email or fax at 808-596-7046.

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