For 83 years, Kings, Queens, and regal monarchs ruled the Hawaiian Kingdom. One of the most controversial—and eventually beloved—monarchs was the half-Hawaiian Queen Emma, whose Caucasian background led many to argue she wasn’t fit to be Queen. Nevertheless, she would end up marrying King Kamehameha IV and become heavily involved in philanthropy—even setting up the Queen’s Medical Center that is Oahu’s main hospital today.
During the peak of summer, however, Queen Emma would escape the Honolulu heat at her home in Nu‘uanu Valley. The lush valley is cooler than the city and at a higher elevation, and the immaculate home is one Hawaii’s last remaining examples of Greek Revival architecture. In 1885, after her death, the palace gradually deteriorated to the point it that it was nearly completely demolished. Thankfully, however, an organization named the Daughters of Hawaii stepped up to rescue the home, and in addition to re-purchasing much or the original furniture, they restored the home to its 19th-century grandeur and have opened it up to the world. Today, visiting Queen Emma’s Summer Palace is a window into Old Hawaii, and a perfect stop on the way to the viewpoint along the Nu‘uanu Pali.
Queen Emma’s summer palace is open seven days per week from 9am-4pm, but is closed on major holidays. For a docent-guided tour, be sure to arrive before 3pm to catch the last tour of the day. Docent guided tours are $10/adult, and self-guided admission is $8/adult and $1 for children.