A hop and a skip away from some of the more saturated areas in Waikiki is a place offering history and R&R for little or no cost. Located at the West end of Waikiki is Fort DeRussy Armed Forces Recreation Center, a 72-acre property managed by the United States Department of Defense. Although many unknowingly bypass the area, which includes the Hale Koa Hotel and the U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii, it’s a prime location for military families and nonmilitary residents and visitors to spend a fun and affordable afternoon in Waikiki.
For those who want a side of history with their Waikiki experience, consider the U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii. Although they receive more than 100,000 visitors a year, many are unaware of its existence. That’s a shame because the museum, which opened in 1976 and is managed and owned by the U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, is filled with Hawai‘i’s unique military history. Additionally, admission is free. Audio tours are available for a $5 fee. The building itself is in what was known as Battery Randolph— a coastal defense system built in 1911 to defend Honolulu Harbor. Filled with photos, medals and other artifacts, there is plenty of material to satisfy history buffs and pique the interest of kids and adults alike. The current exhibits include Boyhood to War: Honoring the 70th Anniversary of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in the Changing Gallery and an exhibit on how Kamehameha united the Hawaiian Islands. Also on display are a post-Vietnam-era Cobra helicopter and a Gallery of Heroes that feature Hawai‘i’s brave men who earned the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross, the military’s highest awards for valor. Plan to spend at least an hour perusing the six major galleries. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 6
U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii
2131 Kalia Road [D:6 Waikiki Map]