We had two things on the schedule for our last day in Honolulu. First we rode the bus into town to tour Iolani Palace. Our plan was to visit the palace in the morning, have lunch, then hit Queen Emma’s summer palace in the afternoon. Our bus driver was very friendly and suggested a lunch place that local business folks frequent. She didn’t know the restaurant name but said it was under the Ross department store (just take the escalator down). We did the Iolani audio tour at 9:20 which provided some good Hawaii historical info and an interesting look at the queen’s imprisonment there. We ended that tour earlier than expected so we took the #65 bus out to Emma’s before lunch.
The stop was right at the summer palace and a short walk up the driveway to the house. We got there at the end of a docent-led tour and caught the last 15 minutes. After the room cleared, I asked the docent if she could brief us on what we missed. She was extremely friendly, knowledgeable, and generous with her time. Puanani is a UH student in Hawaiian language and studies. We discussed a mix of Hawaiian topics – from history (Kamehameha et al) to modern politics (sovereignty) to religion (christianity and kapu). The summer palace is lovely and Puanani is amazing. Hawaii’s future is bright with young people like her around to preserve their heritage. If you have the opportunity make a point to visit Queen Emma’s summer palace and hopefully you’ll have Puanani for your guide (though I suspect the other docents are equally amazing).
For lunch we descended the escalator to Hukilau for a plate lunch (cabbage with fish stuffing, chicken meatballs, kimchi, and cupcake $15) and ‘umeke bowl (fried egg and hot dog on rice $10). It was good, not great.
Afterwards we rounded the corner to Ma’Ona Musubi. They were pretty well picked over but we ended up with a couple of spam varieties, tuna, salmon, kale, and veggie ($12 total) that we took back to our hotel for dinner. Good stuff with a bottle of rose while we listened to the drumming of the luau in the courtyard.