A Lingering Touch of Royalty in Honolulu

Back in my college days at the University of California, Berkeley, I enrolled in a class on American history, hoping that it would be more interesting and inspiring than many of the other history classes I had taken.

My concern was that it might be a bit dull, filled with plenty of details strewn together in an unimaginative manner. Well, as it turned out, the professor, Leon Litwack, exceeded all my expectations. His presentations were presented in a serious manner, but his style of delivery and passion were so compelling that I and the other students were mesmerized. In fact, he received a standing ovation after every lecture!

Docent educator Zito Cup Choy has this same compelling presence when leading tours of Iolani Palace in Honolulu. A descendant of a longtime Hawaiian family, Choy has been giving tours of the palace for 38 years, as well as been deeply involved in its research projects. She is a walking encyclopedia of the place–the center of the Hawaiian Kingdom from 1882 to 1893–and has a flair for the dramatic. As we entered each stunning room of the palace, she let us know we were about to see something magnificent–and she was right.

I came to the palace without much knowledge of it, and not expecting much. After Choy’s tour, I was hungry to learn much more. For, as she conveyed, the palace is much more than the former residence of the elite: It is a vital part of Hawaiian history in general and its many cultures.

Group tour rates are available.