Hulihee Palace: The Home of Hawaii’s Second Governor and A Vacation Residence for Hawaiian Royalty

Hulihee Palace, not to be confused with delicious hulihuli chicken, is the former palace of John Adams Kuakini, the second Governor of the Island of Hawaii. The palace, which was completed in 1838, was built “by foreign seamen, of native lava rock, coral lime mortar, koa and `ohi`a timbers.” Later, it would serve as a popular vacation home for visiting royalty. Although not as opulent as Iolani Palace on Oahu, Hulihee Palace is still very rich in history.

The front of Hulihee Palace. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The front of Hulihee Palace. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Looking up. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Looking up. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The rear (oceanside) of Hulihee Palace. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The rear (oceanside) of Hulihee Palace. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Michelle and I recently had the chance to visit Hulihee Palace during a recent visit to the Big Island. We actually stumbled on the palace after visiting Ahuena Heiau in Kailua-Kona. The palace is located a few blocks away from the Heiau, further down Alii Drive.

The palace itself consists of two floors and six rooms. As you walk through the palace, you will also notice a lot of koa, Hawaii’s most lustrous tree species. The lower floor consists of the Kuakini Room and Kuhio Room. On the second floor you have the Upstairs Sitting Room, Princess Ruth’s bedroom and the Kawananakoa bedroom.

This is a view of the upstairs sitting room. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

This is a view of the upstairs sitting room. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Here's another view of the upstairs sitting room. Those two yellow things are called Kahili. Kahili are royal standards used by Hawaiian royalty to show status, lineage, and family ties. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Here’s another view of the upstairs sitting room. Those two yellow things are called Kahili. Kahili are royal standards used by Hawaiian royalty to show status, lineage, and family ties. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

This is the Kawananakoa Room. This room is dedicated to Prince David and Princess Abigail Kawananakoa. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

This is the Kawananakoa Room. This room is dedicated to Prince David and Princess Abigail Kawananakoa. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Princess Ruth Keelikolani's Bedroom. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Princess Ruth Keelikolani’s Bedroom. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

A few personal artifacts of Princess Ruth Keelikolani. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

A few personal artifacts of Princess Ruth Keelikolani’s. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

If you’re interested in Hawaiian history and find yourself in Kailua-Kona, then Hulihee Palace is worth a visit. You can gawk at the beautiful koa furniture and interesting artifacts from the late Governor Kuakini and Hawaii’s royal family. The palace is operated by the Daughters of Hawaii, who also offer docent-guided tours for $10 ($8 for seniors and kamaaina). The self-guided tour is priced at $8 ($6 for seniors and kamaaina). Admission to the Palace grounds and gift shop is free.

Explorers: Coty Gonzales and Michelle Sagucio.

Directions to Hulihee Palace: Hulihee Palace is located at 75-5718 Alii Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740.

Hulihee Palace Hours:

  • Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. (Plan on arriving by 2:30 p.m. to allow time to tour the Palace)
  • Closed major holidays including New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.

About Coty

Founder of Exploration: Hawaii. Adventure, Minimalism, Vinyl, Typography, and Coffee + Matcha. A single space after a period, please.