After the latest set of measures implemented by Gov. David Ige to halt the spread of coronavirus, everything from Hawaii's palm-lined beaches to its palatial, open-air shopping malls are temporarily closed to the public.
In response to the public health orders, many of Hawaii's top museums, parks and other top visitor attractions have augmented their online offerings with virtual tours, educational resources and internet activities.
Here are some virtual ways travel advisors can keep Hawaii top of mind and inspire real-life vacations once the lockdown is lifted.
• The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum has a host of "at home" resources including educational programs for various age groups. There are historical videos, photo galleries, lesson plans and other detailed materials. The YouTube channel is also packed with compelling content such as a recent webinar on the Doolittle Raid, the first U.S. air operation to strike Japan.
• The Bishop Museum's new Online Learning Center, a free educational resource on the culture, history and science of Hawaii and the Pacific, has been rolling out different posts and features regularly since closing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, including a blog for Earth Day on the traditional Hawaiian relationship to the environment and natural resources, a lesson on lei-making and "Wings: The Birds and Feathers of Hawaii." New posts go up every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The museum's Facebook page is a good way to stay up to date on the latest posts.
• The majestic Iolani Palace, last seat of Hawaiian royalty and site of Queen Liliuokalani's imprisonment after the overthrow of the monarchy with the help of U.S. forces, offers a 360-degree online tour where you can walk the ornate hallways, scale its iconic koa staircase, visit the queen's chambers and stroll through other beautifully decorated rooms.
• The Honolulu Museum of Art has stocked its YouTube channel with videos on its current exhibit, "30 Americans," as well as museum presentations and lectures, staff picks and other programming. The "30 Americans" show features the works of 30 contemporary artists connected through their African-American cultural history including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mark Bradford, Nick Cave, Lorna Simpson, Carrie Mae Weems and Kehinde Wiley. Additionally, art aficionados can take a virtual tour of sister museum Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture and Design thanks to Google's Arts and Culture project.
• Humpback whale season just wrapped up in Hawaii, and those who missed the marine mammals' migration this year or are planning to catch it the following year will find a host of resources at the Maui Ocean Center website. The center's Virtual Classroom features Hawaiian word of the day lessons, crafts projects for kids, a downloadable coloring book and other activities. There is also a live camera feed so people can check in on the ocean exhibits anytime. For even more ocean-related content, the Pacific Whale Foundation, also based out of Maui, produces a regular podcast that features experts in ocean topics such as pollution and whale behavior.
• The Imiloa Astronomy Center on Hawaii Island has an "at home" section of its website with resources for backyard stargazers, video presentations, home craft projects and science experiments.
• For a vivid, high definition tour of one of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the Google Arts and Culture project offers a virtual tour guided by a park ranger that visits the popular Thurston Lava Tube as well as the rainforest and Kilauea caldera.
• KapohoKine Adventures based on the Island of Hawaii is releasing a new virtual tour on its website each week during the coronavirus shutdown. "Passport To Adventure: Tour From Home Edition" will feature virtual tours around Hawaii island such as South Kona and Kau Districts, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kilauea Volcano, Puna Coast and Hilo Town, as well as scenic areas showcasing lush rainforests, black sand beaches and waterfalls. The first virtual tour focuses on Puna and the east side of Hawaii island, traveling along the Puna coast with visits to the historical Star of the Sea Painted Church in Kalapana and sites of the post-2018 eruption including a new black sand beach.
• Finally, for iconic island experiences, the Hawaii Tourism Authority's YouTube channel features a series of virtual-reality videos that include stand-up paddleboarding on Oahu, hula on Hawaii Island, catamaran jam session off Kauai, and a visit to a waterfall on Maui. The Hawaii VR app was part of the "Let Hawaii Happen" campaign.