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Kalakaua Boat House ... a new museum on the tip of Honolulu's Pier 7.

Until 1947, most visitors to Hawaii arrived by ocean liner-and they came down the gangplank at Honolulu Harbor. The harborfront is now an area of aging warehouses (though still used, by three interisland cruise ships and a ferry), but it's slated for redevelopment.

In a bold first step, the Hawaii Maritime Center recently opened a new museum building-the Kalakaua Boat House-on the tip of Pier 7, near downtown.

Exhibits in the impressive new frame structure tie together the center's other nearby components: landmark Aloha Tower, the museum's original location, where a few exhibits remain; the fourmasted Falls of Clyde; and the Hokulea, re-creation of an ancient double-hulled Polynesian canoe.

Kalakaua Boat House is 70 feet tall at the to of its crow's-nest, with a 50-foot atrium, a view window that frames Aloha Tower, and a second-floor lanai wrapping its harbor end. The building was inspired by the old Myrtle Boat Club built in 1883 at the foot of Punchbowl Street and is close to the site of King Kalakaua's original boathouse.

One exhibit describes the swimming races and rowing regattas Kalakaua sponsored, and features the striking Kalakaua Cup, a 15-inch-tall binnacle-shaped silver trophy made for the Hawaiian Rowing and Yachting Association in 1889. The first person to win the cup was (who else?) the king, and he made it his champagne bowl for after-race parties.

Other first-floor exhibits explain Hawaiian and Polynesian uses of the sea; two displays-one on canoe-building, one on fishing-are in large koa canoe hulls. Second-floor exhibits trace Western influences on maritime Hawaii. You'll find a diorama on the sandalwood trade; displays on how whalers lived and hunted are brought to life with an outstanding collection of scrimshaw; and exhibits on sea transportation are highlighted by a walkin salon and stateroom like those of the first Matson passenger liners of the 1930s, Admission to the museum, which includes a tour of the 1878 Falls of Clyde, is $6 for adults, $3 for ages 6 to 17. Admission to Aloha Tower (harbor views ftom the 10th floor; displays on the 9th) and walks around Hokulea are free. All exhibits are open daily from 9:30 to 4. A harborside restaurant serves lunch and dinner.

From Waikiki, take bus 19 or 20 to Ala Moana and Alakea Street, and walk a block to the water. Or ride the Waikiki Trolley, which runs every 35 minutes from 8:35 to 3:35; an all-day pass is $7.
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Date:Jan 1, 1989
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