Located on the Honolulu Harbor in Downtown Honolulu, about 15 minutes west of Waikiki, Aloha Tower is an iconic symbol of Hawai‘i. Aloha Tower is the most recognized building in the state of Hawai‘i, second only to Diamond Head as its most famous landmark.
A Welcoming Beacon
Built in September of 1926, Aloha Tower was the tallest building in the islands for four decades, offering spectacular views of the harbor and housing an observatory and lookout station for harbor pilots. Its lighthouse served as a navigation landmark that could be seen from 15 miles at sea, while its clock was one of the largest in the United States. The tower stood as a welcoming beacon for visitors when travel to O‘ahu was done entirely by sea, serving as Honolulu’s “Statue of Liberty.” Duke Kahanamoku even set his first swimming world record at Pier 7, and the wharf was also known for Boat Days, a lively celebration to welcome the arrival of visiting ships.
Protecting a Landmark
For a period of time during World War II, the U.S. military took control of the tower, painting it in brown and green camouflage and shutting off its beacon to minimize detection. Patrols by Army sentries didn’t end until the camouflage was sandblasted off in 1947; the Aloha Tower reopened in 1948 in its original glory as one solid color.
Today, Aloha Tower continues to serve as a welcoming landmark for kama‘aina and visitors alike. Still a docking port of O‘ahu’s cruise ships, this historic place has also transformed into the revitalized Aloha Tower Marketplace; a mixed-use space now part of Hawai‘i Pacific University, featuring student residences, meeting space, community event areas, and a variety of restaurants designed to serve HPU students, Hawai‘i residents, and visitors from around the world. You can also visit the Observation Deck located on the 10th floor of Aloha Tower to find the perfect spot for beautiful views of the harbor on one side and the cityscape of Honolulu on the other.