Touring Scenic and Historic Honolulu by Segway

Mike Packard from Hawaii Segway

Imagine getting a scenic tour, history lesson, cultural lesson on a tour that’s actually fun.  That’s what we experienced on the Honolulu Scenic History and Culture Tour with Segway of Hawaii. This tour offered the conveniences of a guided van tour with the up close and personal insights of a walking tour combined with the fun of gliding on a Segway.

Our tour began at the Hawaiian Hilton resort where we donned helmets and learned how to maneuver on a Segway. I must say, these Segways are intuitive, indeed.  Within about ten minutes we were zipping and gliding around cones confidently. Our guide made sure that we were comfortable and fairly proficient on the Segways before starting the tour.  He also made sure to explain how to be courteous and mindful of pedestrians.

Our tour guide, Mike Packard (photo above), was a wealth of knowledge about Honolulu. Mike’s family was one of the very first missionary families (Baldwins) that came to Hawaii, so he knows a thing or two about the history and culture of Hawaii. I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much about a city in such a short amount of time. Here’s just a small sampling of the types of interesting points we saw and learned on this tour:

  • The significance of the State Capitol Building’s design and architecture.  For example, the building is surrounded by a reflecting pool to represent that Hawaii is surrounded by water and the shape of the building represents the shape of a volcano. Iolani Palace
  • King Kalakaua had Iolani Palace (photo on the right) and the Aliiolani Hale designed after the buildings he saw in England.
  • Additional doors and windows had to be installed in historic Kawaiahao Church because the Polynesian belief was that the souls needed to be able to escape from buildings when they die.  So in the event that anyone died in this church, their soul would have quick access to a door.
  • Ala Moana Park transformed from a swamp land to trash dump to one of Honolulu’s most beautiful parks.
  • The opening scene of Gilligan’s Island was filmed at Ala Wai Yacht Harbor.

Both Andy and I really enjoyed this tour. Andy said he would place this tour on his list of top 10 things to do on Oahu. Here are some things to know before you go:

  • Minimum age for these Segway tours is 14 years old.
  • Maximum weight is 280 lbs.
  • In terms of physical abilities, you must be able to step up to step onto the Segway platform.
  • You’ll be standing in place for long periods of time so wear comfortable shoes.  We were both surprised at how challenging standing in place can be over several minutes straight.
  • Operating a Segway is amazingly intuitive, however, I did have an incident when I didn’t decisively step off and did a bit of a one-legged, one-armed move that would have fit nicely in a rodeo.  I bet I looked hilarious to any onlookers.  I did scrape my shin a tiny bit.  So, do take care as you hop off a Segway.
  • Bring a bottle of water for each person in your group.  I’d recommend a liter per person.
  • The Segways are fitted with a small backpack to carry your water and camera.
  • Wear sunscreen.
  • Bring sunglasses and a hat.
  • The average tour group size is ten people.

The Honolulu History and Culture Tour is just one of several other tours that Segway of Hawaii offers. Tour prices range from $89 to $125.  The Honolulu History and Culture Tour cost $110 per person.

See the other photos we captured on this tour.

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