Fort De Russy Armed Forces Recre­ation Cen­ter makes for a mil­i­tary re­treat and more.

Waikiki Magazine - - IPLAY - By Brandi-Ann Uye­mura

Ahop and a skip away from some of the more sat­u­rated ar­eas in Waikiki is a place of­fer­ing his­tory and R&R for lit­tle or no cost. Lo­cated at the west end of Waikiki is the Fort DeRussy Armed Forces

Recre­ation Cen­ter, a 72-acre prop­erty man­aged by the United States Depart­ment of De­fense. Al­though many un­know­ingly by­pass the area, which in­cludes the Hale Koa ho­tel and the U.S. Army Mu­seum of Hawaii, it’s a prime lo­ca­tion for mil­i­tary fam­i­lies and non-mil­i­tary res­i­dents and vis­i­tors to spend a fun and af­ford­able af­ter­noon in Waikiki.

Hale Koa or “House of the War­rior,” is an 817-room ho­tel that serves mem­bers of the U.S. Armed Forces and their fam­i­lies. While the Gen­eral Man­ager, Richard E. LeBrun, says they aim to pro­vide a world-class re­sort ex­pe­ri­ence on a bud­get for the mil­i­tary, they also of­fer a few ser­vices to the pub­lic. Ev­ery­one can take ad­van­tage of their out­door venue, for ex­am­ple, a mas­sive green space pep­pered with grills, pic­nic benches and vol­ley­ball courts. If you’re on the hunt for park­ing in busy Waikiki, there’s a large struc­ture near the ho­tel and a sur­face lot close to the Lew­ers Street dis­trict. Both are open to the pub­lic and of­fered at a dis­count for the mil­i­tary. And, if you’re spend­ing a day in the Fort DeRussy area, you can grab a hot­dog at their snack cart or a Mai Tai at the Bare­foot Bar while watch­ing the beau­ti­ful sun­set on Waikiki beach.

For those who want a side of his­tory with their Waikiki ex­pe­ri­ence, con­sider the U.S. Army Mu­seum of Hawaii. Al­though they re­ceive more than 100,000 vis­i­tors a year, many are un­aware of its ex­is­tence. That’s a shame be­cause the mu­seum, which opened in 1976 and is man­aged and owned by the U.S. Army Garrison-Hawai‘i, is filled with Hawai‘i’s unique mil­i­tary his­tory. Ad­di­tion­ally, ad­mis­sion is free. Au­dio tours are avail­able for a $5 fee ($2.50 for So­ci­ety mem­bers). Mu­seum cu­ra­tor Mike Egami touts it as “the best-kept se­cret in Waikiki.” The build­ing it­self is in what was known as Bat­tery Ran­dolph—a coastal de­fense sys­tem built in 1911 to de­fend Honolulu Har­bor. Filled with pho­tos, medals and other ar­ti­facts, there is plenty of ma­te­rial to sat­isfy his­tory buffs and pique the in­ter­est of kids and adults alike. The cur­rent ex­hibits in­clude 100th An­niver­sary of Bat­tery Ran

dolph at F. DeRussy in the Chang­ing Gallery & Theatre and an ex­hibit on how Kame­hameha united the Hawai­ian Is­lands. Plan to spend at least an hour pe­rus­ing the six ma­jor gal­leries. Open Tues­day-Satur­day 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Photo: courtesy hale Koa

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