Friday, December 16, 2011

Aloha to Shangri La - Doris Duke's estate in Hawaii

Honolulu has a special jewel that most tourists miss - Shangri La. From its website,,

Shangri La is the Honolulu home of American philanthropist Doris Duke. Built in 1937, Shangri La houses an impressive collection of Islamic art and is considered one of Hawaii’s most architecturally significant homes. Shangri La is open to the public for tours and special programs, and can also be visited by virtual tour.

Shangri La has limited tours, so I booked reservations in advance for my mother in law on the Friday after Thanksgiving.   Yesterday, I took my mother.   I share some photos that will demonstrate why it is, indeed, an earthly paradise.

The above picture is the front entrance that mimics Islamic buildings - plain on the outside but opulent in the inside.

My mother and the smiling camel.

A banyon tree greets the shuttle bus.

We were not allowed to photograph the inside, but we
were treated to a fabulous view of the Pacific Ocean!

Ms. Duke built a breakwater to create her own harbor.

Ms. Duke has the million dollar view of Diamond Head.

Diamond Head hosts several pillboxes built after
the December 7 attack.  The state maintains a path inside
 the crater for hikers to climb up to the fabulous views.

Ms. Duke's harbor has become a swimming hole
for anyone who can find the path to it.  
Hawaiian law protects public access to coastlines.

Shangri La hosts special events in the guest house
overlooking the salt water swimming pool.

Ms. Duke imported tiles in Islamic design.
Some were custom made and some were purchased
at auction (which had come from Islamic buildings).

If you visit Honolulu, I recommend you set aside a morning (or afternoon) to visit Shangri La!   


Kim in Hawaii

To learn more about 

The garden inspired by the Taj Mahal.


  1. I saw Doris Duke's home in Newport just last week. I do enjoy oriental art as well as American artists.

  2. my favorite asian textile is batik, this is traditional indonesia's clothing

    i love all the pic, so fabulous, hope i can go to hawai some day ;)

  3. I think my favourites are some North American and European paintings

  4. Beautiful photos, Kim! It's cold in here & I can only dream about warm/hot weather.
    I am a big fan of Sicilian pottery, especially the one you can see in Caltagirone. It's very famous for it's pottery (maiolica & terra cotta wares). City's most famous sight is La Scalinata di Santa Maria del Monte (Stairway of Saint Mary of the Mount) featuring 142 volcanic rock steps encrusted with individually hand crafted ceramic designs. Beautiful!!!

  5. I'm a huge fan of Native American pottery - I can't afford to have it, but I love it. My dh bought me a wedding vase which is absolutely gorgeous!

  6. Thanks for posting all the photos. I'm going to find the path to that swimming hole next time I'm in Hawaii!
    As for art, I love Thomas McKnight and Thomas Kinkaide.

  7. Linda, as soon as I read your comment, I remembered Thomas Kinkaide! I love his work and would love to own some of his work, but since I probably won't ever be able to afford it, my daughter bought the puzzles, put them together and then had them framed for me. You can't tell it's a puzzle unless you stand really close to it!

  8. I love Native American, Hawaiian and Asian art.

  9. Karen, I have a Thomas Kinkaide puzzle on my wall too! My sister put it together and framed it for me for my birthday one year. I love it.