Shangri La Estate Tour

I’ve had a few requests to share more of Hawai’i’s picturesque scenery and places of interest.  I hope these posts will be helpful when you’re planning your visit to the islands. 

Shangri La. Mythical utopia, land of eternal happiness and fountain of youth. So aptly named was the private estate of Doris Duke, now open to the public, showcasing her extensive collection of Islamic art. The five acre, ocean-front compound is located on Oahu, behind a nondescript gate in Diamond Head and is accessible by shuttle bus only (no private cars).

The one and half hour tour is led through the entry courtyard, Mughal Garden, central courtyard, Damascus room, Syrian room, Mihrab room, dining room, and living room. Our docent was determined to convert us into Islamic art experts within the first ten minutes. The presentation was efficient but I found the docent’s constant quizzing of the group to be tedious.

Shangri La is impressive but not because of excessive opulence like the Huntington Library and Gardens or Hearst Castle. The building itself is rather modest, while the grandiose effect is achieved simply by bringing the outdoors in. Postcard perfect vistas are revealed as sweeping floor to ceiling glass windows disappear into the living room floor with the push of a button. I imagine that was quite a technological marvel when the home was constructed in the 1930’s.

Photography is only allowed in the gardens and entry courtyard, I wish our time outside was not so rushed. We were lucky there was a break in the rain but the day was colored PDX grey, so I’ve taken artistic liberty with my editing.

Make reservations for the Shangri La tour here. Space is very limited, so book at least two weeks in advance. The ticket price for the tour includes admission to the Honolulu Museum of Art on the same day. My recommendation is to book the 9:00am Shangri La tour, then visit the museum afterwards. If you want to take a time out for lunch, there are several vegan eateries like Greens & Vines, Loving Hut, and Simple Joy nearby.


  • Arrive at the Honolulu Museum least 15 minutes prior to your tour time to check-in. The bus will leave promptly and no refunds are given.
  • Use insect repellent if critters like to bite you. I forgot to wear one of these citronella bracelets and immediately got mosquito bites on my arms and ankles.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. You will be standing most of the time, with about (3) opportunities to sit for a minute or so.

© 2014, Veggietorials. All rights reserved.Use of any content or image requires a link back to the original post


  1. Now I feel like I wasted the opportunity! Your photos really put mine to shame.

  2. How beautiful! I can’t even imagine living in a place like that. Makes me want to come back to Oahu so bad!

  3. Thank you Cobi for the write up and pictures of Shangra La. Enjoy your posts. 🙂

Leave a Reply