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Honolulu, on the island of Oahu’s south shore, is capital of Hawaii and gateway to the U.S. island chain. The Waikiki neighborhood is its center for dining, nightlife and shopping, famed for its iconic crescent beach backed by palms and high-rise hotels, with volcanic Diamond Head crater looming in the distance.
|Visitors usually have an initial shock when they arrive in Honolulu. This is not a quiet resort town. Instead you are greeted by a thriving world-class city, with a beach that rivals any in the world. As a matter of fact this natural harbor was once home to the Hawaiian royal court.
The capital of Honolulu is the cultural, industrial, commercial, and governmental center of Hawaii. Waikiki Beach is the heart of the tourist industry with the famous Waikiki Beach. Along the beach, there are many shops with lots of neat things to buy as souvenirs, as well as fine restaurants to try as well. Sports enthusiasts can go canoing, snorkeling, surfing or horse-back riding along the beach.
One of the most famous beaches in the world is Waikiki Beach. This 2 km beach is also therefore very crowded and popular. Waikiki is great for swimming, surfing, canoeing, diving, sailing, snorkeling, and fishing. Ala Moana Beach Park, located between downtown and Waikiki, is a midtown beach park.
The North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii is famous world-wide for its beaches and incredible surf. Here you can try: Banzai/Pipeline/Ehukai Beach Park, Pupukea Beach Park, Malaekahana Bay State Recreation Area, Sunset Beach Park, and Waimea Beach Park.
The Windward Coast has: Lanikai Beach, Kailua Beach, Kualoa Regional Park, Kahana Bay Beach Park, Hauula Beach Park, Hauula Beach Park, and Pounders Beach.
Leeward Oahu/The Waianae Coast includes: Ko Olina, Makaha Beach Park, Yokohama Bay, and Pokai Bay Beach Park.
Finally try East Oahu at: Hanauma Bay, Sandy Beach, and Makapuu Beach Park.
The tropical Hawaiian climate is moderated by its mid-ocean location and by the California Current. The average daily low and high temperatures in January are 18° C and 27°C and in July are 23°C and 31°C.
|Temperature in Celsius
Hawaii is the 50th state of the United States of America. This archipelago of over nineteen distinct volcanic islands is located over the Pacific Ocean. Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, is the capital and largest city of the state of Hawaii. It is the government, transportation, and commercial center for the state.
When Captain James Cook first arrived in 1778 h was welcomed by long ago migrated Polynesians which lived in established communities lead by the Kamehameha royal family. In 1809, King Kamehameha I moved his royal court from the island of Hawaii to Oahu.
Within a few years, the American missionaries came to the islands to spread Christianity. The royal family developed pineapple and sugar cane plantations and workers from other countries were imported as contract laborers. The Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown in 1893 by a group of American businessmen. In 1898 the United States annexed the islands and declared them a state in 1959.
On the morning of December 7, 1941, planes and submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy began a surprise attack on the U.S. This event brought the United States into World War II.
The Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a bay formed in the crater of an extinct volcano and filled with a wonderful coral reef and fish. It is a great place for snorkeling and scuba diving. You'll want to get there early in the morning as they control the number of visitors per day.
The ancient volcanic crater Diamond Head State Monument is a former US military site with portions now open to the public. There is a hiking trail that winds up the inside of the crater to the summit on the western side of the crater wall.
If you have access to a car, the Wantalus/Round Top drive in Makiki Heights is a fabulous mountain drive that takes you about 600 m above sea level to various viewpoints providing panoramic views of the south shore of Oahu.
Unique to Here
Luaus are the best setting for tourists to enjoy a traditional Hawaiian feast. Luaus are found at various locations, often at major resort hotels. There is also Hawaiian music, hula, and other Polynesian entertainment..
Dishes that are often found at luaus include:
- Lomi salmon, salted salmon mixed with tomatoes, onions, pepper
- Kalua pig, pork wrapped in banana leaves and steamed
- Pipi kaula, Hawaiian style beef jerky
- Poi, ground and boiled taro root paste
- Laulau, pork & butterfish (black cod) wrapped in leaves then steamed
- Luau, seafood prepared in a mixture of boiled taro leaves and coconut milk
- Haupia, a gelatin-like dessert prepared from thickened coconut milk
Activities & Sports
Hawaii has perfect running weather all year for jogger fanatics. Kapiolani Park and Ala Moana Park are where most joggers in Honolulu go as well as the loop around Diamond Head. The Honolulu Marathon is one of the world's largest marathons. Hiking and horse back riding in the nature trails is also very popular.
An ice rink is probably the last thing you'd expect to find in Hawaii but the Ice Palace offers instruction in figure skating and hockey. Other unusual sports to practice here while on a holiday are Yoga and meditation classes.
Waikiki Beach is the place to learn to surf where you can get private surfing lessons. A one hour lesson includes dry land and in-the-water instruction. Sea kayaking is a lot of fun here.
The Hawaii Plantation Village offers an hour long tour of this restored sugar plantation village. It was in operation from 1852 to 1947. Visitors will find 30 faithfully restored camp houses, Chinese and Japanese temples, the Plantation Store, and a sumo-wrestling ring.
Attractions & Sights
With Honolulu being such a modern and developed city, there is simply no shortage of attractions or sites to see. Here is a run down of must-sees:
- Completed in September 1926, the Aloha Tower and Marketplace was for a long time the tallest building in Honolulu. Today it serves as the control center for Honolulu Harbor and a public observation deck.
- The Hawaii State Capitol Building has a modern, open-air design, with pillars reminiscent of palm tree trunks, and two conical structures symbolizing volcanoes containing the House and Senate chambers, all surrounded by a moat of water representing the ocean.
- Washington Place, private home of Hawaii's last monarch, Queen Liliuokalani, and presently the governor's mansion.
- Iolani Palace was the historic seat of the Hawaiian monarchy, and the Iolani Barracks.
- Churches: Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew, the historic Kawaiahao Church of Hawaiian royalty, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace
- The Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium.
- Bishop Street is home to most of Honolulu's skyscrapers, including the First Hawaiian Center, the tallest building in the Hawaiian Islands.
- Kapiolani Park is a large public park at the east end of Waikiki, home to the Waikiki Shell amphitheatre.
- One of the more popular scenic vistas on Oahu and the site of one of the bloodiest battles in Hawaiian history, the Pali Lookout provides a panoramic view of Oahu.
There are several fantastic museums to explore. The Bishop Museum, funded in 1889 by the last direct descendant of Kamehameha I, records, preserves and tells the stories of Hawaii and the Pacific. On display are Hawaiian artifacts, science-based exhibits, a large simulated volcano in the center that erupts regularly, the third largest entomology collection in the US, and a planetarium. See also the Contemporary Museum, Hawaii State Art Museum, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Hawaii Maritime Center, and the Workspace.
War history buffs will rejoice with the many military memorials found on the island. The Battleship Missouri Memorial is the battleship best known as the site where World War II ended when the Japanese military surrendered to the Allied forces. The USS Arizona Memorial commemorates the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which brought the US into World War II. The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is the final resting place of over 45,000 Americans who served their country.
Sunset On The Beach is an event where free movies are projected on the beach in Waikiki near the Honolulu zoo. Many tourists from around the world can view a movie on an outdoor 30ft screen.
Catch a performance by the Honolulu Symphony, the oldest US symphony orchestra west of the Rocky Mountains. Other classical music ensembles include the Hawaii Opera Theater. Honolulu is also a center for Hawaiian music. The main music venues include the Neal Blaisdell Center Concert Hall, the Waikiki Shell, and the Hawaii Theater. Honolulu also includes several venues for live theater, including the Diamond Head Theater and the Manoa Valley Theater.
When party arrives Waikiki is the center of the action. When the sun goes down, Kalakaua and Kuhio Avenues come alive with visitors searching for restaurants, bars and clubs. The Mai Tai Bar is popular among locals. Also fun are Scruples Beach Club, Pipeline Café and Zanzabar.
Although not a big island, there are plenty of spots to spend a day away from your hotel. Here is a list of a few popular destinations:
The North Shore is home to some of the largest waves on earth in the winter, and the ocean and surfing are a way of life here. Daily life is way more relaxed and laid back here. The region is anchored by the town of Haleiwa, home of the Waimea Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Kahuku is home to several shrimp farms. Many have a shrimp truck where visitors can buy raw and cooked shrimp. But the most popular attraction is the Polynesian Cultural Center located in Laie. This living museum invites visitors to observe cultural activities by the people who inhabit the islands. Each of the major Polynesian countries has its own area of the park. There is an Imax theatre, a lagoon, luau feasts and a show entitled Horizons: Where the Sea Meets the Sky.
There is a definite contrast between the Windward’s Coast in the northern end, with many secluded beaches and sleepy villages, and in the southern end, home of one of the largest Marine Corps bases in the Pacific and two larger towns: Kailua and Kaneohe. See the Kailua Beach Park, Lanikai Beach, Kawai Nui Marsh, Mokulua islands, and the sea turtles of Hanauma Bay.
The Leeward Coast is home to four rural communities (Nanakuli, Maili, Waianae, and Makaha) and two up-and-coming resort areas. The mountains above Waianae and Makaha Valley offer some of the best hiking anywhere in the islands and the walk to Kaena Point is well worth the effort.
******* Best Honolulu Hotels *******
The majority of hotels in Honolulu are found in Waikiki but you can find smaller places around the island as well. To choose from are high-end resorts, mid-range and budget hotels, condos, B&Bs, vacation rentals and camping grounds.
Food in Hawaii is a medley of traditional Hawaiian, Portuguese, American, and Asian Pacific flavors. Local beef comes from ranches on Maui and coffee is grown on the Big Island. If you are roaming the island away from tourist areas, you may find restaurants are scarce.
One of the most common ways that local food is served is in the form of plate lunch, usually meat or fish with two scoops of rice and macaroni salad. Luaus are the best way to enjoy a traditional Hawaiian feast. Dome restaurants to try in and around Honolulu are:
Ono Hawaiian Foods
Side Street Inn
Alan Wong's Restaurant
The Pineapple Room
Lucy's Grill 'n Bar
Hula Grill Waikiki
- International Market Place has over 100 market stalls and shops laid out amongst a jungle-like backdrop of banyan trees.
- Aloha Stadium Swap Meet open every Wed, Sat & Sun 6am-3pm.
- Ala Moana Center is the largest shopping mall in Hawaii and the largest open-air shopping mall in the world.
- Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center
- DFS Galleria (Duty Free Shops) is built around a cruise theme.
- Waikiki Shopping Plaza
- Victoria Ward Centers
- Aloha Tower Marketplace
- Kahala Mall
- Koko Marina Shopping Center
The area around Nuuanu and Pauahi is filled with art galleries and antique shops.
China Town is an extremely interesting place to visit and shop during the day, if you like to walk.
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach 5* Honolulu, United States
Pearl Hotel Waikiki 3* Honolulu, United States
Ohana Waikiki Malia By Outrigger 3* Honolulu, United States
Aqua Aloha Surf Waikiki 2 1/2* Honolulu, United States
Ohana Waikiki East By Outrigger 3* Honolulu, United State
Aqua Oasis A Joy Hotel 3* Honolulu, United States
Pacific Monarch 3* Honolulu, United States
Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel 4* Honolulu, United States
Aqua Palms Waikiki 3* Honolulu, United States
Aqua Skyline At Island Colony 3* Honolulu, United States
Park Shore Waikiki 3 1/2* Honolulu, United States
Courtyard Marriott Waikiki Beach 3 1/2* Honolulu, United States
Queen Kapiolani Hotel Waikiki Beach 4* Honolulu, United States
Ala Moana Hotel By Mantra 3* Honolulu, United States
Luana Waikiki Hotel And Suites 3 1/2 * Honolulu, United States
Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort 4* Honolulu, United States
Aqua Ohia Waikiki 4* Honolulu, United States
Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach 4* Honolulu, United States
Aston Waikiki Circle 3* Honolulu, United States
Holiday Inn Express Waikiki 2* Honolulu, United States
Waikiki Beachcomber By Outrigger 3 1/2* Honolulu, United States
Sheraton Princess Kaiulani 3* Honolulu, United States
Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach 4* Honolulu, United States
Ilikai Lite 3* Honolulu, United States
Aston At The Waikiki Banyan 3* Honolulu, United States
Courtyard Marriott Oahu North Shore 3.5 star Honolulu, United States
Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort 4 star Honolulu, United States
Waikiki Beach Marriott & Spa 4 star Honolulu, United States
Ilikai Hotel And Luxury Suites 4 star Honolulu, United States
Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach 4 star Honolulu, United States
Hilton Waikiki Beach 4 Star Honolulu, United States
Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach 4.5 Star Honolulu, United States
Regency On Beachwalk Waikiki By Outrigger 4 Star Honolulu, United States
Sheraton Waikiki 3.5 Star Honolulu, United States
Embassy Suites By Hilton Waikiki Beach Walk 4 star Honolulu, United States
Halepuna Waikiki By Halekulani 4.5 star Honolulu, United States
Trump International Waikiki 5 star Honolulu, United States
Waikiki Shore By Outrigger 4 star Honolulu, United States
Moana Surfrider 5 star Honolulu, United States
Royal Hawaiian Luxury Collection Resort 5 star Honolulu, United States
Aston Waikiki Beach Tower 5 star Honolulu, United States
The Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach 5 star Honolulu, United States
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