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Honolulu is located in the centre of the Pacific and is home to one of the most popular stretches of beach in the world. While every visitor and resident is certain to spend a fair amount of time relaxing and enjoying the crystalline waters, it is easy to forget that there is so much more to do in Honolulu!
Things to do in Honolulu
Honolulu is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Hawaii, which is located in the Pacific Ocean. It is an unincorporated county seat of the consolidated City and County of Honolulu, situated along the southwest coast of the island of Oʻahu, and is the westernmost and southernmost major U.S. city. Honolulu is Hawaii’s main gateway to the world. It is also a major hub for business, finance, hospitality, and military defence in both the state and Oceania. The city is characterized by a mix of various Asian, Western, and Pacific cultures, as reflected in its diverse demography, cuisine, and traditions.
Honolulu is considered “the melting pot of the Pacific” and is especially rich in culture and history what better way to learn and enjoy more than joining a short walking tour around the city and visiting some of the most historical and landmark buildings in the country.
If walking isn’t an option, visitors can still take in the city attractions and historical sites from the open-framed seating in a vintage trolley. Some trolleys are specifically for tours, while there are local trolleys that run on schedules similar to the public transportation system, and stop at most of the major venues; including museums, gardens, and shopping centres.
Waikiki Aquarium and the Honolulu Zoo
Both the Waikiki Aquarium and the Honolulu Zoo are must-see attractions, especially when visiting with children. The Honolulu Zoo maintains a petting zoo, complete with “Lani Moo” the resident dairy cow and namesake of a national dairy. Honolulu Zoo offers an incredible environment with animals from across the globe. Picnic areas are available and they do accept group reservations in advance.
The Waikiki Aquarium is a stunning reflection of Pacific marine life with sharks, sea turtles, and other aquatic animals with an amazing 420 species. The Aquarium is situated next to a live coral reef and is the third-largest aquarium in the United States.
Iolani Palace is the only royal estate of a King in the United States and is on the register for National Historic Landmarks. Iolani Palace is an incredible depiction of history and Hawaiian culture, having been restored to its original crowning elegance. The Palace is open to the public, with knowledgeable docents providing guided tours of the palace and grounds.
The 112-year-old Bishop Museum is a major repository of native Hawaiian artefacts and history. Bishop Museum offers guided tours, and global exhibits, and contains archives of millions of historical artefacts, publications, photographs, and manuscripts, representing Native Hawaiian, Pacific Island, and Hawaii immigrant life. Bishop Museum is open daily to the public. Photography and videotape are permitted. Commercial photographers must make prior arrangements.
No visit to Honolulu is complete without a visit to Chinatown. Honolulu’s Chinatown offers the best in fresh Chinese cuisine, fresh produce, sidewalk shops, open-door markets, handmade lei, and souvenirs, and is home to the oldest Chinese temple in the area. Preparation to visit Chinatown should include a healthy appetite and plenty of films.
Ala Moana Center
The Ala Moana Center is the largest shopping centre in Oahu. The merchant directory touts the finest boutiques and major department stores. Of course, there are local merchants with eloquent trinkets in all price ranges, and both casual and fine dining is available.
The Aloha Tower and Marketplace is a great spot to relax after winding down from the excitement of previous days in Honolulu. With cameras in hand, the observation deck is the prime location to absorb the beauty of the island, while capturing it on film. Breathtaking sunsets and views abound.
Brunch and/or Sunset on the Beach
Both locals and visitors alike, enjoy the once-a-month events, where the streets of Waikiki are transformed into an open market bistro and entertainment venue. Both “Brunch on the Beach” and “Sunset on the Beach” offer casual to fine dining, alongside the surf at their respective times. Brunch on the Beach is accompanied by a variety of entertainment and music, and typically a demonstration or hula performance.
While Brunch offers daytime amenities, the Sunset version is incredibly delightful. A full-size movie screen is set up so visitors can relax in the sand or on the lawn and enjoy the recent release of a major film. While the fare and parking come with a price for both of these monthly events, everything else is free of charge.
Sail, Swim and Surf
The beach is always nearby. Bring plenty of sunblock, bottled water, and a towel. Surfing lessons are readily available beachside along Waikiki. Fees vary, but boards, lessons, and a helpful hand for beginners are available throughout the day. Daytime and sunset sails with and without meals are available on the Star of Honolulu.
Visitors whose itineraries only allow a modest few days of vacation can find so much to do within a vast range of interests and still have time for swimming and surfing. The hotel concierge will be able to direct guests and visitors to any of the listed attractions, and rooms are typically stocked with visitor information for a full range of activities in Honolulu and around the island of Oahu.
Parking is somewhat limited in Honolulu, so remember to leave early, lock valuables away, and bring your cameras with plenty of film and batteries.