Honolulu City Guide
The city of Honolulu is located on the Hawaiian island of Oahu and is the only real metropolitan area in of all of Hawaii. Honolulu is the capital of the state of Hawaii and this bustling city is home to nearly 85% of the Hawaiian population.
The numerous visitors who plan a trip to Hawaii each year tend to largely concentrate their trips around the city of Honolulu and its world famous beaches of Waikiki. A Honolulu vacation offers a world of possibilities for even though the city is a fast paced commercial hub, it affords easy access to the many natural wonders that are located all over the island of Oahu.
So, whether you seek an activity fun-filled Honolulu vacation by the beach or a more laid back holiday that involves visits to museums and walks in botanical gardens, hiking trails and tree-lined parks, Honolulu offers ample opportunities to pursue both types of vacation goals as it fulfills its role as one of the prime vacation destinations in the USA.
Where to stay in Honolulu
The majority of the five million tourists who head to Honolulu and the island of Oahu elect to stay at the many hotels that are located along Honolulu’s 500 acre beachfront neighborhood of Waikiki. This area is the bustling heart of Honolulu and offers fast food joints, fine dining, and nightlife along with its plethora of seaside attractions.
However, like all other commercial beach front destinations, this area has its fair share of crowds, traffic, noise and even crime. If you rather stay in the heart of all the action during your vacation to Honolulu then the many hotels of Waikiki beachfront should be your number one choice.
Moreover depending on your individual choices and preferences, Fare Buzz with its wide repertoire of flight and hotel deals can help you locate the ideal hotel accommodation for your visit to Honolulu.
The city of Honolulu extends far beyond the touristy zones of Waikiki and it encloses a fairly large area that hosts much of the population on Oahu. Downtown Oahu, which extends over a few blocks, houses the several government buildings as well as several financial and cooperate headquarters. Honolulu’s other neighborhoods like Hawaii Kai and Manoa are largely residential in character and don’t have too many hotels. However, the last mentioned neighborhood Manoa is renowned as the home of the largest and the best known campus of the University of Hawaii.
Places to see in Honolulu
Waikiki is located in the southern part of Oahu and is home to some of the most stunning beaches in the world. The Waikiki area was historically the playground of Hawaiian royalty but today this area whose name translates in Hawaiian as "spouting waters”, is the main shopping, dining and entertainment hub of the island.
Legendary, Waikiki Beach is world renowned as a surfer’s paradise but it also has other gorgeous beaches around it like the golden sand Kuhio Beach, the Duke Kahanamoku Beach (which has on it the statue of Hawaiian Olympic swimming sensation Duke Kahanamoku), San Souci Beach and Queen’s surf beach. These beaches have facilities for numerous water based activities like surfing, snorkeling, kayaking, scuba diving, deep sea fishing, whale watching(the magnificent kohola, or humpback whale is often spotted in these waters during the winter months), boating, wind surfing and submarine cruising.
Diamond Head Crater
Overlooking Waikiki is yet another major attraction of Honolulu, which is known as ‘Leahi’ (which translates as brow of the tuna in Hawaiian) or the Diamond Head Crater. This 760 foot tuff crater is one of Honolulu’s best known landmarks. The crater was named Diamond Head by European sailors who believed that they had found diamonds on its slopes. These so–called diamonds were in fact pieces of shiny calcite crystals which were worthless. The Diamond Head crater has featured prominently in the island’s history and it has also served as a military lookout post in the early 1900’s. The crater was named a National Natural Landmark in 1968. Today the Diamond Head Crater is a favored hiking destination that affords gorgeous vistas of Oahu’s south shore.
The Pearl Harbor Memorial
The Pearl Harbor Memorial, which is located in Oahu’s North Shore, is a not to be missed on any trip to Honolulu. Pearl Harbor was named after the pearl oysters, which were once harvested in the region. This harbor, which is the largest natural harbor in Hawaii, is the only naval base in the USA to be designated a National Historical Landmark.
Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona Memorial are visited by over 1,500,000 visitors annually. This site, which holds such an important place in US history, offers various attractions like the Battleship Missouri, the Pacific Aviation Museum, the USS Oklahoma Memorial and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park. The best time to visit this memorial is early in the morning as it is usually packed with tourists all day long.
The Honolulu Zoo
The Honolulu Zoo which is situated on the edge of Kapiolani Park between Diamond Head and Waikiki should be included as a must-do excursion for any vacation to Honolulu with children. The zoo is easily accessible on foot from various Waikiki beach hotels and offers nearly 1200 animals that include chimpanzees, elephants, hippopotamuses, and even an exotic komodo dragon.
The Waikiki Aquarium is yet another family-friendly attraction of Honolulu. This aquarium, which was established in 1904, offers over 3500 marine animals that belong to more than 500 species and include rare and exotic creatures like the Hawaiian monk seal, zebra shark and masked angel fish.
The Bishop Museum, which is located in downtown Honolulu, was conceived by the Hawaiian Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop who wished to preserve the relics of Hawaiian history for future generations. The museum hosts one of the largest collections of natural and cultural artifacts from Hawaii and the Pacific. Additionally, the Bishop Museum also hosts a science adventure center and a planetarium, which offer many interesting exhibits and highlight the role of volcano-logy, oceanography and astronomy in the ordinary lives of Hawaiians.
The Iolani Palace
The Iolani Palace is located in downtown Honolulu and is the only royal palace in the US. This magnificent palace was built by King David Kalakaua in 1882 and served as the social and political headquarters for King Kalakaua and his sister, Queen Liliuokalani, who was Hawaii’s last monarch. The palace, which has now been declared a National Historic landmark, has been restored to its original glory and makes for a must-visit site on any trip to Honolulu.
Best time to visit Honolulu
Temperatures in Honolulu tend to range from 74ºF (23ºC) to 88ºF (31ºC) all throughout the year and relative humidity is also manageable. This year round amenable weather enables the city to function as a year round destination that is visited by scores of visitors each year.
Peak tourist season, however, is during the traditional summer holiday months of July and August when hotel rates on Waikiki beach soar along with the summer temperatures. If you decide to do your Honolulu travel bookings with Fare Buzz, you have no reason to fear for no matter when decide to book your Honolulu vacation, Fare Buzz will try and secure the best flight and hotel deals for your ‘fun in the Hawaiian sun’ vacation.
Getting around in Honolulu
Honolulu International Airport which is located outside downtown Honolulu is the main gateway to the city. The Honolulu airport is served by a plethora of domestic and international airlines. A free shuttle bus known as a Wiki-Wiki operates between the main terminal and the interisland terminal of this large and beautiful airport, which is dotted with flowering gardens and green spaces. If you are planning to fly down to Honolulu, then you may want to try out our cheap air flight deals from across the top airlines.
Besides getting to Honolulu by air, many visitors also choose to get to Honolulu by sea for several cruise liners including Carnival Cruises, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, and Royal Caribbean tend to make a pit stop at this Hawaiian capital city.
Honolulu and the rest of the island of Oahu are well served by an efficient public transportation system, which is made up of buses and trolleys. Oahu’s public bus system is simply known as The Bus. This bus network is reasonable and extensive and provides a convenient way to get around the island. The island’s trolley system is not as extensive as the bus network but it affords access to most of the tourist attractions in and around Honolulu.
However if you truly want to explore the island of Oahu on your visit to Honolulu you should rent a car for the duration of your stay. Fare Buzz offers a wide array of affordable car rentals for Honolulu and you can book your car rental for Honolulu with Fare Buzz at the same time as you make your flight and hotel booking for Honolulu.
You can then proceed to pick up your vehicle at one of the many car rental outlets that are located outside the Honolulu’s International airport or even at one of the outlets located in the downtown area of the city depending on your preference.
Where to shop in Honolulu
Shopping in Honolulu is considered to be a legitimate pastime. The city hosts numerous luxe shopping outlets at its main drag of Kalakaua Avenue. Aside from these boutiques, Honolulu offers several mega malls, which are immensely popular with both vacationers and locals alike. Some of the most popular malls in Honolulu include Aloha Tower, which is a favorite of cruise ship passengers, Ala Moana Center, Waikiki Beachwalk , Ward Center and Waikele Premium Outlets.
If you plan to buy souvenirs from your visit to Honolulu, then the Waikiki open air bazaar called International Marketplace is your best bet as it offers more than 130 vendors, who sell all sorts of souvenirs and trinkets, which make for perfect gifts and mementos from your Honolulu vacation.
Where to eat in Honolulu
Honolulu offers a dazzling array of global cuisines. Along with your lei-making and hula dancing experiences, you have to make sure that you partake of a traditional Hawaiian supper known as a ‘luau’.
This traditional Hawaiian feast is a grand celebration of food and entertainment that celebrates the Polynesian heritage of Hawaii. At a traditional Hawaiian luau, you can expect to feast on traditional Hawaiian treats like Kalua pork, lau lau( beef, pork, chicken or fish steamed in taro and ti leaves) and Poi(which is Polynesian dish made of taro root). Luaus also feature other aspects of Hawaiian culture like Hula dancers, Samoan fire dancers and traditional Hawaiian chants.
Apart from luaus, the island also has some spectacular restaurants, which serve a wide variety of cuisines. Some of the most highly ranked and most frequented restaurants on in Honolulu are Roy’s at Waikiki Beach, part of the celebrated Hawaiian chef, Roy Yamaguchi’s empire, which is known for its excellent Hawaiian fusion cuisine. Sushi Sasabune, which is an extremely popular sushi restaurant that is located on Honolulu’s S. King Street and Alan Wong’s restaurant, which serves Pacific Rim cuisine made from fresh seasonal ingredients.
Another must-try restaurant in Honolulu is Chef Mavro, which is an exquisite French restaurant that showcases the talents of proprietor and Chef George Mavrothalassitis, who is known for his rendition of classic French dishes made with quintessentially Hawaiian ingredients.
Nightlife in Honolulu
Nightlife in Honolulu is centered on its Waikiki and Chinatown areas. The nightlife offerings in these two areas include bars, hotel bars, nightclubs, live music venues and more. Some of the best known nightlife options in Honolulu include joints like the cocktail bars like Rumfire, Bar 35 and Mai Tai Bar, nightclubs like Lotus Soundbar and Lewer’s Lounge which is the cocktail lounge at the swank Halekulani hotel at Waikiki Beach.