Honolulu is the gateway to one of Hawaii’s most beautiful and popular islands, Oahu, as well being the state capital. The city provides historical details of Polynesian and Hawaiian life, as well as outstanding beaches and views. Hawaii has long been known for its exceptional surf, and Oahu is home to the world famous North Shore. Waikiki, which is an extension of Honolulu, is a firm favourite with honeymooning couples due to its stunning topography, consistently sunny climate, and the serene Hawaiian way of life. Oahu means The Gathering Place and this is fitting to the great variety of people who visit or have settled in this capital. Honolulu is a bustling city on this otherwise relaxed island, which has everything from shopping to surf, beaches to bars.


One of Oahu’s most famous landmarks has to be Pearl Harbour. Its bombing on December 7th, 1941, shocked the world and thousands of visitors come here every year to mourn and pay their respects. The island has an otherwise carefree and blithe attitude, which makes a visit to Pearl Harbour an even more stark reality. A visit to the harbour includes a film retelling the events, a trip to the museum and then being ferried out to the memorial which is built over what exists of the USS Arizona. Although this cannot be described as an enjoyable trip, it is a must to understand the devastation that happened to the island and lives of so many on that fateful day.

Oahu is very proud of its Hawaiian heritage and there are reminders of this all over its capital. The Honolulu Academy of Arts has a collection of over 50,000 works, which include both European and Hawaiian arts and the ways in which they have been combined. The purpose of the Museum is to present art that is particularly appropriate to Hawaii’s ethically diverse community.

Hawaii and surfing are synonymous, and much of Honolulu’s attractions are related to this culture. Waikiki Beach is located a few miles east of downtown Honolulu, and is one of Hawaii’s most famous beaches. The beach itself is a stunning stretch of golden sands which many high-rise hotels back on to. The breaks here are great for learners, and touts trawl the beaches looking for eager beginners. There is a statue of the infamous Hawaiian surfer Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, who is said to have introduced surfing to the world, along the shorefront at Waikiki Beach. There is much controversy over this statue though, as it has been built with his back to the beach and many Hawaiians believe that Duke would never turn his back on the waves!

Diamond Head, which is visible from Waikiki Beach, was formed hundreds of thousands of years ago by an active volcano. Today the site, which was so-called by Nineteenth century sailors who mistook the calcite crystals for diamonds, offers one of the best views of the west coast of Oahu, as well as a bird’s eye view of Honolulu.

Hanauma Bay, which is only a short drive from Honolulu, is a world-class preserve of many different types of sea life, including parrot fish and living coral reefs, that offers a magical underwater experience. You can bring your own snorkel or fins, or rent them from the bay for a very reasonable price. Other activities are also available including jet skiing, glass bottom boat rides as well as the opportunity to dive in the crystal clear waters.


There are various surf themed bars all around Honolulu, where hula skirts and leis are adorned by most of the waitresses. The few clubs that the capital owns all offer a similar kind of night, and are a favourite with visiting sailors. Surf themes restaurants are also very popular, with ‘grills’ making up much of the cuisine offered. As Hawaii is a favourite with honeymooners there is a vast selection of upmarket eateries which offer exceptional seafood and tastes from the Pacific Rim.

Downtown Honolulu is the cities business centre, but is also home to the vast majority of bars and restaurants. It also leads you to Chinatown which, unsurprisingly, is home to a vast collection of Chinese restaurants.

Live Hawaiian music is available in many bars and hotels, it is best to check local press for more information, and the historic Hawaii Theatre in downtown Honolulu hosts a variety of different acts throughout the year, from jazz to traditional Hawaii shows.


Honolulu is packed full of shops of all varieties and it is easy to lose many hours visiting all of these. Surf shops are obviously available in aplenty, but there are also more upmarket retail shops, as well as cultural ones. The Ala Moana Shopping Centre is Hawaii’s world famous shopping mall, and has over 260 shops under one roof. There is ample parking in this open air centre, which is only a ten minute drive from Honolulu city centre. The Aloha Tower Market Centre in downtown Honolulu has two shopping complexes which stay open into the late hours of the night.

Tourist Information

Oahu Visitors Bureau 733 Bishop Street Suite 1520Honolulu, HI 96813

Tel: 01 (808) 524-0722Fax: 1/808-521 1620Web: www.visit-oahu.com


Honolulu Airport is the main gateway to the Hawaiian Islands, with connections to cities in mainland America, as well as to other worldwide destinations and the outer islands. It is located only fifteen minutes drive from downtown Honolulu, and there are frequent public buses with connections to the capital and other destinations around the island. Tourist Buses are also available at a small price and they drop you off at the door of your hotel. However, the trip can often be a long one depending on how many people there are and where they are going.

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