Honolulu, on the Island of Oahu, is more than Hawaii’s state capital. Rooted in the unique Hawaiian culture and its melting pot of ethnicities, this energising city serves as the hub of traditional and contemporary life in the Hawaiian Islands. Home to a historic downtown area and world-famous Waikiki Beach, Honolulu offers outdoor adventure such as surfing, hiking, world-class shopping and dining at everything from roadside shacks to five-star restaurants.
Honolulu, Hawaii Highlights
Don't leave without tasting...
A freshly cooked malasada (Portuguese doughnut) from Leonard’s Bakery; a rainbow shave ice from Matsumoto’s; poke (seasoned cubed raw fish) from Alicia’s Market; loco moco from Rainbow Drive-In. Loco moco is a local favourite consisting of rice topped with a hamburger patty, gravy and an egg cooked over-easy (turned over when nearly done and fried briefly on the reverse side).
Where locals go to relax
The beach! Most locals love relaxing at the beach, whether that entails surfing, swimming or just soaking up the sun.
Want to stay up late?
Start with sunset cocktails at RumFire at the Sheraton Waikiki or drinks and pupus (a Hawaiian appetiser) at Tiki’s Bar and Grill, which overlooks bustling Waikiki Beach from the Aston Waikiki Beach hotel. Then make your way to Honolulu’s Chinatown to mingle with the young, hip crowd at one of the area’s trendy bars, such as Bar35, The Manifest, thirtyninehotel, Next Door, SoHo or Indigo. If you’re still raring to go, end your night by dancing at Addiction at The Modern Honolulu hotel, where the party continues until the early hours of the morning. Or visit Honolulu’s latest nightclub, The Standard.
Your child will always remember...
The lei greeting he or she receives when arriving at the airport or checking in at a hotel.
- Aloha shirts from classic Hawai‘i apparel companies such as Reyn Spooner, Tori Richard and Iolani Sportswear
- Custom-made heirloom jewellery from Philip Rickard
- A handmade instrument from Kamaka ‘Ukulele or KoAloha ‘Ukulele
- Fresh flower or seed leis to take back to someone special
- North Shore-grown Waialua Estate coffee and chocolates
- Hawaiian Chip Company’s potato and taro chips.
If you want to fit in...
- Dine at ‘plate lunch’ restaurants like Zippy’s, Rainbow Drive-In and Nico’s at Pier 38
- Don’t wear a plastic lei
- And don’t use the term ‘flip-flops’ when referring to the footwear favoured by visitors and locals alike. They’re called ‘slippers’.
Chinatown offers a taste of both old and new Oahu, and is reflective of the many immigrants (not only Chinese) that now call Hawaii home. Walk through the open markets, lei stands and herbal medicine shops, many of which are in historical buildings. Then check out local art in the Chinatown Art District, tour historic Hawaii Theatre, shop for trendy clothes at one of the locally-owned boutiques and refuel at one of Chinatown’s hip bars or restaurants.
- For the best deals on local products and tasty food, visit one of the island’s daily farmers’ markets. The biggest one is the KCC Farmers’ Market, which takes place on Saturday at Kapi‘olani Community College, just outside Waikiki. Other options: Ala Moana Center Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings, the Royal Hawaiian Center Farmers’ Market on Tuesday evenings and the Honolulu Farmers’ Market at the Blaisdell Center on Wednesday evenings
- Hawai‘i’s largest open-air flea market, the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet, is held on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
The Ala Moana Center has more than 290 shops and restaurants to choose from, including only-in-Hawai‘i stores such as Martin & MacArthur, Tori Richard and HIC Surf, as well as international brands and department stores such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Chanel, Williams-Sonoma and Victoria’s Secret.
For your first visit...
- Go hiking at Diamond Head for panoramic views of Honolulu
- Visit Pearl Harbor, where the USS Arizona Memorial and Battleship Missouri Memorial are located, to learn about an important time in world history
- Tour ‘Iolani Palace, the only official royal residence on U.S. soil
- Relax and enjoy dinner or drinks on the beach at sunset.