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Honolulu Travel Guide

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Welcome to Honolulu, USA

Introduction

Honolulu is a fabulous tropical city located on the island of Oahu and is the capital and largest city of the state of Hawaii. Honolulu, meaning "sheltered bay" in Hawaiian, has beautiful beaches, waving palm trees and warm tropical weather all year round making it perfect for a holiday anytime. Today, with nearly one million people in its metropolitan area (75% of the state's population), Honolulu is the cultural, industrial, commercial, and governmental center of Hawaii.

Waikiki is a great seaside location and center of the tourist industry, with sunny year round weather, an attractive white-sand beach, a variety of bars, restaurants, cafes and shops, and many things to keep visitors occupied.

Travel to Honolulu

Honolulu International Airport (HNL) is the main aviation gateway for the Hawaiian Islands. The main terminal is served by most major American airlines and many international airlines from other countries around the Pacific Rim. The Inter-Island Domestic Terminal is the home base of Hawaiian Airlines which offers frequent services to the other Hawaiian islands. There is a free Shuttle Bus that runs every few minutes between the terminals.

Airport Waikiki Express provides shuttle bus services from the airport to hotels in Waikiki every half hour [$10 one-way]

Taxi is the easiest the way to get to the city. A trip to Waikiki will be US$30-40.

City Buses #19 and #20 [$2 Adult] leave the airport once every half-hour, going through Aala Park downtown and on to Waikiki beach.

Rental Car hire is popular in Honolulu with many car hire companies located at the airport.

Local Transport

TheBus is the local bus service around Honolulu. TheBus runs intercity services to other parts of Oahu as well. Ask for a free transfer ticket if you are continuing on another bus. Monthly bus passes are available at 7-Elevens and supermarkets and cost $50 (all-you-can-ride). You can use the pass to take any bus including the Circle Island route and see the entire island. Most buses in the fleet are equipped with bike racks that can hold two bikes. [Fares are $2.25 for adults, $1 for children and seniors (no change given), 4-day pass $25]

Taxis in Honolulu are clean, safe, reasonably priced and always use the meter.

Car rental is popular to visit the surrounding attractions if you are not taking a tour. Honolulu has congested traffic and parking difficulties like any other city. Oahu, outside of Honolulu, is very easy to drive around with easy traffic conditions and parking is plentiful. USA drives on the right side of the road. Diamond Head Honolulu

Honolulu Hotels

Click here to book Wailkiki Hotels

Most accommodation in Honolulu is found in Waikiki or close by. There are many high-rise apartment buildings and international hotels. The most expensive hotels are on the beach with moderately priced hotels only one or two blocks back from the beach. Hawaii is popular all year with the high season from mid-December to March when the weather is the worst on the U.S. mainland. The mid-season is summer from June to September. Low season is from spring (April to June) and autumn (September to mid-December).

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Honolulu Attractions

Go Oahu Card is a pre-purchased visitor card that gives visitors exceptional value for money and access to over 30 top attractions, tours, museums and beach activities with the flexibility to use it over 2 weeks. The Go Oahu Card is highly recommended and available for one, two, three, five or seven days within a 14 day period. The Go Oahu Card also offers a wide variety of free gifts and discounts at some of Oahu's best retailers and restaurants.

Pearl Harbor is located just west of Honolulu on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Most of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States naval base and home to the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Naval Fleet. Pearl Harbour was attacked by the Empire of Japan on December 7, 1941 which brought the United States into World War II. The battleship Arizona was hit with an armor piercing bomb which penetrated the forward ammunition compartment, blowing the ship apart and sinking it within seconds. A national memorial commemorating the attack spans the hull of the sunken battleship. Starting at the Visitor Centre, tourists view a short movie, tour Pearl Harbour and take a sobering journey through US history to the site of the attack during World War II. Visitors board a Navy launch to cross Pearl Harbour to the Arizona Memorial. The USS Arizona Memorial is the final resting place of the 1,777 crew members who lost their lives during the attack. Next, take a guided tour of the USS Missouri, the last battleship built by the US Navy. The ship served from World War II through Desert Storm, and was the site of the 1945 Japanese surrender to the Allies. Visitors can also board the U.S.S. Bowfin submarine. Note: visitors should wear appropriate clothing for visiting a war memorial. [The visitor center is open daily from 7am to 5pm, admission to the memorial is free]

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is located at 2177 Puowaina Drive (within Punchbowl Crater) and is the final resting place of over 45,000 Americans military personnel who served their country. The Courts of the Missing, a large marble shrine inscribed with the names of over 28,000 soldiers missing in action in World War II, serves as the centerpiece. There is an excellent lookout on the crater's rim that provides a panoramic view of Honolulu. [Open daily 8am to 5.30pm, Free admission]

Polynesian Cultural Centre is one of Oahu's top attractions. The centre's seven island villages give you the opportunity to participate in the daily adventures of Hawaiian and other South Pacific cultures. The seven villages showcase the indigenous Polynesian cultures of Hawaii, Samoa, the Marquesas, Fiji, New Zealand, Tonga and Tahiti. Real Polynesians share knowledge of their traditional customs, and you can either watch the demonstrations or jump in and participate. Take a canoe ride on the lagoon and enjoy an IMAX film. Kids will love getting temporary tattoos, spear throwing, ukulele lessons and fishing. No evening at the centre would be complete without experiencing Hawaii's most authentic luau and amazing Polynesian show where performers dressed in authentic customs share their traditions and culture. You will also witness the exciting fire walkers and fire-knife dancers.

Creation - A Polynesian Journey is a fun-filled show including soul-stirring music, amazing special effects, spectacular illusions, seductive traditional dancers, a Samoan fire-knife dance. Also be thrilled by the New Zealand Maori haka and the fierce Fijian war dance, wielding war clubs in depiction of battle. A historical and authentic journey like no other, Creation - A Polynesian Journey is an exhilarating exploration of the Pacific's greatest stories, legends and makes visitors marvel at the volcanic creation of the islands and the dawn of man and woman.

Grand Circle Island Day Tour is a popular day trip filled with fabulous activities and sightseeing. The fully narrated tour takes you on a scenic trip around the beautiful island of Oahu to see iconic sites such as the Amelia Earheart Lookout with views over Diamond Head, the Halona Blowhole, Hanauma Bay, Nu'uanu Pali Lookout and world-famous North Shore surfing beaches such as Sunset, Banzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay. This tour also includes a visit to the famous Dole Pineapple Plantation where visitors can stroll through the gardens, ride the Plantation Train or test your skills in the Pineapple Maze, officially recognized in the 2001 Guinness Book of World Records as the World's Largest Maze.

Atlantis Submarine Tour dives below the surface of Hawaii's blue waters in an Atlantis Submarine! You'll have a unique chance to observe marine life up close without getting wet, while descending 100 feet (30 meters) beneath the surface in a submarine. The submarine adventure begins with a short (approximately 10 minutes) shuttle ride out to the submarine boarding site. Descending below the waves, your actual underwater tour time is around 45 minutes. Returning to the world above water, your shuttle is waiting to return you to land. The dive site is home to many Hawaiian fishes, coral and turtles. On this truly eye-opening experience, you'll visit sunken shipwrecks, airplane wrecks and other artificial reefs. The submarine has a spacious air-conditioned interior, large view ports and comfortable seating. Plus you'll receive an Atlantis Souvenir Dive Log. Choose from two submarines - a smaller, 48-passenger submarine or the world's largest hi-tech 64-passenger submarine.

Snorkel at Hanauma Bay one of the most popular natural attractions in the world! Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a natural crescent beach in the sunken caldera of an extinct volcano. The bay is protected by the volcanic formation and the waters are crystal clear, providing the ideal environment to view schools of colourful fish and perhaps even dolphins and turtles. The safe inner reef is perfect for children and beginners, while the more challenging outer reef will thrill advanced snorkelers. The City and County of Honolulu's Marine Educational Center at Hanauma Bay features marine displays of wildlife in the bay, an educational video theater and other facilities. Watch a video to be informed about the bays geological and historical background, and the importance of protecting Hanauma Bay for future visitors.

Diamond Head Crater Diamond Head Honolulu offers amazing views of Waikiki Beach. Hike to the 760-foot (228-meter) summit of Oahu's famous crater where incredible 360-degree views of Waikiki and the turquoise blue Pacific Ocean await you. The walk is easy and takes about one hour each way. Guided walks are available visiting Diamond Head Crater in the cool of the day at sunrise or later in the morning around 9.00am, On this adventure you will learn about the crater's fascinating geology, history, archaeology, flora and fauna. Knowledgeable and expert guides are very friendly and informative, and can identify the numerous bird and plant species found in the crater.

Learn to surf is a great way for visitors to enjoy a holiday. Learn surf techniques, safety rules and surf break etiquette under the guidance of certified lifeguards and surf instructors. Instructors will provide all the necessary equipment, allowing you to focus on having fun catching waves. Choose from either a basic surfing lesson suitable for first-timers or intensive lessons for the more experienced surfer. A one hour lesson includes dry land and in-the-water instruction. Instructors teach paddling, timing and balance skills. No reservations required, just show up at Waikiki beach.

Oahu Sightseeing Tour is a relaxing afternoon taking a narrated sightseeing tour of Oahu. You'll enjoy magnificent views, explore the beauty of Hawaii and experience history in the making as you visit prime locations which shaped President Obama's life. Your Oahu scenic tour begins with a visit to Amelia Earheart Lookout for spectacular views to Diamond Head. Next, ascend into the rainforest at the top of Mount Tantalus to enjoy a postcard-perfect panorama from Pu'u Ualaka'a State Wayside, with magnificent views of Diamond Head, Waikiki and Honolulu. The tour continues to Queen Emma's Summer Palace as you head into the cool, lush rainforest of Nu'uanu Valley along Pali Drive. Experience the gusting winds at the summit of historic and sacred Nu'uanu Pali Lookout and look towards the beautiful coast of windward Oahu. From this vantage point you can see Kane'ohe Bay, Chinaman's Hat and windward beaches. This exciting tour celebrates the nations 44th President - Barack Obama. As you travel around the island, you'll visit several key location which shaped President Obama's beliefs, values and life. You'll have the opportunity to see where Obama was born, as well as his residences, school and the Baskin Robbins where the president held his first job. Along the way, you'll learn about historical events and most importantly, visit Hawaiis special place that played a key role in the youth and early adult years of the 44th president of the United States. At the end of the day, you'll have the opportunity to see the landmark Koko Head Crater and beautiful Hanauma Bay.

Jungle Cycle Adventure is a lazy afternoon on a fun adventure cycle along a paved jungle road aboard easy-to-ride mountain bikes. You'll coast downhill on a paved road nestled in the lush Pu'u 'Ohia rainforest. This unique experience combines Hawaii's tropical rainforest with magnificent panoramic views of scenic Oahu. Suitable for the whole family, the bike tour is an easy 5-mile (8km), 3-hour outdoor adventure that includes all equipment, deli-style lunch and hotel pickup.

Pali Lookout is located 6 miles northeast of downtown Honolulu on the Pali Highway, right at the Pali Lookout exit. It is a popular scenic vista on Oahu and the site of one of the bloodiest battles in Hawaiian history. Many tour operators make a stop here for visitors to enjoy the view.

Bishop Museum is considered to be the best Polynesian anthropological museum in the world. Its Hawaiian hall has three floors of exhibits documenting the islands cultural history and includes among its treasures a feather cloak made for Kamehameha I, the king who first united the Hawaiian Islands. The new Science Adventure Center is centered around vulcanology, with a large simulated volcano in the center that "erupts" regularly. The museum also features a planetarium. The museum is the leading repository of natural and cultural history in the Pacific, recognized throughout the world for its cultural collections, research projects, consulting services and public educational programs. It also maintains one of the largest natural history specimen collections in the world.

Fishing in Hawaii is extremely popular with visitors. The region is famous for deep sea fishing especially marlin. Many tour operators are available to take visitors fishing.

Golf is very popular in Hawaii with many international standard golf courses, featuring scenic views of Hawaiis picturesque mountains and coastline, catering for the beginner to the professional.

Diving and snorkeling -There are many dive operators in Honolulu running day and live aboard scuba diving trips to the best dive spots in the islands.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Waikiki hosts many cafes, restaurants, cinemas, bars and clubs within walking distance from most hotels and apartments.

Hawaiian Sunset Dinner Cruise gives you a chance to sit back, relax and enjoy a 5-course meal at your own private table, followed by a Hawaiian show and dancing as you cruise along Oahu's Kahala coastline at sunset. The sparkling lights of Honolulu and Waikiki, along with the balmy Hawaiian breeze are the perfect combination for a relaxing sunset cruise in Oahu. This is the only dinner cruise that in addition to sailing along Waikiki Beach, travels beyond Diamond Head to see the hidden shores of the Kahala Coastline - home to Hawaii's rich and famous. This Oahu Sunset Dinner Cruise features a live Hawaiian-contemporary show with a cast of lively dancers and musicians. Dance the night away as you cruise along the beautiful Hawaiian coastline. You have the option of upgrading to a guaranteed window seat for the best views as you cruise, or add a 30-45 minute scenic tour to Mt Tantalus for stunning views over Honolulu illuminated at night.

Dining

Honolulu hosts many restaurants and cafes, from great value family restaurants to up-market romantic, fine dining establishments, offering cuisine from around the world with fresh seafood and contemporary cuisine being the specialties. Most hotels have restaurants and cafes providing buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner at affordable prices. Most shopping centers have a food court offering value-for-money meals. Caf chains like Starbucks and Gloria Jeans are everywhere as are fast-food chains such as McDonalds and KFC. There are many dining experiences hosting Hawaiian shows and dancing.

The Paradise Cove Luau begins with a tropical Mai Tai greeting, while live Hawaiian music sets the festive mood of the evening. Take a stroll through the Hawaiian Village to learn the arts and crafts of the islands, or test your skills at the Hawaiian Games. After the delightful Shower of Flowers, participate in the Hukilau on the beach and learn the net fishing techniques of old Hawaii. Following the pageantry of the Royal Court Procession and imu (earth oven) ceremony, your evening continues with a sumptuous feast. Then, after dinner, with a spectacular Hawaiian sunset as a backdrop, award-winning performers will entertain and amaze with an unforgettable display of songs and dances from across Polynesia at the Paradise Cove Extravaganza.

Honolulu Shopping

Ala Moana Center is the largest shopping mall in Hawaii and the largest open-air shopping mall in the world. It is located right next to Waikiki and has about 250 stores on four levels, a food court with many different cuisines, and everything from the practical (groceries and medicine) to high-fashion such as Chanel, Prada, etc.. The mall's main stores are Shirokiya, Sears, Macy's, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus.

Beyond Honolulu

Hawaii (The Big Island) is larger than all the other Hawaiian islands combined and is the most geographically diverse with deserts, rainforests, volcanoes and snow capped mountains. Hilo and Kona are the islands two population centers with Kona attracting most of the travellers.

Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian islands and the most developed island after Oahu. Maui is very popular among visitors for its superb scenery, diverse landscape, gorgeous white-sand beaches with some of the worlds best windsurfing and surf breaks and the warm ocean waters attract humpback whales during their winter migration.

Kauai has some of the lushest scenery on earth including mountains, waterfalls, beautiful beaches and stream-fed valleys. Since Elvis made the island famous in Blue Hawaii, many movies have been filmed here including South Pacific, Jurassic Park and Raiders of the Lost Arc. Lihue, the islands largest town, is located on the east side and is the arrival point of most visitors to Kauai. Waimea, a town on the south coast of the island, is where the English explorer Captain James Cook first came ashore on the Hawaiian Islands in 1778. Waimea canyon has been called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific and although smaller and younger than the real Grand Canyon it certainly is an amazing sight. The southern and eastern sides of the island have beautiful white sand beaches ideal for getting away from it all.