Honolulu is located on the Polynesian island O’ahu, in the middle of the North Pacific ocean. It is the capital of Hawaii: The 50th, and youngest, American state. In tropical Honolulu, the surf is always up and the weather always warm. Hawaii’s biggest city offers the perfect mix of nature, culture, sports and shopping all in the one place. With America’s only royal palace at its core and Pearl Harbor just around the corner, there is also a lot of history to discover. Visit the Bishop Museum to learn about the Polynesian voyagers who came here hundreds of years before captain Cook dropped anchor in 1778. The native Hawaiians and first Europeans were drawn to the majestic profile of the Diamond Head volcano, which is still an attraction today.
Wherever you are in the city, the backdrop of Lēʻahi, as the locals call the crater, is a constant reminder of Hawaii’s explosive beginnings. Climb the short trail to its circular rim for commanding views over the island and its picture-perfect coastline. Go to the top of the Aloha Tower to see how Honolulu has become a modern urban center. The capital is the gathering place where residents of Hawaii do business, but tourists mainly come here for its beaches and watersports.
Honolulu means “sheltered bay” and any day of they year you can go swimming, stand up paddle boarding and sailing in the harbor. Ala Moana Beach Park is the quieter alternative to popular Waikiki. Laze on the beach, or, if you start feeling active, get surfing lessons or rent a canoe to explore the bay. Stroll over the boulevard to buy everything from up-scale fashion to flowery local garments to brighten up your wardrobe. Downtown, you can’t miss the statue of the fearless warrior King Kamehameha, who unified the Hawaiian islands in the late 18th century. Admire the American Florentine architecture of Iolani Palace and visit the Halekoa barracks. For lunch, try a Japanese fusion dish. The largely Asian American population of Honolulu has left its mark on the cuisine and culture of the island. Visit Kapi’olani Park with its ancient Banyan trees and attractive beachfront. The park is home to the historic Honolulu Zoo, so take the kids to see friendly giants and exotic birds. Set aside a day for Pearl Harbor to see the remnants of the U.S. Pacific Fleet that was crippled by an air raid on December 7, 1941. Pay your respects on the USS Arizona Memorial, visit the aviation museum and see the spot that marks the surrender of Japan aboard the USS Missouri.
To the east of Pearl Harbor, the warm turquoise waters of Kailua Beach are waiting to take your mind off worldly affairs. Cool off with shave ice, the local version of a snow cone. Head back to downtown Honolulu for sunset and watch a Hula dancing show in the romantic capital of Hawaii. Honolulu is a convenient stop over on your way to other Hawaiian islands, but also a great destination in itself. Come and experience the true meaning of Aloha, which is much more than just Hawaiian for “Hello!”. It means a warm welcome; love; best wishes; and even goodbye. But it never means farewell.
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