Honolulu is the home of the state capital and an energetic epicenter of Hawaii. Here you’ll enjoy everything ranging from a thriving arts and cultural mecca to significant historic landmarks, numerous cherished monuments to world-class shopping. The majority of Oahu’s population of almost 1 million residents call Honolulu home…this expansive city covers most of the southeastern shores of Oahu, it encompasses the world famous Waikiki, and ranges from Pearl Harbor to Makapuu Point. Honolulu is the ultimate destination vacation.
As the home of some of Hawaii’s most storied historic locations such as: Iolani Palace, the Kawaiahao Church, the Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archive, the Aloha Tower, the King Kamehameha I Statue, the Duke Kahanamoku Statue, the historic Hawaii Theatre, or you may stop and view the precious relics housed in the famous Bishop Museum. Honolulu has more to offer than just historic venues and warm tropical beaches…it is also Hawaii’s pivotal arts, culture and entertainment location.
Enjoy the nightlife, live music and fine dining of Waikiki or venture to the art galleries and underground bars of the Chinatown arts district. In Honolulu, you’ll find it all, whether you’re looking for Hawaii’s premium museums, the ultimate in Hawaiian Regional Cuisine, the finest festivals, resorts, and events, or just some entertaining things to do, Honolulu has it all. Oahu is the ultimate shopper’s paradise. Oahu has everything from open-air malls (Ala Moana Center is one of America’s largest outdoor malls) and high-end luxury retailers to charismatic boutiques and unique local specialty stores. Authentic Hawaiian crafts, local surf shops, stylish fashion retailers and designer flagship stores can all be found on the streets of Waikiki. Waikiki shopping centers like the expansive DFS Galleria and the Royal Hawaiian Center offer an assortment of items unique to Hawaii, from ukuleles and Hawaiian arts and crafts to extravagant designer fashion and high-end jewelry.
venture to shops such as Mana Hawaii or Aloha Army on the Waikiki Beach
Walk for even more distinctive gifts. The main strips of Kalakaua and
Kuhio avenues are the focal
point for a multitude of shops and boutiques bound to delight the
treasure hunter in you. Here you will definitely find the perfect
memento to remember your wonderful Hawaiian adventure. Shopping is not
limited to downtown Waikiki…there are several venues
beyond Waikiki including Ward Centers, the Aloha Tower Marketplace and
Kahala Mall in Honolulu, the sprawling Pearlridge Center and the outlet
center Waikele Premium Outlets in Central Oahu, and on the Windward
Coast there is the Windward Mall to enjoy. You
may even need an extra suitcase for all your newfound treasures.
“Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” — Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Speech to a Joint-Session of Congress; Dec 8, 1941) The largest natural harbor in Hawaii is Pearl Harbor, named for the pearl oysters once harvested there. Pearl Harbor is the only naval base in the United States to be designated a National Historical Landmark and played a pivotal role in World War II. The unprovoked and devastating attack by the naval air forces of Japan on Pearl Harbor resulted in 2,390 dead and hundreds wounded, and was the deciding factor that caused the United States to enter into World War II. Pearl Harbor honors this history-making event with the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites:
USS Arizona Memorial
Battleship Missouri Memorial
USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park
Pacific Aviation Museum
USS Oklahoma Memorial
The Aloha Tower is a lighthouse located 15 minutes west of Waikiki on the Honolulu Harbor in Downtown Honolulu and is an iconic symbol of Hawaii. The Aloha Tower opened on September 11th 1926…for four decades it remained the tallest building in the Hawaiian Islands. The Aloha Tower’s clock was also one of the largest in the United States at the time. The tower was a welcome guiding light for visitors of the era since travel to the island was limited to seafarers. The wharf surrounding the Aloha Tower was home to Duke Kahanamoku’s first swimming world record at Pier 7 and was also known for a lively celebration welcoming the arrival of visiting ships known as Boat Days. To this day, the Aloha Tower is still a principle mooring for Oahu’s cruise ships, but it has grown beyond this utilitarian use, this historic place has been transformed into the 170,000- square foot Aloha Tower Marketplace. Here you may enjoy a variety of stores and fine eateries. Blissfully enjoy a harbor-view lunch ocean-side while listening to live music. Explore many quaint shops or stroll a few minutes to Chinatown’s art district. The Aloha Tower also boasts an Observation Deck, located on the 10th floor where you’ll find the perfect spot for magnificent harbor views and the Honolulu skyline.
Art, artifacts and heirlooms from across Hawaii and the Pacific call Oahu home. Hawaii’s largest museum collections and most extensive assortments of fascinating artifacts can be found in Oahu’s many museums. Journey around town and discover:
Iolani Palace was the only official state residence of royalty on U.S. soil. Located in Downtown Honolulu, it is listed as one of Hawaii’s most historic places. During your visit to Iolani Palace, you can journey through the happiest and also the most tragic times of the lives of King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani. Step back in history and see the unfolding of Hawaiian history from inside the splendor of this two-story American Florentine style palace.
Queen Emma’s Summer Palace
Close to the Nuuanu Pali Lookout, is the secluded summer retreat of Queen Emma, King Kamehameha IV and their son, Prince Albert. Shortly after the 4-year old prince’s tragic death in 1862, closely followed by the King in 1863, Hawaii’s Queen descended into perpetual mourning and remained in the Palace. Queen Emma’s Summer Palace still contains royal antiques and antique furnishings still in their original places. Even Prince Albert’s koa wood cradle remains untouched as do many gifts presented to him by his godmother, Queen Victoria.
The Hawaiian Mission House Historic Site and Archives
Close to historic Iolani Palace is the Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives. You can take a historic walking tour and experience the life and daily toils of the Protestant missionaries dating back to their arrival in 1820. The mission houses three original frame homes that were constructed in New England and transported to Hawaii for the sole purpose of missionary housing. Close by are the island’s original schoolhouse and printing house where the first Hawaiian alphabet book and hymnal were printed.
The Bishop Museum
The Bishop Museum was initially intended to accommodate the all-encompassing Hawaiian artifacts collection and heirlooms of the royal family of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. However, due to its popularity, the Museum has expanded to include millions of relics, official papers and photographs from Hawaii’s and other Pacific cultures’ past. Daily programs allow Visitors are welcome to discover Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures utilizing interactive exhibits, live presentations and display tours. The Bishop Museum is Hawaii’s principle museum of natural and Hawaiian cultural history.
The Honolulu Museum of Art
Downtown Honolulu also hosts the Honolulu Museum of Art (formerly known as the Honolulu Academy of Arts). This museum was founded in 1922 by Mrs. Charles Montague Cook (Anna Rice), in order to share her love for the arts with Hawaii’s keiki (children). Ever since opening day on April 8, 1927, the Museum has progressively developed to become the largest private hosting of visual arts works, containing a collection of over 38,000 works from cultures world-wide. The Museum’s collection ranges from a tour of Shangri La, to one of Hawaii’s most architecturally noteworthy homes.
The Honolulu Museum of Art – Spalding House (Contemporary Museum)
The Honolulu Museum of Art’s – Spalding House (previously branded the Contemporary Museum) provides an intriguing view into the Museum’s extensive art collection all while providing a light lunch at its epicurean cafe. Mount Tantalus provides the setting for the artist’s gardens and other exciting outdoor contemporary art exhibits.
The Hawaii State Art Museum
Downtown Honolulu hosts the Hawaii State Art Museum across the street from the Iolani Palace and the State Capitol, this museum is devoted to presenting and interpreting Hawaii’s art and culture. The museum credits and stimulates artistic achievement and provides educational enrichment through Enriched by Diversity, a semi-permanent exhibition. This dynamic display replicates Hawaii’s rich cultural traditions and ethnic artifacts through an active varying demonstration program. The Hawaii State Art Museum is located in the notable No. 1 Capitol District Building, which was built in the Spanish-Mission style circa. 1928. The museum spans three large galleries, an open-air lanai, a 70-seat multi-use facility and a volunteer resource center: www.hawaii.gov/sfca
Downtown Honolulu and Chinatown
Honolulu’s midtown is home to some of Oahu’s historic venues. Nestled among the towers of Oahu’s business district are key landmarks such as: the Aloha Tower, the Iolani Palace, the Kawaiahao Church, and the King Kamehameha I statue. This central hub of activity is also the center of Hawaii’s government and in times past was the house of royal power. It is now home to the Hawaii State Capitol, the governor’s mansion (Washington Place) and Honolulu’s City Hall (Honolulu Hale). A mere afternoon walking tour would easily cover all of these historic locations, give you an appreciation of Honolulu’s architectural surprises and possibly help walk off the night’s over-indulgence!
Chinatown’s antiquated buildings are located on the outskirts of the financial district, this assortment of shops, traditional Chinese Pharmacies (herbalists), lei stands, antique traders, shrines, sanctuaries, bars and restaurants is unique, even by Oahu’s standards. Poke through Chinatown’s lively bazaars such as the Oahu Market or the Maunakea Marketplace. You’ll come discover bizarre fruits, swimmingly fresh seafood and cultural oddities like the “thousand-year old egg.” Awesome sanctuaries such as the Kuan Yin Temple and the Izumo Taishakyo Mission Shrine harken back to feudal Japan or ancient China. Don’t worry about your appetite…you’ll be surrounded by And when you’re hungry, Chinatown’s varied oasis of eateries have everything from Cuban to Chinese dumplings (dim sum), from Eurasian to Malaysian, or from French to Vietnamese. You’ll be surrounded by a cornucopia of options!
Chinatown is also the focal point of Oahu’s arts community. Enjoy the Chinatown art walk during the monthly First Friday festivities…follow the crowds down to Nuuanu and Bethel Street and experience everything that Chinatown has on display. When the sun goes down, don’t worry about finding a happening nightspot. Actually, Chinatown is the place to be after dark. Oahu’s nightlife is alive and well in Chinatown, as the home to the famous Hawaii Theatre, you’ll find live music and some of Hawaii’s fieriest underground bars, eateries and clubs above and behind the antiques store fronts and urban buildings of Chinatown after dark.