Honolulu: sheltered harbor for the big pineapple
Quick facts about Honolulu
Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii, is nicknamed The Big Pineapple, which hints to New York’s Big Apple, but the origin of the name is related to Dole Pineapple company. The more you know. The name Honolulu is far more poetic and translates into ‘sheltered harbor’, which, once you see Honolulu makes much more sense.
The city is sitting on the south shore of Oahu Island, one of the eight main islands (out of total of 137) from Hawaii island chain, all of volacanic origins, located in the middle of North Pacific Ocean. Honolulu and the rest of Hawaii are very popular tourist destinations for all type of travellers: families, groups or honeymooners. The reason is simple: this is true tropical paradise with great nature and friendly locals.
Apart from wonderful nature, Honolulu is famous for historical events, especially from World War II and attack of Japan on Pearl Harbor. Nowadays, there are several memorials, ships and museums showcasing war time events.
Indigenous culture of native Hawaiian people marks everyday life, culture and art of Honolulu and makes it unique and diverse US city.
Main attractions in Honolulu
There are plenty of attractions in Honolulu, both inside the city and in the surroundings. We are listing here 20-25 top places to visit.
Diamond Head. Dormant volcano peak above Honolulu. Featuring hiking trails and remains of Fort Ruger, historical military fortification. Hanauma Bay. Located in East Honolulu this nature preserve with a scenic beach is a popular tourist destination. Home to green sea turtles and parrotfish. Pearl Harbor National Memorial. Historic site commemorating 1941 attack, together with USS Arizona memorial. Featuring museum and galleries.
Pearl Harbor. A lagoon harbour, west from Honolulu, home to the US Naval Fleet. Famous landmark from World War II attack by Japan air force. ‘Iolani Palace. Former home of Hawaii’s monarchs, Queen Liliʻuokalani under the Kalākaua Dynasty. Converted to national history landmark in 1962. Offering guided tours. Honolulu Zoo. Popular family attraction sitting on a large, 42 acres grounds with more than 900 animals. Featuring petting zoo, sleepovers, camping and more.
Bishop Museum. Polynesian culture and natural history museum, located in a historic Kalihi district of Honolulu. Features various exhibitions and a planetarium. Manoa Falls. Giant waterfall (150-foot tall), accessible by hiking trail, located in the north of Honolulu, surrounded by tropical vegetation. Koko Head. Located east from Honolulu, this headland is popular with hiking on a ‘Koko Head Stairs’ to enjoy scenic views from the top. There are over 1,000 steps to climb!
Nuʻuanu Pali. Popular observation point, located northeast from Honolulu. Featuring scenic panoramic views of a coastline. Kapiʻolani Regional Park. Seaside park with the view of Diamond Head. Popular destination for walks, volleyball, picnicking and canoeing. Waikiki Aquarium. Small aquarium, but with the long history, founded in 1904, it is the second oldest in the US. Featuring several exhibits.
Battleship Missouri Memorial. Historic ship, famous for a site where Japanese signed surrender in WWII. Offering guided tours. Ala Moana Regional Park. A park and a beach, offering swimming, surfing and tennis courts. Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum. Located on the Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, this museum focuses on the WWII aircraft exhibits and offers also flight simulation.
Royal Hawaiian Center. High end shopping, mostly for jewelry and luxury watches, located on the Kalakaua Avenue. USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park. Historic submarine from the WWII with exhibits about wartime, located in Pearl Harbor. Kaka’ako. Popular area of Honolulu, with hip eateries, juice bars and craft beer. Area is also famous for its architecture and mural paintings.
Sandy Beach. Popular beach on the south of O’ahu Island, offering bodyboarding and surfing as main activities. Sea Life Park Hawaii. Family friendly park, offering viewing of penguins, sea lion shows and even swimming with dolphins. Located in the southeast shore of O’ahu Island. National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Historic military memorial and the graveyard, honoring serving service men and women and fallen veterans. The site is located in the volcanic crater and offers amazing views of the area.
From other attractions in Honolulu we recommend: Makapuʻu Beach, Honolulu Museum of Art, King Kamehameha Statue, Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden, Tantalus and Magic Island.
Top things to do in Honolulu
Apart from all attractions listed above, we also recommend to try Honolulu scavenger hunt adventure, where you will play a game and learn things about this beautiful city.
Honolulu and its island of O’ahu are quite small and can be explored in couple of days, but you can extend your visit to the rest of Hawaii islands and do some enjoyable island hopping and visit all eight major islands.
Everywhere you go, you will be able to enjoy magnificent nature, volcanic peaks, sandy beaches, surfing, swimming, diving and boat cruises and tasty and healthy Hawaiian food.
Festivals and events in Honolulu
Interesting facts about Honolulu
- Honolulu has been named the number three happiest city to work in the US by Forbes magazine.
- Billboards are outlawed in Honolulu, which makes it better to have a great views and take even better photos!
- Honolulu still honors a monarch— locals celebrate King Kamehameha Day in honor of the man who united the Hawaiian islands.
Best time for flights to Honolulu
The peak season for flights to Honolulu is April, August and December. The low season for purchasing tickets is March, October and November.
Honolulu is served by Honolulu International Airport (HNL). Direct flights to Honolulu are offered by 23 airlines.
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Top hotel offers in Honolulu
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