Honolulu is a vibrant city influenced by Asian, Pacific and Western cultures. You'll find excellent Asian food in Honolulu, including super-fresh sushi and authentic Chinese (in Chinatown) as well as local favorites and American staples. And while food is a big part of Honolulu's culture, there is plenty to do when you're not eating.
Outdoorsy types will enjoy the beach
, Diamond Head Crater or the aquarium and zoo. History buffs won't want to miss a visit to Pearl Harbor. Honolulu also has several museums and great shopping. It is an active cruise terminal.
Famous for its beautiful beaches, Waikiki has grown into a huge tourist destination--replete with hotels, shopping, fine dining, and plenty of water sports. Among the highlights are enjoying a cocktail on the deck of the Royal Hawaiian (also known as the Pink Hotel) at sunset, visiting the International Market to sample food and crafts from around the world, or taking a surfing lesson right on Waikiki Beach. The Waikiki Aquarium, an excellent small facility, and the Honolulu Zoo are close by, too.
Hike Diamond Head Crater
Located just east of Waikiki, the Diamond Head Crater offers a great hike that is rewarded by a spectacular view of Honolulu and the beaches of Waikiki. The hike is moderate and well-marked. The ascent takes about an hour. When you've finished with the hike, reward yourself with a treat from the Diamond Head Market (3158 Monsarrat Ave. Honolulu), which makes mouthwatering blueberry-cream cheese scones and have tasty, reasonable plate lunches.
Diamond Head Crater
Entrance off Diamond Head Road between Makapuu and 18th
Located near the Honolulu International airport, the Pearl Harbor visitor's center is chock full of information about the attack on Pearl Harbor and there is a boat ride out to view the still submerged U.S.S. Arizona, one of the most moving memorials in the U.S. If you're at Pearl Harbor, you may also want to visit the U.S.S. Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park and the U.S.S. Missouri, on which General MacArthur accepted the Japanese surrender that ended World War II.
1 Arizona Memorial Drive
Get on the Water
You can learn to surf, sail or paddle an outrigger canoe right off the beach at Waikiki. If you want to give any of these activities a try, walk down the beach, just past the Sheraton Hotel and you'll find a rental area. The surf in this area is great for beginners. If you prefer an underwater activity, bring your snorkel gear. Despite all the people, there is some opportunity to spot brightly-colored fish swimming around the rock outcroppings. Get to the beaches early, as the 2.5-mile strip of sand can get super crowded by lunchtime. The locals frequent Ala Moana Beach Park , which is well-protected and waters are generally calm. There is a bath house and snack bar.
Shopaholics will find plenty to keep them busy, whether it's perusing the upscale boutiques in Waikiki or visiting the giant and diverse Ward Centers (across from the Ala Moana Beach Park) and newly renovated Ala Moana Shopping Center, which is anchored by Nordstrom. The malls are walking distance from one another and both feature a mix of national chains and local boutiques or galleries. Free parking is available.
Founded in 1889, the Bishop Museum (1525 Bernice Street) is the state's natural history museum and is known as a top-notch facility about Polynesian Culture. Exhibits are interactive and there are live shows throughout the day. A visit to Iolani Palace (364 South King Street) offers a glimpse into Hawaii's rich history as a monarchy. The building is an excellent example of Florentine architecture. In 1969, the state capital (415 South Beretania Street), replaced Iolani Palace as the seat of government. The unique building is an adaptation of Bauhaus architecture and features a reflecting pool and columns meant to resemble palm trees.
J.D. Chi is a professional journalist who has covered sports for more than 20 years at newspapers all over the United States. She has covered major golf tournaments and the NFL as well as travel and health topics. Chi received her Bachelor of Arts in professional writing from Carnegie Mellon University and is working toward a master's degree in journalism.