Introducing the city

£1.00 | $1.26

GBP | USD

3 * Hotel p/n £63.57 | $80.00

One-way ticket £1.99 | $2.50

Beer £3.97 | $5.00

Main Course £11.92 | $15.00

About Honolulu

Lively and tropical, beachy and breezy, Honolulu, known as the 'real Hawaii', is the capital of this vibrant Polynesian archipelago and home to the USA's only royal palace.

Many people come to Hawaii in search of tropical beaches and a laid-back island escape. While much of the Hawaiian archipelago is devoted to such idyllic scenes, the capital, Honolulu, is itself worthy of note. This eclectic, colourful and buzzing city, located on O'ahu Island, is not only the administrative heart of the state, it also has the most local character. Alongside gleaming high-rise banks and swanky hotels lie centuries old Victorian buildings and the impressive Iolani Palace, a key example of Hawaiian Renaissance architecture, located in the downtown area.

City views are best from the top of the Aloha Tower or on a hike around the surrounding lush Koʻolau Range - if that sounds too strenuous then the modern waterfront is perfect for a stroll. Much of Honolulu's foodie charm comes from its diversity of cultures - visitors can dine on everything from Asian and Japanese fare to American deep south favourites. Save time for an evening tipple in hip (yet gritty) Chinatown.

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Weather

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When Should You Visit?

April - it's the end of peak season but you'll still get fantastic weather and great whale watching opportunities.

Honolulu has a hot, semi-tropical climate with consistent temperatures all year round - there is little variation between the months, with average temperatures falling between 24 and 32 degrees Celsius. Sitting on the edge of a tropical area, the city technically has two seasons; the dry season from April to October and the rainy season from November to March. Having said that, even when it rains it is still pleasantly warm and the city enjoys year round sunshine.

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Travioor top tips

Tourist Card
Snorkel
Cheap Eats

INSIDER INFO

  • Buy a Go Oahu Card from Viator for discounts on attractions and sights - useful if you're planning on seeing several of the popular tourist spots.
  • If you don't fancy surfing or scuba diving then there are great snorkelling opportunities around the city - try Hanauma Bay to the south east.
  • For budget eats try Honolulu's biggest farmer's market on Saturday all-day and Tuesday afternoons - shop for cheap and tasty food plus handicrafts.

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Food and drink

Main Course £11.92 | $15.00

3-Course Meal £51.65 | $65.00

Cappuccino £3.71 | $4.67

Beer £3.97 | $5.00

The Scene

As an island city, Honolulu enjoys a diverse and varied mix of culinary influences with everything from Asian noodle dishes to American deep south barbecues. There's also a strong Pacific Polynesian element in Haiwaiian cookery - most notable is poi a thick taro root paste that's used in puddings, breads and sauces. Another common favourite is laulau, which is also made from taro (leaves); it's usually wrapped around pork and smoked in a hot rock oven (an imu) for several hours.

Seafood-lovers should opt for poke - similar to Japanese sashimi, this delicacy involves cubes of raw fish sprinkled with sea salt, Maui onions and soy sauce. It's often served alongside lomi-lomi (raw salt-cured salmon, diced with tomatoes, onions and chili). If you're looking for an alcoholic kick with your meal try Okolehao, a traditional Hawaiian spirit made out of ti plant root.

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History

Honolulu's Story

Evidence of settlers in Honolulu dates back to the 11th century. History tells of several centuries of Polynesian royal rule, including famous King Kamehameha who, after originally settling on the larger Hawaii Island, moved his court to downtown Honolulu in 1804. A few years earlier, in 1784 the first British ship had arrived in the city which quickly led to it becoming an established merchant port for ships sailing between Asia and America. Honolulu became the administrative capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1845 and remained the seat of the Hawaiian monarchy until 1893 when the royal family was overthrown.

In 1941 the Japanese attacked the island's Pearl Harbour (Hawaii was annexed to the United States by this time) which propelled the USA into World War II; in 1959 it officially became the 50th state of the USA. In the subsequent years it became one of the USA's biggest destinations for beach holidays and tourists - today it attracts over six million visitors per year.

Language

Aloha | Hello
Mahalo | Thank you

Hawaiian

The state of Hawaii has two official languages; English and Hawaiian. Hawaiian is a unique Pacific ocean language, with Polynesian roots. Everyone speaks English but if you want to try the local (and fascinating) language, the following basics may be of help:

  • Bye: Aloha
  • Please: E ’olu’olu
  • Excuse me: E kala mai iaʻu!
  • Do you speak English: ʻŌlelo anei ʻoe i ka ʻōlelo Pelekāne?

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Need to know

+1 808 Dialling Code
911 Emergency Services

Get The Low-Down

  • Driving here is a lot more laid back (read 'haphazard') than on the US mainland; drive carefully and cross roads with caution. 
  • One of the biggest issues around Honolulu is traffic; if possible avoid travelling on the roads during rush hour (6am - 9am and 3pm - 7pm). 
  • Like any major city, Honolulu has crime. Most areas are fine but never leave valuables on display and take care at night around areas including Chinatown. 
  • Keep an eye on surf reports and don't take any risks if you're a beginner. 

 

VISA INFORMATION

Find out about the visa requirements for the United States here. 

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Travioor Recommends

1. WWII MEMORIAL

The city's Pearl Harbour was attacked in 1941; today visitors can pay tribute at the memorial (accessible only by boat), which is the resting place of 1102 sailors who died.

2. HISTORY & CULTURE

Explore the USA's only former royal residence, Iolani Palace, which was the seat of the Hawaiian Royal Family in the 19th century or try the Shangri La Islamic Arts Centre.

3. WAIKIKI BEACH

People watch and sunbathe on the palm fringed shores of Waikiki, one of Honolulu's (and Hawaii's) most famous beach strips.

4. PARTY LIKE A LOCAL

Head to edgy Chinatown, where you'll find late-night clubs and drinking spots frequented by locals - this is also a good bet for live music.

5. EAT

Make the most of the melting-pot of different cultures at one of the city's Pan-Asian or local restaurants - Helena's Hawaiian Food joint is a popular choice.


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