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Region of Oahu Island - City/Town of Honolulu

 

City/Town of Honolulu

City/Town : Honolulu
Region : Oahu Island
State : Hawaii
Country : United States
Continent : North America
Population : 390,738
Area : 177.2 sq km
Latitude : 21°18′N
Longitude : 157°49′W
 
Visiting Honolulu

 
Honolulu is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — have a look at each of them.
Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, is the capital and largest city of the state of Hawaii. It is the center of government, transportation, and commerce for the state; home to a population of nearly one million people in the metro area (80% of the state's population) and Hawaii's best known tourist destination, Waikiki Beach.
 
The majority of visitors to Hawaii enter through this city, meaning this is definitely not the place to go for a "get-away-from-it-all" Hawaiian vacation - It is as fast-paced and dynamic as any city, with all its problems such as heavy traffic, drugs, crime, and homelessness. But Honolulu still has the charm of the Islands' laid-back atmosphere and culture.
 
Honolulu extends inland from the southeast shore of Oahu, east of Pearl Harbor to Makapu'u Point, and incorporates many neighborhoods and districts. You'll most often hear people refer to these districts by name -- Waikiki, Manoa, Kahala, Hawaii Kai and so on -- as though they're not part of the same city. Technically, they are. In fact, the municipal government of Honolulu covers the entire island of Oahu, including its outlying suburbs.
 
This guide focuses on attractions and accommodations located in Honolulu proper; for more information on Oahu's outlying communities, see the Oahu article.
 
  • Downtown - The historic heart of the city, home to the state capitol, several museums, the harborfront, and the commercial center of the Hawaiian Islands.
  • Waikiki - The tourist center of Hawaii: white sand beaches, crowds of surfers and sunbathers, and block after block of highrise hotels.
  • Manoa-Makiki - A quieter area in the foothills north of Downtown, home to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in the Punchbowl crater, and the tropical scenery of the Koolau Mountains behind the city.
  • Eastern Honolulu - A mostly residential area which extends to Makapu'u Point, the very southeastern corner of the island and home to rocky shorelines, scenic beaches, and the popular snorkeling spot Hanauma Bay.
  • Western Honolulu - Another major residential area, home to the airport, the Bishop Museum, and the military memorials of Pearl Harbor
Beaches
 
Naturally, when most visitors think of beaches here, they think of the famous Waikiki Beach. As the tourist center of the Hawaiian Islands, this white sand beach, framed by hotels and Diamond Head as a backdrop, is easily the most crowded. Waikiki is popular with a wide crowd, as it's a excellent place for swimming, sunbathers, catamaran and outrigger canoes, as well as a great spot for beginner surfers and body boarders (and there are plenty of surf schools set up in Waikiki for lessons). What's remarkable is that even in Waikiki you can find a fairly quiet beach; it's just a matter of knowing where to look.
 
But if you really need to get away from the crowds, there are plenty of other beaches. Just to the west, near Downtown, is Ala Moana Park, a green space with plenty of trees and grass as well as an nice sandy beach that's popular with the locals and is perfect for families or a calmer swim.
 
The area surrounding Makapu'u Point in Eastern Honolulu has several excellent beaches, the most popular being Hanauma Bay, which is set in the crater of an extinct volcano, now open to the sea and filled with a coral reef. This is not the place for a good swim and certainly not the spot for surfing, but the calm water and abundance of marine life makes it excellent for snorkeling and scuba diving. Even if you don't get in the water, the scenery makes it a great place to sunbathe or picnic, although you may find parking to be an issue.
 
Just near Hanauma Bay is the Halona Beach Cove, known as "the Peering Place". It is a small, rocky cove that has good swimming with the surf is calm, but no lifeguards here means it's at your own risk. Nearby Sandy Beach does have lifeguards, and has been popular with surfers and bodyboarders for decades. On a calm day, it can be good for a fun day of swimming. Makapu'u Beach, just a little further up the road, is quite scenic. It tends to have very large waves, meaning it many not be the best place to swim but a fantastic place to surf.
 
Scenic Tours
 
It's Hawai'i, so there's no shortage of natural scenery, even near the big city. For those looking for expansive vistas, Diamond Head is a good starting point - this ancient volcanic crater dominates over Waikiki and the top offers an incredible view over the city. The trail leads up into a World War II-era bunker and up some steep staircases (one of over 100 steps), so the climb can be a little rough for the average couch potato.
 
If you're looking for a vista that you don't have to hike far to get to, look no further than the hills above Makiki. The Punchbowl crater, home to a military cemetery, offers a panoramic view closer to Downtown. Pu'u Ualaka'a Park, also above Makiki, has a winding mountain road, Tantalus/Round Top Drive, and a number of hiking trails which provide a stunning view of southern O'ahu nearly 2,000 feet above sea level.
 
Another popular overlook is the Nu'uanu Pali Lookout, located 6 miles north of Downtown on State Route 61 (Pali Highway). The scenic vista, set between two incredibly high cliffs, provides a panoramic view of Windward O'ahu. The overlook is often buffeted by high winds, but the view is more than worth it.
 
If ocean scenery is more your speed, the rocky shoreline of the Makapu'u Point area is an excellent bet. In addition to the scenic beaches here is the Makapuʻu Point State Wayside, a roadside stop which offers an excellent view of Makapu'u Point and its lighthouse, a view up the Windward O'ahu coast, and if you're lucky, whales off-shore in the winter months. Nearby is the popular Halona Blowhole, one of the many blowholes (an underwater cave with a hole in the top, so ocean water blasts out the top) in this area, but the easiest to view due to the large parking area overlooking it.


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