Honolulu extends inland from the southeast shore of Oahu, east of Pearl Harbor to Makapuu 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 city government of Honolulu covers the entire island of Oahu, including its outlying suburbs. This guide, however, focuses on Honolulu proper.
For a closer look at a few popular destinations:
Hawaii's year-round tropical weather provides perfect running weather all year, so bring your running shoes. Kapiolani Park and Ala Moana Park are where most joggers in Honolulu congregate; the loop around Diamond Head is a popular route. Honolulu is also home to one of the world's largest marathons. The Honolulu Marathon, held annually on the second Sunday in December, has become a huge event that attracts from 20,000 - 25,000 runners annually.
Learn to surf, beach boys give private surfing lessons daily at Waikiki Beach. One hour lesson includes dry land and in-the-water instruction. Instructors teach paddling, timing and balance skills. No reservations required, just sign up at the stand on the beach located Diamondhead of Waikiki Police Station.
Currently, Hawaii's below-average unemployment rate and high number of service and hospitality industry employers make finding an entry-level job in Honolulu easier than in much of the rest of the US. The State of Hawaii Employment Web page has comprehensive information for job seekers.
Although Honolulu is relatively safe as far as violent crime goes, the risk of property crime is much greater. Take particular care when parking vehicles in popular tourist spots, especially Diamond Head and the Halona Blowhole near Sandy Beach; always lock your vehicle; and do not leave ANY valuables in your car. Use extra caution when visiting less savory parts of town, including the Chinatown district.
Pan Am Clipper Cup yacht race, Honolulu
The last thing you'd expect to find in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is a thriving world-class city, with a beach that rivals any in the world. But Honolulu, the capital and commercial center of the Hawaiian Islands, is all of this and more.
From humble beginnings as a village on the southern shore of the island of Oahu, the town gained importance when, in 1809, King Kamehameha I moved his royal court from the island of Hawaii to Oahu. Its ideally located port made Honolulu a perfect stop for merchant ships traveling between North America and Asia.
Eventually, in 1845, Kamehameha III officially moved the kingdom's capital from Lahaina on Maui to Honolulu. At the same time, descendants of missionaries who arrived in the early 1800s established their headquarters in Honolulu, making it the center of business. The late 1800s and early 1900s saw the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, annexation by the United States, and an attack by the Japanese on nearby Pearl Harbor, but Honolulu's stature had never wavered.
Today, with nearly one million people in its metropolitan area (80% of the state's population), Honolulu is the cultural, industrial, commercial, and governmental center of Hawaii, with Waikiki Beach the epicenter of the tourist industry. 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 has not entirely lost the charm of the Islands' laid-back atmosphere and culture. The island people are often polite, and as often as not you'll be waved through at freeway entrances, although you'll probably be cut off again by someone in the next few seconds.
Simply put, Honolulu is in the middle of it all.
• ABC Stores are found on practically every block in Waikiki. They are the Waikiki equivalent of 7-Eleven, selling items such as food, sundries, and tourist-related merchandise. This level of convenience does come at higher prices, however.
• International Market Place, 2330 Kalakaua Ave. A virtual warren of over 100 market stalls and shops laid out amongst a jungle-like backdrop of banyan trees. All tourist goods and local schlock (mumus, aloha shirts, shell jewelry) available. Prices are not much better or worse than anywhere else, but worth a trip just to look at the trees and tourists.
• Last Sanctuary, 1485 Kapiolani Blvd, 955-2440. One of the best comic book and role-playing game stores anywhere. It's in a shopping center near Waikiki, on the second story, in the back. It's easy to miss, but if you're a total nerd and despise the sun, this is a primo spot to go.
• Ala Moana Center is the largest shopping mall in Hawaii and the largest open-air shopping mall in the world. With about 250 stores on four levels, a food court with many different cuisines, and everything from the practical (groceries and medicine) to high-fashion (Chanel, Prada, etc.), you can find almost anything that you might be looking for.
• Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center is the main shopping mall in Waikiki, with levels of many tourist-oriented shops and restaurants. Among the main attractions are the local branch of the Cheesecake Factory.
• DFS Galleria (Duty Free Shops) is a shopping court built around a cruise theme. Included in the mall is one of the largest duty-free shops in the state.
• Waikiki Shopping Plaza on Kalakaua Avenue includes five levels of small shops, including a food court on the lower level.
• Aloha Tower Marketplace, near Aloha Tower on the downtown Honolulu waterfront is best known for several well-known restaurants, such as Gordon Biersch and Don Ho's Island Grill.
• Kahala Mall, just off H-1 in the Kahala district, is known for its more upscale shops. It is anchored by Macy's, Barnes and Noble Bookstore, and an 8-plex movie theatre.
• Koko Marina Shopping Center is one of the main shopping centers in East Honolulu, with smaller shops and restaurants and a 10-plex movie theatre.
For other shopping malls, also see the Buy section under Oahu.
For general information on the kind of food available in Hawaii, see the Eat section in the Hawaii article.
• Ono Hawaiian Foods, 726 Kapahulu Ave, 737-2275. Easily the best place to get Hawaiian food in the islands -- popular with kama'aina and the savvy traveler willing to venture beyond the tourist track. Get the combination plate for a sampling of both kalua pig and lau lau (with some pipikaula, lomi salmon and poi on the side).
• Zippy's. Various locations in Honolulu and Oahu, check website for details. Zippy's is the island equivalent of 24-hour eatery Denny's; while Denny's has branches here, they are nowhere near as popular with locals as Zippy's. They provide a wide variety of food, including plate lunches (see Eat in Hawaii) at reasonable prices. Most are open 24 hours and as such are very popular late-night spots to hang out. Zippy's signature dish is their chili, which they prepare in many different ways: served over rice, or over a burrito, or over french fries, to name a few.
• Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. In the second floor of the Ala Moana Shopping Center, this is a touristy place centered around a Forest Gump theme. Decent for seafood, expensive mixed drinks, and good old fashioned American cooking. Although this may sound unappealing, the waiters are friendly and the food is tasty. Worth a visit if you're in the area, but don't go out of your way.
• Cheeseburger in Paradise, 2500 Kalakaua Ave #A, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815. (808) 923-1070. Centered around the "island" theme. Big portions of, obviously, burgers of all kinds. Right near Waikiki Beach, so it's conveniently located. The food is good, and not too overpriced, and the waiters are all nice.
• L'Uraku, 1341 Kapiolani Blvd. (ground floor of the Uraku Tower condominium), Honolulu, Hawaii 96814. Reservations recommended. (808) 955-0552. Mon-Sun 11:00am - 2:00pm lunch, 5:30pm - 11:00pm dinner. This Japanese-European fusion restaurant originally revolved around chef Hiroshi Fukui's renditions of Japanese seafood prepared European style. Fukui has since left to start his own restaurant, but the tradition continues. The menu is heavy on the seafood with sauces that combine European and Japanese elements (e.g. miso cream sauce). Lunch entrees about $9-18, dinner entrees from about $15-30. .
Not surprisingly, most hotels in Honolulu are found in Waikiki or its vicinity. Generally, Hawaii is most popular when the weather is the worst on the U.S. mainland. High season in Hawaii is mid-December to March (high rates and tight booking), and June to September (high rates but somewhat easier booking). Low season is from spring (April to June) and fall (September to mid-December), this is when the best bargains are available.
• Hilton Hawaiian Village, 2005 Kalia Road (corner of Kalia Road and Ala Moana Blvd.), (808) 949-4321 - The largest resort in Waikiki, covering 22 acres fronting Waikiki Beach. Five towers with 2,545 units, 90 shops, and 22 restaurants. US$199 and up.
• Waikiki Beachside Hostel in Honolulu, 2556 Lemon Road, (808) 923-9566 - Located one block from Waikiki Beach near Honolulu Zoo. Dorm-style and semi-private rooms. US$20-$74 per night, weekly rates available.
Don't spend all your time on Waikiki Beach; the whole island of Oahu, with more secluded beaches, hiking opportunities, and the sight of huge waves in the winter, awaits you. Most of the island's major attractions can be seen in a day trip, or spread out over several days.
Adapted from WikiTravel under the Wiki License
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