Honolulu is the capital city of the U.S. state of Hawaii and is located on the Oahu Island – the third largest island of Hawaiian Archipelago. It spreads throughout the southeastern shores of Oahu, from Pearl Harbor to Makapuu Point and encompasses the splendid Waikiki.
Honolulu is an energizing epicenter which has to offer everything from historic landmarks, flourishing arts, culture scene and treasured monuments to fine dining, world-class shopping, vibrant nightlife and an endless number of beach front resorts. Honolulu is also home to some of the best beaches in the world and wonderful scenery. Depending on the experience you're looking for, there is a beach for everyone in Honolulu: from breaking surf to calm clear lagoons.
Weather in Hawaii is tropical and is favorable year-round. Temperatures vary from 78°-82°F in winter to high 80s in the summer. The lowest temperatures in winter vary from 60°-70°F, while in summer are about 75°F. Ocean temperatures vary from 77°F in winter to 82°F in summer. Beginning with November and ending with March you can expect the rainy season. The peak season is between November and January. From Mid-December begins the whale season; whales can be spotted here till Mid-May.
Hawaii is a diverse country; many of the locals are multilingual. English and Hawaiian are official languages of Hawaii, but Japanese is also widely spread here. The “unofficial” language is Hawaiian Pidgin - a Creole language that was developed back in the 19th century, due to the mass migration. In Honolulu almost everyone speaks pidgin.
- Rental Cars are the most common and the best way to get around in Honolulu. You will find here the lowest rates in the entire Hawaiian Archipelago! We advise you to rent a car at the Honolulu International Airport to get the best deal. To avoid road congestion, drive between 09:00 a.m. and 03:00 p.m. or after 06:00 p.m.
- Oahu’s public bus system is also affordable; one direction tickets are available for only $2.50, but you can save even more buying a four-day pass ($25), which can be purchased at ABC Stores. The bus system covers almost all the island and runs daily from 04:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
- Trolley is the most popular way to travel around Honolulu. Its itinerary includes the most popular tourist attractions, hotels and restaurants. All the landmarks are pointed by the driver along the way. There are one-, four-, and seven-day passes; prices depend on tour type and vary from $19 to $50.
- Cabs are expensive in Honolulu. Opt for them only if you are in hurry. A journey from Airport to Waikiki or downtown is about $30, from the Airport to Kailua - $60, and from the Airport to North Shore - $80.
Where to stay
Honolulu boasts some of the best hotels and resorts in the USA. There are also many cheap hotels in Honolulu for those traveling on a budget. In other words – Honolulu has a hotel for everyone! Honolulu boast a number of beautiful beaches and the best way to enjoy its blue clear waters and soft sand is to book one of Honolulu’s beach hotels that can meet any budget.
Try the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel located at the corner of Waikiki Beach where you will find twelve different types of guestrooms and suites, offering great facilities and amenities, amazing sea views and friendly staff. In a few minutes walk you can reach the beach where you will be able to enjoy the sun and the water all day long. In the evening you can relax in one of the hotel’s bars or restaurants that serve a variety of fine cuisine, refreshments and snacks. You can also enjoy your breakfast directly on the beach. Nearby tourist attractions include the Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium.
There are also other great Honolulu beach hotels located in the Waikiki area including the Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa. It was built in 1901 in a traditional mansion styled building as one of the very first hotels in Waikiki, You can still clearly see its traditional architecture and style. The hotel comprises of three buildings in which the guestrooms are distributed by amenities and facilities. Guests will find here fine dining areas and excellent spa treatment facility. Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa is very popular among couples wanting to celebrate their wedding at one of the world's most iconic and romantic venues. The hotel is a wonderfully unique wedding reception venue ensuring the most dreamy and successful weddings in Honolulu.
But if you are a budget traveler and you are looking for affordable and cheap hotels in Honolulu then you must try the Stay Hotel Waikiki located just a few streets away from the Waikiki beach. The guestrooms are equipped with modern facilities, with attractive colors and stylish furniture. All guestrooms have a Playstation 2, DVD player, flat-screen television, an iPod docking station, Wi-Fi access and much more. There is also a lobby, bar and a restaurant offering Asian and Hawaiian cuisine for affordable rates.
Places to see
- The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial is one of the most popular World War II memorials in US. Here rest 1,102 sailors killed during the Pearl Harbor attack. The place is very crowded year round but it definitely worth a visit! There are organized tours available for visitors starting from 08:00 a. m; the last tour begins at 03:00 p. m. You can explore the complex which includes a center for visitors and the offshore monument. The offshore monument was built directly overtop the midsection of the sunken U.S.S. Arizona. During the tour, the U. S. Navy will shuttle you from the center to the sloping white memorial. From this point you can observe the oil that still seeps up to the water’s surface from the wreckage and behold the names of the honored dead that are now etched into the shrine's marble walls.
- National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is another place of great national importance in Honolulu. It is the final resting place for people who fought against enemies. Once a place for human sacrifices, the National Memorial Cemetery stretches over much of the Punchbowl Crater and is visited annually by thousands of tourists. Several moving tributes can be found here: the Honolulu Memorial, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The complex is opened to the public between 08:00 a.m. and 05:30 p.m. from October to February, and between 08:00 a.m. and 06:30 p.m. from March through September.
- Honolulu Museum of Art is the result of merging the Honolulu Academy of Arts and the Contemporary Museum that are located about two miles away from each other. These two buildings house a collection that spans across seas, styles and centuries. Both buildings are beautiful works of art in themselves. The main campus will amaze you with its arched doorways leading to graceful courtyards; it welcomes visitors Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and on Sunday afternoons. The formerly Contemporary Museum is a little bit smaller, but still worth a visit; welcomes visitors Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. For the price of entry at one museum, you can also explore the other within the same day.
- Iolani Palace is a 10-roop historic house and museum where lived Hawaii’s final monarchs. It is a great opportunity to tour a royal residence on American soil. You must respect some rules when visiting the palace: switch off your cameras because picture-taking is forbidden, kids are delegated to the basement and are not allowed on the first and second floors, you will have to wear cloth booties to keep from scuffing the fancy koa wood floors. The Iolani Palace can be visited between 09:00 a.m. and 05:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
- Moana Falls is about 100-foot tall and is a very popular destination among nature lovers. You will have to hike more than 1,5 miles on a well-worn path to get on top the waterfall. The path to the falls can be quite slippery with mud, so make sure to wear proper shoes. The spectacular rainforest scenery with huge prehistoric ferns and the snaking roots of banyan trees inspired Steven Spielberg to film the Jurassic Park.
- Shangri La is a luxury oceanfront house near Diamond Head which belonged to Doris Duke - an American tobacco heiress. Known also as the Doris Duke Museum, Shangri La began to be built in 1937; its rooms are decorated with art and furniture from Egypt, India, Morocco, Spain, Syria and Turkey. Art lovers must definitely visit this museum; they will see here over 3,500 objects, which where amassed with care by Doris Duke. Note that you need to make a reservation several months in advance to visit Shangri La. The museum is opened from Wednesday to Saturday; the first tour starts at 09:00 a.m. and the last at 1:30 p.m.
Things to do
- Waikiki Beach is the most popular beach in Honolulu. Its high waves that lap the shores during the winter mounts are ideal for surfing, its crystal clear waters during summer months are ideal for practicing a great array of water sports and its soft sand is perfect to lie back, relax and gaze up the majestic Diamond Head peak in the distance. You can find here some of the best Oahu hotels here, but the beach is free for everyone. In the evening or even in the middle of the day, when you will decide to take a break from the beach itself, there are thousands of restaurants, clubs, bars and shops lining Kalakua Avenue, which runs alongside Waikiki from the Royal Hawaiian Hotel to Diamond Head.
- Sunset Beach is a less crowded beach, perfect for couples looking for intimacy. During winter time, the waves are too intensive for amateur surfers. All year round there are lifeguards to better ensure your safety. The name of this beach is suggestive; the best time to visit it is in evening; you will find sunset just up the road from Waimea, off Kamehameha Highway in Haleiwa, Oahu.
- Surfing is the most popular water sport in Oahu; surfers will find here some of the best surfing spots. The best surfing beaches tend to be on the North Shore. Every winter, Oahu’s Northern Shore attracts thousands of professional surfers around the world. Only here they can cleave amazing gnarly waves. Waikiki waves are smaller but more regular, so they're perfect for beginners. There are a lot of surfing schools where you can learn to surf no matter what age you are, your skill level and experience.
- Waimea Bay is a very popular destination among surfers. The waves are very high, that is why beginners are not advised to enter the water. Waimea's high tide lasts all winter long. During summer time, the waters calm and beaches are invaded by swimmers, snorkelers and bodysurfers.
- Kailua Beach Park is a heaven for those loving to windsurf or just watching this amazing sport. This beach is also very popular among families who come here together with their children to enjoy this two-mile stretch of soft white sand and blue turquoise water. You will find here great picnic tables, restrooms, free parking and a number of cafes and restaurants. If you want to practice some watersports, there are rental kiosks right on the sand.
- Ala Moana Center is located west of Waikiki and is a place that shouldn’t missed by any shopaholic. It is a 1.8 million square feet behemoth open-air shopping piazza hosting many high-end stores including Versace and Dolce & Gabbana, department stores like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus and tourist-kitsch like Island's Best or Hawaiian Island Creations. The Ala Moana Center is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. On Sundays you can visit from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
How to save money
- Choose the Waikiki hotels instead those located on the Northern Shore, even if they are a little bit more expensive. You will save money on the road because island’s well-known attractions are located nearby Waikiki area.
- Rent a car if you want to travel around the island. It is cheaper to rent a car than getting around by cabs or buses.
- Plan your vacation during the autumn-time when airline prices are mild and hotel rates drop as low as $90 a night. The average temperatures are between 70s and mid-80s. This period is not available for surfer lovers, because the waters are calm.
When to go
- December – April. If you are a surfer lover and you don’t mind crowded beaches, then you should visit Honolulu during its peak tourist and surfing season. The temperatures fluctuate between the mid-60s and low 80s; the humidity is low and the waves are amazing. Also you have the great opportunity to enjoy the Honolulu whale watching cruises.
- May – August. If you want to catch some good weather and save some money, then this period is for you. The beaches are not crowded. Temperatures peak around 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but you should still pack layers if you intend to hike at higher elevations.
- September – November. If you travel on a budget, then you should plan your vacation during this period because the airline tickets and hotel rates are pretty sweet. The temperatures vary from 70s to mid-80s. Nevertheless, there is a great chance of rain.