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Southern Oahu : Honolulu
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Waikiki, from the lookout on Diamond Head

Honolulu [4], 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 know tourist destination, Waikiki Beach. Honolulu is the most remote city in the world with a population exceeding 500,000.

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.

For a closer look at a couple popular destinations:



The name Honolulu means "sheltered bay" or "peace of shelter" in Hawaiian, and its natural harbor catapulted this humble village to importance when, in 1809, shortly after King Kamehameha I conquered Oahu in order to unite the Hawaiian Islands under the Kingdom of Hawaii, that he moved his royal court from the island of Hawaii to Oahu. Eventually, in 1845, Kamehameha III officially moved the kingdom's capital from Lahaina on Maui to Honolulu.

Honolulu's ideally located port made the city a perfect stop for merchant ships traveling between North America and Asia, and through the 1800s, descendants of missionaries who arrived in the early 1800s established their headquarters in Honolulu, making it the center of business and the main seaport for the Hawaiian Islands.

The late 1800s and early 1900s brought the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and subsequent annexation by the United States. Under American rule, Honolulu saw the rise of tourism and the first hotels were constructed in Waikiki. American rule also brought the U.S. military, which built numerous bases in the islands, not least of which was nearby Pearl Harbor; now famous for the surprise attack by the Japanese in 1942, which brought the U.S. into World War II.

Statehood for the islands brought rapid economic growth to Honolulu, with all the state's major businesses headquartered in the city, the Honolulu airport as the primary entrance point for visitors, and Waikiki as the center of the island's tourism industry.


Honolulu has a very moderate climate, with very little change of temperature throughout the year - the average high is 80-90°F (27-32°C) and the average low is 65-75°F (19-24°C) any time of the year. Water temperature averages 82°F (27°C) in the summer months and 77°F (25°C) in the winter months.

The only noticeable variation in seasons is in terms of rainfall. Honolulu is on the sunny, leeward side of the island, and where you are in the city will affect the chances for rain - areas like Waikiki, downtown, and the western side of the city will usually be sunny, while the hills or eastern side of the city may get some passing clouds and very brief rainfall. On average, Honolulu gets less than half an inch of rain in the summer months to almost three inches in the winter months.

Get in

By plane

Honolulu International Airport (IATA: HNL), [5] is the main aviation gateway for the Hawaiian Islands. The main terminal is served by most major American airlines from the mainland U.S., and by many international airlines from other countries around the Pacific Rim. Its Inter-Island Terminal is the home base of Hawaiian Airlines [6] which offers frequent local service to the other Hawaiian islands. It is quite a walk between terminals, so be sure to take the free Wikiwiki Shuttle that runs every few minutes. It's easy to miss it so be sure to ask somebody where it is.

The Airport Waikiki Express provides shuttle service to hotels in Waikiki every half hour ($9/$15 one-way/round-trip). City buses #19 and #20 ($2.25 per adult and $1 per child or senior, exact change required, bills and coins accepted) also come to the airport once every half-hour, going through downtown and on to to Waikiki. You can catch them on the outside second level of the international and domestic departure terminals.

The best way to get to Waikiki by rental car is to follow signs for H-1 east, then follow H-1 east about 2 miles to exit 18A (Waikiki/Nimitz Highway). Follow Nimitz Highway (which turns into Ala Moana Boulevard past downtown Honolulu) straight into Waikiki. You will pass through Honolulu's industrial district, along Honolulu Harbor, and past downtown Honolulu and the Ala Moana Shopping Center. You can also follow H-1 east into downtown Honolulu, take either exit 22 (Kinau Street) or 23 (Punahou Street), and follow signs to Waikiki.

By ship

Cruise ships frequently link Honolulu with the US mainland. These voyages are designed for tourists, and are rarely used as one-way passenger service.

Get around


Unlike many cities on the U.S. mainland, Honolulu is not laid out in a strict compass-point grid. Its street system conforms in large part to the shorelines, valleys, and ridges, with lots of twists and turns. It can be confusing for people used to straight grid systems. However, at the same time, it is not that difficult to navigate in, as long as you are familiar with the major arterials and terminology below.

Because it is difficult to differentiate north and south on an island, directions are normally given in terms of local landmarks. The most common terms that you will run into are mauka (MOW-kah) meaning "toward the mountain" and makai (mah-KAI) meaning "toward the sea". In the case of Honolulu, which is on Oahu's south shore, "mauka" is a rough north, and "makai" roughly south. You will also hear Ewa (Ee-vah) and Diamond Head used a lot, in relation to downtown Honolulu, the former roughly means "west" (toward the town of Ewa on the southwest shore of Oahu) and the latter roughly means "east" (toward the famous landmark crater on the southeast shore).

Highway signs, however, will use standard compass directions, so if you are asked to go Ewa-bound on the freeway, look for the on-ramp to H-1 west.

It is a very good idea to invest in a good map of Honolulu before doing extensive driving. Members of the American Automobile Association (AAA) can request fold-out maps for free from their local office. Rand McNally paper fold-out maps are available in many stores; for more extensive coverage you can also purchase Bryan's Sectional Maps (a popular choice among locals) at most bookstores for about $9.50.

Major arterials

Most major streets in Honolulu run Ewa–Diamond Head (as described in the preceding section, roughly east-west). There are two main highways in Honolulu: Nimitz Highway (Hawaii 92) which runs from Pearl Harbor past Honolulu Airport to downtown Honolulu and Waikiki; and Interstate H-1 which runs mauka (mountain-ward) of downtown and runs the entire length of the south shore of Oahu.

H-1 is some distance away from Waikiki itself and you need to go onto surface streets to and from Waikiki. If you need to access H-1 west from Waikiki to go someplace outside of the city, there are three main routes:

  1. Go mauka to Ala Wai Boulevard and follow it 'Ewa-bound to McCully Street. Follow McCully mauka for about 1 mile; it will take you over H-1. At the foot of the bridge, turn left on Dole, then left again onto Alexander to the freeway onramp.
  2. Follow Kuhio or Kalakaua Avenue Diamond Head-bound to Kapahulu Avenue. Follow Kapahulu mauka for about 1 mile, it will take you under H-1 and lead you to the freeway onramp.

To get back to Waikiki from H-1 east, take any of these routes:

  1. Take exit 22 (Kinau Street). Turn right on Ward Avenue and follow it to Ala Moana Boulevard. Turn left on Ala Moana and follow it into Waikiki.
  2. Take exit 23 (Punahou Street). Turn right on Punahou, and stay in lane #3 from the left. This lane is right-turn only onto the left side of Beretania. Take an immediate left onto Kalakaua Avenue from Beretania. Follow Kalakaua into Waikiki.
  3. Take exit 25A (King Street). After merging onto King Street, stay to the right. Take the second right onto Kapahulu Avenue (follow signs to Waikiki). Follow Kapahulu into Waikiki.
  4. Take exit 23 (Punahou Street). Stay straight to merge onto Bingham Street. Turn right onto McCully Street and keep left to merge into traffic from the overpass. Follow McCully to Waikiki.

There are also several routes from H-1 to downtown and back. To get to downtown from H-1 east, use one of these routes:

  1. Take exit 21B (Punchbowl Street). This will take you to the Capitol area.
  2. Take exit 21A (Pali Highway). Turn right onto Pali Highway, which will curve to the left and become Bishop Street. This will take you to Chinatown.
  3. Take exit 22 (Kinau Street). Turn right onto Ward Avenue, then turn right onto Beretania Street. This will take you to the Capitol area and Chinatown.
  4. Take exit 20B (Vineyard Blvd). This will take you to northern downtown.

To get to H-1 west from downtown, use one of these routes:

  1. Go north on Punchbowl Street (from the Capitol area), which will merge into a ramp at the end of the street. At the fork at the end of the ramp, keep left.
  2. Go north on Alakea Street (from Chinatown), turn left onto Beretania Street, turn right onto Pali Highway, turn left onto School Street, and keep left onto the H-1 ramp.
  3. Go east on Kinau Street, turn left onto Piikoi Street, turn left onto Lunalilo Street, then keep left onto the H-1 ramp.
  4. Go west onto Vineyard Blvd, which will become Halona Street after the H-1 overpass. Keep left onto the H-1 ramp.

In central Honolulu, the two main streets are King Street and Beretania Street. The two streets are one-way for most of their route; King Street runs from 'Ewa to Diamond Head, and Beretania Street from Diamond Head to 'Ewa. Both streets run through downtown Honolulu. Despite their rough west to east orientation, addresses on these streets are designated North and South respectively (the streets form an S curve, running north-south through downtown). The dividing line between North and South designations is Nuuanu Avenue in downtown Honolulu, which runs mauka-makai. Ala Moana Boulevard is a key route leading out of Waikiki to Downtown Honolulu. Past Honolulu Harbor, Ala Moana becomes Nimitz Highway and runs all the way to the airport and beyond. Tree-lined Kapiolani Boulevard is another major thoroughfare traversing east-central Honolulu, linking the Waikiki district and points east with downtown Honolulu.

In Waikiki, the three main streets, from makai to mauka, are Kalakaua Avenue (one way Ewa to Diamond Head, along Waikiki Beach), Kuhio Avenue (two-way), and Ala Wai Boulevard (one way Diamond Head to Ewa, along the Ala Wai Canal).


Traffic in Honolulu, and on Oahu in general, is a persistent problem. With almost one million people living in a relatively small space, and only a few main routes serving the major populated areas on the island, a single traffic incident has the potential to induce gridlock across the entire island. You are unlikely to encounter a traffic jam of that magnitude, but someone visiting Oahu and traveling during a weekday should be aware of traffic problems. Honolulu traffic during rush hour has been ranked among the worst in the nation.

Normal weekday rush hour in Honolulu is 6AM to 8AM going inbound and 4PM to 7PM going outbound. Expect heavy traffic on Interstates H-1 and H-2, Nimitz Highway/Ala Moana Boulevard, and the surface streets in downtown Honolulu and Waikiki. Traffic is less heavy during the summer and over the holidays when the University of Hawaii at Manoa is not in session. All in all though, driving on Oahu is pleasurable once you get off of the Interstates. Having a car on Oahu gives a visitor a chance to visit the whole island in just a few days. Once you get a little ways inland the traffic is not too bad and in the agricutural areas, there is little traffic. Unless you are familiar with this climate, convertible tops should be up when the sun is intense, or you will soon burn to a crisp. Locals will look at you and shake their heads and warn you about this. Heed their advice.

By bus

The local bus service in Honolulu is called, with remarkable succinctness, TheBus [7]. Fares are $2.25 for adults, $1 for children and seniors (no change given). TheBus runs intercity services to other parts of Oahu as well. Ask for a free transfer ticket, good for two hours, if you are continuing on another bus or returning on the same route. Monthly bus passes are available at 7-Elevens and supermarkets. Monthly bus passes begin on the first of each month and cost $50 (all-you-can-ride) regardless of which day of the month you purchase the pass. A $25 4-day Discovery Pass [8], can be purchased at an ABC Store. You scratch off the Month and day of your first use and each subsequent day (up to four total days) and enjoy unlimited rides. You can use the pass to take any bus including the Circle Island route and see the entire island. Yearly bus passes are also available for $550. All buses in the fleet are equipped with bike racks that can hold two or three bikes. Buses are also wheelchair accessible. Larger groups may want to tour the city via charter bus; there are several chartering companies available on the island.

By taxi

A taxi ride from Honolulu International Airport to Waikiki will cost around $30 to $40 plus tip. Taxis are locally regulated, so fares will be the same regardless of the company. Some taxi companies also offer tours around the island of O'ahu.


Also see Oahu for details on attractions located outside Honolulu proper.


  • Waikiki Beach. Covered in the Waikiki article.
  • Kuhio Beach. Calmer section of Waikiki
  • Halona Beach Cove. Known as "the Peering Place"
  • Sandy Beach.

Military Memorials

USS Missouri and USS Arizona Memorials, Pearl Harbor
  • Battleship Missouri Memorial. On Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. See Arizona Memorial below for directions. +1 808 423-2263, [9]. Every day 9AM - 5PM (ticket window closes at 4PM). Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. A perfect companion to the USS Arizona Memorial, this battleship is best known the site where World War II ended when the Japanese military surrendered to the Allied forces. Tickets may be purchased at the nearby U.S.S. Bowfin Museum; visitors board buses to the USS Missouri itself. No private non-military vehicles can cross the Clarey Bridge to Ford Island without a pass. Adults $16, children under 12 $8.
  • USS Arizona Memorial, 1 Arizona Memorial Place (From Waikiki, H-1 west to exit 15A (Arizona Memorial, Stadium), onto Kamehameha Hwy. (Hawaii 99); or Honolulu public transit buses #20 and #42), 808-422-0561 (fax: 808-483-8608), [1]. Daily 7:30AM-5PM; Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. This memorial, built over the hull of the sunken battleship USS Arizona, commemorates the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which brought the U.S. into World War II. It also serves as the final resting place for many of the 1,177 who died here. Visitors view an interpretive film, then board ferry boats which run from the visitor center to the memorial. Tickets are given out on a first-come-first-served basis and are limited; tickets may run out by noon on busy days. Expect wait times of about one hour. Free admission.
  • National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. 2177 Puowaina Drive (within Punchbowl Crater mauka of downtown), [10]. Hours- Daily (September 30-March 1) 8:00AM-5:30PM, Daily (March 2-September 29) 8:00AM-6:30PM. Special Hours on Memorial Day- 7:00AM-7:00PM Directions- From Waikiki, H-1 west to exit 21B (Pali Hwy.), then follow signs. The final resting place of over 45,000 Americans who served their country in the military, the crater's rim also provides a panoramic view of Honolulu. The Courts of the Missing, a large marble shrine inscribed with the names of over 28,000 soldiers missing in action in World War II, serves as the centerpiece. Free admission.

Museums and Galleries

  • Bishop Museum. 1525 Bernice St. (H-1 west from Waikiki to exit 15B Houghtailing St., right on Houghtailing, then left on Bernice), +1 808 847-3511, [11]. Everyday 9AM-5PM (except closed every Tuesday and Christmas Day), . Founded in 1889 by Charles Reed Bishop, the husband of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last direct descendant of Kamehameha I, who founded the Kamehameha Schools, this non-profit institution seeks to "...record, preserve and tell the stories of Hawai`i and the Pacific, inspiring our guests to embrace and experience our natural and cultural world." They have an excellent permanent collection of Hawaiian artifacts, as well as a number of science-based exhibits. The new Science Adventure Center is centered around volcanology, with a large simulated volcano in the center that "erupts" regularly. The museum also features a planetarium. The museum is the leading repository of natural and cultural history in the Pacific, recognized throughout the world for its cultural collections, research projects, consulting services and public educational programs. It also maintains one of the largest natural history specimen collections in the world. The museum's J.L. Gressit Center for Research in Entomology houses some 14 million prepared specimens of insects and related arthropods, including over 16,500 primary types, making it the third largest entomology collection in the United States and the eighth largest in the world. Adults $14.95, seniors (65+) $11.95, children 4-12 $11.95, children under 3 free. Discounts: local residents (ID required).
  • The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, 411 Makiki Heights Dr, 808-526-1322 or 866-991-2835 (), [2]. T-Sa 10AM-4PM; Su Noon-4PM. This museum, occupying an old estate overlooking Honolulu, is devoted exclusively to contemporary art. In addition to the galleries, including a permanent installation by David Hockney, visitors are encouraged to spend time outside in the museum's garden area.
  • Hawaii State Art Museum. Covered in the Downtown article.
  • The Honolulu Academy of Arts. Covered in the Downtown article.
  • Iolani Palace. Covered in the Downtown article.
  • Mission Houses Museum. Covered in the Downtown article.
  • The Workspace. 3624 Waialae Ave. Suite #201, [12]. For those looking for contemporary art produced by local artists, the Workspace is a must see.


  • Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. 10 miles E of Waikiki off Kalaniana’ole Highway, Route 72, [13]. Closed on Tuesdays. During the summer, open other days from 6:00AM to 7:00PM and on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month open until 10:00PM. Hanauma Bay is not a place for beach sports but is instead a bay formed in the crater of an extinct volcano and filled with a wonderful coral reef and many fish. It is a great place for snorkeling and scuba diving. If you're driving you'll want to get there early in the morning (by 8:00AM) to ensure you get a space as parking is limited. Otherwise, parking may be available again by afternoon as people leave. On the weekends, public buses from Waikiki fill up and will not stop if full; you can get a shuttle package from most Waikiki hotels for about $15, round trip with snorkel gear, not including admission (ask your concierge). Admission $5 for adults, Hawaii residents and children under 13 free. Parking $1. Snorkel rental available. Plan on 20 additional minutes before entering, as lines may be long, and all new visitors (as well as visitors who have not visited in the past year) are REQUIRED to watch an orientation video. Bring water and food. There is a snack bar, but it's limited and pricey. Also keep an eye on the tides; at low tide you will be swimming right on top of the reef, which is harder and makes it less easy to see.
  • Pali Lookout. 6 miles NE of downtown Honolulu on Hawaii 61 (Pali Highway), right at the Pali Lookout exit. Everyday, 7AM-7:45PM Apr. 1 - Labor Day; 7AM-6:45PM Labor Day-Apr. 1. One of the more popular scenic vistas on Oahu and the site of one of the bloodiest battles in Hawaiian history, the Pali Lookout provides a panoramic view of Windward Oahu. Also interesting at this site is the Old Pali Road, formerly the highway connecting Windward Oahu to downtown Honolulu. A note of caution: due to its location between two high cliffs, the Pali Lookout is often buffeted by high winds. Admission Free.
  • Diamond Head State Monument. Off Diamond Head Road between Makapuu Ave & 18th Ave, across Kapiolani Community College. Daily 6AM-6PM. This ancient volcanic crater is a former US military site, but portions are open to the public. Specifically, there is a hiking trail that winds up the inside of the crater to the summit on the western side of the crater wall, 761 feet above sea level. To reach the trail, you can drive or walk up the road that lead into the crater basin (through a tunnel in the crater wall). There is a park fee of $5 to enter, after which a winding path up the crater wall leading to a World War II-era bunker with a steep staircase of over 100 steps, takes you to the top.
  • Tantalus/Round Top. In Makiki Heights on Tantalus and Round Top Drives. From Waikiki, Kalakaua Ave west, right on King St., left on Punahou St., left on Nehoa St, right on Makiki St., left at fork to Makiki Heights Dr, follow Makiki Hts. Dr. to Tantalus Dr. (Or follow Makiki St., left on Round Top Drive.) Winding mountain drives take you about 2,000 above sea level to various viewpoints providing panoramic views of the south shore of Oahu.



Hawaii's year-round tropical weather provides perfect running weather all year, so bring your running shoes. Kapiolani Park and Ala Moana Regional Park are where most joggers in Honolulu congregate; the 4-mile loop around Diamond Head is a popular and scenic route. If you're up for a challenge, Tantalus Drive is a windy, two-lane road that is relatively safe for joggers.

Honolulu is also home to one of the world's largest marathons. The Honolulu Marathon [14], held annually on the second Sunday in December, has become a huge event that attracts from 20,000 - 25,000 runners annually. Niketown Honolulu, 2080 Kalakaua Ave., has group runs on Wednesdays at 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays at 9:00 a.m.


Cycling around Honolulu's streets and bike paths can be a great way to see the city and stay in shape while on vacation. There are several bike shops in the city that rent various types of bikes (Google "Honolulu bike rental"). You can also take Highway 72 to Waimanolo, east of Honolulu, if you want to get out on the open road. Check out for popular routes.

Ice Skating

An ice rink is probably the last thing you'd expect to find in a tropical city, but at least it makes for the perfect getaway if the hot climate is too much for you. The Ice Palace [15] (4510 Salt Lake Boulevard, 808-487-9921) offers instruction in figure skating and hockey. The rink is an affiliate of the Ice Skating Institute.

Treasure Hunt

If you're ready to see more of the island and learn its history, Ravenchase Adventures [16] offers unique treasure hunts and adventure races on each of the islands.


Great surfing beaches around Ala Moana and Waikiki area. For lessons, 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. You can also try one of the many surfing schools in Waikiki.

Arts, Concerts, and Nightlife

Searching for entertainment in Honolulu? In addition to the traditional luaus and hula shows, Hawaii has a thriving scene of art, theatre, concerts, clubs, bars, and other events and entertainment. The Honolulu symphony is the oldest US symphony orchestra west of the Rocky Mountains. Honolulu is a center for Hawaiian music. Find a well-maintained list of upcoming shows and weekly events online at [17]. If you're already out and about, you can access a daily digest on your mobile phone at [18]

Horseback Riding

Go back in time to the days of the cowboys and enjoy a tour while horesback riding. Enjoy the beautiful views of lush mountain valleys, luscious jungle or spectacular coastlines. Some stables even include transporation from your hotel to the stable. [19]


  • University of Hawaii at Manoa, [20]. The flagship campus of the public University of Hawaii system.
  • Hawaii Pacific University, [21]. The largest private university in the state. The downtown Honolulu campus is centered on Fort Street Mall.


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 [22] has comprehensive information for job seekers. Keep in mind though the higher cost of living in relation to an entry level job's salary compared to many other areas on the mainland.


Many of the chain grocers provide discount cards to the regulars and will give you one if you request it. It will save you over 20%.

  • International Market Place. Covered in the Waikiki article.
  • Aloha Stadium Swap Meet, 99-500 Salt lake Blvd, 808-486-6704. Open every W,Sa,Su 6AM-3PM. Hawaii's largest swap meet. Bring your hat, sunscreen, and bottled water and plan at least 1/2 day. The swap meet is like a giant outdoor flea market, surrounding Aloha Stadium, and features merchants offering local food items, clothing and Hawaiian souvenirs. You are unlikely to find Hawaiian souvenirs for less money anywhere else. The prices are reasonable, haggling allowed, unique items from local artists and merchants abound. Most places are cash only, but there are a few standalone ATMs on the outskirts of the swap meet. Admission $1 per buyer, under 12 free.
  • Manoa Marketplace located between East Manoa Road and Woodlawn Drive at the 2800 block has about twenty shops including a Safeway grocery store, Long's drugstore, McDonald's restaurant, a bank and Post Office.

Shopping malls

  • Ala Moana Center[23] is the largest shopping mall in Hawaii and the largest open-air shopping mall in the world. Has 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.). The mall's anchor stores are Shirokiya, Sears, Macy's, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus.
  • Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center[24] Covered in the Waikiki article.
  • DFS Galleria (Duty Free Shops). Covered in the Waikiki article.
  • Waikiki Shopping Plaza. Covered in the Waikiki article.
  • Victoria Ward Centers,[25] located between downtown Honolulu and Waikiki, is a four-block destination of 120 stores ranging from The Sports Authority and Borders to small one-of-a-kind boutiques, 23 restaurants, a farmers market and 16-screen megaplex and entertainment center. Encompasses Ward Centre, Ward Warehouse, Ward Entertainment Center, Ward Farmers Market, Ward Village Shops and Ward Gateway Center.
  • Aloha Tower Marketplace. Covered in the Downtown article.
  • Kahala Mall, just off H-1 in the Kahala district, this regional mall 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.

  • China Town. Covered in the Downtown article.


For general information on the kind of food available in Hawaii, see the Eat section in the Hawaii article.


  • Bubbies - Off University Ave near the King St intersection, across from the Varsity bar. Local owned and operated ice cream shop, continually voted best ice cream on the island. The ice cream cakes and pies have fun quirky names and taste great, but the mochi ice cream is the trump card: single servings of ice cream wrapped in a flavored mochi-rice-dessert wrapper for $1 each.
  • Zippy's, (various locations in Honolulu and Oahu), [26]. Zippy's is the island equivalent of the 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 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.


  • Bangkok Chef With two locations in Oahu, one in Nuuanu and other in Manoa, it is as good and as cheap that an amazing delicious thai meal can get. The place started as a thai market, but grown as one of the resident's favourites. The high quality of the food, associated with fresh ingredients and low prices make this spot a must try while in Honolulu.
  • Blue Water Shrimp & Seafood Co., 2145 Kuhio Ave. $10-$15 Fresh Seafood plate lunch, spicy butter garlic shrimp, the bomb fish like Ahi, Mahi-Mahi, rice, corn on the cob, bomb burgers and last but not least Crab Legs!
  • Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., on the second floor of the Ala Moana Shopping Center. This is a touristy place centered around the movie Forrest Gump. 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.
  • Chiang Mai Thai Restaurant (2239 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96826: 808-941-1151) While there are many Thai restaurants on Oahu, this is one of the best and most reasonably priced. The Panang Curry is especially good. You have to drive or take a cab if you're staying in Waikiki, but it's well worth it!
  • Genki Sushi, (various locations throughout the island). Genki Sushi is a Japanese-style eatery, with employees shouting "irrashaimase!" when you enter, which is the Japanese word for "welcome." Very popular with the younger people (15 - 21). The eatery offers many types of sushi.
  • Irifune, 563 Kapahulu Ave (North east corner of Waikiki), (808) 737-1141. This funky little Japanese fusion joint is one of the best kept secrets in Hono. Be sure to try the garlic ahi. There can be a long line of locals on some nights. It's BYOB!
  • Jimbo, 1936 S King St Ste 103. Specializing in authentic Japanese udon and soba, freshly made on-site. Parking can be difficult, but there are additional parking spaces behind the building. They don't take reservations.
  • Olive Tree Mediterranean and Greek Food, close to Kahala Mall. It is a very well known spot among Honolulu resident's, the restaurant is a charming and simple place, having most of its tables outside a small lanai. The food is delicious and affordable. It is BYOB, and you can bring your own glasses to avoid the cup fee. There is a wine store on the side of the restaurant, in case you forget your own. Take outs also available.
  • Ono Hawaiian Foods, 726 Kapahulu Ave, +1 808 737-2275, [27]. 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). An advice would be to get here early: as the best Hawaiian food restaurant it is very popular and waiting lines grow fast.

  • Sushi Company, 1111 McCully St. Owned and operated by a Japanese couple. They offer high grade take-out sushi at budget prices. You can enjoy lunch or dinner here for well under $10.


  • 3660 on the Rise, 3660 Waialae Avenue.
  • Aaron's Atop the Ala Moana, Ala Moana Hotel, 36th Floor, 410 Atkinson Drive, +1 808 955-4466.
  • Alan Wong's Restaurant, 1857 South King St, +1 808 949-2526, [28]. Serving top-notch Pacific-Rim cuisine that changes daily. Enjoy your food in style in a restaurant that has a glassed-in terrace and open kitchen. Alan Wong's was the only restaurant in Hawaii to be listed in Gourmet magazine's List of Top 50 Restaurants in America (it ranked #8). Reservations recommended. Street or valet parking.
  • Chef Mavro, 1969 South King Street. +1 808 944-4714.
  • Elua, 1341 Kapiolani Blvd (ground floor of the Uraku Tower condominium), +1 808 955-0552, [29]. Lunch M-F 11:30AM-2PM; Dinner F,Sa 5:30PM-10PM, M-Th 6PM-10PM. Two top chefs alternate nights. One has a French style, the other Italian. Reservations recommended.
  • Hoku's, 5000 Kahala Ave, tel 808/739-8780. Fusing East and West specialities perfectly, this restauranthas been lauded for its contemporary island cuisine. Recommended are the pan-seared Hudson Valley foie gras, sashimi and slow-braised pork belly.
  • John Dominis [30]. Perfect place to celebrate a special occasion. Elegant atmosphere includes an indoor koi pond and beautiful Waikiki ocean views. Friday nights offer a special bonus- the sky over Waikiki is lit by fireworks.
  • Mariposa, Neiman-Marcus Ala Moana.
  • Morton's, The Steak House, Ala Moana Center, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd. +1 808 949-1300.
  • Roy's Restaurant [31] Main location: 6600 Kalanianaole Hwy,(in East Honolulu about 6 miles east of Waikiki, (808) 396-7697. Also in Kapolei at Ko Olina Resort. Known as the "Wolfgang Puck of the Pacific," Roy Yamaguchi is known as one of the originators of Hawaiian fusion cuisine. This flagship restaurant of the Roy's Restaurant chain (which has since expanded to six Hawaii locations, 22 locations on the U.S. Mainland, and four overseas locations) overlooks Maunalua Bay with a perfect westward view.


There are several places open till 2AM. Some are open until 4AM. Most of Honolulu's bars and night clubs can be found from Kuhio Ave. and are covered in the Waikiki article.

  • Mai Tai Bar, Ala Moana Shopping Center, Upper Level 4, was voted the best bar in Honolulu in 2002. It is popular among locals, especially on weekends and Wednesday nights. Live local music is played between 4-7PM Monday-Friday, and 1-4PM on the weekends and nightly 9:30PM-12:30AM. Happy Hour 8PM-11PM.
  • Varsity, University Ave near the corner of King Street. Once was Magoo's, a cheap, dirty, dive bar catering to students from UH. Now it's cleaned up and is a slightly-less-cheap, slightly-less-dirty, dive bar catering to students. Food from a number of eateries in the vicinity can be ordered and delivered there.
  • La Mariana, off Sand Island Access Road, near the airport. Not much to speak of in terms of food or drink (their Mai Tai is alright) but the decor is straight out of a tiki-lovers paradise.

  • O'Tooles, 902 Nuuanu Ave, 808-536-4138 (fax: 808-536-4612), [3]. Great place for a Guinness. It doesn't put on the gaudy faux-irish decor, it's a bar run by an Irish guy. Friendly people and live music (Doolin' Rakes, every Saturday night, they kick ass!) Serves basic pub fare.
  • Pipeline - Located on Pohukaina St. in the heart of Honolulu, a remodeled warehouse, it is not much to look at from the outside, but once inside you are in a different world. This local spot features live local bands, plenty of dance music, and with more room to dance then you could possibly need. Throughout the 2 floors, there are an array of large screens that display a number of different sports being played. With good happy hour specials, nightly drink specials, and good dance music going until 4AM every night, they will have you coming back for more every time.


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), when the best bargains are available.


Stay safe

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. Keep all valubles within sight and within reach at all times. Your car is not a safe place to store anything: Thieves have commonly dismantled locks and broken into vehicles, or conversely will just bash open your window to get in. Use extra caution when visiting less savory parts of town, including the Chinatown district after dark, but during the day you should have no problem.

Get out

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.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

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