Honolulu is a harbor city at the southern end of Oahu, the most visited island of the Hawaiian archipelago. Honolulu is the capital and largest city of the state of Hawaii. It is the center of government, transportation, and commerce for the state, and home to its best known tourist destination, Waikiki Beach. The city lies 2550 miles (4100km) southwest of Los Angles; 3860 miles (6220km) southeast of Tokyo; 5060 miles (8150km) northeast of Sydney; and 1470 miles (2370km) north of the equator. Not surprisingly, it's a major hub for trans-Pacific air travel.
Honolulu travel, Hawaii Tourist Attractions
Downtown Honolulu contains all Oahu's state and federal government buildings, including the state capitol and Iolani Palace, once home to Hawaii's last few monarchs and still the only royal palace in the USA. Chinatown is a few blocks northwest of the palace; the Aloha Tower and cruise ship terminals are a few blocks west. Southeast of downtown, Waikiki is the epicenter of all things touristic: all the big resorts and much of the city's nightlife are found here. Just southeast of Waikiki, 760ft (230m) Diamond Head rises up as the city's favorite geological landmark. All of these sites are within the boundaries of greater Honolulu.
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 municipal government of Honolulu covers the entire island of Oahu, including its outlying suburbs.
Local Hula dancers in Honolulu perform in full regalia. Honolulu International (HNL) is a 9 mile (15km), 25 minute drive northwest of downtown via Ala Moana Blvd/Hwy 92 (Nimitz Hwy) or the H-1. The Ala Moana Center, on Ala Moana Blvd just northwest of Waikiki, is the central transfer point for The Bus, the island's public bus network. Its routes branch across the island, with each line's destination written above the bus' windshield. The Ala Moana Center is the central transfer point. Overall, the buses are in excellent condition - clean and air-conditioned - though buses on popular routes tend to be packed and their pace is always dawdling. Setting your watch by this system gives you nothing but a good sense of Hawaiian Time. The Waikiki Trolley is an expensive, tourist-laden open-air bus geared primarily for sightseeing shopaholics. The attraction-lined route between Waikiki's Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center and downtown Honolulu is narrated.
Honolulu is a thriving city, with beaches that draw crowds from around the world. The name Honolulu means "sheltered bay" in Hawaiian, and its natural harbor catapulted this humble village on the southern shore of the island of Oahu to 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 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.
Oahu is not a big island, and few places are more than an hour's drive from Honolulu. If you plan on spending all your time in the resorts of Waikiki, forget about renting, but if you plan to get beyond the city limits, a car is the easiest way to do it. The minimum age to drive in Hawaii is 15 years, and most car rental agencies hike that limit to 25. Gasoline is about 25% more expensive on the island than on the US mainland. Driving is on the right.
H-1, the main south shore freeway, passes east-west through Honolulu, connecting it to the airport and all other freeways on the island.
Taxis wait at most major downtown hotels and at the airport. Otherwise, you'll need to phone for a cab. Bikes are available for rent in Honolulu and Waikiki, and most bike shops provide maps, helmets and locks. The city is poorly suited for cycling, though, and most riders prefer to use their bikes for longer jaunts around Oahu.