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Honolulu

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Travel Guide North America USA Western United States Hawaii Oahu Honolulu

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Introduction

Honolulu, HI

Honolulu, HI

© All Rights Reserved aniel

Honolulu, the capital of the state of Hawaii, is a laid-back city on the southeast coast of the island of Oahu. Unwind on Waikiki Beach or climb Diamond Head for panoramic views of Oahu's coast. If Honolulu sounds to you as the paradise on earth: think twice. Honolulu, and much of Oahu, are overdeveloped. It's better to look for the real Hawaii elsewhere.

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Neighbourhoods

  • Downtown Honolulu
  • The Arts District Honolulu
  • The Capitol District
  • Waikiki

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Sights and Activities

  • Waikiki Beach is a 2-mile stretch of white-sand beach. You can engage in watersports, soak up the sun, enjoy some snorkelling or if you get there early enough, enjoy a peaceful stroll.
  • Diamond Head (or Lēʻahi) is a volcanic tuff cone that can be seen from many parts of the city. Climb to the lookout for spectacular views of Waikiki Beach and Oahu's coast line. The climb will take about 90 minutes and you should be sure to take some water and a hat as the trail can be hot.
  • The Aloha Tower is a lighthouse that was opened in 1926 and is still in use. You can visit the observation deck for sweeping views of the harbour.
  • The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum houses the world's largest collection of Polynesian cultural artifacts. Location: 1525 Bernice Street, Kalihi.
  • ʻIolani Palace, built in 1871, was the official residence of the Hawaiian royal family until they were overthrown in 1893. Guided tours are possible most mornings, or audio tours can be taken at visitors' leisure.
  • The Honolulu Academy of Arts presents a large private collection of art totalling some 40,000 works of art from around the world.
  • Waikiki Aquarium is the US' third oldest public aquarium and is home to over 2,500 organisms representing more than 420 species of aquatic animals. The aquarium is located in Queen Kapiolani Park at 2777 Kalakaua Ave and is open daily from 9:00am to 4:30pm. Admission is $9 for visitors, $6 for local residents and $4 for youths (ages 13-17).

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Events and Festivals

  • New Year's Eve kick starts the year with street parades and parties.
  • Chinese New Year is also cause for great celebration in late January/early February.
  • The Japanese community celebrates the Cherry Blossom Festival in February.
  • Irish locals celebrate St Patrick's Day with a parade at Waikiki on 17 March.
  • The International Bed Race in April is a popular fund raising event culminating in a bed pushing race through Honolulu's streets.
  • Lei Day on May the 1st sees everyone get lei'd.
  • The King Kamehameha Hula Competition takes place late in June, attracts dancers from as far away as Japan.
  • Hawaii International Jazz Festival - this celebration of jazz takes place in July.
  • The Honolulu Marathon is run in early December attracting over 30,000 competitors.

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Weather

Honolulu enjoys a tropical climate, moderated by the California Current. Average daily highs are 80 °F in January and 88 °F in July. Temperatures rarely exceed 90 °F.

As Honolulu is located in the southwest, it is much drier compared to the northeastern parts of the island. Honolulu has only between 20 and 50 mm of rain during most of the year, more so from November to February. It is quite unusual for to have the wettest time of year coincide with the slightly cooler months. Oddly enough, the possibility of a tropical storm or even a hurricane is higher from May to November, opposite to the wetter months. Still, such storms are less frequent compared to for example the Caribbean or west Pacific.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max26.7 °C26.9 °C27.6 °C28.2 °C29.3 °C30.3 °C30.8 °C31.5 °C31.4 °C30.5 °C28.9 °C27.3 °C
Avg Min18.7 °C18.6 °C19.6 °C20.4 °C21.3 °C22.3 °C23.1 °C23.4 °C23.1 °C22.4 °C21.3 °C19.4 °C
Rainfall90.2 mm56.1 mm55.9 mm39.1 mm28.7 mm12.7 mm15 mm11.2 mm19.8 mm57.9 mm76.2 mm96.5 mm
Rain Days75.265.23.32.12.92.63.54.66.16.9

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Getting There

By Plane

Most visitors come to Honolulu by air, as it's the main hub to the Hawaiian islands from mainland USA and several other pacific nations.

Honolulu International Airport (Airport code: HNL), 3 miles (5 kilometres) northwest of the city's CBD, is the main airport in Hawaii and the principal hub of Hawaiian Airlines. There are direct routes to Honolulu's airport from Asia, North America and the Pacific.

Dozens of international destinations are served, among which many cities in the US, such as Los Angeles, Seattle and New York City. Other destinations include Vancouver, Auckland, Fiji, Taiwan, Micronesia, American Samoa, Seoul, Melbourne, Sydney, Manila, and quite a few cities in Japan, including Tokyo and Osaka.

Domestic flights to and from Honolulu include Hawaii (Big Island), Maui, Kauai, Lanai and Molokai. Airlines include Hawaiian Airlines, Mokulele Airlines, Island Air, Mesa Airlines and Pacific Wings.

To/from the airport
TheBus (Honolulu) routes 19, 20, and 31 stop on the upper (departure) level of the airport. Routes 19 and 20 connect the airport to Pearlridge Center (20 only), Hickam AFB (19 only), Downtown Honolulu, Ala Moana Center, and Waikiki. Route 31 connects the airport to Tripler Army Medical Center, via Kalihi Transit Center. Routes 9, 40, 40A, 42, and 62 run on Nimitz Highway within walking distance of the airport.
Taxis, limousine services, (hotel) shuttles and rental cars are all widely available, some of them requiring advance reservations.

By Train

There is currently no rail infrastructure around Honolulu.

By Boat

Several Cruise lines such as Princess and Norwegian sail cruises with Honolulu as a port of call.

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Getting Around

By Car

Visitors are advised to take care not to leave valuables in their cars in and around Honolulu, especially when parking in crowded tourist spots and beaches. Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

Honolulu and the island of Oahu is served by The Bus. The bus is most convenient within the city and surrounding suburbs, but also serves rural areas throughout the island. Transport to the North shore takes a little over an hour from the airport by the eastern route and about two hours along the western ("windward") coast. A light rail system is currently under development, which will be integrated with the bus system and will serve the greater Honolulu area.

By Foot

There are many pleasant walks in Honolulu. The infrastructure is generally pedestrian friendly. When leaving the city however, most use motorized transportation.

By Bike

Though experience riding in traffic is recommended, the city is very bikable. There are many shops for renting or servicing bicycles in Honolulu. There are also several biking trails near Honolulu and around the island. For more information on biking in Hawaii, see the web site for the Hawaii Bicycling League.

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Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Hokondo Waikiki Beachside Hostel2556 Lemon Rd OahuHostel76
Hostelling International WaikikiHostelling International Waikiki 2417 Prince Edward Street, Honolulu, OahuHostel77
Polynesian Hostel Beach Club Waikiki2584 Lemon Rd. Waikiki Beach, OahuHostel74
Seaside Hawaiian Hostel Waikiki419 Seaside Avenue, Waikiki, Honolulu, OahuHostel80
Waikiki Backpackers Hostel2569 Cartwright Rd.HOSTEL76
Hawaiian Monarch Hotel444 Niu StreetHotel83
Stay Waikiki2424 Koa AvenueHostel72
Waikiki Backpackers Hostel2569 Cartwright RdHostel-
Kahumana Community Center - Waianae86-660 Lualualei Homestead Road WaianaeGUESTHOUSE-
Makiki Heights Drive2179 Makiki Heights DriveHonolulu, HI 96822GUESTHOUSE-

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Quick Facts

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Population
905,034
Coordinates
  • Latitude: 21.291982
  • Longitude: -157.821856

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This is version 26. Last edited at 7:48 on Jul 11, 13 by Utrecht. 32 articles link to this page.

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