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Honolulu, HI

Honolulu, HI

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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.




  • Downtown Honolulu - The historic heart of the city, home to the state capitol, several museums, the harborfront, and the commercial center of the Hawaiian Islands.
  • Waikiki - The tourist center of Hawaii: white sand beaches, crowds of surfers and sunbathers, and block after block of highrise hotels
  • Manoa-Makiki - A quieter area in the foothills north of Downtown, home to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in the Punchbowl crater, and the tropical scenery of the Koolau Mountains behind the city.
  • Eastern Honolulu - A mostly residential area which extends from Diamond Head to Makapu'u Point, the very southeastern corner of the island and home to rocky shorelines, scenic beaches, and the popular snorkeling spot Hanauma Bay.
  • Western Honolulu - Another major residential area, home to the airport, the Bishop Museum, and the military memorials of Pearl Harbor.



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).



Events and Festivals

  • Chinese New Year is also cause for great celebration in late January/early February.
  • The Japanese community celebrates the Cherry Blossom Festival in February.
  • 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.


  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.


  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.




Honolulu enjoys a tropical climate, moderated by the California Current. Average daily highs are 27 °C in January and 31 °C in July. Temperatures rarely exceed 32 °C. 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.

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.



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.



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.




Honolulu and Waikiki in particular offer a vast array of dining options for tourists. The local farmers markets are a great place for fresh and local food. Scattered around Oahu are various locations of the local Zippy's chain. It's the island equivalent of Denny's; but much more popular with the locals. 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. Another popular chain is Genki Sushi, a Japanese-style eatery with employees shouting "irrashaimase!" when you enter, which is the Japanese word for "welcome." Very popular with the younger crowd; the eatery offers many types of sushi, often served on a sushi conveyor belt.




There are several places open till 2:00am. Some are open until 4:00am. Most of Honolulu's bars and night clubs can be found along Kuhio Avenue




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.


View our map of accommodation in Honolulu or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)




Keep Connected


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.


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.


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.


Quick Facts


  • Latitude: 21.291982
  • Longitude: -157.821856

Accommodation in Honolulu

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Honolulu searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Honolulu and areas nearby.


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