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Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii and the main point of entry for most visitors to the state. The city includes three areas Waikiki, Downtown, and Pearl Harbor. Waikiki, the main attraction with it's beautiful stretch of soft sand beaches, is a peninsula covering nearly half a square mile. In this small area, one of the most densely-populated of the United States, there are more hotels, restaurants and shops than in all the rest of Hawai island. Pearl Harbor, first developed in 1911, occupies a large part of the city, stretching for many miles to the west. Naval bases, military bases and the Honolulu Airport are located here as well.
Here in Honolulu, away from the crowded haunts of Waikiki, you get to shake hands with the real Hawaii. A boisterous Polynesian capital, Honolulu delivers an island-style mixed plate of experiences. Eat your way through the pan-Asian alleys of Chinatown, where 19th-century whalers once brawled and immigrant traders thrived.
Gaze out to sea atop the landmark Aloha Tower, then walk past Victorian-era brick buildings, including the USA’s only royal palace. Browse at the world's largest open-air shopping center at Ala Moana, then poke your nose into the city's impressive art museums.
Ocean breezes rustle palm trees along the harborfront, while in the cool, mist-shrouded Koʻolau Range, forested hiking trails offer postcard city views. At sunset, cool off with an amble around Magic Island or splash in the ocean at Ala Moana Beach. After dark, migrate to Chinatown’s edgy art and nightlife scene.
Must-See Site: Officers’ Quarters: The expensive but highly recommended 90-minute Captain’s Tour of the Missouri takes you into areas for officers. The quarters may be small by civilian standards but are plush compared to the sailor’s “racks”
Must-See Site: Waikiki Beach: It’s all happening here just as it has for more than a century – beachboys giving surf lessons; old-timers playing checkers in the pavilions; canoe teams practicing; locals mingling with tourists in the gentle waves. The whole beach is open, including the areas in-front of the Royal and Moana hotels.
Must-See Site: Chinatown: This 15-block historic district should more properly be called Southeast Asia town. Cohabiting amicably are food purveyors, farmer’s markets, gift shops, lei stands, and an area of art galleries and eateries.
Must-See Site: Throne Room: The king and queen would sit in state and receive their visitors. In 1895, however, in less happy times for the monarchy, Queen Lili’uokalani was put on trial in these august surroundings.
Honolulu International Airport (HNL) on Oahu is Hawaii’s major airport, serving as the entry point for most of Hawaii’s visitors. All major domestic carriers and many international carriers serve Oahu, so you can get here from just about anywhere.
You can get around by car rental, shuttle, taxi or Oahu’s public transportation system (TheBus). Many visitors also enjoy taking bus tours to conveniently explore the Island. Others rent mopeds and motorcycles. But to really experience all that Oahu offers, you should consider reserving a rental car in advance from the Honolulu International Airport.
Oahu’s city transportation system is aptly named “TheBus.” Fares are reasonable, routes are extensive and there are special visitor passes for multiple day uses.
Visitors should not expect to rely on the bus sytem for the neighbor islands, though there are plenty of shuttles and trolleys to most tourist attractions. Oahu is the most developed, and the easiest to travel using public transportation. Adult fare is $2.50 which includes one transfer, Seniors (65yrs.) 1.00 per ride or $5 a month , (requires a $10 senior bus pass card available from the bus office), and a 4 day pass for visitors is $35.00.
If you’re looking for Waikiki transportation and an easy way to visit nearby attractions, the trolley is an affordable option. The routes and destinations are not as extensive as TheBus but the trolley goes to most major visitor attractions and offer tickets for unlimited rides over a certain number of days.
Taxis are a great way to travel when in a group and the cost can be shared. You can find taxi stands at most major shopping centers, in the business district and at the airport. Note that rather than hailing a cab, finding taxi stands at major shopping centers and businesses as well as calling for pick-ups via hotel concierge or phone is the norm in Hawaii.