Beach Vacations to Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu beach vacation photo
The oceanfront of Honolulu, Hawaii (Corbis)

Honolulu Travel Tips

  • Visit the only royal palace in America. The 'Iolani Palace, in the heart of downtown Honolulu, is where Queen Lili'uokalani was deposed at the end of the 19th century, leading to the annexation of Hawaii by the United States. It's open Monday through Saturday, and guided tours through the palace cost $20 per person. Self-guided tours of the galleries and the gardens are free.
  • America's oldest Chinatown sits on the western edge of downtown Honolulu. Far from just Chinese these days, this lively neighborhood boasts an eclectic mix of Asian cultures with open-air markets, streets filled with exotic smells, and loads of haggler-friendly shopping.
  • Waikiki's Kalakaua Avenue holds an endless array of shops selling everything from high-end designer wear to the kitschiest souvenir trinkets, but for hardcore shopping, check out the open-air Aloha Stadium Swap Meet, which has more than 700 vendors selling everything from souvenirs to exotic foods to jewelry.

As the state's capital and the only large urban center in all of Hawaii, Honolulu is the heart of the Hawaiian universe. The majority of visitors to Hawaii come to Honolulu, and most of those stay in the bustling tourist district of Waikiki.

While Honolulu's many beach parks and charter boats make it entirely possible to come here and spend every waking moment surfing, snorkeling, outrigger canoe paddling, sailing, or just lounging on the snow-white sands, the city itself is arguably one of the most picturesque and culturally diverse in America, with an eclectic mix of Polynesian, Asian, and American cultural influences all set against a tropical island backdrop.

Visitors interested in Hawaiian history can tour the 'Iolani Palace to see what remains of Hawaii's royal dynasty. Pearl Harbor, to the west of the city proper, still holds the remains of the USS Arizona—a historic casualty of the Japanese attack here in 1941— and Honolulu's Chinatown, the oldest in America, is a must-see glimpse into Hawaii's diverse history.

And despite the concrete, steel, and glass of the urban center, Honolulu encompasses beautiful natural escapes like the hiking trails to Manoa Falls or the rim of Diamond Head State Monument, the latter offering spectacular views of the city.

Published: 27 Dec 2010 | Last Updated: 28 Dec 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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