Honolulu Travel Guide

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Honolulu Travel Guide

Honolulu Local History

The Hawaiin islands were formed by huge bursts of volcanic lava from under the sea and were completely uninhabited until 2000 years ago. The first inhabitants of the islands were the Polynesians who arrived from Marquesas in the 8th century and 400 years later from Tahiti.

The first westerners to the island arrived in January 1778 with Captain Cook and brought to Hawaii a mixture of increased trade and development as well as disease and oppression of the Polynesian people. In 1898 on August 12, Hawaii was formerly annexed as territory of the USA.

Honolulu Attractions

Top Attractions

Chinatown - traditionaly the city's red light district, Chinatown has now been largely cleaned up but the narrow streets, faded green clapboard store fronts and few remaining peep shows and bars still have a character of their own. In this area you will also find some great Chinese markets, such as Oahu Market, where traders sell traditional herbal medicine, food specialities and Chinese artefacts.

Iolani Palace - completed in 1882, it is the only royal palace on American soil. The palace contains many origional furnishings, lovely Koa hardwood floors, splendid Corinthian columns, chandeliers and the gilded throne room. The palace grounds include the copper domed corination stand, the royal burial ground and tomb and stone Iolani barracks. Open Tuesday to Saturday 8:30am to 2pm, entrance is free.

Mission House Museum Complex - these are the oldest western style structures in Hawaii. The main house is Frame House that was erected in 1821 and built from New England timber. For many years it was the home of prominent missionaries. The other two houses are the coral House built in 1823 and the Chamberlain House used for storage. Open Tuesday to Saturday 9am to 4pm, located on 553 S King Street and entrance is free.

Aloha Tower - built along the harbour, the tower has become a vibrant entertainment complex with restaurants and open air shopping. On the top floor of the tower is an observation deck open Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm, Saturday 9am to 10pm and Sunday 9am to 6pm. On Saturdays visitors can watch a fabled Hawaiian sunset over the Pacific waters from the deck. Entrance is free.

Hawaii Maritime Centre - the museum was completed in 1988 and modelled after the boat house of King Kalakua. The museum showcases 2000 years of Hawaii's seafaring heritage. Docked near the museum is the worlds only surviving full rigged four masted sailing ship, The Falls of Clyde. Open daily 8:30am to 5pm, entrance is free.

Spices Southeast Asian dishes covering Laotian, Vietnamese, Thai, Burmese in smoldering spices. Inventive, truly a challenge to the ordinary. Smooth and rich Laos curry, with fiery meat and vegetable salads and their own inventive dishes. End the meal with homemade premium ice cream with flavors found nowhere else, like chili pepper, tomato with galangal. Spices truly sizzle.
submitted by Tiffany Phan, 21/09/05

Honolulu Shopping

Top of the shopping list for anyone visiting Hawaii is Aloha wear. The mu umu u and Aloha shirt are created in large loud Hawaiian prints and are a real symbol of the islands. Other souvenirs to take home include Chinese preserves such as plums, mangos and cherries, coral jewellery, feather leis made from pheasant and peacock feathers, macadamian nuts, custom made surf boards and stunning sea shells.

Honolulu Activities

Honolulu Zoo - a great place to take the kids with an assortment of animals including primates, lions and giraffes on a mock African savannnah, live snakes and the Manyara Bird Sanctuary featuring a tropical forest section. There is also a childrens zoo where kids can pet a llama or touch a monitor lizard. Open daily 9am to 4:30pm, entrance free.

Waikiki Aquarium - the 3rd oldest aquarium in the USA has many interesting exhibits and a wide variety of species including the rare Monk seal and Hoary, the only two mammals known to have been endemic to Hawaii. Open daily 9am to 5pm, entrance free.

Honolulu Parks & Gardens

Ainomoana State Recreation Area - this park is very popular with locals and visitors and is great for skaters, cyclists, walkers and joggers.

Foster Botanical Gardens - a wonderful peacful garden featuring the ever blossoming and sweetly fragrant Cannonball Tree which is the only speciman of its kind in Hawaii.

Honolulu Beaches

Waikiki Beach - Hawaiis most famous beach is a narrow sandy strip of sand that can become very crowded. The beach is lined with several lively gardens and a pedestrian walkway.

Ala Moana Beach Park - a stunning stretch of 100 acres of open space and beach that is perfect for swimming and offers good surfing beyond the reef.

Honolulu Restaurants and Bars

Honolulu has a huge variety of cuisine on offer. You will fnd anything from pasta to sushi to tortillas to tadoori chicken to spring rolls to burgers, the list is endless and caters to every taste. Traditional Hawaiian food is a diverse mix of flavours heavily influenced by Asia. From the Chinese comes a love of rice and many frangrant herbs and spices such as coriander, ginger and lemon grass.

From the Japanese came soy sauce, tempura and sashimi and on almost every street corner you will find a sushi bar. From Thailand comes coconut milk, hot chilies and Thai ice tea. All these influences mixed with the islands abundance and love of tropical fruit and seafood make an unforgetable eating experiance.

Honolulu Restaurants

Chef Mavro - located at 1969 S King Street. Chef George Mavrothalassitis cooks up a sophisticated blend of French Hawaiian cuisine. The delicious food mixed with the contemporary elegance of the restaurants interior make this one of the best places to eat in Hawaii.

Ono Hawaiian Food - located at 726 Kapahulu Ave. This is an extremly popular place because of the reasonable prices and tasty Hawaiian cuisine. The restaurant can get very busy but the wait is worth it.

Keos Thai Cuisine - located at 2028 Kuhio Ave. A popular place for locals as well as celebrities serving good Thai food in a lively vibrant setting.

Andy's - located at 290 E Manoa Road. Also known as Manoa Health Market, this family run establishment serves a diverse selection of great vegetarian food in a neat simple setting. There is also a bakery.

Chais - located at Aloha Tower market place. Enjoy mouth watering fusion foods with a fantastic Thai twist in a beautiful flowery setting.

Honolulu Bars & Clubs

Dukes Canoe Club - Outrigger Waikiki on the beach, 2335 Kalakua Ave. A lovely ocean front cocktail bar where they play smooth Hawaiian sounds including big name concerts on the beach on Friday to Sunday 4pm to 6pm. Bar open nightly 4pm to 6pm and 10pm to midnight. No cover charge.

La Mariana Sailing Club - 50 Sand Island Access Road. This wonderful 1950's style waterfront restaurant and bar features live Hawaiian music on weekends. Open daily 11am to 11pm.

Hulas Bar and Lei Stand - Waikiki Grand Hotel, 134 Kapahulu Ave. This is Waikiki's most popular gay venue with a state of the artt dance bar. The bar features giant video screens and a casual lounge area. Open 11am to 2am.

Wave Waikiki - located at 1877 Kalakua Ave. This is the islands alternative rock scene witha dance floor downstrairs with D J's on most nights and a bar upstairs. Open daily 9pm to 4am.

World Cafe - located at Nimitz Business Centre, 1130 N Nimitz Highway. Boasting Hawaiis largest dance floor, this 3 level club near Chinatown plays Hip Hop, House and Trance music. Open daily 9pm till late.

Honolulu children's activities

Honolulu Zoo - a great place to take the kids with an assortment of animals including primates, lions and giraffes on a mock African savannnah, live snakes and the Manyara Bird Sanctuary featuring a tropical forest section. There is also a childrens zoo where kids can pet a llama or touch a monitor lizard. Open daily 9am to 4:30pm, entrance free.

Waikiki Aquarium - the 3rd oldest aquarium in the USA has many interesting exhibits and a wide variety of species including the rare Monk seal and Hoary, the only two mammals known to have been endemic to Hawaii. Open daily 9am to 5pm, entrance free.

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