Skyscrapers, Honolulu
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Skyscrapers, Honolulu

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Honolulu travel guide

Surrounded by a sumptuous array of tropical beaches strewn with soft silky sands, the sophisticated, cosmopolitan city of Honolulu is the buzzing heart of Hawaii.

The rolling honkers (large waves) rushing into the world renowned Waikiki Beach still attract surfers from around the globe, but as Hawaii’s centre for business and politics, as well as art and entertainment, this laid back city on the island of Oahu has more to offer than sun, sea, and spectacular aloha shirts.

Head downtown for the best architecture, taking in the glorious Iolani Palace, the former residence of the Hawaiian monarchy. Poke around the fascinating Bishop Museum, a space dedicated to Hawaii’s rich natural and cultural history, or discover the oeuvres of Picasso, Monet, and Modigliani in the Honolulu Museum of Art.

You won’t be able to miss Diamond Head, the magnificent volcanic cone that frames the city, or want to overlook Honolulu’s beautiful harbour, a port which once welcomed the merchant ships that sailed between Asia and North America.

Those links helped this sprawling city meld into a cultural melting pot, something reflected in the diversity of Honolulu’s cuisine. Visit its farmers’ market to sample specialities like macadamia pesto pizza and barbecued abalone (sea snails), or dine in a Hawaiian Regional Cuisine movement restaurant, which trumpets Hawaii’s best food.

For shoppers, it’s not all hula skirts and Hawaii Five-O aloha shirts. Try on heritage jewellery, take home designer quilts or rustle for souvenirs, art, and oddities at Honolulu’s hip night market, the eclectic Aloha Stadium Swap Meet.

There are few cities in the world that mix an enchanting urban setting with the paradise of pristine waters, endless sunshine, and stunning coves as easily and elegantly as Honolulu. So whether you’re here for the surf, diverse museums, or superb cuisine, your Instagram posts are sure to make everyone jealous.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.