Synonymous with white sands, lei garlands and brilliant sunshine, Honolulu is a bucket-list holiday destination and here are some useful travel tips
Sitting in the south of the tropical island of Oahu, Honolulu is the hub of business, politics, entertainment and the arts in Hawaii. You can expect excellent restaurants, museums, theatres and cultural events, and of course, you can also do nothing but spend many days lounging on the beautiful Waikiki beach. Whatever you choose, your Instagram posts are bound to make everyone jealous.
Best time to go
Honolulu has a tropical semi-arid climate so there are no four seasons. Average temperatures range from 23C to 28C throughout the year, making it a year-round holiday destination. August is the hottest month while rain is frequent between October and March.
The best time to go depends on your activities. Surfers throng the Waikiki beach from June to September for the biggest waves, while December to March is best for whale watching.
Taxis are readily available at major attractions and hotels. TheBus, Oahu’s excellent mass transit system, has around 100 routes serving the entire island. For information on Waikiki Trolley, driving and bicycle hire, see the Getting around Honolulu guide.
With exhibits spanning everything from Queen Lili’uokalani’s personal papers to stories of Pacific traditions, this amazing museum is home to the world’s largest collection of Polynesian cultural artefacts and natural history specimens.
The second oldest public aquarium in the USA, this popular attraction is next to a living coral reef on the Waikiki shoreline, showcasing the colourful marine life.
Honolulu Museum of Art
Works of art by local artists appearing alongside heavyweights such as Van Gogh and Picasso, this museum also has a large collection of Asian art, especially Japanese and Chinese works.
For more recommendations, check out the Things to see in Honolulu guide.
Quirky & offbeat
Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve is a remote spot that offers uncrowded white sandy beach and excellent snorkelling opportunities. There is a trail along a former Waianae railroad to take you there. For other offbeat ideas, see the Things to do in Honolulu guide.
Honolulu tours and excursions
Many tourists take a short excursion from Honolulu to Pearl harbor. On December 7, 1942, battleships moored in the harbor was bombed by Japanese warplanes, catapulting the United States into WWII. Today, a visit to this site and stand above the wreckage of the battleship USS Arizona is a sobering experience. For more ideas, see the Honolulu tours and excursions guide.
- Poke – raw fish salad seasoned with onions, Inamona (a condiment made of roasted candlenut), Limu (algae), soy sauce, and sesame oil, this is a popular dish in Hawaiian cuisine.
- Kalua pig – otherwise known as luau pork, meat is cooked in an imu, a type of underground oven for an extended period – often over 12 hours – to get tender juicy meat that you can shred easily.
- Lomi salmon – or lomi-lomi salmon, is a salmon salad made with chopped tomato and raw salmon.
- Haupia – a traditional Hawaiian dessert made with coconut-milk and sugar.
- Shave ice – above a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a generous pile of powdery ice is topped with tropical flavours from guava to passion fruit.
Tipping: a 20% tip is expected at restaurants. Most tourists also tip housekeeping staff at the hotel.
This article “Honolulu food & drink guide: 10 things to try in Honolulu, Hawaii” lists the top taste and where to get them while in Honolulu.
Hotels in Honolulu
Honolulu is a resort destination and the best hotels congregate around Waikiki, including The Royal Hawaiian, which is often called “The Pink Palace of the Pacific”, thanks to its bright pink hue and 5-star luxury. Aqua Palms Waikiki, which has easy access to Kahanamoku Beach, is a good budget option. To see other recommendations, check out the Hotels in Honolulu guide.
Pro tips: The Royal Hawaiian is also the original home of Mai Tai – so even if you aren’t staying there, drop by the Mai Tai Bar for a sip of this classic tropical beverage.
Nightlife in Honolulu
Honolulu knows how to party. From rooftop bars to a proper Hawaiian rump-shake, you will find plenty of things to do when the sun goes down. For the best bars, clubs and live music venues, see the Honolulu Nightlife guide.
Visa requirements to Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Citizens from the UK, Australia and Canada do not need a visit to the USA but must apply for an ESTA before travelling. For more information on ESTA and USA entry visas, including where to apply for them, please see the United States of America Passport and Visa guide, or see this Do you need a visa to the United States page.
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