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Exploring: Island Tours > Oahu > Honolulu
Honolulu - it's a city like no other in the world. A big city which is attractive, clean and safe, it's also the commercial & government center for Hawaii. When you're not busy, it's time to head to the beach, and Honolulu does have one of the world's best beaches. Overall, it is a cosmopolitan locale, blended superbly with tropical ambience. There is a special lilt to the urban buzz of Honolulu.
Yes, there are skyscrapers and five-star restaurants, but the city is also studded with parks, flowering trees, and neighborhood cafes where you can sample local Hawaiian dishes -- or just about any type of food from anywhere else in the world. You can shop till you drop at the finest boutiques, malls, flea markets, international bazaars, or sidewalk tee-shirt stands. And while the city looks to the future, it celebrates Hawaii's past, providing cultural, historical, and educational attractions where you can get to know the authentic Hawaiian culture.
Getting around in Honolulu is easier than most big cities, and on TheBus it can be a lot cheaper -- only $1 per ride with transfers if you head in the same general direction. City buses operate from 6:30 a.m. to midnight, and bus schedules are available. If you rent a car, you might want to get a detailed road map.
The beauty of Honolulu lies in its variety of activities. Taking a packaged tour can help you out. But if you want to craft your own itinerary, here are some of the attractions you won't want to miss:
Historical sites and museums:
Bishop Museum and Planetarium: the ultimate repository of Hawaiian and Polynesian culture. The planetarium features a show on tropical skies.
Hawaii Maritime Center: features a number of interactive exhibits of Hawaii's seafaring history including a Polynesian double-hulled canoe, and a four-masted square rigger on display.
Iolani Palace: An elegant 4-story Victorian palace built in 1882, and home of the monarchy. This is where Queen Liliu'okalani made her stand as Hawaii's last Queen.
Mission Houses Museum: a look a the New England influence transported to Hawaii by the missionaries of early 1800's.
Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial: a monument to the men who lost their lives during the historic events of December 7, 1941.
Queen Emma Summer Palace: a Victorian palace that was the country estate of King Kamehameha IV and his wife Queen Emma.
Natural and Cultural Landmarks:
Waikiki Beach: It's actually a string of beautiful beaches with calm waters for swimming, waves for beginning surfers, and lots of people to watch.
Diamond Head Crater: this extinct volcano is a sight to behold. More intrepid explorers might try a hike. The trail is a relatively easy 45 minute walk uphill, and the views are well worth the effort.
Chinatown: a fascinating stir-fry of exotic shops, Oriental restaurants, acupuncturists, herbalists, noodle factories, art galleries, tattoo parlors, and elegant temples. Walking tours are available.
Foster Botanical Gardens: 1200 plant varieties on 15 acres with rare trees, a bounty of orchids, and a granite monument to the Japanese immigrants who worked Hawaii's sugar plantations.
Lyon Arboretum: a 194-acre rain forest harboring the flora of Hawaii. A must for nature-lovers and those interested in exotic and tropical plants.
Honolulu Academy of Arts: A lovely building housing galleries and courtyards presenting some of the world's best Western and Eastern art and sculpture.
Fun for the family:
Waikiki Aquarium: a recently renovated attraction featuring exhibits on reef life, Hawaiian monk seals, sharks, and a Mahimahi hatchery.
Hawaii IMAX Theater: a state-of-the-art theater with a 70 ft. wide screen five stories high for viewing the a variety of exciting films.
Honolulu Zoo: a charming environment in which to view Indian elephant shows, an African Savannah habitat, and animals from around the world. Includes a petting zoo for kids.
Bowfin Submarine Museum Park: A World War II submarine for touring and a museum of submarine artifacts.
Dole Cannery Square: a complex offering restaurants, shopping, and a historical multimedia presentation of The Pineapple Story.
Pacific Aerospace Museum: a fascinating exhibit for viewing during that long wait at the airport featuring a 3-D multimedia theater and a full-scale space shuttle flight deck.
These are just a few of the attractions awaiting you in Honolulu. For information about water activities, golf, dining, shopping, night life, weddings, flying, and more, see the links below.
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