Honolulu is the capital and principal port of Hawaii. A very modern city, Honolulu extends ten miles along the southeastern shore of Oahu Island.  Honolulu is the crossroads of trans-Pacific shipping and air routes, and the commercial and industrial center of the state. It is a busy place to say the least! 


Settled in about 1100, Honolulu (meaning “sheltered bay”), flourished as a base for sandalwood traders and whalers. King Kamehameha III officially declared Honolulu a city in 1850. War was brought to Hawaii’s shores with the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. 


Before becoming a U.S. state, Hawaii was the “Kingdom of Hawaii'' and had a royal family. Lolani Palace in Honolulu is the only royal palace in the United States. 


Today, Honolulu is the hub of a cosmopolitan and vibrant population of almost one million people. 


Every day at Honolulu Harbor is a busy one. There are fishing boats, tugboats, container ships, cruise ships and barges that use its piers. The port serves numerous manufacturing plants that include pineapple canneries, sugar refineries, steel, aluminum, oil, cement and dairying enterprises. Cruises to and around Hawaii can take place all year round because of the constant pleasant temperatures.


Good To Know

Know that a visit here is going to cost you more. Honolulu ranks as the third most expensive city to live in the United States. 


If offered a lei, please accept it. Declining a lei is considered an insult. When done with the lei, remove the string and scatter the flower on the earth or water.


If you visit Hawaii, do NOT pick up any rocks or sand to take home. Hawaiian’s feel very strongly that everything has a life force and that rocks and sand are sacred. It is hugely disrespectful to move, disturb or take the sand and rocks that have such a deep meaning to the Hawaiian people. 


Keep your eyes on where you are going as you walk the streets in Honolulu. If you are looking at a phone, tablet or video game while walking in a crosswalk, you are likely to get a fine of at least $15. Further infractions can push that amount up to $99 per citation. 


Check out these Honolulu and Oahu excursions!





Summer in Honolulu is hot and can be oppressive. Winters are more comfortable and it is windy and mostly clear year round. The temperature typically varies from 68°F to 87°F and is rarely below 63°F or above 89°F. July to the middle of October are the hottest months.


The official currency is the U.S. dollar. There are ATMs everywhere on the island. Major credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard are accepted everywhere.

Wireless Internet:

Neither of Honolulu cruise ports has Wi-Fi, but you can find connectivity at the Aloha Marketplace, which is close to Pier 11.


English is the standard for everyday use, but Hawaiian is the official language of Hawaii.

Where You Dock in Honolulu – Hawaii

Honolulu Harbor has two cruise ship terminals. The primary ship terminal is at Pier 2, 521 Ala Mona Boulevard and is at the west end of Channel Street. It is a 20 minute ride to Honolulu International Airport. . The alternate cruise ship terminal is at Pier 11, which is the Aloha Tower Cruise Terminal with its entrance on the North extension of Aloha Tower Drive. There is no parking at the cruise terminal.


Getting Around Honolulu – Hawaii


TheBus is Honolulu’s public transit option. While taking this form of transportation will be less expensive,  TheBus, and its routes, it is also going to take you a lot longer to get where you want to go. If your time in port is limited, this will not be the best option. 



Biki (, is Honolulu’s bikeshare program, and offers more than 130 self-service stops; you can pick up a bike at one location and return it at another. 



It is a bit of a walk from Pier 2 to the shops and restaurants in downtown Honolulu. Pier 11 is next to the Aloha Marketplace. Main attractions are too far from one another to walk to them. 



Taxis will be available curbside adjacent to Piers 8 and 9 where they line up. As with everything else in Hawaii, cabs can be expensive but it is the most efficient way to get around. If your time is short, this will be the best way to get where you are going. 


If you want to call in advance, the operators below are some of the most popular.


Rental Cars

If you want to rent a car while in Honolulu, you will need to be at least 21. If you are in the 21 to 24 year old age range, a surcharge is tacked on and the type of car that you can rent will be restricted. Renters will need a valid driver’s license with a photo I.D. You will also need a credit or debit card. Gas is also higher in Hawaii than anywhere else in the U.S. 


Driving is on the right hand side of the road, and it is considered rude in Hawaii to use the horn on your car. 


The car rental companies listed below run shuttles between the cruise ship pier and their lot. 



The Waikiki Trolley is a fun way to get around Honolulu, but not an efficient one. The trolley is a hop-on, hop-off trolley and double decker bus system that has five lines. The lines stop by the Ala Moana Center, Diamond Head State Monument and other attractions. Trolley routes can take anywhere from one hour to 2.5 hours to complete, with drivers pointing out landmarks along the way. 


Shopping In Honolulu – Hawaii

As was mentioned before, Hawaii is expensive, and not just for visitors. Honolulu residents pay more for everything. Groceries are 70% higher and utilities cost 102% more than the national average. So keep that in mind when shopping or dining out. 


Aloha Tower Marketplace

Also an historic landmark, Aloha Tower Marketplace is both a shopping and entertainment complex that is built around Aloha Tower, one of Hawaii’s most well-known buildings. Formerly a lighthouse, the tower served as a navigation landmark for arriving ships. There are more than a dozen shops and restaurants and it is also popular for its 10th floor observation deck. 


Ala Moana Center

This is the largest mall in Hawaii and is thought to be the world’s largest outdoor shopping mall. It is spread over 4 levels with koi ponds and tropical gardens. There are more than 300 stores, dozens of restaurants and two food courts. Some familiar stores are Macy’s, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. 


Aloha Stadium Swap Meet

Held on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, this swap meet has hundreds of vendors. Here you will find vintage Hawaiian shirts, surfboards, sports equipment, jewelry and local arts and crafts. Locally grown fruit and nuts are also for sale. This venue is just one mile from Pearl Harbor. 


SALT at Our Kaka‘ako

About a mile south of downtown Honolulu, this venue has 40 shops, cafes and restaurants over two floors. The focus here is on local entrepreneurs and artists. 


Ward Village Shops

This large shopping complex is across from Ala Moana Park and between Honolulu and Waikiki. Shops are spread across four venues. While there are some known brands like Nordstrom and Pier 1, you will also find local retailers like Island Olive Oil company, Mahina Boutique Dress Shop, Flotsma & Co Jewelers and the Na Mea Hawaii bookstore. 


Waikele Premium Outlets

About a thirty minute drive from Honolulu, the outlet is a collection of stores that sell brand-name goods at a discount. The 50 retailers include Polo Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Kate Spade and more. There are open air food options and restaurants also. 


Dining In Honolulu – Hawaii

There are many familiar American chains in Hawaii. If this is what you are looking for, you won’t have trouble finding them. If you want to try a fare that is less typical, you will find those restaurants, too. 


Local dishes, such as kalua pork, is a traditional dish that is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked underground. Poke is a Hawaiian favorite that is marinated raw seafood. Loco moco is white rice topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg and brown gravy. 


Plate lunches are those that come with one or two proteins, rice and macaroni salad and can be found in multiple locations in Honolulu. Shaved Ice is a cold treat that is flavored with tropical ingredients, such as coconut or passion fruit. 


Merriman’s – 1108 Auahi St. 

An award-winning gastropub, this restaurant has seafood, smoked oysters and various cocktails. 



Senia 75 N. King St.

Offering both a la carte and family-style dishes, Senia’s offers up Kusshi Oysters and Maui Venison Tartare. 


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Rainbow Drive-in – 3308 Kanaina Avenue,

If you are looking for an affordable and filling meal, this restaurant specializes in lunch plates and offers shoyu chicken, barbecue beef or pork cutlets and much more.



L&L Hawaiian Barbecue 

Another popular place for plate lunches, you will find multiple locations near the city center. 


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Uncle Bo’s Pupu Bar & Grill – 559 Kapahulu Ave

Featuring craft beers and signature handcrafted drinks, you can pair your drink with crab cakes, calamari, shrimp, clams or wings. 



La Mer – Halekulani Hotel – 2199 Kālia Rd

This is Hawaii’s longest consecutively ranked AAA’s five-diamond restaurant. This fine dining restaurant has views of Diamond Head and Waikiki. 



Things To Do in Honolulu – Hawaii

Pearl Harbor National Memorial

Pearl Harbor with boat and museum


The Pearl Harbor National Memorial is home to the USS Arizona Memorial. It is the final resting place of 1,177 sailors killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. You will be able to see the sunken battleship, which is visible from the memorial floating above it. There are usually long wait times for this memorial. There are only 1,300 walk-up tickets issued on a first-come, first-served basis each day at 7am. If you don’t want to miss this significant memorial, you can receive a ticket up to 60 days in advance here.


Diamond Head State Monument

Diamond Head volcanic mountain in sunset light with the ocean in the background and town in the foreground


This unique crater, called Le’ahi by Hawaiians, was created during a single volcanic eruption. Diamond Head State Monument’s ridgeline is one of the most recognizable features of Oahu’s skyline. There is an incredibly scenic hiking trail, although it is a challenging 760 foot hike up the crater. Even so, the hike is one of Honolulu-s most popular attractions. It is imperative to bring plenty of water with you as there are no facilities on the crater.  As of May 12, 2022, reservations for out of state visitors are required. You can book those here.


Kailua Beach and Lanikai Beach

Lanikai Beach - white sand and turquoise water with trees in the background


This three mile stretch of white, shaded sand is a favorite for kite and windsurfing. The warm, turquoise waters of Kailua beach are a big draw because of the gentle waves. There are also picnic tables and restrooms. Lanikai beach has calm waters and a mile of white sands that has a view of the Mokula Islands. This beach tends to be less crowded and is a favorite with kayakers. 


Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail

This two mile long trail is an easy trek and overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Between November and May, you will have a good chance of seeing whales. This trail is good for all ages as it is paved and there are benches along the way. It takes about two hours to complete this trail, but it is a trail exposed to the sun and wind so bring water and wear sunscreen. 


Honolulu Museum of Art

Pieces by Europe’s great painters like Picasso, Gauguin and van Gogh, are on display at the Honolulu Museum. It also houses one of America’s best Asian art collections. The Arts of Hawaii collection features Georgia O’Keeffe’s Maui landscapes. 


Oahu Surfing

Oahu is the location of some of the world’s best surfing spots. During the winter, the surfing conditions are at their best and professional surfers from around the world come to participate in Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. The Triple Crown takes place in November and December. If you intend to surf while in Hawaii, Waikiki has calmer waves, and Waimea Bay has larger swells that more experienced surfers prefer. If you are interested in learning to surf, there are surfing schools that will be able to give you lessons, even if you have never surfed before. If you plan on taking surfing lessons, consider traveler-approved surf schools like Ohana Surf Project, Polu Lani Surf Lessons & Adventures and Hans Hedemann Surf School. Surf schools usually offer two-hour group sessions. 


Top Tours & Excursions In Honolulu – Hawaii

Honolulu Hotel Day Pass

Spend the day at a luxury resort with ResortPass. Enjoy amenities such as pools, spas, fitness centers, beach access and more, with upgrades for private cabanas or day rooms. Click below to see all the options!...

Photo credit: Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach
  • Duration: Day Pass
Bike, Hike, Sail, Snorkel Adventure - Honolulu

This excursion is definitely a full day of sights and wonders! You’ll begin the day experiencing the majestic beauty of a 35ft double-tiered waterfall, crossing through tranquil streams and viewing the lush tropical vegetation of Hawaii's paradise. This mild to moderate 2-mile round-trip hike lasts roughly 1.5 hours with a 100-foot elevation gain. Then you will  drive up to Puu Ohia near 2,000 feet in the Koolau Mountains. Once at the top, you...

  • Duration: 8.5 Hours
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Note: Pick-up point is a 10 minute walk from port
  • Wheelchair Accessibility: No
Island Safari Jeep Tour - Honolulu

This high value outing while riding in an open-air Jeep offers a wide spectrum of fun Oahu experiences. New Safari Jeeps will escort you to coastal sights like Chinaman's Hat and Diamond head, plus 20 other points of interest before pausing for lunch in the North Shore. A learned guide will collect you in a new Safari Jeep, prepped to entertain and safely navigate the prime island sights. You'll encounter Pali Lookout, Laie Point, and visit the f...

  • Duration: 7 Hours
  • Activity Level: Easy
  • Note: Max. weight pp is 225 lbs; Ages between 2-70 only.
  • Wheelchair Accessibility: No