Honolulu – Things to do & the most beautiful photo spots (USA)

Categories: Travel reports, North America, USA, Hawaii

We have already reported about the main sights of Waikiki in the previous post. But Waikiki is just one of five districts of the city, along with Manoa Makiki, Eastern Honolulu, Western Honolulu and Downtown Honolulu. Honolulu has other interesting and beautiful sights to offer, which we would like to introduce here.


Things to know about Honolulu

Honolulu is the only “real” city in Hawaii, with a population of just under 350,000. After all, a quarter of all Hawaiians live here in the “protected bay” (Hawaiian). Traditional stories suggest that Honolulu was first settled by Polynesians in the 12th century. The first European to reach Honolulu did not arrive here until 1794. At the time, the port of Honolulu was very important for trade (especially with sandwood) and quickly became the largest port in Hawaii. In 1845, King Kamehameha III made Honolulu the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Honolulu is still the capital of the U.S. state of Hawaiiafter Hawaii became the 50th state of the United States in 1959. Thanks to tourism, tourism is the most important economic sector in the city (15.7), followed by retail trade (12.8 ) and the health and social service (10.9 ).

Honolulu, Neighborhoods, USA, Hawaii

The 5 districts of Honolulu

The Iolani Palace

The Hawaii Capital Historic District was the center of government of the then Hawaiian Kingdom. But even today there are still many important buildings of the city. The Iolani Palace is the former royal residence of Hawaii, making it the only official royal residence in the United States. From 1882 to 1893, the last two monarchs of the Hawaiian kingdom lived here. The palace is a historic national landmark and has been open to the public since 1978. As part of guided tours or by audio guide, you can take a closer look at the interiors of the palace. On the grounds around the palace there are still the Iolani barracks and the octagonal coronation pavilion.

The Aliiolani Hale with the King Kamehameha I. Statue

Directly opposite the Iolani Palace is the Aliiolani Hale, which is now home to the Supreme Court of Hawaii. There is also a small free museum on the ground floor, which focuses on Hawaii’s legal history and important court cases. Many know the building from the American TV series Hawaii Five-0 as the headquarters of the task force unit – of course, this is only so 🙂 in the film But a look into the interior of the building is always worthwhile, because some things are already known here from the series, such as the entrance hall with the large staircase. We also asked the security guard when the last shooting took place here. He said that a month earlier, the Hawaii Five-0 crew had been there all day to shoot in and around the building.

But the most photographed landmark of Honolulu is the statue that stands in front of the Aliiolani Hale: the 5.4 meter high King Kamehameha I statue,which was erected in honor of the first king of Hawaii. It was he who united the Hawaiian islands into a kingdom after years of conflict in 1810.

Die Kawaiahao Church

A few meters walk from Aliiolani Hale you will find the Kawaiahao Church, the first Christian church on O’ahu. It was inaugurated in 1842 and is considered the Westminster Abbey of the Pacific. It is hard to believe that the church consists of 14,000 coral plates that workers have taken from the coral reefs of the ocean. A little in front of the entrance of the church stands in a separate mausoleum the tomb of King Lunalilo, who was in power for just over a year.

The Aloha Tower in the port of Honolulu

A quarter of an hour’s walk from the Hawaii Capital Histroric District is the port of Honolulu, where many cruise ships still dock today. The most striking landmark here is the Aloha Tower, which stands prominently right on the pier. The tower, built in 1926, was intended to be a welcome sign for visitors, because at that time O’ahu was only accessible by sea. It is possible to drive free of charge to the viewing platform of Aloha Tower. You only have to undergo a small bag check with the security guards and you can go upstairs. From the 10th floor you have a fantastic view of the port, the landing and runway of the airport as well as Honolulu. And it’s hard to believe: we were the only visitors upstairs – along with two other Germans. We have already mentioned this here in our blog very often: You are at the other end of the world and you only see and hear Germans. Crazy! In Hawaii, however, it was particularly stark. At every sightseeing point we were, we saw Germans. Hawaii seems to be one of the top destinations of the Germans at the moment 😉

Around the Aloha Tower is the so-called Aloha Tower Marketplace, which houses some restaurants and shops but also part of the university. Here you can also find a hula dancer in the form of an iron figure.

The Desege of Pearl Harbor

Already during our world tour we visited the rooms of Pearl Harbour. Pearl Harbor is a military port and headquarters of the United States Navy’s Pacific Fleet in Oahu, Japan, best known for its attack by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941, during World War II. Today’s memorial includes the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Bowfin Submarine, the USS Missouri Battleship and the Pacific Aviation Museum. More information can be found on the official website.

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

On our first visit to O’ahu two years ago, we unfortunately did not manage to visit the most famous cemetery of Honolulu. So this time we just made up for it. The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is located north of Downtown in an extinct volcanic crater– Punchbowl Crater. The 45-acre memorial honors the men and women who served in the U.S. Armed Forces and those who gave their lives for it.

Since the cemetery was inaugurated in 1949, some 53,000 veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, as well as their families, have been buried. All graves are marked on the meadows with flat granite tombstones. In 1964, the Honolulu Memorial was erected in the cemetery. On both sides of the grand staircase leading to the memorial are 10 “Courts of the Missing,” engraved with the names of the 29,000 or so soldiers deemed missing, missing or buried at sea.

All travelogues from Hawaii

We had already visited the islands of Hawaii during our trip around the world on the way from North America to Australia. Here we were on O'ahu, Kaua'i, Maui and Big Island. Because we were so enthusiastic about the different islands and the diversified nature, we were able to make up for all the things we had not been able to do last time or which were partly not even possible. In 2015, for example, you couldn't see flowing lava on Big Island, because it didn't flow towards the sea as usual, but towards an inhabited village. And this was closed for access for the safety of all. But since 2016 the lava of Kilauea is flowing towards the ocean again and so we could finally realize one of our biggest wishes: To stand very close to flowing lava. We also wanted to snorkel on O'ahu in Hanauma Bay, climb Koko Head Crater, see a hula show, marvel at the fireworks of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, enjoy the sunrise on the 3,055 meter high Haleakala and watch the turtles on the beach along the Road to Hana. So many things we didn't know about last time or didn't manage to do last time.

Travel Reports Hawaii » Hawaii: Things to know, Photo spots & Travel Guide for a holiday
» O‘ahu: Waikiki – The neighborhood of Honolulu with Waikiki Beach
» O‘ahu: Honolulu – Things to do & the most beautiful photo spots
» O‘ahu: Honolulu – Hike to Manoa Falls & Tantalus Lookout
» O‘ahu: An Island Tour & & the most beautiful photo spots
» O‘ahu: Koko Crater – A hike on the old railway tracks in Oahu
» O‘ahu: Hanauma Bay – One of the most beautiful snorkelspots on Oahu
» O‘ahu: Diamond Head Crater – Stunning view over Honolulu
» Big Island: Arrival in Hilo & Akaka Falls State Park
» Big Island: Lava Hike on Big Island – Get close to flowing lava & feel the heat
» Big Island: Hawaii Volcanoes NP – The Lava Viewing Area at Ocean Entry
» Big Island: Lava Boat Tour – A boat trip to Ocean Entry on Big Island
» Big Island: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – Things to do & Photo spots
» Big Island: Hike to Papakolea Green Sand Beach
» Maui: Lahaina, Nakalele Blowhole & the west coast of the island
» Maui: Sunrise from the top of Haleakala Volcano
» Maui: The panoramic Road to Hana & the Piilani Highway