Hit the sun kissed shores of Hawaii and you will be rewarded with much more than a perfect beach. Time in the sun goes without question, but this hot holiday destination is also filled to the brim with exciting attractions. When it comes to shopping, eating or sightseeing, Honolulu has it all. From luxury shopping malls to cavernous volcanoes and live dance performances, here are 10 unmissable things to do and see in Honolulu.
Situated on the island of Oahu, the Diamond Head Crater is a masterpiece of nature. A giant volcanic tuff cone, the landmark is an iconic fixture of the Honolulu skyline and is a popular attraction for tourists. Just a short drive from Waikiki, guests can hike the trail including two sets of stairs and wiggle through underground tunnels before finally emerging at the edge of the crater. The views from the top are utterly mesmerising as you look out over the city and the turquoise ocean.
If shopping for a bargain is your favourite pastime, than you will be right at home at the Waikele Premium Outlets mall in Waipahu. Honolulu’s only discount outlet, this is the place for brand name merchandise at surprisingly affordable prices. Big names include Tommy Hilfiger, Converse, Adidas, Sketchers, Juicy and many more. There are over 50 stores to peruse, from luxury items to surf shops and shoe stores.
A national historic landmark, the Iolani Palace is the only official state residence of royalty in the United States. Tour this magnificent building and be guided through the carefully restored first and second floor. You will visit the elegant Grand Hall, State Dining Room and the Blue Room. It is worth taking a walk around the area as the State Capitol Building, Washington Palace and the Hawaii State Art Museum are also nearby.
Highly rated for their authentic Hawaiian fare, Ono Hawaiian Foods is a humble eatery in Honolulu. Open six days a week, you can line up to sample tasty eats like lomilomi salmon, served with minced onions and tomatoes or laulau, tender steamed pork wrapped in taro leaves. A popular local dish is poi, a thick paste made from pounded taro root. Reservations are not necessary, just rock up from 11am and join the queue.
Set on 42 acres of Oahu’s North Shore, the Polynesian Cultural Center is the island’s top tourist attraction. Step inside and enter the wonderful world of island life with villages and exhibits to wander. Participate in games with the locals and watch unique shows and presentations of Polynesian culture. Enjoy a sumptuous luau feast and don’t leave without attending the incredible live evening show which features captivating story-telling through song and dance.
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Hawaii has grown to be more than just a destination for sun seekers, but also as a shopper’s paradise. While many choose to sunbake on the shores of Waikiki Beach, an increasing number of travellers are hitting the shops for their retail fix. Hawaii’s largest shopping mall, Ala Moana Centre is a large playground for fashionistas. Here you will find more than 290 stores including department store giants like Macys, Sears, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.
Arrive at Pearl Harbour and you will be granted a ticket to the USS Arizona Memorial. You will first watch an informative documentary of historic events before you board a ferry for a quick trip over to the memorial itself, which floats above the sunken ship. It may appear to be a rather sober activity but it is an incredibly moving tribute and well worth doing. There are also other historic sites to visit in the area including the USS Bowfin Museum and Park.
Another of Hawaii’s edible gems is Champion Malasadas, a popular bakery in Honolulu. The store produces all kinds of freshly baked pastries from chiffon cakes to hot cross buns but it is most famous for its delicious Portuguese Malasadas. What is a Malasada? A hole-less donut that is rolled in sugar and served piping hot. They also serve filled Malasadas with are stuffed with custard or chocolate pudding.
It is more than likely you have heard about the famous shores of Waikiki Beach. Whether you choose to swim, sunbake or learn to surf on this gorgeous stretch of sand, you are sure to be entranced by the region’s natural beauty. Along the strip of Kalakaua Avenue, you will find world class shopping, dining and entertainment, especially after sunset. If the kids or grandkids are in tow, there’s also the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium close by.
Once the sun sets, the excitement is only just beginning with the opening of the renowned Honolulu Night Market. There’s entertainment galore, with markets, shopping, fashion and food stalls all at your finger tips. Popular food trucks gather to feed the masses. Enjoy tasty eats while watching live performances be it a fashion show, a musical act or even belly dancing.
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