The capital and with some 390,000 inhabitants largest city of the state of Hawaii is located in the southeastern corner of Oahu island. It was presumably founded in the 12th century. Since 1804, the city whose name in the native language means “protected bay”, has been the seat of the Hawaiian government, when the King moved his throne here. Following that, the monarchy continued to build and extend Honolulu, which had already been the islands’ most important commercial port city before. Honolulu today is still the archipelago’s most important city and its center for commerce and tourism. The major economic position of the city for Hawaii is reflected in the rather impressive skyline, consisting of some 470 high-rise buildings, among them hotels, residential and office structures.
The major attractions for tourists in Honolulu are Waikiki Beach and Pearl Harbor. The crescent-shaped, white sand beach of Waikiki, which is 2 kilometers long and had already been a favorite day trip destination for the royal family in the 19th century. It is lined with hotels in tall, often rather unattractive concrete towers. This is the center of Hawaii tourism, although it leaves precious little space for island romanticism. The beach often is rather crowded and populated by surfers, swimmers and sunbathers. If so desired, surf boards can be rented at a number of places. Apart from beach life, Waikiki also is home to the municipal zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium. A good overview can be had by taking the 90-minute hike up to Diamond Head Crater. There is an observation platform at the end of the trail.
The USS Arizona National Memorial in Pearl Harbor consists of a museum exhibition reminiscing about the Japanese attacks on the air base and of a platform directly above the sunk vessel, which constantly leaks small droplets of oil that drift to the water surface. This is known as the Tears of the Arizona.
Among further sights of Honolulu is the Aloha Tower, once constructed as a watch tower over the port area. There are viewing platforms on the tower that are free of charge to visit, allowing for a great view of the city. The Hawaii Maritime Center at Pier 7 has an extensive exhibition on the islands’ maritime history as well as a reconstruction of e traditional Polynesian. Also popular among visitors is Iolani Palace, the seat of the last tow monarchs of Hawaii, built in 1882, the only royal palace that can be found on US soil. Further worth noting is the Bishop Museum at Bernice Street. This is a scientific museum on Hawaiian and general Pacific history with a focus on anthropology, culture and geology. The adjoining Science Adventure Center features the reconstruction of a volcano with eruptions in regular intervals.
Honolulu is home to a symphonic orchestra and an opera. Once a year, it hosts the American Football All-Star Game, called Pro Bowl. This game is being played annually one week after the Super Bowl, the final of the National Football League.