Everybody wants to visit Hawaii at some point, right? It's a tropical island hundreds of miles from the United States coastline. What better way to truly feel like you're getting away from it all?
If the cost of a trip to our country's destination state worries you, here are reasons to visit the capital of Hawaii.
What is the Capital of Hawaii?
The state of Hawaii's capital city is Honolulu, on the island of O'ahu. The other main islands are Ni'ihau, Maui, Kaua'i, the "Big Island" of Hawai'i, Moloka'i, Kaho'olawe, and L?na'i. Popular cities to visit on these islands include Kona and Lahaina. While you cannot quite road trip to these Pacific islands, you can fly direct from most cities on the west coast.
The Hawaiian island of O'ahu is home to the capital city of Hawaii, which is the beautiful mecca of Honolulu. Spanning 597-square miles, Oahu is the third-largest of the Hawaiian Islands. It features a beautiful fusion of Native Hawaiian traditions and values and cultures from around the world.
A Brief History of Hawaii and Honolulu
1,5000 years ago, using only the stars to navigate their way, the Polynesians arrived in Hawaii. Captain James Cook becomes the first European to reach the Hawaiian Islands in 1778 and names them the "Sandwich Islands" in honor of the Earl of Sandwich. Cook is killed a year later on Kealakekua Bay. As far as Oahu is concerned, Captain William Brown from England is the first European to step foot on this specific island in the early 1970s.
After Kamehameha I wins in the Battle of Kepaniwai, his dynasty reigns over Hawaii from 1795 to 1874. During his reign, the first missionaries arrive. Lahaina was the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom (1820-1845). The first sugar plantation opens on Kauai, gaining the area's notoriety for its rich agricultural land.
King Kamehameha III created the king's "Royal Hawaiian Band" in 1836. In 1845, Honolulu became the new capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii. To meet the demand for labor, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, and Phillippinean people come to the islands. In 1874, the Kamehameha came to an end, and David Kalakaua is elected.
Kapi'olani was the queen of Kalakaua, and she fought for the health and welfare of Native Hawaiians. In 1887, Kalakaua was stripped of his power in the Bayonet Constitution, and eventually, Queen Liliuokalani takes the throne of Hawai?i. 10 years later, Hawaii is annexed by the USA, and in 1900, the Organic Act establishes the Territory of Hawaii.
About the State Capital of Honolulu
There are many reasons to visit the Aloha state and the breathtakingly beautiful Pacific Islands. Urban Honolulu is the largest city in the Hawaiian Islands. According to the 2019 census, almost 1 million people reside in the City and County of Honolulu.
This fantastic modern city is filled with vibrant ethnicities, from Native Hawaiians to Samoans to Pacific Islanders to Asian immigrants to Polynesians to Kanaka Maoli. Not to mention the descendants of the original Polynesians who first came to the islands. To arrive in Honolulu, HI, you fly into the Honolulu International Airport (HNL), located just 10 minutes from downtown.
9 Reasons to Visit Honolulu, Hawaii
1. Koko Head
One of the most popular things to do on the island, the "Koko Head Stairs," or Koko Crater Trail, is a challenging hike with one of the best panoramic views in Oahu. It takes over 1,000 stair-steps to reach the top, but it sure is worth it.
King Kalakaua built Iolani Palace in 1882. It served as the home of the Hawaiian Island's last reigning monarchs until the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893. In 1962, it was registered as a National Historic Landmark. It was the only official royal residence in the United States in North America. Visit the palace and take a guided tour of this incredible monument to Hawaiian history.
2. Diamond Head
One of Hawaii's most recognizable landmarks, Diamond Head State Monument, is a breathtaking sight witnessed from land, sea, or air. Founded on 475 acres across a 300,000-year-old volcanic crater, the summit at Diamond Head crater is a short, steep hike out of Honolulu and into the clouds. Diamond Head is the perfect destination for anyone looking for adventure with unparalleled views of Oahu's shoreline. For an added luxury after your hike, stay a night at the Kahala Resort on Diamond Head.
3. Downtown Honolulu
Downtown Honolulu offers so much to do and see, from ice cream to historic landmarks to the Hawaiian Art Museum. There is sure to be something that hits the mark on what you are looking for. Stroll through the beautiful Foster Botanical Gardens or stop for a treat at Wing Shave Ice and Ice Cream. Take a picture in front of Aloha Tower, and buy from local vendors at the Chinatown market.
4. State Capitol
History and culture buffs will appreciate taking a tour of the Hawai'i State Capitol building in Honolulu. Constructed under the management of Governor John A. Burns and designed by architectural firms, this structure was first built in November of 1965 and completed in March of 1969.
5. Day Trip to Kailua
Although it is technically in Honolulu, we had to add Kailua to our list of reasons to come to this island. For a nice break from crowds and city sounds, drive just thirty minutes to the beautiful beach community of Kailua. These world-renowned beaches are edged by the Koolau Mountain cliffs and the crescent-shaped bay. Surf, shop at a farmer's market, and lookout for a famous celebrity (they are known to vacation here).
6. Pearl Harbor National Monument
On the sad day of December 7, 1941, the Japanese launch a surprise attack in Oahu on Pearl Harbor during World War II. After a popular vote in 1959, Hawaii becomes the 50th U.S. State. You can now visit the Pearl Harbor National Memorial on the Pacific Ocean and learn about the attack and how it caused the USA to join World War II.
This free destination pays homage and honors the lives lost in the tragic bombing of Pearl Harbor. The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is part of the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. It serves as an educational resource for all ages.
7. Waikiki Beach
No trip to Honolulu is complete without lying in the pristine sands of Waikiki Beach. This famous beach was once the playground for the Hawaiian royals. Today, it stands at the central hotel and resort area for visitors on the island.
8. Tantalus Lookout Puu Ualakaa State Park
If you look for more views, take the Ualaka'a one-mile Loop Trail to catch an incredible view of southern Oahu from Diamond Head to Pearl Harbor.
9. Lyon Arboretum
Situated on the backside of M?noa Valley, Lyon Arboretum is part of the University of Hawaii that features over seven miles of hiking trails. Discover more than six thousand types of tropical and sub-tropical plants over the park's 200 acres.
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