Eco-friendly travel guide to Honolulu advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to explore the attractions in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America.
- Air quality: 5 / 5
- Exploring by foot: 3.6 / 5
- Exploring by bicycle: 3.8 / 5
- Public transportation: 3.75 / 5
- Parks: 5 / 5
- Outdoor activities: 5 / 5
- Locals' English level: 4 / 5
- Safety: 4 / 5
- Accommodation: US$60 - $1,800
- Budget per day: US$120 - $1,500
- 1 Responsible Travel
- 2 Air Quality and Pollution
- 3 Respect the Culture
- 4 Top 10 Places to Visit
- 5 Explore
- 6 Eat
- 7 Drink
- 8 Activities
- 9 Accommodation
- 10 How to Get There
- 11 Moving Around
- 12 Sustainable Shopping
- 13 Recycling
- 14 Work and Study Abroad
- 15 See Also
Serving as a state capital and a gateway to the Hawaiian Islands, Honolulu is a modern city with a unique blend of cultures, it is home to a melting pot of ethnicities, and it's rooted in authentic Hawaiian tradition. People who visit this city never get tired of things to do as they can choose to indulge in dining at five-star restaurants, hike breathtaking coastal cliffs, shop in world-class stores, surf world-famous Waikiki Beach, and tour the famous historic downtown area. There's no denial to the fact that the state of Hawaii has always been a center of attraction with Honolulu being its prime spot which makes people from far and near troop in massively to the city.
When you're in this city, you'll never stop being in awe of the city's beauty as you'll find everything from the rich history and hiking trails to the beautiful beaches to be quite fascinating and appealing. However, while it's quite interesting to know that Honolulu is a great place to be, make sure you keep an open mind and be ready to embrace Hawaii for the beautiful place that it is and eat food that you're not used to, visit some museums, and learn about the culture. It is a popular tourist destination which means that it is at a higher risk of pollution among other environmental issues so it is important for you to take extra steps to preserve the environment. There are some tips you can make use of to travel responsibly in Honolulu as an eco-friendly tourist:
- Take public transport. Public transport is a good option to consider if you want to get around in the city, especially if you want to save yourself from the stress and headaches of hectic morning and evening rush hours. Getting stuck in congested roadways persistently is likely to be the case if you choose to get a rental car because even though the thought of driving a car at one's comfort can be quite appealing and relaxing, the traffic woes in the city are massively complemented by the plenty of tourists in cars. Without spending too much, the local buses will take you around conveniently and you can enjoy a day pass for as low as $5.50 and a ride costs only $2.75.
- Aside from taking the public transportation, you should also be ready to walk in this city because Honolulu is walkable, compact, and the neighborhoods are more walk-friendly.
- You can also limit your transport expenses. Instead of using taxis to get to and from the airport, you can make use of ride-hailing or airport shuttle services for added savings and for a more eco friendly option of transport.
- As you're traveling around, prepare yourself for traffic in paradise. Why? Good. A hint about this has already been given in the first point. Now, think about this. Imagine a city where about 70,000 tourists or more are joined by 350,000 locals who are eager to go out always and this, however, does not include those who will be out with a rental car to explore different places in the city. How do you think the traffic would be? Honolulu is a paradise and no-one wants to waste away sitting indoors all day doing nothing and the high cost of living is another factor that "encourages" people to go out to make more money to sustain themselves in the city. Nevertheless, since traffic is almost inevitable, do not honk if you get stuck in traffic as this will piss a lot of people and cause unnecessary noise pollution. Between 6:30 to 8:30 in the morning and 4 to 6 in the evening which is the morning and evening rush hours, take note that the traffic is often intense during this period and if you don't have to be on transit during this time, you can wait till later.
- If it still interests you to go around in your rented car, know that parking isn’t cheap. Finding an available public parking spot can be so tough and this is more reason why you should be encouraged to take the public bus'"" but if you won't, get ready to drop a lot of cash on parking garages and valets if you'll be zipping around town. As a matter of fact, most of the hotels in the city do not even seem to offer free parking for their guests". Even with your rented car, going to short distances should not necessitate you driving because there are hop-on buses and several well-maintained municipal buses that are operating in the city. Besides, don't forget that the famous neighborhoods in this city are walkable and fairly small. What's the need for a car when you can enjoy taking a walk?
- Not everyone in this city is a Hawaiian. While you'll be going around and meeting new people, especially the residents of this city, it's important for you to know that in Hawaii, not everyone is a Hawaiian. Describing the "natives" you meet here as “Hawaiians” is less accurate compared to you referring to them as “locals.” Thus, rather than call the residents you meet here Hawaiians, call them locals instead. In accordance with the 2010 census in Hawaii, Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian are just about ten percent while 25% are Caucasians and 38% are Asians. People who sailed to the island in the fifth century A.D and descended from Polynesians are those referred to as Native Hawaiians. Take note that the locals in this city also take pride in their American heritage even though they cherish their indigenous ancestry and referring to them as “American citizens” is not a bad idea at all.
- Put down the phone. Honolulu is not a place that's tolerant of people who are so addicted to phones and gadgets even while on the crosswalk. You can get fined a minimum of $15 if you're caught looking at a video game, a tablet, or a phone as you take a walk on the crosswalk. In fact, you can owe as much as $99 per citation if you become a regular offender.
Air Quality and Pollution
Reports have revealed that the air in Honolulu is among the least polluted in the United States of America. A ranking conducted by the American Lung Association ranked the city's metropolitan region high in terms of clean air. Although the increasing climate change is threatening the air quality in the city, the residents of Hawaii, in general, are regarded to be breathing some of the cleanest air in the nation, and Honolulu has a low record for particle pollution, and it's considered to be one of the cleanest areas in the United States of America. The AQI ranges between 10-20 which is great by WHO standards as well.
Respect the Culture
Honolulu is a beautiful place to be and when you speak of culture, it's one of the places in the United States of America where culture is truly valued, held in high esteem, and expected to be appreciated. One of the things you'll love about this city is the warm reception from the locals. These locals are always eager to share what they know about the city with visitors and they also take pleasure in sharing the beauty of the Hawaiian islands with visitors. If you'll be visiting Honolulu, it would be very nice if you can muster the courage to learn a few words in Hawaiian. English and Hawaiian are the two official languages in the city and you being able to say a thing or two in the city's indigenous language shows the value you have for the city. But not to worry, English remains to be the main language spoken here, and you'll still do fine without being versed with the Hawaiian language but when you spend more time in the city, you'll begin to pick up a few Hawaiian words like “mauka” (towards the mountain), “makai“ (towards the sea), and “E komo mai,” which means welcome.
While you're speaking with the locals here, make sure you don't try to speak Pidgin because if you do, it will appear to be insulting. Another culture of this city is the relaxed vibe, slow approach to life, and down-to-earth atmosphere. In this city, people learn to relax and take things easy. They live in the “aloha'” way, especially when they're driving; they reckon with the highway speed limits which are usually 55 miles per hour, they don't blast their horn anyhow, they don’t cut people off, and they let people turn left in front of them. Patience is a virtue you'll have to emulate because that's what the culture of this city is based on. Unlike New York City where everything is fast-paced, things are taken easy on a slow and steady approach here that you might even get delayed at restaurants and bars, and you'll have no choice but to embrace the city's uniqueness.
Another way to respect the culture in Honolulu is to be respectful of sacred sites. The state of Hawaii is known for its deep respect for cultural history and royalty and you have to be mindful of its plenty of sacred sites; kapu. Thus, do not leave trash neither should you walk on sacred lands but rather show respect by keeping your voice down whenever you see kapu (sacred sites) or heiau (Hawaiian temples). Hawaiians do not have tolerance for people who disrespect their culture and you have to be conscious of this because these sights that may look like piles of rocks to you are considered to be sacred.
You should also respect the ‘aina (land). Caring for the Hawaiian islands and its resources is largely upheld by the traditions of this city and Environmentalism is very important in Hawaii. Don't be involved in harming the land that is so sacred and precious lest you risk “mana” or bad luck if you harass endangered species like monk seals and green sea turtles, take what's not yours, or litter. Recycling and cleaning up your trash must be your core value and you're to eat locally sourced foods so as to repeat the ‘aina. In addition, if you'll be going to the beaches or parks, do not take anything from there. Leave the beach exactly as you met it and don't take sand, shells, or rocks from the islands. In addition, there are some places you'll visit in the city that you'll be asked to remove your shoes. Kindly do that without hesitation as this is considered as a sign of respect and as well hygienic to prevent germs.
Rounding off, do well to show respect to the city's culture and the people around you. Learn a few Hawaiian words and phrases, don’t honk your horn, don’t speak Pidgin, treat people with kindness and aloha, and you'll have a very nice time.
Top 10 Places to Visit
Honolulu is known all over the globe for its history of the Hawaiian royal family, historical monuments, and the tragic attack on Pearl Harbor. Honolulu is the beating heart of Hawaii and it's very much "alive", bustling, and well-defined by ancient, mysterious, and exotic features. From the famous Waikiki Beach to the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum and the Iolani Palace, there are some specific places in Honolulu one mustn't definitely miss checking out when in this "Town."
- Waikiki Beach: There are tons of shops, beach bars, restaurants, and luxury hotels you'll find across this beach. It's situated on the south shore of the island next to the iconic Diamond Head and this two-mile-long sandy beach on the island of Oahu is one of the most famous beaches in the world. This beach is often busy because it's a popular spot for swimming, snorkeling, and surfing. A secluded spot where kids can swim in safety on the west end of the beach is the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon. One can as well enjoy throwing a ball with friends, picnics, and jogging at the beautiful, spacious Kapiolani Park which is just before Diamond Head.
- Pearl Harbor: The indoor and outdoor exhibits help you get a glimpse of life on the Pacific Submarine Museum and on a WWII submarine as you'll be taken to important sites like the USS Bowfin, the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, the USS Arizona Memorial, the site where the Japanese surrendered, and the battleship the USS Missouri when you indulge in one of its organized tours. Doubling as an active military base and a National Historic Landmark, a visit to Pearl Harbor can evoke so much emotion as there are lots of things to see and there's as well a documentary on the history of Pearl Harbor. Your trip to Honolulu wouldn't be complete if you don't set out a day to check out this place.
- Iolani Palace: This place was wired for electricity even before the White House and it was completed in 1882. This opulent palace was the official residence of the last monarchs of Hawaii; the successor Queen Lili`uokalani and Hawaii’s King Kalakaua. It's the only royal palace in North America, it was built in Italian Renaissance style, and this four-story palace is a magnificent 10-room. It's just a quick drive from Waikiki Beach as it's situated in downtown Honolulu. It's registered as a National Historic Landmark and you'll find decorations, regalia, photos, and the Hawaiian crown jewels at the basement and there are living areas on the first two floors. Those who have been longing to immerse themselves in Hawaii’s history and royal heritage will find this palace to be awesome and it's open to visitors and carefully restored to its former glory.
- USS Missouri Memorial: There are lots of things visitors can do here; they can sit in the captain’s chair on the bridge, visit the crew's quarters, take a glance at the Missouri's enormous 16-inch 50-caliber guns, imagine General Douglas MacArthur commanding the Allied Powers as he paces back and forth as they climb aboard the Missouri. This place serves as a reminder for some of the wars fought in America. The Japanese surrendered on the deck of the Missouri. Battleship Missouri Memorial was the last battleship that was built by the United States of America.
- Manoa Falls: You wouldn't want to miss Manoa Falls if you're keen on seeing some of the gorgeous places in Honolulu. If you visit the close-by botanical garden; the Lyon Arboretum, it's possible that you'll stumble across the Manoa Falls Trail. Jurassic Park and The Hunger Games are some of the movies where it has been featured in and it's very possible that you'll recognize the Manoa Falls Trail from pictures alone. When you reach the waterfall, you’ll get to see why missing here is something you wouldn't have loved to happen. It's a 150-foot waterfall that empties into a shimmering rock pool and it's nestled in the heart of a tropical rainforest.
- Dolphin Quest Oahu: Put this place on the top of your list if you're creating a shortlist of what to do during your visit to the city. Have you ever had the experience of swimming with dolphins? This place offers an unforgettable experience for visitors of all types and it's a place to be for all animal lovers. It's one of the best attractions in the whole of Hawaii and with the dolphins swimming all around you, you can snorkel underwater when everyone is acquainted and you can as well socialize, pet, and feed them under the more advanced packages. Snapping some commemorative photos and wading in the dolphin pool are the most basic “encounters” here. Dolphin Quest Oahu is available in several different packages and it's offered by the Kahala Hotel and Resort.
- Diamond Head: It's one of the best attractions in the city and visiting Honolulu without checking out Diamond Head is missing out on an awesome experience. If you get famished, you can always drop by for snacks at the restaurants and there are as well souvenirs at the local shops. You’ll enjoy breathtaking aerial views of the land, water, and sky, and a hike will take you to the summit of the crater. Diamond Head is one of the top things to do in this city and because of its resemblance to a fin, the natives call it Le’ahi. It's referred to by several different names and it's one of the famous volcanoes in Hawaii.
- Ala Moana Center: You should consider a trip to the Ala Moana Center if your money is burning a hole in your pocket. Without having to leave this mall, you can enjoy grooving to good music, lounge, shop, drink, and eat. Bands even come to play at the public amphitheater here. This mall takes care of all your shopping cravings as it has it all from cheap kiosks to expensive boutiques. It's like stepping into an independent city when you step into this shopping complex which is renowned to be the largest open-air shopping center worldwide and, of course, the finest in Hawaii. This four-story shopping complex is one-of-a-kind.
- The Polynesian Cultural Center: This is a place where you can be equipped with awesome stories you can excitedly tell people once you leave this city and you'll get to learn more about Hawaii and its surrounding regions. Each region of the Polynesian islands are represented by the six villages it's divided into and there are lots of intriguing activities to be enjoyed at respective villages. At the Samoa village, you'll see bare feet natives climbing coconut trees, there are games and dances with poi balls at the Aotearoa village, and you can enjoy the performance of a lifetime from the painted drummers plus there's an opportunity to paddle a canoe down the water at the Tonga village. From spear throwing to hula dancing, you can find everything at this living theme park which is a very fun place to be.
- Downtown Honolulu: As you wander through the city, don't make the mistake of skipping the downtown for it's a must-see during your visit and it has a little something for everyone. In front of colorful, locally-painted murals; you can pose for Instagram pics, enjoy homemade ice cream, listen to street music, and even walk the plazas, if you’re on a budget. You can hit up the Children’s Discovery Center or the Wild Tiki Fun Zone if you have some kids with you; the experience in the downtown area is one-of-a-kind. It's a true melting pot in Oahu and on the sidewalk, you'll meet people of all social classes, nationalities, genders, and ages mingling and socializing. You can find cheap food trucks and luxury resorts here too and aside from being a thriving, bustling place, it's famous to be the beating heart of Hawaii.
From hiking around Manoa Falls to surfing and snorkeling, Honolulu has a lot to offer to its residents and visitors alike with its great mix of activities. History lovers who desire to broaden their knowledge horizon and soak up the city's history and culture will find the presences of places such as the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, Iolani Palace, and the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in the city to be quite handy. Getting a guided tour of the city's historical sites, mountains, and valleys as you hop on a helicopter for an overview of the entire island offers a beautiful feeling but take note that your visit to Honolulu would be incomplete if you don't visit the resort-strewn Waikiki Beach, the family-friendly Lanikai Beach, and the water sports-focused Kailua Beach Park amidst its several world-renowned beautiful attractions. However, Waikiki is the main attraction in Honolulu and other places in the city where you can enjoy a wide array of things to do and feed your eyes with famous statues, historic buildings, museums, and sightseeing opportunities are in Downtown Honolulu, which is the city's center and historical part.
The city parks in Honolulu offer a lot of fun and they're well-regulated by the City and County of Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation! At some of the parks in the city, you can ride the ramps at a skate park, swim laps in a pool, play with your pooch at a dog park, or enjoy a picnic with your friends and loved ones. From botanical gardens and beach parks to campgrounds and playgrounds, Honolulu has it all to satisfy both its visitors and locals;
- Ala Moana Beach Park: Paddle boating is available and there is free parking, diamond head side, swimming beaches, a music pavilion, picnic tables, and showers offered at this park. You can enjoy a picnic here and there are lots of nice spots to barbeque because of the plenty of large shady trees. It's a free public beach park in Honolulu.
- Kapiolani Regional Park: Ample of parking space is available here so, you can feel relaxed coming here with your rented car if you want to. Every Sunday afternoon in the Kapiolani Bandstand, the Park Royal Hawaiian Band offers free concerts, and these concerts are really fun that you won't want to miss the next one when you attend one. This park boasts a three-mile jogger's course with aerobic exercise stations, 100-year-old trees, soccer fields, open grassy fields that are perfect for tennis courts, and picnic sites. With more than 130 acres of parkland, it takes pride in being Honolulu's second-oldest public park and the most extensive.
- Makiki District Park: This park has ample parking and it's one of the best parks you'll find in Honolulu and it boasts community meetings which can help people to socialize and form new connections, an outdoor gym, water fountains, kids soccer field, and a library. There are four lighted public tennis courts at its tennis facility and feel free to use its community gardens, sports fields, outdoor pool, and open green space to your maximum satisfaction and pleasure.
There are eight national parks in Hawaii but Honolulu is home to none of these national parks.
There's no doubt that about the fact that Waikiki Beach is the most popular beach in Honolulu. This beach has a bit of everything and it's always busy. People are always at peace coming here because of its collection of lifeguard stations and it's a great place to learn how to surf for its waves are quite gentle. Its blend of big city convenience, fun water sports, and picture-postcard beauty do make it attract visitors consistently and this beach resort is one of the most recognizable beaches in the world for it has achieved legendary status.
However, it seems a lot of people seem to lose sight of other beautiful and pleasant beaches who are usually less-visited compared to Waikiki Beach that receives massive traffic almost every now and then. If you intend to explore somewhere new, dread the crowds, and you don't want to be among those who see Waikiki Beach as their only perfect beach to chill out, here are some other nice beaches in Honolulu where you can have a great time out;
- Magic Island: For some spectacular views, you can take a walk along the beach at sunset and you can enjoy swimming in the shallow waters sheltered from the open ocean or perhaps, oblige to stand up paddleboarding. This place is adjacent to Ala Moana Beach Park and you'll find its waters to be clearer compared to others; when you lay your eyes on the blue lagoon. This man-made beach does offer quality time.
- Kapiolani Park: There are no waves here which makes it apt and suitable for swimming. The Kapiolani beach is just across the road and it's a place where you can feel like you’re truly on vacation as you can enjoy having a peaceful picnic beneath the trees. Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium are housed at this park and this beach is a retreat from the masses, tree-covered, beautiful, and situated at the edge of Waikiki Beach.
- Kaimana Beach: You can enjoy walking through the park and swimming at the beach while you make an all-day outing here. Do well to bring a picnic lunch and unwind at the beach which is still within walking distance to Kapiolani Park. This is a family-friendly beach that boasts a lifeguard, showers, bathrooms, and a few other amenities. This sandy beach is not too far from the action of Waikiki, it's another quiet resort, and you'll discover it at the end of Kapiolani Park if you Keep walking away from Waikiki Beach.
- Diamond Head Beach Park: Known for its open ocean greeting the sand and volcanic remains hovering behind the beach, it's quite picturesque, and it's one of the less crowded beaches. After a long hike, you can enjoy wading in the water for its sand is quite perfect for that.
From monumental cliff formations such as the imposing Diamond Head crater and striking contemporary structures like the State Capitol Buildings to towers and memories, Honolulu is teeming with lots of monuments and historic buildings, and you'll be kept busy for days by its several exciting manmade and natural landmarks.
- Iolani Palace: It's almost impossible to talk about some of the iconic landmarks in Honolulu without mentioning Iolani Palace. Children who are below five years old can enjoy free admission here and visitors can enjoy checking the King's bedroom, the King's Library, the dining room, and learn about the history of the palace by indulging themselves in the exceptional tour of the Palace. There's a particular organization that's shouldered with the responsibility of celebrating, sharing, documenting, and preserving the palace as the steward and guardian. For personal use, you're free to take the palace's pictures of the interior, exterior, and grounds, and this palace was completed in 1882. With full Masonic rites, it was on 31 December 1879 that its foundation stone was laid. Just as it holds disturbing memories of the incarceration and overthrow of Liliuokalani, it as well holds pleasant memories of hula events and grand balls.
- Queen Emma Summer Palace: Here, you can get to see some of Honolulu's historic and most beautiful communities such as Kaimuki, Kapahulu, and Manoa when you take a self-guided tour. The house is used and preserved as a museum and during the Aloha Celebration, King Kamehameha Festival, there are colorful parades floating through the streets of downtown and Waikiki which are very enjoyable for travelers. The Daughters of Hawai'i purchased their home in 1915 and it was initially constructed in 1847. Regarded to be the Museum and the Tourist Destination of the Daughters of Hawaii, it was enlisted to the 1972 national register of historic places as a historic building.
- Aliiolani Hale: Since its original construction, its interior has been extensively updated – with a balcony around it on all sides, the interior includes a two-story open building. There are arched windows, arched entrances, and lanais with Ionic columns contained at the structure. With an asymmetrical configuration and a four-story central clocktower, the building is a two-story, and it's a remarkable place in the history of Hawaii.
- The Aloha Tower: There's a wide selection of shops and eateries offered at the Marketplace beneath the Aloha Tower and this tower is located in the center of the Aloha Tower Marketplace shopping center. It used to be the tallest building in Hawaii and this tower which measures 184-foot sports a couple of clock faces and a dome. It looks like something out of a spine-tingling monster novel when night falls and the interior lights come on, for it was built in a gothic architectural style. To catch breathtaking panoramic views of the Honolulu coast, you can climb to the top. Though its primary purpose has shifted to tourism, it still functions as a lighthouse today, and it's regarded to be the Hawaiian equivalent of the Statue of Liberty because of its importance to the island’s history. Since its original construction in the early 20th century, it has welcomed millions of sailors and explorers.
From history to art and entomology, the museums in Honolulu will tickle your fancy. Thus, you should consider going to a museum if you need to give your sunburns a chance to cool down or you've grown tired of the tropical beaches in the city;
- Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design: If you'll be coming here, make sure you reserve your ticket in advance so as not to miss out on checking out one of the most unique places to see in the whole of Hawaii. Those who are interested in Islamic art and culture will find this place to be a "mecca" and all thanks to the Doris Duke Foundation that has made this museum open to the public to access. It was initially a mansion that hosted a collection of Islamic artworks displayed by the famous heiress Doris Duke, Shangri La. She only craved a place to keep all her wood carvings, embroidery, jewelry, tiles, and portraits and now, this mansion is a museum.
- The Honolulu Museum of Art: If you want to visit tomorrow, call today, it works better this way because this place can get shut down for some reasons aside from the fact that it's closed every Monday. So, don't forget to call ahead. While you beat the heat in its air-conditioned halls, you'll always learn something here because it combines elements of entertainment and education. History buffs who are traveling to Hawaii would find this place to be a must-visit and this museum offers tons of social gatherings, exhibits, lectures, and courses. If you're lucky on your visitation day, you might find aspiring artists with whom you'll attend printmaking workshops with, take pottery classes, or watch films. There are several exhibitions and special events hosted here and it as well boasts over 50,000 pieces of artwork.
- The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum: You'll find scientists studying everything from volcanoes to oceans beds and you'll get to hear from researchers about their findings when you go to Family Sunday. This museum has made exploring the rich history of Hawaii and the Pacific easy with its 1.3 million cultural artifacts. More so, it has the third-largest insect collection in the United States of America, it holds the world's largest collection of natural history specimens and Polynesian cultural artifacts. The Bishop Museum is the largest in Hawaii.
Visiting Honolulu without trying some of its favorite local eats is an incomplete experience and it doesn't speak well of you as an eco-friendly traveler. One of the most popular Hawaiian desserts is the Malasadas. Although it's Portuguese, the donuts are very amazing, and well-loved by the locals here. The Kamehameha Bakery is a place where you can get this delectable treat and a very popular spot in the city that serves ample of this is the Leonard’s Bakery. Guava and mango are some of the tropical fillings the locals add to make it more unique. Deep-fried and coated with sugar, the Malasadas consist of a dough made from flour, butter, eggs, and yeast.
The Hawaiian plate lunch is another must-try if you want to have a taste of the city's cuisine. The local Hawaiian tastes and the island’s Asian immigrants are reflected by this dish and Spam musubi, salmon teriyaki, Portuguese sausage, and char siu-style pork are usually part of the inclusion. The need for an energy-packed meal for 19th-century plantation workers to perform better during the day stems the origination of this starch-and-meat-filled lunch which is loaded with carbs. Pongo’s Kitchen, Yama’s Fish Market, and Rainbow Drive-in are some of the best and popular places you can drop by for a Hawaiian plate lunch.
The city of Honolulu also has a few other must-try specialties such as Korean barbecue short ribs, kalbi, and beef teriyaki (Asian-inspired bites); white rice topped with brown gravy, a fried egg, and hamburger patty – "loco moco", and the cooked underground "kalua pork" (local dishes). There are as well "poke" and "shave ice" to try out.
Traditional Local Restaurants
Some of the best traditional local restaurants in Honolulu include:
- Helena's Hawaiian Food
- Da Ono Hawaiian Food
- Haili's Hawaiian Foods
- Highway Inn Kaka'ako
- Tommy Bahama Restaurant, Bar & Store
Vegetarian and Vegan
Check out any of these vegan-friendly eateries and restaurants during your visit if you seek plant-based dining options or you're a vegan or vegetarian;
- Salt & Pepper Cafe: It provides underground parking and it accepts reservations online. Some of its lunch selection includes tofu scramble topped with Maui onions served with rice, vegan moco plate of patty, grilled caesar salad, stuffed burger, risotto, and brat sausage, bbq jackfruit sandwich, beet poke nachos/bowl, and artichoke crab cakes amidst many others. Speaking of its breakfast selection, you can also enjoy fried chicken and biscuits, tofu scramble, eggless benefit, and soyrizo burrito as some of its hot mains and there are as well others like pancakes, waffles, French toast, coconut yogurt, and acai bowls, and vegan lox & bagel served here. It offers a separate vegan breakfast and lunch menu and it makes food fresh-to-order. There are vegan options available and it serves meat as well.
- Aina Kitchen: This is a place where you can enjoy island dishes such as vegan beef stew, Korean vegan chicken, loco moco, and lots more for this is its specialization as a local style vegan restaurant.
- Juicy Brew - Kaimuki: Its menu changes based on farm produce. It has brunch items on the weekends and it offers everything from cold-pressed juices and tea to coffee, baked goods, side salads, and Grab-n-go style sandwiches.
- Peace Cafe: it's one of the best and popular vegan-friendly eateries you'll find in Honolulu and it offers all from dessert and salads to entrees, sandwiches, and sweets. It has been operating since 2010 and it has never been known for low quality.
- Simple Joy: From rice dishes with mock meats and noodle soups to Vietnamese entrees, sandwiches, burgers, and pasta, it's renowned for serving a variety of dishes and it's a family-owned vegan restaurant.
- What It Dough: It's known for offering plant-based cheese and meat toppings and the vendor makes wood-fired vegan pizzas in a mobile oven.
- Blue Tree Cafe: Except for the acai bowls and drinks, all food is pre-made and ready-to-eat. It has a juice cleanse program and it offers good meals, baked goods, smoothies, and fresh juices. This holistic lifestyle cafe became all-veg in the fresh start of 2016.
Let your taste buds travel and feel experienced without having to leave Honolulu as there's a wide array of food from mainland’s Cajun infused delicacies originating from Louisiana to Japan’s rice-based dishes and many more. There's a plethora of culinary flavors from all over the world featured in this city and with Honolulu being a melting pot of cultures, these food trucks in and around the city help you have a taste of some nice street foods;
- Mike’s Huli Chicken
- KC Waffle Dogs
- Hawaii’s Fried Musubi Food Truck
One of the things you'll find interesting about Hawaii is that its culture doesn't prevent people from drinking responsibly as they urge to. Unlike other places where you can barely find where to drink once it's 1 am, in Honolulu, you'll get to find some places where drinks are served and they stay open till at least 4 am. Although, most places tend to close around 2 am. Take a walk along Kuhio Avenue and you'll find several clubs and bars where you can enjoy drinking your heart out as you mingle and socialize with some of the locals of the city. Lined with pubs and restaurants that you can't definitely keep count of, your drinking and food appetite can't withstand the pressure of the quality of the food and drinks served at the bars in Waikiki. This area is one of the places in Honolulu where you can get to sample some of the city's specialty drinks. Depending on what speaks of your pocket, you have the options of indulging in drinking at budget, mid-range, or splurge venues.
The tap water in Honolulu is safe to use and drink. The Honolulu Board of Water Supply affirms its confidence in the city's water, noting that treatment by home filtration units is totally unnecessary. Residents and visitors should stay relaxed and safe to drink the city's water for it exceeds all federal and state safe drinking water standards and it's processed through treatment plants.
Living, chilling, and cruising on the island comes with some pretty amazing perks and it's quite interesting to know that the healthy restaurant scene in Honolulu has been booming consistently. The state of Hawaii has so many unique tastes to offer. Residents and visitors alike can experience the best of dining and drinking even while maintaining a healthy diet as there are tons of places in the city that are committed to such. Finding something that suits your taste is not a problem whether you're a committed vegan or a card-carrying carnivore and this further gets better with the array of organic cafes and restaurants using awesome, fresh, simple ingredients in making decadent desserts, house-made cocktails, vegetarian food, meat-based, and gluten-free options.
Heavenly Island Lifestyle is one of the best organic cafes you'll find in Honolulu. In all of its dishes, it provides unbeatable fresh flavors by using locally-grown greens, local seafood, and organic vegetables and meats whenever possible. Ingredients emanating from the blessed weather and lands are what it makes use of and it does take pride in this. Try its scrumptious options and see that it's indeed one of the very best you'll find around. No matter what you're in the mood for, Heavenly Island Lifestyle says it has the answer to all your cravings. It's an all-day cafe and a natural health food destination.
Herringbone is another quality option. Just as it is delicious, it's as well instagrammable from its open-air environment and living walls to its locally-sourced menu. No doubt, it's the epitome of fresh, and it's situated at Waikiki’s International Market Place. This California-inspired restaurant offers no wrong choices for its customers for it makes use of produce straight from the farmers market and, Miso Mushroom “Carbonara” and Buffalo Octopus are some of the dinner favorites here.
Livestock Tavern is as well not left out from the list of healthy places to eat and drink in Honolulu. Coming here, you'll feel right at home because of its cozy vibes surfacing from the vintage wallpaper and red brick. Your taste buds can't escape getting tantalized by the delectable dishes offered here and you should give its rotating menu highlighting local fare a try. This rustic Chinatown spot is worth checking out.
Looking for the best breweries in Honolulu? Check out any of these;
- Waikiki Brewing Company: This brewery has free on-site validated parking and even though it's not as big as other breweries you might have been to, it has an open-air atmosphere which you'll love. It has two locations; one is around Kaka’ako which is less touristy and bigger while the other is pretty close to Waikiki, on Kalakaua Ave. Irrespective of the venue you visit, you'll find the beer to be so good and irresistible and there is something for every kind of beer drinker whether you're into IPAs, porters, ambers, pale ales, hefeweizens, or blondes. Aside from its brewed wide variety of beers, it does give a perfect pairing with the burgers, sandwiches, pizzas, and food it serves.
- Honolulu Beerworks: You can never be disappointed coming to this place. Coming here, you can take Uber, Lyft, or perhaps, a rental car. This brewery isn't in a touristy location; just like the Kaka’ako location of the Waikiki Brewing, and it's often patronized by locals which makes it a great place to mingle with locals. It has amazing craft beer, an open-air pub vibe, and it's in a large, warehouse-like building. Being the industrial-chic craft brewery it labels itself to be, it has seasonal beers and everything from stout and brown ale IPA, pale ale, cream ale, and honey citrus saison to affirm its variety of core beers.
- Aloha Beer Company: If you still have time, we'll recommend you check out this brewery. With Uber, Lyft, or a rental car, you can always get there. It's one of the favorite breweries in Honolulu, it offers an assortment of European-inspired beers, and it serves up sumptuous brats and pretzels. It has a permanent, on-site food truck, indoor seating, and a covered outdoor patio. The atmosphere here is good and you'll love it here.
Overseas and mainland visitors have a lot of outdoor activities to enjoy in Honolulu from picnicking and biking to fishing, sunbathing, running, and walking. While the city is known for its many botanical gardens, trails, parks, and beaches, there are as well helicopter tours, movie theaters, unique museums, and a host of other attractions that are capable of keeping one busy all through. There are really lots of cool things you can do outdoors in Honolulu and they include;
- Go fly a kite or surf at Sandy Beach
- Traverse the history of Hawaii’s Chinatown district
- Explore Manoa Falls under the canopy of a tropical rainforest
- Get lost in the world’s largest maze at Dole Plantation
- Catch and release fish at Ali’i Agriculture Fishing Farms
- Photograph the scenic Ko’olau Mountains on the Pali Lookout
- Satisfy your food truck cravings in Haleiwa
- Visit a Hawaiian pumpkin patch
- Biki your way around the island
- Spend the day boogie boarding at Waikiki Walls
- Wade in the cool waters at Jackass Ginger
- Get your workout in with a spectacular view of Ala Moana
- Seek out hidden street art in Kaka'ako
- Visit the Palace of Hawaii's last reigning Monarchs
- Escape into nature at Hawaii Loa Ridge Trail
- Wander and get lost in Hawaii’s beautiful gardens
Yoga and Retreats
For your yoga and retreats in Honolulu, you can hit up any of these places:
- INNER FIRE YOGA and RETREATS
- Beach Sunset Yoga Hawaii
- Waikiki Beach Yoga & Yoga Hikes
- Yoga Kai Hawaii
- Gypseaprincess Yoga and Retreats
- Bikram Yoga at Hot Yoga Waikiki
- Yoga Waikiki Studio
- Wellness Renewed in Hawaii
- Sun Yoga Hawaii
- Yoga Awareness Honolulu
From luxurious to cheap, accommodation options are plentiful in the city and based on your pocket capacity, you can opt-in to one that's friendly to your budget.
Westin Moana Surfrider is one of the best green, eco-friendly hotels in Honolulu, and other options include;
- Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa
- Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach
- Sheraton Princess Kaiulani
- Turtle Bay Resort
- Ala Moana Hotel
Hostels and Guest Houses
Some of the best hostels and guest houses in Honolulu include
- Polynesian Hostel Beach Club
- Manoa Valley Inn
- Pacific Ohana Hostel
- Hostelling International - Honolulu
- The Plumeria Hostel Alternative
- The Beach Waikiki Boutique Hostel
- Seaside Hawaiian Hostel
There are several websites where you can find an apartment in Honolulu and it's also possible that you'll find a better option on Airbnb.
Couchsurfing doesn't seem to be common in Honolulu but you might be lucky to find a host.
Kahua Lehua, Sand Island SRA Park, and Mākālei Beach Park are some of the places where you can pitch your tent in Honolulu.
How to Get There
The Honolulu International Airport which is situated in downtown Honolulu is the largest in the state of Hawaii and this is where you'll probably be flying in if you're planning to visit the city. And, on your arrival to the city, there are several options available for you to move around. If you've rented a car, it will be easy for you to get to wherever your destination is and for a relatively low fare, you can take a taxi to your hotel if you're staying in Waikiki. More so, via The Bus route #20, you can get to downtown Waikiki.
Served by lots of international airlines from other countries around the Pacific Rim and major American airlines, the main aviation gateway for the Hawaiian Islands is the Honolulu International Airport. And, there are often nonstop flights to Honolulu from Washington, Vancouver, Toronto, Sydney, Houston, Anchorage, Oakland, San Francisco, Phoenix, Tokyo, Calgary, and many other places.
TheBus is Honolulu's local bus service. One-way fares are $1 for seniors, $1.25 for children, and $2.75 for adults. The day pass costs $2 for seniors, $2.50 for children, and $5.50 for adults.
Getting in the city by train is not common as well.
Hitchhiking in Hawaii and all of the Hawaiian islands is illegal.
Honolulu serves as a home port for round-trip cruises to some of the islands in the state and there are cruise ships that regularly link Honolulu with the U.S. mainland.These voyages are barely used as one-way passenger service but are designed for tourists.
The best way to get around Honolulu is by car. However, take note that during the busy months of the tourist season, traffic can be an issue but driving in Honolulu is relatively easy. You'll enjoy the privilege of being able to get to lesser-known locations conveniently if you have your own rented car and as an outdoor lover or an adventure seeker, you'll find getting a car to be a necessity because there are lots of things to do in and around the city and Honolulu is quite spread out. At the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), you can rent a car at a very reasonable rate. Aside from using a car to get around which is undoubtedly the best option to opt-in for, you can as well use ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft or Taxis but their downside is that their fares can be somewhat outrageous, sometimes. The Waikiki Trolley and the public bus system will also help you get around the city but they're not the fastest option you can consider.
Walking is a pleasant activity in Honolulu. With the plenty of many exciting sights, tours, attractions, and restaurants in the pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, exploring by foot can be quite intriguing and in major urban centers like Honolulu and Waikiki, walking is mostly an option. Taking a walk on the beautiful beaches is also an interesting thing to do. Though you may need public or private transportation services when you desire to get to more remote attractions and areas outside of the city, many of the intriguing, notable sights in the city are in walking distance.
Biking is an excellent way to explore Honolulu and since bike rentals are readily available, you should enjoy biking around the city. There are about 130 docking and 1,300 bikes offered by the local bike-share program Biki and with this, you can always enjoy getting a bike to bike around.
Going around via an electronic vehicle is feasible as there are some rental car companies who make electronic vehicles available for those who need one.
Public buses in Honolulu generally run every 15 or 30 minutes and with their extensive routes, they cover most of the island. TheBus, which is the city's public bus, is very easy to use and riders can enjoy a ride for as low as $1.25 - $2.75 while a day pass costs about $2 - $5.50.
Tram, Train and Subway
There's no means of getting around the city by train, subway, or tram.
As an eco-friendly traveler in Honolulu, you'll find it easy to shop sustainably in the city with the plenty of green shops around.
If you love fresh produce, visit any of these Honolulu's food markets:
- KCC Farmers market
- Honolulu Farmers’ Market
- Kakaako Farmers’ Market
- Hyatt Farmers’ Market
- King’s Village Farmers’ Market
Aloha Stadium Swap Meet and Duke’s Marketplace are the best flea markets you'll find around in Honolulu.
Second Hand Stores
Some of the best second-hand stores in Honolulu are:
- Assistance League of Hawaii
- Barrio Vintage
- Heritage Trading Co.
You can trust any of these places for your eco-fashion in Honolulu:
- Roberta Oaks
- Owens & Co.
- Hound & Quail
Recycling is easy in Honolulu. You can choose to take your green waste directly to the composting facility, drop off at City Convenience Centers, or place in your green cart for recycling collection in automated areas.
The city of Honolulu does manage its waste well and most residential and general commercial trash is disposed of at H-POWER.
Work and Study Abroad
Honolulu is actually not a popular location for work and study abroad because most people who come here often visit to relax and have fun.
Despite the fact that Honolulu is majorly known for its exotic beach lifestyle, it's home to a couple of universities that offer exchange student programs.
It's possible to find opportunities as an au pair in Honolulu when you speak with the locals around you.
Volunteering opportunities abound in Honolulu, especially at major places and organizations in the city like:
- Waikiki Health Center
- The Institute for Human Services
- Honolulu Zoo Society
- Sanctuary Ocean Count Project
- Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii
- Hawaii Nature Center
- Aloha United Way