While there are many neighborhoods that comprise Greater Honolulu, most of what appeals to visitors is centrally located in the downtown vicinity. Plan your Honolulu day around avoiding the daily rush-hour traffic to maximize your time.

The historic Hawaii State Capitol in Honolulu.

The historic Hawaii State Capitol in Honolulu. Photo © Daniel Ramirez, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

  • Instead of rushing immediately into the historic district in the morning and getting caught in traffic, head to Lyon Arboretum in Manoa Valley and explore the extensive trail system, bird watch, and learn about native Hawaiian plants. If you’d like to be closer to downtown, try Foster Botanical Garden just outside of Chinatown.
  • Next, visit the historic district and take in the Hawaii State Capitol and ‘Iolani Palace, the only royal residence in the United States.
  • For lunch, head to the Ala Moana Center, where you can grab lunch in the comfortable, open-air Mai Tai Bar on the upper lanai of the mall. Or, head into Kaka‘ako, where you can find hip and unique shops and restaurants.
  • A visit to the Honolulu Museum of Art is a must in the afternoon. If you have your own transportation, take advantage of the free same-day admission to the Spalding House in Makiki Heights, a museum of contemporary art.
  • For dinner, head back into Chinatown and peruse the many restaurants and bars. Whether you’re after Chinese food from Little Village Noodle House, French cuisine at Brasserie Du Vin, or pizza from Irish pub J.J. Dolan’s, Chinatown has you covered.
Map of Downtown Honolulu, Hawaii

Downtown Honolulu


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Hawaiian Islands.