While there is so much to see and experience in the beautiful Hawaiian Islands, most people’s experiences begin in the Hawai‘i’s epicenter for tourism: Honolulu and Waikiki on the island of Oahu. Waikiki is home to the famously pink Royal Hawaiian Hotel, and once upon a time, the live shows of the late, great Don Ho (and the Waikiki Beach Boys, a a group of gifted watermen that included the three-time Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer Duke Kahanamoku).
Nowadays, people from all over the globe flock to this skyscraper-packed, ocean-side area of the city. They come for its high-end shopping, fine dining, beachfront cocktail bars and the pellucid aquamarine waters. And even though Waikiki can be crowded, it is far more laid-back than any other equivalent urban area in the U.S. The easy-going vibe is, after all, one of the things that makes Hawai‘i so special. Whether you want to see live Hawaiian music, a hula performance, get a surf lesson or pick up some gifts for loved ones back home, it’s all on your doorstep in Waikiki.
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That said, Waikiki is just a small part of Honolulu (the State’s capital) and is one of the most dynamic and cultural melting pots across the globe. Such diversity abounds in Honolulu’s vibrant foodie scene, which can be enjoyed by people on any budget. Hawaiian, Japanese, Thai, French, Jamaican, Himalayan, Chinese, Vietnamese, Italian, Korean and Mexican are some of the seemingly innumerable ethnic cuisines offered in this cosmopolitan melting pot of the world. In addition, sandwich shops, juices bars and coffee shops abound. And for those with an itch for shopping, there is always the main strip in Waikiki, which abounds with couture and island-style boutiques as well as the world’s largest open-air shopping center, Ala Moana.
Great food and high-end shopping are not the only things on offer in Honolulu and Waikiki. It is also the arts, cultural and historical hub of Hawai‘i with some of the best galleries, live music and theater venues, museums and the stunning I‘olani Palace, the once home of the Hawaiian monarchy. Combine these with the pleasures of Waikiki Beach, it’s more than enough keep local urbanites satiated on all fronts.