This post is part of the Hipmunk #CityLove project.
Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii, may lure most visitors with the promise of palm fringed golden beaches and hours of soaking up the sun, but the island city has interesting surprises if you’re willing to venture out of tourist thronged Waikiki where many hotels in Honolulu are found. This list will help you experience Honolulu beyond the beaches.
Photo by Sparkz via Trover.com
Explore Different Neighborhoods
There are many interesting shades to Honolulu outside of Waikiki and walking around the city to explore its various neighborhoods is a good way to see them. The city’s Chinatown is a buzzing area of markets selling tropical produce, seafood and pork, a noodle factory, dim sum and noodle restaurants, and shops selling everything from Chinese herbal medicine and bubble tea to brocade fabrics. Keep in mind that this might not be a typical touristy experience like some other Chinatowns around the world. Many tourists complain of feeling uncomfortable about seeing homeless people and other signs of poverty in the area. But if authentic does not disturb you, then it’s a good idea to explore a neighborhood outside the tourist areas.
Photo by Ligaya Malones via Trover.com
To see and photograph some cool street art (one of my favorite things to do in any city), walk around in the emerging artist hub of Kaka’ako. When you’re tired, stop for a rest at one of the hipster pubs and cafés in the area.
Eat Your Way Around
Photo by Michelle Broderick via Trover.com
Honolulu has plenty to offer to food lovers looking to stick their forks into local dishes rich with Polynesian and Asian influences and their innovative modern counterparts. From short ribs, pan-fried pork chops, fresh seafood, and loco moco (rice served with a hamburger patty, an egg, and gravy), sushi and other raw fish delicacies to Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Thai noodle and dumpling meals in Chinatown, the food scene is in no way limited. Oahu is also home to talented chefs creating waves in the gastronomy scene internationally, and if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, try one of the restaurants specializing in molecular gastronomy such as Vintage Cave Honolulu. For unique farm-to-table experiences, explore the options at one of the weekly farmers’ markets or simply eat like the locals at the food trucks.
Don’t forget to make the most of tropical fruits, and fill up on fruit bowls, juices, milkshakes, smoothies, and homemade ice cream.
A Lesson in Royal History
Photo by Aryn Hill via Trover.com
Get educated about Hawaii’s royal history and heritage by visiting the restored Iolani Palace, the former official residence of Hawaii’s monarchy, built on a site of religious significance. Constructed in 1882 by King Kalakaua, the palace was later the home of his sister and successor, Queen Liliuokalani. Visit the Grand Hall, luxurious crimson and gold Throne Room used to receive and entertain distinguished guests, Blue Room used for informal audiences, State Dining Room, and Private Suites of the royal family, complete with opulent furnishings and décor. The visit is a great way to learn about the life of King Kalakaua, also known as the Merry Monarch, for his love of art, culture, music, dance, and high society.
Have you been to Honolulu? What would you add to the list, and what did you like about the city?