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Honolulu, Hawaii - Overview and Essential Travel Information
by cctraveler2 at TravelPost

Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii. It is located on the island of Oahu. For most visitors to Hawaii it will be the first place they go to and it will give them their first impressions of the islands.

The places you will surely want to go to when you are here include Chinatown, Waikiki Beach and the Manoa Valley.

SIGHTS

Pearl Harbour

Pearl Harbor is the Pacific home of the US Navy. Attacked by the Japanese on 7 December 1941, and thus sending the United States into World War II, Pearl Harbor has a special place in American history as the only site of a foreign attack on US soil in the 20th century. The harbour survived the Japanese bombing, and became the launching pad for the defeat of Japan in World War II. It is now a functioning naval shipyard supply centre and submarine base. There are two memorials to those lost in the Pacific campaign of World War II: the USS Arizona Memorial and the Submarine Memorial Park. Pearl Harbor is also home to the Navy's submarine museum, which includes a fully operational World War II submarine that can be toured, the USS Bowfin. The newest addition to Pearl Harbor is the USS Missouri, the battleship on which the Japanese surrender was signed to end World War II, which can also be toured.

Contemporary Museum

Situated in Honolulu, the Contemporary Museum is the premier modern art museum in Hawaii, and features rotating exhibitions of contemporary artwork. There is a large Oriental garden close to the museum.

Honolulu Academy of the Arts

The cultural centre of Hawaii, the galleries of the Honolulu Academy of the Arts house a permanent collection of Oriental and Western art. The Kress collection of Italian art is of particular interest and the Asian art collection is one of the finest in the United States, featuring Buddhist scrolls and Shinto sculptures. Also on display is Chinese furniture, Korean ceramics and Indian stone sculpture.

GETTING AROUND

Honolulu International Airport is about 25 minute's drive west of Waikiki via Ala Moana Blvd/Hwy 92 (Nimitz Hwy) or the H-1. You can also catch a ride between the airport and Waikiki on a public bus (about an hour) a shuttle bus (45 minutes) or a taxi. Many of the larger resort hotels offer free shuttles to their guests.

TheBus is Honolulu's public bus network. Its routes branch across the island with each line's destination written above the bus' windshield. The Ala Moana Center is the central transfer point. Overall the buses are in excellent condition - clean and air-conditioned - though buses on popular routes tend to be packed and their pace is always dawdling. Setting your watch by this system gives you nothing but a good sense of Hawaiian Time. The Waikiki Trolley is an expensive tourist-laden open-air bus geared primarily for sightseeing shopaholics. The attraction-lined route between Waikiki's Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center and downtown Honolulu is narrated.

Oahu is not a big island and few places are more than an hour's drive from Honolulu. If you plan on spending all your time in the resorts of Waikiki forget about renting but if you plan to get beyond the city limits a car is the easiest way to do it. The minimum age to drive in Hawaii is 18 years and most car rental agencies hike that limit to 25. Gasoline is about 25% more expensive on the island than on the US mainland. Driving is on the right.

Taxis wait at most major downtown hotels and at the airport. Otherwise you'll need to phone for a cab. Bikes are available for rent in Honolulu and Waikiki and most bike shops provide maps helmets and locks. The city is poorly suited for cycling though and most riders prefer to use their bikes for longer jaunts around Oahu.

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