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A Honolulu travel guide – tropical beaches, hula parties and romantic sunsets

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A Honolulu vacation means soaking up Hawaiian sunshine on palm tree-lined beaches by day and romantic evenings watching the sun dip into the Pacific Ocean. So grab your surfboard, book your Honolulu hotel and step into a true tropical paradise.

Golden beaches

Of all Hawaii’s beaches none is more famous than Waikiki Beach, a narrow 1½- mile stretch bordered by high-rise Honolulu hotels and watched over by Diamond Head mountain. When the waves are high, sun-tanned surfers paddle out into Waikiki’s Mamala Bay, making for great entertainment even for those preferring to watch from their beach blankets. Between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu Ala Moana Beach offers smaller crowds and calmer water for swimming, while Hanauma Bay, on Oahu’s easternmost shore, is popular with snorkelers.

Island romance

Stroll the stalls of Chinatown’s open market, gathering up fresh- cut orchid bouquets or plumeria leis (typical Hawaiian garlands). Waikiki Beach is a favorite spot for couples to take surfing lessons or for just soaking up some sun. Reserve space at a classic Hawaiian luau party and learn to hula at resorts throughout Honolulu. For a more laid-back evening, dine at five-diamond La Mer in Waikiki, famous for French preparations of Hawaiian ingredients and sunset views of Diamond Head. End your romantic Honolulu vacation sipping mai tai cocktails in a beachside hotel, overlooking a brilliant red sunset. 

Polynesian past

A visit to downtown Honolulu reminds visitors of Hawaii’s history as an independent nation. The ‘Iolani Palace, America’s only imperial residence, highlights Polynesian history through its Victorian galleries and sparkling royal jewelry collections. Across the street the King Kamehameha I statue stands before the Kawaiaha’o Church, built from 14,000 coral blocks, and Mission Houses Museum, where New England missionaries settled in 1820. For a taste of more recent history, visitors can take the short bus ride to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial, which marked the beginning of America’s involvement in the Second World War.