O’ahu, Hawai’i – One

O’ahu is home to the state’s capital and largest city, 470 high-rises, the only royal palace in the United States, 225 miles of coastline plus the famous Waikīkī Beach and Diamond Head. These are just some of the countless reasons that it is nicknamed “The Gathering Place.”

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1 Waikīkī Beach and Diamond Head in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

Waikīkī, which means “Spouting Water,” was named for the Kuekaunahi stream that once filled this area with fresh water. This 1.5 mile stretch on O’ahu Island’s south Pacific shore is lined with high-rise hotels, time-shares and condominiums that house all of the international tourists that come for the sandy beach, warm sun, high-end shopping and views of the dormant volcanic mountain called Diamond Head or Lē’ahi.

2161 Kalia Rd # 117, Honolulu, HI 96815
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2 Diamond Head from Waikīkī Beach in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

About 200,000 to 300,000 years ago, a massive eruption occurred for just a few days along the southeast shore of Oahu and formed the iconic landmark known as Diamond Head. Also called Lē’ahi, the dormant volcano is now a 475 acre State Monument Park. It is probably the most photographed subject in Honolulu.

2353 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
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3 Alī’iōlani Hale Façade in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

In 1872, King Kamehameha commissioned the building of a palace called Alī’iōlani Hale which means House of Heavenly Kings. But when it opened two years later, it became the Supreme Court and the home for the legislature. When the Hawaiian monarchy was toppled in 1893, the new Provisional Government renamed it the Court House. Today it houses a museum about Hawaii’s historical judiciary and court system.

417 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96813
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4 King Kamehameha Statue at Ali’iōlani Hale in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

Fans of Hawaii Five-O will immediately recognize this bronze, gilded statue of King Kamehameha from the TV show’s opening credits. The Kingdom of Hawaii’s first monarch stands in front of the Ali’iōlani Hale building in Honolulu. The first sculpture was created by Thomas Gould but was lost in a shipwreck near the Falkland Islands during transport. Although it was later recovered, the sculptor had already created this second version. It was erected in 1883. The original is in the town of Kapā’au on the Island of Hawaii.

417 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96813
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5 Earth Day Hawaii Mural by Wyland in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

Robert Wyland is a famed marine artist, photographer, philanthropist and environmentalist. One of his homes is in Hawaii, so it seems fitting that nine of his 100 Whaling Walls are in the state. This is #67, called Earth Day Hawaii, and it features three humpback whales. It is located on the side of the Royal Aloha Condominiums on Ala Wai Boulevard in Honolulu. It was painted by Pat Morita in 1995 in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Earth Day.

1909 Ala Wai Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96815
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6 Aerial View of Ala Wai Harbor and Downtown in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

This aerial view of Honolulu’s downtown skyline and the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor was taken at the western edge of Waikīkī Beach. The harbor has 700 berths to accommodate sailboats and other small watercraft. The towers in the center are several of Honolulu’s tallest condominiums. The green spaces below them are Magic Island and the Ala Moana Park. In the foreground is the Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Lagoon.

Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon Boardwalk, Honolulu, HI 96815
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7 Boy Paddle Boarding on Open Blue Sea in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

A child’s imagination is infinite, like this little boy who is captain of a ship in the vast blue ocean while he is paddle boarding in a five-acre lagoon.

Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon Boardwalk, Honolulu, HI 96815
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8 Aloha Tower and Mountains in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

When the Aloha Tower opened in 1926, it’s 184 feet made it Hawaii’s tallest building for about 40 years. The free observation deck on the tenth floor provides a wonderful, 360 degree view of the downtown skyline and the Honolulu Harbor. In the background is the Ko’olau Mountain Range. It was formed by a volcanic eruption over 1.5 million years ago. Plans are underway to extensively renovate the marketplace at the base of the tower.

1 Aloha Tower Dr # 257, Honolulu, HI 96813
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9 Hawaiian Dancer Sculpture in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

This close up of a Hawaiian dancer in the hula noho position is called Ka Leo o Haukani which means The Voice of the Wind. She is one of three, larger-than-life bronze sculptures by artist Kim Duffett called “The Hawk Soars with the Winds” that are located at the entrance of the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

2005 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815
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10 Dusk Over Ala Wai Harbor Hotels in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

Imagine how wonderful the sunsets are from your lanai high above the Ala Wai Boat Harbor. You get great views of the Pacific Ocean, Kahanamoku Lagoon, Magic Island and the sailboats floating into the canal. These hotels include Hawaii Prince Hotel’s twin towers and to the right of them are several of the Ilikai properties.

1201 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814
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11 ‘Iolani Palace Façade in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

Only one former royal residence exists in the United States and that is the ‘Iolani Palace in Honolulu. It also has the distinction of being the only building with an American Florentine design. It was built in 1882 for David Kalākaua who was the last king of the Hawaiian Islands until his death in 1874. Queen Lili’uokalani also ruled here for a few years and was then imprisoned in the palace after she was dethroned. Since 1978, it has been open as a museum.

364 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96813
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12 ‘Iolani Palace King’s Drawing Room in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

A tour of the ‘Iolani Palace offers a spectacular insight into the life of rulers from the Kingdom of Hawaii. An example is the King’s private drawing room on the second floor which was extensively restored in 2011. Most of the furnishings in the Music Room, which is also called the Gold Room, are recreations from photos or documents from the 1880s. However, the orange chair is the actual throne of King Kamehameha III. And the tusk table was a gift to King Kalākaua on his 50th birthday in 1886.

364 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96813
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13 Queen Lili’uokalani Statue in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

The last monarch of Hawaii was Queen Lili’uokalani. She ascended the throne in 1891 but was deposed in about two years when troops seized the Iolani Palace and formed the Republic of Hawaii. The islands were then annexed to the United States in 1898. Visitors to this “Spirit of Liliuokalani” by sculptor Marianna Pineda often pay tribute to the former queen by draping fresh flowers on the six foot statue.

415 S Beretania St, Honolulu, HI 96813
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14 ‘Iolani Coronation Pavilion in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

This copper domed, octagon-shaped gazebo called Keli’poni Hale was first used during the coronation of King Kalākaua and Queen Kapi’olani in 1883. Located on the southwest lawn of ‘Iolani Palace, the Coronation Pavilion is used today for the inauguration of Hawaiian governors as well as a performance platform for the Royal Hawaiian Band and other concerts.

364 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96813
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15 Crowd Sunning at Prince Kūhiō Beach at Waikīkī in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

Waikīkī is probably the most famous beach in Hawaii so it always draws lots of tourists. And one of the busiest sections is the Prince Kūhiō Beach. It starts at Kapahulu Avenue and stretches west. It is named after Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana’ole who was the adopted son of Queen Kapi’olani.

1 Kuhio Beach, Honolulu, HI 96815
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16 One Waterfront Towers in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

The One Waterfront Towers were the tallest buildings in Honolulu at 400 feet for a couple of years after opening in 1990. On the left is the Mauka Tower which means mountain and on the right is the Makai Tower which means ocean. These twin high-rises offer 45 floors of condominiums with floor-to-ceiling windows that provide great views of the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.

425 South St, Honolulu, HI 96813
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17 USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

It is a somber boat ride from Pearl Harbor out to the USS Arizona Memorial building which arches above where the battleship was sunk by the Japanese on December 7, 1942. After crossing the gangway, you enter a room that overlooks the remains of the submerged ship. The names of the 1,177 crew who died on the USS Arizona are inscribed on a marble wall in the shrine room. Most of the servicemen are still buried below the sea.

1 Arizona Memorial Pl, Honolulu, HI 96818
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18 USS Arizona Mast and Oil Slick at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor near Honolulu on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. The “date which will live in infamy” resulted in the deaths of over 2,400 Americans, including 1,177 men on the USS Arizona. This view of the sunken ship’s mast is from the memorial that was built over it. Look closely and you’ll see the oil slick that still forms after more than seventy years.

1 Arizona Memorial Pl, Honolulu, HI 96818
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19 Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

The Royal Hawaiian has been a landmark on Waikīkī Beach since it opened in 1927. Nicknamed the “Pink Palace of the Pacific,” the hotel has been a favorite destination of the rich and famous. An extensive renovation in 2008 restored the luster of this gem’s Spanish and Moorish design. It is part of the Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ Luxury Collection and, as you’d expect, it is rated with five stars.

2259 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
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20 Royal Hawaiian Beach at Waikīkī in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

The Royal Hawaiian Beach section of Waikīkī, which is also called the Royal Manoa Beach, is a great place for swimming, people watching and staring at the grandeur of Diamond Head. It is also where you can arrange for a catamaran charter or rent an outrigger canoe.

2259 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
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21 Hawaii State Capitol Building in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

The Hawaiian capitol building opened in downtown Honolulu on the island of O’ahu ten years after becoming the 50th state in March of 1959. Its open-air architecture is unique among state capitols. For example, in lieu of a dome, the warm sunshine and passing clouds are your view when looking up from the mosaic floor called Aquarius on the rotunda courtyard.

415 S Beretania St, Honolulu, HI 96813
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22 Sideways Woman Mural by Sean Rone in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

Sean Rone is an extremely gifted wall muralist from Melbourne, Australia. He is best known for his large scale portraits of beautiful women like this one from 2012 on the corners of Cooke and Auahi Streets in Honolulu. In addition to Australia and Hawaii, the work of this prolific artist can be seen in Miami, Queenstown, London, Berlin, New York, Hong Kong and several other cities around the world.

401 Cooke St, Honolulu, HI 96813
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23 Sun Setting Behind Palm Trees at Waikīkī in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

As the crowds begin to leave the beach for the day and dusk begins to arrive, the sunsets along Waikīkī are magical. It is wonderful to watch as the sky and the ocean become radiant behind the gently swaying palm trees.

2425 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
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24 Tapa Making Statue in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

This bronze statue honors Puanani Kanemura Van Dorpe, a master tapa maker, and two legendary sisters named La’ahana and Lauhuki who first perfected the craft of converting tree bark into fine, colorful cloth. This detail of one of the three bronze sculptures by artist KaMille was erected during a tribute ceremony for Van Dorpe at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in 2006.

2005 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815
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25 Elevated View of Hanauma Bay on O’ahu in Hawaii

This elevated view of Hanauma Bay shows an ancient volcanic crater at the base of a sea cliff. It is filled with crystal clear water flowing over a bed of coral called a fringing reef. Its name is derived from two Hawaiian words: hana which means bay and uma that translates to curved. This gorgeous seascape greets you at the park’s visitor center. The entrance fee is a very reasonable $7.50.

101 Hanauma Bay Rd, Honolulu, HI 96825
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26 People Enjoying Sandy Beach at Hanauma Bay on O’ahu in Hawaii

One look at this pristine, sandy beach shows why Hanauma Bay is one of the most popular destinations for swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving along the Windward Coast of O’ahu just 20 minutes from Honolulu. The average temperature for the aquamarine water is 74°. In the background is the Ko’olau Mountain Range which was formed by a series of volcanic eruptions, the latest which occurred about 40,000 years ago.

7455 Kalanianaole Hwy, Honolulu, HI 96825
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27 Honolulu Harbor and Downtown High-rises in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

Although the Island of Oahu was probably inhabited one to two thousand years ago, it was first explored by the English Captain William Brown when his ship entered this harbor in 1794. Soon afterwards the city of Kou was renamed Honolulu which means sheltered harbor. Ten years later, Kamehameha I, who was the founder of the Kingdom of Hawaii, established his government here. Now Honolulu Harbor is the major port for commercial and cruise ships and is the waterfront of downtown.

521 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96813
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28 Harbor Court in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

The first 18 floors of the handsome, multi-tiered Harbor Court are retail and commercial office space while the remaining 23 levels have 120 luxury condominiums. It is located in downtown near the Aloha Tower Pier overlooking the Honolulu Harbor.

55 Merchant St #3000, Honolulu, HI 96813
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29 Animal Mosaic at Zoo Entrance in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

This colorful mosaic at the front entrance of the Honolulu Zoo showcases some of the 900 animals from 220 species that you’ll see as you walk through the 42 acres in Queen Kapi’olani Park. The zoo specializes in birds, reptiles and mammals from tropical regions. The art was designed in 2011 by Honolulu native Leah Rigg.

151 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
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30 African Spurred Tortoise at Zoo in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

If you like tortoises then you will love visiting the Honolulu Zoo because they display 13 different species. My favorite is this African spurred tortoise. He originates from the Sahara Desert in northern Africa. This largest mainland species weighs 100 to 200 pounds. They also live 100 years or longer so I am sure he will be there when you finally visit Hawaii.

151 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
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31 Reticulated Giraffe Walking at Zoo in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

It is impressive to watch this reticulated giraffe’s huge strides as it walks along at the Honolulu Zoo. A male’s height to the top of his ossicones or head bumps can reach 19 feet and his neck can measure eight feet. They weigh between 2,400 to 4,200 pounds and eat about 75 pounds of leaves a day yet surprisingly the world’s tallest mammal only drinks water every other day.

151 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
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32 Makapu’u Point Lookout on Windward Coast of O’ahu, Hawaii

The easternmost shore of O’ahu is Makapu’u Point. Below the 647 foot cliff is a 1,000 foot beach and a lush coastline that fingers into the Pacific Ocean. This spectacular view is seen from an overlook off of the Kalaniana’ole Highway at the Makapu’u Point State Wayside Park. If you are ambitious, you can also follow the 1.75 mile walking trail to a lighthouse.

Makapuu Lighthouse Rd & 72 Waimanalo, HI 96795
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33 Whale Mural by Eric Hawkey in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

This wall mural of whales in the Kakaako district of Honolulu is named “New Beginnings.” It was painted on an eight story wall at Waimanu Street by Eric Hawkey. His studio, Hawkey Designs, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He collaborated on this larger-than-life street art with Reese Sutfin.

899 Waimanu St, Honolulu, HI 96813
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34 Yokohama Specie Bank Building in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

In 1880, the Yokohama Specie Bank became the first branch in Hawaii owned by Imperial Japan. 19 years later, a famous architect named Henry Livingston Kerr designed this Italianate building. Immediately after the bombing at Pearl Harbor, the bank was seized and became a military police station for the balance of World War II. Today, this gem with its triumphal arched doorway is a daycare center. It is located in the Merchant Street Historic District.

36 Merchant St, Honolulu, HI 96813
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35 Sandy Beach Park on Windward Coast of O’ahu, Hawaii

Sandy Beach Park is well named because it is one of the few stretches of sand along the southeastern tip of O’ahu. Its dramatic waves make it a favorite among surf and body boarders. But it also dangerous. The shoreline is volcanic rock formed by the eruption of nearby Koto Crater. It has a very sharp, glass-like texture. And the hard-breaking waves create strong rip currents.

8483 Highway 72, Honolulu, HI 96825
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36 Parents and Child at Beach in Water with Palm Tree Silhouette in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

Waikīkī Beach in Honolulu is arguably one of Hawaii’s most famous beaches but it also draws lots of tourists. Families who want reef-protected water, pristine sand and fewer people favor the nearby Duke Kahanamoku Beach and Lagoon in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village. It is the ideal place to let your child safely swim and play in the salt water.

Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon Boardwalk, Honolulu, HI 96815
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37 Royal Brewery Building in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

The landmark Honolulu Brew & Malt Co., also known as the Royal Brewery, was built in 1900 and soon began producing Primo Lager. Operations were suspended during Prohibition then resumed here until 1960. The Primo brand was reintroduced in 2007 by the Pabst Brewing Company and is popular in Hawaii. This building on Queen Street has not been as lucky. It has been vacant since 1998.

547 Queen St, Honolulu, HI 96813
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38 Woman’s Face Mural by Hader and Rone in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

Pow! Wow! is an annual art festival in Honolulu, Hawaii, that brings together nearly 100 talented mural artists from around the world to adorn the walls of the Kaka’ako industrial district into a fabulous outdoor gallery. A beautiful example is this woman’s face on the corners of Cooke and Pohukaina streets. It was a collaborative effort in 2013 by Melbourne muralist Sean Rone, who specializes in painting gorgeous images of women on a large scale across the world, and local festival event organizer and accomplished Hawaiian artist Kamea Hader. Reportedly, the image is Kamea’s partner Shanna.

501 Cooke St, Honolulu, HI 96813
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39 Elevated View of Halona Beach Cove on Windward Coast of O’ahu, Hawaii

This view of Halona Beach Cove from the Kalaniana’ole Highway is so inviting that you will immediately park your car and grab your bathing suit. But also strap on good shoes because climbing down the cliff is tricky. Or you can simply enjoy the scenery from the Hālona Blowhole Overlook which is shown in the upper left corner.

8483 Highway 72, Honolulu, HI 96825
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40 Swimming at Halona Beach Cove on Windward Coast of O’ahu, Hawaii

Swimming in the warm, calm water at Halona Beach Cove can be a heavenly way to spend a sunny afternoon along the Windward Coast of O’ahu. This tiny inlet will feel like your secret hideaway just as it was during the love scene between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in the 1953 movie “From Here to Eternity.” That’s why it is nicknamed Eternity Beach.

8483 Highway 72, Honolulu, HI 96825
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