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Welcome to Honolulu: The Quintessential Hawaiian Vacation

The Waikiki neighborhood is probably the best-known as it is home to the famous Waikiki Beach. This is where you’ll find most hotels, but not just the expensive ones—there are some good budget accommodations near the beach too. Waikiki is also a nighttime hub of clubs and restaurants, though you’ll find that those are a bit more spread out into downtown. Speaking of downtown Honolulu, there’s plenty to do and see there, from historic monuments, like the only royal palace on U.S. soil, to the Aloha Marketplace, a center of shopping and dining built around the Aloha Tower, which was built to welcome visitors, way back when they arrived primarily by boat. The Ala Moana shopping center is another major hub for shopping and eating. This is where you’ll find big-name designer stores and some of the city’s best nightspots. The bus system in Honolulu is appropriately called “TheBus” and will take you just about anywhere you need to go. The Waikiki Trolley is more expensive and works like a hop-on, hop-off tour. Its routes are more concentrated on tourist attractions, but if that’s mainly where you’re going it can be a fun ride. It’s not really necessary to have a car around Honolulu, but if you really want to get out on your own and see the more of the island, renting a car is a great way to go. Tours and excursions seem just about endless, because there’s so much to do in Honolulu. You can learn about the historic downtown, hike, mountain bike, explore ancient sites in the middle of the jungle, bird-watch, whale-watch, swim with sharks, hunt for the supernatural, cruise the harbor, or get a whole new perspective on a helicopter tour. You can take food tours too, or just sit back in one of Honolulu’s many amazing restaurants, enjoying great seafood, classic Hawaiian dishes, and all sorts of fusion cuisine. For souvenirs and gifts, there’s a great flea market and swap meet, in addition to art galleries, furniture and unique local crafts. And don’t forget to catch some performances, especially hula dancing.

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