Downtown Honolulu is the main business and financial district on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. It is home to some of the island’s most iconic landmarks, including Aloha Tower, Chinatown, Iolani Palace and the Hawaiian Maritime Centre.
There is much to see and do in downtown Honolulu, one of the most recognisable buildings is Aloha Tower. Constructed in 1926, the tower, also a lighthouse, provided a beacon of hope to immigrants arriving in the harbour to start a new life. It also acted as a defence tower during Pearl Harbour and was painted in camouflage colours so that it couldn’t be spotted at night. Close by is Hawaii Maritime Centre, offering a unique insight into the island’s seafaring history. Discover the stories of ancient Polynesian voyagers and whalers and view photographs of the luxury liners which arrived in the 1920s. The architecturally splendid Iolani Palace is also a short distance away. The building was home to the first in-house telephone system, flushing toilet and electric lighting in Hawaii. The tour through the museum and palace offers visitors a glimpse into the majestic home of the island’s monarchs. Other notable landmarks include the State Capitol Building, where cone shaped chambers symbolise the volcanos and palm trees of Hawaii, and the interesting Mission Houses Museum contains artefacts, furniture and books from the old mission. The vibrant area of Chinatown is less than 10 minutes’ walk from downtown Honolulu. With an exciting art scene, a variety of galleries, temples and incredible dining and nightlife opportunities, there’s something for everyone.
The area of downtown Honolulu is easy to access on foot, and major attractions can be reached within minutes. Visitors arriving from other areas can utilise taxi, trolleybus or local bus services, all of which operate throughout the area. The city council sets taxi fares, and many drivers are happy to point out local landmarks.
Records indicated that there was a settlement in the downtown Honolulu area which dates as far back as the 11th century. The city first became a focal point for merchant ships when Captain William Brown of Great Britain sailed into Honolulu Harbour in 1794. This area of Hawaii has a fascinating history, as the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown, the island was annexed by the United States, it succumbed to a large fire, and Pearl Harbour was attacked by the Japanese. Although the people of Honolulu have undergone great change, this neighbourhood is welcoming, friendly and continues to grow. With stunning architecture, museums, parklands and waterfronts it’s easy to see why downtown Honolulu continues to attract visitors year after year.