When you dream of an island vacation — the kind that comes complete with glittering hotels along a white-sand beach — you've got Honolulu in mind. Oahu's largest city and the state capital, Honolulu is also home to famed Waikiki Beach, located between the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor and Diamond Head.
A prime stretch of hotels lie directly along the shores of world-renowned Waikiki Beach. This area is home to the US Army Museum of Hawaii and Fort DeRussy Park. Stroll along Kalakaua Avenue and browse the International Marketplace, Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center and abundant local boutiques. You're also within walking distance to Waikiki Aquarium, Honolulu Zoo and Kapiolani Park.
You'll find plenty of great places to stay near the gateway to Waikiki, where the Ala Wai Canal ends and enters the Pacific Ocean. Take a stroll to Ala Wai Beach and the sought-after Ala Wai Yacht Harbor. You're also close to Hawaii's largest mall, the upscale Ala Moana Shopping Center — home of the annual World Festival: Hawaii's Fashion Week — and a short 1- to 2-mile drive to Waikiki Beach.
Located on the Oahu's southeast corner at the end of Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head is one of the world's most famous volcanic rings. Although no diamonds were ever found here, the calcite crystals in the lava rock sparkle in the bright Hawaiian sunshine. In addition to hotels and resorts, the area is also home to Diamond Head Theatre at the volcano's base and a World War II-era bunker at its top.
The center of Oahu's largest city is home to civic buildings like Honolulu Hale (city hall) and a vibrant Chinatown. Top attractions in this area include 'Iolani Palace, the former home of Hawaiian monarchs and America's only royal residence. You can't miss Aloha Tower, the city's landmark harbor-side clocktower surrounded by a marketplace brimming with interesting shops and popular restaurants.
It might seem like everything in Honolulu is expensive, but there are bargains to be found if you know where to look. If you covet one of the gorgeous leis you see, you'll find them at great prices in Chinatown. TheBus — Oahu's transportation system — takes you around the entire island for a mere $1.50. If you're seeking a sweet treat, shave-ice stands offer an affordable, authentic taste of Hawaii.