Aloha, and welcome to the Compare and Choose blog on Honolulu. If you are a family with smaller or young children, it can sometimes be a challenge finding an ideal overseas location that ticks all of the boxes, such as reasonably priced accommodation, enough activities and attractions to keep the kids occupied, and so on.
Well Honolulu may just be the answer you’re looking for!
The Hawaiian Islands
There are actually 8 islands that make up the Hawaiian Islands. Originally this group of islands was actually referred to as the Sandwich Islands, which was a name given by James Cook in honour of the Earl of Sandwich at that time. In total, the Hawaiian Islands cover over 2,400 kilometres, from the most northern point being Kure Atoll to the most southern point being the island of Hawaii. Another interesting fact is that the closest landmass to the Hawaiian Islands is over 3,000 kilometres away!
The 8 main islands that make up this terrific group of islands are;
Hawai’i which is known as the Big Island and is almost 10,500 square kilometres in area.
Maui which is known as the Valley Isle and is almost 1,884 square kilometres in area.
Oʻahu which is known as the Gathering Place and is almost 1,546 square kilometres in area.
Kauaʻi which is known as the Garden Isle and is almost 1,431 square kilometres in area.
Molokaʻi which is known as the Friendly Isle and is almost 674 square kilometres in area.
Lanaʻi which is known as the Pineapple Isle and is almost 364 square kilometres in area.
Niʻihau which is known as the Forbidden Isle and is 180 square kilometres in area.
And finally Kahoʻolawe which is known as the Target Isle and is almost 116 square kilometres in area.
The city of Honolulu, which is located on the island of O’Ahu, is the most highly populated in all of the US State of Hawaii. The origin of the name O’Ahu means ‘the gathering place’. It is not only the key gateway to all of the Hawaiian Islands, but also into the United States of America, especially for travellers from the Pacific. The current population of Honolulu currently sits at over 390,000 people, and the city is almost 157 square kilometres.
Honolulu is not only the main financial centre for the Hawaiian Islands, but also a major centre for military defence and international business. But one of the best things by far about Honolulu is it rich Pacific and east-west culture, heritage, traditions and cuisine.
The original name of Honolulu is Kou, and the area that it referred to back when this name was used, is now only a small portion of the downtown city area today. Honolulu has been the capital of the islands dating back to 1845. In Hawaiian, the name Honolulu is said to have several meanings which are; ‘calm port’, ‘place of shelter’ or ‘sheltered bay’.
Tourism is by far the largest economic driver for not only Honolulu, but all of the Hawaiian Islands. Each year more than 8 million visitors flock to this beautiful group of islands annually. Waikiki is now the hotel central of the city offering thousands upon thousands of hotel rooms.
Dating back to the 11th century, the first settlement that was established by the Polynesian migrants. Not only is there many folklores and tales of the initial inhabitants, but also a plethora of artefacts that have been discovered and reclaimed over the centuries, until present day. It was then in 1804 that Kamehameha the First, engaged in war with the people of the island of Oʻahu in the Battle of Nuʻuanu which occurred at Nuʻuanu Pali. Claiming victory, he decided to move his royal court from the Island of Hawaiʻi to the area that is now known as Waikiki. Some years later in 1809, he relocated his royal court yet again to the area which is now downtown Honolulu.
It was Captain William Brown from Great Britain who first sailed into the harbour at Honolulu in 1794. Seeing the potential of the island port, more and more ships from Europe began to use the port, and in a short time it became one of the main ports for vessel’s that were travelling between Asia and North America.
Then under the reign of Kamehameha III the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom was moved from Lahaina on the island of Maui to Honolulu in 1845. It was due to the insight and forethought of not only Kamehameha III but his successors that evolved Honolulu into a modern capital city. These great men were responsible for the construction of such buildings like St Andrew’s Cathedral, Aliʻiolani Hale and the ʻIolani Palace.
It was also during this time that the city became the centre for commerce in all of the islands, and many new businesses began to spring up by the descendants of the American missionaries in the downtown Honolulu area.
The Bad Times
The city however is certainly not without some dire major events that have been logged into the annals of history, which have moulded the city into what it is today. These events include the upheaval and removal of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, the annexation of Hawaii by the United States of America in 1898, a large fire which destroyed a considerable amount of the city in 1900, and of course the unforgettable attack on Pearl Harbour by the Japanese in 1941.
Diving into the Culture
There are a number of great cultural institutions to show the wonderful history of the Hawaiian Islands from the early settlement times, to modern day. These places are also great for kids as they offer many different hands-on and interactive activities. So be sure to give some of the following a look see.
The Contemporary Museum gallery is located in Honolulu’s tallest building the First Hawaiian Center, there is the Bishop Museum which is Honolulu’s largest museum, the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Shangri La estate, the Contemporary Museum, which is actually in two different locations, the main being in Makiki and a gallery style museum in downtown Honolulu at the First Hawaiian Center, the Hawaii State Art Museum.
Music to your Ears
The city is also home to some venues that play traditional Hawaiian music, such as the Honolulu Symphony, the Hawaii Theatre, the Waikiki Shell and the Neal Blaisdell Center Concert Hall and Arena.
Out and About
If the kids are driving you mad and you want to get out and about, there is a stack of things to do in and around Honolulu. Firstly, there are some truly spectacular botanical gardens which illustrate the flora of the islands such as the Foster Botanical Garden, the Koko Crater Botanical Garden, the Walker Estate and the Liliʻuokalani Botanical Garden.
Some of the other sights you might want to take in are the Ala Moana Center which is great for shopping, Aloha Tower, Diamond Head National Park, Hanauma Bay, the Honolulu Zoo, the ʻIolani Palace, the Lyon Arboretum, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbour, the Waikiki Aquarium, Waikiki Beach, the Waikiki Trolley, the USS Missouri Memorial, Manoa Falls, Makapuu Point Lighthouse, Hanaiakamalama, Fort DeRussy, Wet n Wild Hawaii, the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbour, the Hawaii Maritime Center, Halona Blowhole, Koko Head, the Royal Hawaiian Center, Ford Island, and the Haiku Stairs.
If the rug rats are still bursting with energy, I have two words that will take the sting out of the youngsters, Diamond Head. There is a great walk from the base of Diamond Head up to the top. Not only is it a decent uphill walk (especially on a hot day), but you will be able to take in a breathtaking view of Waikiki and the surrounds, and the kids can get a free certificate saying that they conquered Diamond Head. However, be sure to plaster on the sunscreen, whack on a hat and take plenty of water for the trek.
For more detailed information on a whole range of activities and experiences that you can do whilst in Honolulu, why have a sticky beak at our Activities and Adventures in Honolulu section.
Festivals and the Arts
Sony Open in Hawaii in January, the Honolulu Festival in March, the Pan-Pacific Festival in June, the King Kamehameha Celebration Floral Parade in June, the Joy of Sake in July, the Okinawan Festival in September, the Oahu Aloha Festivals in September, the Aloha Festivals Floral Parade in September, the Molokai Hoe Canoe Race in October, the Hawaii International Film Festival in October to November, the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing in November to December, the Honolulu Marathon in December, the ASP World Tour – Pipeline Masters in December, the Quiksilver Eddie Aikau Memorial in December to February, the National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day on the 7th December, and the New Year’s Eve Fireworks Celebration.
The Honolulu International Airport is the main airport in Honolulu. Each year it handles more than 21 million passengers, which is steadily increasing year on year. The best part about the airport is that it is only 5 kilometres from the heart of the city.
To view your available flight options to Honolulu, mosey on over to our cheap airfares to Honolulu section.
Where Do I Stay?
Of course as parents with children, sometimes an overseas holiday only occurs every few years, or even once in a lifetime. That’s one of the things we were mindful of when writing this article. We understand that not every family has a money tree out in the backyard, hence, that’s why Honolulu is such a great family ‘budget friendly’ location.
I’m sure you’ll be able to find a hotel or serviced apartment that suits not only your requirements but your budget too. So why not head over and cheap out our cheap hotels in Honolulu section.
Heaven for Kids
We here at Compare and Choose understand that just because you’re on holiday with the kids, it’s just important that the parents get some respite from the little devils, so that you can recharge your batteries as well. Hence why we have done some serious searching and come up with ‘the’ hotel, which as listed as one of the best in the world for their ‘kids’ club’ amenities and program.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Resort in Honolulu offer their Camp Penguin Club. This club is specifically targeted for children between the age of 5 and 12. But best of all the entire program is focussed on the Polynesian way of life.
There are a heap of activities and excursions that are on offer, such as trips to the Bishop Museum, The Children’s Discovery Center, the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium. The kids will also learn a new Hawaiian word every day they participate in the club.
The kids will also have exclusive access to their own lending library, where a great selection of books, puzzles, toys, games and movies are available. The on top of all of this, at the hotel the kids get access to a swimming pool plus a large outdoor pool complete with waterslides.
If you’d like more specific details on this hotel, check out our Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Resort booking page.
Hitting the Road
For those of you that prefer to have your own set of wheels while you’re on holidays, there are a great range of vehicles available to hire. Be sure to check out Honolulu hire car rental section and grab yourself a great bargain.
Well we hope that this article has helped you decide on embarking on your own adventure to the beautiful island paradise that is Honolulu. Wishing you safe and happy travels!
Photo’s courtesy of Viator, Oahu Central Office, Destination Wedding Magazine, Go 808 Express, Lee B. Spitzer, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Kauai Grown, Z Topics, Kooulu Farmers Markets, Michael Darden, Maui Family Magazine, Hawaii Pacific University, Running with Spoons, Loren Javier, Wikipedia, LHW, UTR Events and Hilton Hawaiian Village and Hawaii Activities.D