An In-Depth Guide: Honolulu, Hawaii

A perfect blend of relaxation and adventure; Honolulu truly is the perfect depiction of paradise. This capital of Hawaii is home to a collection of engaging activities that hold the ability to make your trip to Hawaii truly unforgettable. Here are a few inside tips for your next trip to this tropical paradise. Aloha!

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Seasons in Honolulu

Hawaii lives up to its expectation of being a paradise, with weather generally remaining consistently pleasant year round. It is due to this, that locals commonly say that Hawaii only has 2 seasons, summer and winter. The daytime temperature in the summer typically sits around 28°C and 26°C in winter.

The wettest months in Hawaii is November to March. However, this rain doesn’t typically affect holiday plans, as rain won’t usually last very long and sunnier spots can often be found nearby.

-          Summer: June, July, and August: 24°C to 28°C

-          Autumn: September, October, and November: 24°C to 28°C

-          Winter: December, January, and February: 20°C to 26°C

-          Spring: March, April, and May: 21°C to 26°C

 

Best Time to Visit Honolulu

The peak season for travel in Honolulu is in the winter (December, January and February) and spring months (March, April and May). This is because, unlike many locations during the Christmas time, Hawaii is much warmer. Waves are also ideal for surfing in Honolulu during this time and humidity is also lower. However, accommodation prices will be higher due to the increased demand.

The perfect time to visit Honolulu is between late spring and early summer (mid-April to Mid-June), as well as autumn (September to November). Crowds are lower during this time of the year, meaning that accommodation becomes more affordable. 

 

Flight Time and Cost

The cost to fly to Hawaii doesn’t typically fluctuate too much throughout the year, partly due to the consist conditions of this destinations. Travellers can expect to pay between $700 - $1100, depending on the departure destination and how far in advance the tickets are purchased.

If you are wanting to save money on flights to Honolulu, it’s best to be flexible with your travel dates and regularly search for a suitably priced flight that meets your needs. Booking well in advance is beneficial.

Flight times to Honolulu from Australia will vary depending on which city you are flying out from. Flying to Hawaii from the east coast will take approximately 9 hours whereas flying out from the west coast will take around 15 hours.

The flight to Honolulu from Australia is moderately long, so it may be wise to bring along some items to make the flight more comfortable. Ear plugs, an eye mask, and approved toiletries can make the flight a bit easier. Regularly stretching and walking is also crucial.

 

Accommodation in Honolulu

Accommodation is generally quite expensive in Honolulu year round. Most people visiting Honolulu stay in Waikiki, for the convenience. Everything going on in Honolulu is mainly in Waikiki.

As a guide, travellers visiting Honolulu in peak season can expect to pay, on average, $270 (AU) per night for a 3-star hotel and $630 (AU) for a 5-star hotel. However, if visiting in the low season, travellers will pay around $240 (AU) per night for a 3-star hotel and $540 (AU) for a 5-star hotel.

When wanting to save money, it’s best to be patient. Establish a budget for yourself, shop around and be prepared to purchase once you find a deal that suits your requirements.

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Top Attractions in Honolulu

 

Diamond Head

While in Waikiki, many locals will recommend that you take the journey up to the top of Diamond Head. The large volcano is located on the edge of Waikiki and is engulfed in lush greenery. The hike guides travellers through the centre of the crater, up the winding cliff of the volcano to the peak. Travellers are gifted with sweeping views of Honolulu with a mountain range looming in the distance and ever extending, pristine beaches. As the hike up Diamond Head is long enough, it’s recommended not to walk from Waikiki. The public bus or Lea Lea can be caught, otherwise, parking is available. A moderate fitness level and adequate walking shoes are required.

Entry Cost: $1 per pedestrian or $5 per car. 

Time to Allocate: 1.5 – 2 hours

 

Honolulu Zoo

Honolulu zoo holds a vast collection of creatures to ponder and enjoy. From tropical birds and playful monkeys to towering giraffes and wise elephants, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Located in Waikiki, Honolulu Zoo is in walking distance from Waikiki Beach, otherwise, public transport frequently visits. Parking is also available onsite. The facility also offers after-hours twilight tours.

Entry Cost: Adult: $19. Child: $11.

Time to Allocate: 1.5 – 2 hours

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Waikiki Beach

A trip to Honolulu is incomplete without a visit to Waikiki Beach. Float in the clear waters, admire the sunset and embrace paradise. If you are feeling adventurous, paddleboards can also be rented. Waikiki Beach also hosts regular events for tourists, most of which are free of charge. If you are wanting to catch a hula show, but also wishing to save money, regular hula shows are put on throughout the week on Waikiki Beach. The Hilton also put on a glorious fireworks show every Friday, and the beach is the perfect spot to check it out.

Entry Cost: Free

Time to Allocate: 1.5 hours

 

Kalakaua Avenue

Located in the heart of Waikiki, Kalakua Avenue is a buzzing shopping hub, offering visitors of Honolulu the opportunity to shop across a vast collection of big brands. There are also a variety of restaurants nestled in between stores to enjoy. At night, the street is lined with countless tiki torches and entertaining buskers, overall providing an energetic, upbeat atmosphere. Kalakua Avenue is ideal for accessing Waikiki beach and Honolulu Zoo.

Entry Cost: Free

Time to Allocate: As long as you’d like to shop

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Pearl Harbour

Delve into the devastating event that lead America into WW2; Pearl Harbour carries a rich emotional weight that must be experienced when visiting Honolulu. Stroll through the engaging museum and learn of the series of events that led up to the attack on Pearl Harbour, the damage it caused and the following situations that would enviably arise. Boat rides to the USS Arizona are also available so guests can see the impact of the attack up close. Guests can also visit the large battleship resting in Pearl Harbour, the USS Missouri. Backpacks aren’t allowed into Pearl Harbor, although storage is available for $5 per bag. Parking and admission to the visitor centre is free. Pearl Harbor is a 20-minute drive from Waikiki.

Entry Cost: Free

Time to Allocate: 1.5 – 2 hours

 

Hanauma Bay

If snorkeling is high upon your Hawaiian bucket list, Hanauma Bay is the place to go. The bay is the result of a volcanic eruption many years ago. Today it is buzzing with a vibrant range of sea life to explore up close. Before heading down to the beach, be sure to stop and appreciate the sweeping views of Hanauma Bay from above. Catch a bus or walk down to the bay where snorkel gear can be rented, with prices starting at $20. As Hanauma Bay is a nature preserve, it should be respected. The facility provides you with everything you need to know to ensure the bay is kept clean for others to enjoy. Parking is available for $1, although spaces are limited. Regular Waikiki shuttles run to Hanauma daily, which take approximately 30 – 40 minutes.

Entry Cost: $7.50

Time to Allocate: 2 – 3 hours

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Transportation around Honolulu

Rent a car

Although renting a car can become extremely useful when you are wanting venture outside Honolulu and to some of the other treasures scattered around Oahu, it’s not as necessary when it comes to getting around the city. There are much more cost-effective options available that don’t require additional costs such as petrol and parking.

 

Lea Lea

The Lea Lea is a tram-like bus that navigates tourists throughout Honolulu, whilst the driver provides a captivating tour and insider tips to maximise your holiday. However, tickets for the Lea Lea cannot be purchased when you hop on. They must be pre-purchased, with 7-day adult passes starting at $49 (US) and $39 (US) for children. This option can be useful if you are staying in Honolulu for an extended period of time.

 

Public Transport

A cost-effective alternative to the Lea Lea is taking a bus. The bus system in Hawaii provides 110 different routes for travellers. One way adult fares start at $2.75 (US), or 1-day passes can be purchased for $5.50 (US). Tickets can be purchased from the bus driver, however, the exact amount is required as change cannot be given.

 

Taxi

The taxi system in Hawaii can be convenient, although costly. Fares will differ between companies, the length of travel (kilometers), the duration of your cab ride (minutes) and whether a variety of additional fees can be applied to the situation. For example, a 10-minute cab ride will cost around $20, not including additional fees and tips.

 

Foods to Try in Honolulu

It is important to budget for meals in Hawaii because it can get expensive. It should also be noted that Hawaii is the 50th state of America, which means tipping is customary for services, such as meals in restaurants. A tip of 15% to 20% of the total bill is considered polite. According to Lonely Planet’s Money and Cost Guide to Hawaii, a meal at a restaurant can cost between $20 and $40 (US).

Here are a few traditional foods to try when visiting Honolulu.

-          Garlic Shrimp

-          Poke – raw fish salad

-          Shaved Ice – popular dessert

-          Kalua Pig – slow cooked pork

-          Fresh Fruit – Pineapple. Acai Bowl

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In Summary

Honolulu’s energetic atmosphere is a must experience when visiting Hawaii. The city is the ideal depiction of paradise, with towering palm trees, pristine beaches and colourful sunset’s lighting up the cityscape every afternoon. Getting around the city is very easy, with the public buses being the most cost effective option. Whilst wandering up Kalakua Avenue, you will likely stumble across a variety of traditional Hawaiian foods such as Poke or shaved ice. Although it can be an expensive travel destination, the trip can become affordable if you shop around for flights and accommodation and budget accordingly.